All right! As the days are getting shorter and the temperatures are going down, I decided this would be a good time to share this year’s summer-chocolate-box crown-grabber with you guys to bring back some rolled-up sunshine to the approaching winter months whenever you might need a lift! I have to say, I was somewhat surprised at the major ruckus these simple bites caused amongst my test-sub… ahem. Customers.
See, I’ve been making these bites for myself on a regular basis for years now, and not even hubby spared them a second glance. I’ve been trying to warm people up for these, but gave up after a while since the scenario played out the same every time. I know several people being quick on raising the “Ew! Candied ginger” flags – including myself, I might add – so the usual reaction I got when offering or talking about them was, let’s say, predictably underwhelming. “Well hell, more for me!” I thought to myself, and the idea of adding them to a gift box was shelved… until I started on this year’s Easter Eggstravaganza and thought of hiding them in plain sight to get a better measure of their position on the crowd-o-meter. After all, usually my personal taste isn’t that far off the mark… And they hit like delicious little healthy bombs, outshining all of the chocolates I had bet on to be the crowd’s chocolatey favorites. Well, it seems I lost all my pocket money to myself on that one, so here’s to covert tactics and hidden red-orange gems~! Tee~hee…
The Spicy Mango & Cashew Bites
125g dried Mangoes – if you can, get some of the juicier kind. I buy mine at a dried-fruit-and-nuts stall at the farmer’s market and they don’t always turn out the same – add a small splash of water in the end in case your mixture doesn’t hold together.
50g Candied Ginger
30g Dried Goji Berries
50g Roasted and Salted Cashews – if you don’t feel like roasting raw cashews yourself, look in the snack foods section of your supermarket for the ready-roasted and salted ones. You’ll probably save some quid on that option as well, raw cashews are quite pricey~
1 Pinch of Coarse Sea Salt
1 Pinch of Hot Chilli Flakes
Opt: 100g White Chocolate, roughly chopped
Opt: Fleur de Sel
Luckily, this one’s as healthy as it is quick to make, just one little bit of advice in advance: CSI gloves. Wear them. Those mangoes will dye your hands orange for days otherwise…
1) Place the cashews and the goji berries in a food processor or blender and thoroughly whizz them into a fine crumble bordering on powder.
2) Chop the mangoes and candied ginger into smaller bits – my small pop-a-stick-blender-in-it-food-processor at least hits its limits with the whole mangoes.
3) Add the fruity bits to the cashew dust along with a generous sprinkle of salt and chillies and put your food processor back into business.
4) Keep the blades working until the mixture starts balling up in the container and a quick look-see reveals nut-, fruit- and ginger grains of about the same size sticking together.
5) If the mixture stays crumbly, add a few drops of water and give the lot another round.
6) If the mixture starts to bind but the dots of color aren’t evenly distributed throughout the mix, tip the lot into a mixing bowl and knead it through with your hands until they are.
7) Line a large airtight container with a layer of baking parchment and sprinkle the surface with a couple of Fleur de Sel flakes.
8) In case you feel like coating them with white chocolate – or in case a test-bite shows you’ve overdosed on the chillies – set a heatproof bowl on top of a pot of lightly simmering water and add the chocolate. Melt it while gently stirring it with a rubber spatula. As soon as all the bits have dissolved into a thick, glossy liquid, set the bowl aside and allow the chocolate to cool down to room temperature again.
9) Meanwhile, pick up some of the “dough” – some meaning enough to roll into a bite-sized ball of yum – and firmly roll it between the palms of your hand until you’re looking at an orange pearl. They should have a glossy, wetish looking sheen to them once they’re rolled up, that’s your sign for the perfect outcome mango- and nut-wise.
10) If you’re not coating them with chocolate, simply set them onto your baking parchment, lock the box and store them in the fridge.
11) If you are, park them on a tray until you’ve worked your way through the mixture, then dip them halfway into the chocolate before setting them into the container. Keep this variant unlocked and out of the fridge until the chocolate has cooled off and set completely. By the way, the halfway-dip is a measure of chocolatey-mess-control. Instead of using various tools to drag the balls through the chocolate, maneuver them onto a cooling rack and into the box in order to coat them without leaving fingerprints, you can pick them up by poking a toothpick halfway into the bites, give them a quick dip and set them onto the parchment in one go. The evidence of the toothpick is easily hidden beneath a convenient goji berry or dried-mango-bit decoratively arranged on top~
12) And that’s all there is to it~! Just give them some time to settle down before you take your first bite – 2-3 hours in the fridge should do for both variants.