“This is my advice to people: Learn how to cook, try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun”
Julia Child

Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted ChickpeasIt’s Diwali, the festival of lights, India’s biggest festival and one that literally lights up the length and breath of this beautiful country. That this time of the year is hectic seems an understatement; I race to keep up with holiday baking. For today, I went a little sweet and some savoury – Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares & Roasted Garam Masala Chickpeas

LampsOh, I bought some lamps. Actually got these lamps for myself after buying some for Finla {bottom of this post}. Her better half was visiting India for a music fest and I asked her what I could send. Her wishlist had Diwali lamps if possible! I ordered some for her, then got really tempted and got some for ourselves too. I loved the rustic metallic look!

Almond Chocolate SquaresThis is the best time of the year in North India. The nips in the air, winter is beginning to make itself felt. It’s time for soup, for breads, for baking; generally time to tuck into food without feeling too guilty. I was short on time as always yet wanted to bake something. These little squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. Nice balance of flavours and quick, convenient holiday baking.

Almond Chocolate SquaresThese got made FAST! They’re an adaptation of a simple recipe I’ve had scribbled for ages, passed down by a friend. Of course I added my little twist adding whole almonds to the digestive biscuit base. I love the texture that nuts add. Maybe hazelnuts would work nicely too.

Almond Chocolate SquaresLack of time and I had to fast track. Instead of waiting for the bake to cool completely and then pour melted chocolate over the top, I sprinkled the chocolate chips over the warm bake. Worked well. I do this quite often when I bake Oat Energy Bars. It’s always a happy feeling to see how beautifully dark chocolate melts gently on warm bakes!

Almond Chocolate SquaresNothing like a quick fine slicing of almonds and pistachios over the melted chocolate to dress up the bites. A slicer comes quite handy at times like this unless of course you have the luxury of sliced nuts on hands. I don’t!! Roasted Chickpeas It’s nice to think up something savoury to meet the sweet. Savoury is my weakness! The Philips AirFryer continues to call my name and fuel my imagination with creative ideas. I’ve done roasted chickpeas in the oven before, so thought  that they might come out well in the AirFryer too. Why ever not? Roasted Chickpeas Good idea! Great idea! I do chickpeas from scratch here {we are not a canned chickpea country}. It isn’t cumbersome though does require a little planning like an overnight soak. {At this time I would LOVE to be a chickpea … I’d give an arm and a leg for an overnight soak! Oh my weary bones…} Roasted Chickpeas Once you have cooked chickpeas, toss them in EVOO, then spice them as you like. I did one batch with garam masala, salt and a dash of lime juice. YUM! The second batch was with a mix of garam masala, dried mint, cinnamon, red chili powder and roasted cumin. I’d love to do a garlic or chipotle, or maybe a honey garlic. How about smoked paprika? Roasted Chickpeas These came out CRISPY good from the AirFryer in about 20-25 minutes, a few shakes in between. An oven would do the same job at 200C for about 45 minutes, with some shaking up too.  Both teens had a go at tossing them high in the air and playing catch with the mouth. The dog was obviously HAPPY as she got all the missed catches. She LOVES chickpeas – soaked, boiled and now crispy garam masala too! CocoHope you enjoy these recipes. Both are relatively fuss free and very quick, great additions to the holiday table! Do you have quick fun filled holiday baking recipes that light up your lives? I would LOVE to hear about them! Have a wonderful holiday baking season!


Recipe: Biscuit, Almond & Chocolate Squares your picture

Summary: These little Almond Digestive Chocolate Squares hit the sweet spot without being too sweet or too buttery. A quick holiday bake using staples from the pantry.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

  • 250g digestive biscuits
  • 85g whole almonds
  • 75g butter, melted
  • 400g condensed milk {1 tin}
  • Topping
  • 100g dark chocolate, chips or chopped up
  • slivered nuts to garnish


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.  Butter the sides of  a 8 X 8″ square baking tin, and line the bottom with parchment.
  2. Place the biscuits and whole almonds in the jar of a food processor and process until you get a sand-like crumb meal. {Thermomix: Speed 7, 20 seconds}
  3. With the processor running on slow, pour in the melted butter, followed by the condensed milk. It should all come together in a sticky glob … something like flubber. Don’t be tempted to taste it now, as the danger is that you might not stop eating. {Thermomix: Reverse Speed 2, 20 seconds}
  4. Transfer to prepared tin, level out with an offset spatula or butter knife, and bake for about 20 minutes / until slightly firm to touch. It will set as it cools.
  5. Leave for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle the chocolate evenly over the top. It should melt in 5-7 minutes. Smoother it uniformly over the top, scatter slivered nuts, cocoa nibs, sprinkles etc over the top and let it cool completely.
  6. You might need to refrigerate it for the chocolate to set.
  7. Cut into squares and serve.

Recipe: Roasted Chickpeas
your picture

Summary: Crisp, healthy and addictive, these are a great addition to holiday snacking!

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

  • 250g chickpeas, soaked overnight , cooked, drained
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp red chli powder
  • 1 tsp salt


  1. AirFryer
  2. Preheat the AirFryer to 200C for 5 minutes. 
  3. Toss the chickpeas in olive oil, then in the spices to coat well. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.
  4. Transefer to wire mesh basket, set the timer to 20 minutes. Shake the basket after 10 minutes, then once again after another 5 minutes.
  5. Check to see if they are crisp, else give them another 5 minutes.
  6. For the oven, bake at 200C in a preheated oven for 40-45 minutes. Stir a couple of times}


Don’t miss a post
Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

“Looks like you could use an extra hand.”
American Pie

Apple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesWe’re already trotting through the second week of September, the days are whizzing by! Just when I thought I’d done the SRC for the month, a Plum Almond Ginger Summer Fruit, I found a reminder in my inbox. Whoa we’re into the next month, a race against time as always, yet this club is fun! I made delicious Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies that I picked & adapted from Beantown Baker, my secret blog for September.

The Secret Recipe Club is the brainchild of Amanda of Amanda’s Cookin’.

Secret Recipe Club'The idea behind the club – Each month you are “assigned” a participating food blogger to make a recipe from. It’s a secret, so don’t tell them you are making something from their blog! Click on the link if you want to join the fun!!

Apple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesJen @ Beantown Baker lives in Boston with her hubby and two cats. She works as an engineer by day, and is baker by night when she gets home and enjoys spending her free time in the kitchen. She loves all desserts and has a huge to-bake list. Her hubby serves as her number one taste tester and her lucky coworkers and friends get to enjoy baked goods on a regular basis.Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies It was wonderful to explore her blog as we seem to have so much in common, beginning with a ‘love for baking’!  It was like a treasure chest, I flitted from one post to another, so much to do and so little time! I thought I’d bake these utterly delicious looking Strawberry Peach Basil Bars but sadly the stone fruit season has drawn to an end. Then I chanced upon these Strawberry Hand PiesApple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesYES!! I’ve been charmed by hand pies forever but have never got down to making these sweetly delicious sorts! They reminded me of pop tarts! I went with whatever fruit I had on hand… apples and frozen strawberries. In a last minute moment of inspiration, I threw in some fresh basil! YUM! I also tried a few different shapes, including a roll up and a lattice!Apple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesThey turned out to be delicious, though I think I rolled the dough a tad too thin. As Jen says, “The pastry dough is VERY easy to work with. And quite tasty.”  I kept my pies vegetarian and gave the pastry a low fat cream wash, followed with a sprinkling of vanilla sugar. Hand pies are convenient food, great grub on the go and and can be sweet or savoury. Almost every culture has a version of their own, mostly baked. Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies

Hand pies are semilunar-shaped pastries with either a sweet or savory filling, formed by placing a dollop of filling onto a circular piece of biscuit-style dough and then folding it over and crimping it shut. They may be baked, fried or deep-fried.

Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies English Cornish pasties are said the most famous in this category, and go back to the 1800’s when miners wives would freshly bake shortcrust pastry with a beef filling, and pop the pies wrapped in a towel or newspaper into the miners pockets. Miners would hold the pies with the crimped edges, their hands dirty with arsenic and coal etc, eat the pie and throw away the crimped edge.Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies
Apple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesMany countries have popular versions of hand pies. India has the addictive samosa, a  savoury patty, deep fried and absolutely delicious. Traditionally with a stuffing of potatoes, peas {and sometimes cottage cheese and raisins}, the filling is wrapped in a triangle of pastry and deep fried. We munched through cartloads of these in school, college and while I was working. I have a Chicken Mince Cocktail Samosa posted here which makes for great cocktail / party snacks. Apple Strawberry Basil Hand PiesOther versions include the Spanish empanada, the Italian calzone & Jamaican patties. Have you heard of any others? OK we have more … Malaysian curry puffs {thank you Jehanne@ The Cooking Doctor}, Indian gujiya {thank you Fahad @ Simply Fahad-istic}.

Recipe: Apple Strawberry Basil Hand Pies

your picture

Summary: Delicious and comforting hand pies, charming bites somewhat like pop tarts. Dough from Alton Brown, filling from Dinner and Dessert, originally from Smitten Kitchen – makes about 15. Adapted from Beantown Baker

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

  • Pastry Dough
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 75gm unsalted butter, chilled
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • Filling
  • 3-4 apples, peeled, cored, diced small
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries, chopped fine in processor
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
  • Handful of fresh basil, chiffonaded
  • Glaze
  • 2 tbsp low fat cream { or an egg wash of 1 egg mixed with 1 to 2 teaspoons water}
  • 1 sachet vanilla sugar


  1. Make the Filling
  2. Toss all ingredients well in a big bowl, and keep aside.
  3. Make the Pastry Dough
  4. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Pulse for a few seconds and then pour into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the shortening and knead it into the flour with your hands until it is crumbly.
  6. Add the milk all at once and mix in with a spatula until it begins to come together.
  7. Lightly flour your hands and the countertop and turn the dough out onto the countertop. Knead the dough ball, folding over 10 to 20 times. {Thermomix: Add flour, baking powder and salt to TM bowl. Run on Speed 6/5 seconds. Add remaining ingredients and run on Speed 6/ 7 seconds. Turn to knead and run for 1 minute.}
  8. Using a rolling pin roll the dough to 1/3 to 1/2-inch thickness, then cut into rounds using a 2 1/4-inch ring. Roll each round as thinly as possible or to 5 to 6 inches in diameter.
  9. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of filling onto the dough, brush the edges of half of the dough lightly with the cream / egg wash, fold over and seal the edges together with the tines of a fork, dipping it into flour as needed. Gently press down to flatten and evenly distribute the filling and snip or cut 3 slits in the top of the pie.
  10. Brush a little bit of cream / egg wash on the outside of the pie and sprinkle with vanilla sugar.
  11. To bake pies, preheat the oven to 180C. Place finished pies onto a lined cookie sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
  12. Serve warm {after about 20 minutes as the filling can be very hot} or at room temperature. We liked them chilled too with a drizzle of unsweetened low fat cream as dessert!



Don’t miss a post Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


%d bloggers like this: