I am working my way through the ingredients in my baking cupboard, some quite a long way past their best-before dates – the glacé cherries ‘expired’ in 2012, according to the lid, but they are still absolutely fine. They’re preserved, for pete’s sake!

I found a recipe for Indian-spiced chocolate squares, a riff on the Rocky Road / fridge tart of my youth (the thing mom used to make when somthing sweet was needed in a hurry) and realised I had enough of the ingredients to get going and then add a few of my own.

There is no cooking here, unless you count boiling the kettle and zapping the chocolate in the microwave. Which I don’t.

They’re a winner from virtually every flavour perspective, sweet and chocolatey, fruity and chewy with enough textural interest and, crucially, a slightly bitter edge to the finish that balances the sweetness. The key to the bitter edge is black tea, and the cheat here is chai teabags – readily available in most corner shops and supermarkets. If you don’t have Chai tea bags then half a teaspoon of ground and mixed chair spices (cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves can be added along with an ordinary black tea bag.

Extremely moreish, the chocoholic in the house (not me) was both relieved and saddened that he only got the off-cuts, as the box of squares were destined as a treat for local night shelter guests. He actually pleaded with me not to share the recipe with you.

So, the recipe that inspired me is from Thermomix, A Taste of India cookbook, and although I have a Thermomix, you don’t need one for this.

The essential ingredients to make a 20 x 20cm tray (I used my brownie tin) are:

3 vanilla chai tea bags, or 2 normal tea bags and half a teaspoon of ground mixed spices eg cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove with a splash of vanilla paste

200ml boiling water

150g glacé cherries, halved

50g dessicated coconut

50g stem ginger (or crystallised ginger,roughly chopped)

100g dried dates, halved (or you can use dried apricots or sultanas)

150g digestive biscuits or suitable substitute (I used milk chocolate Hobnobs), roughly broken up

50g nuts – you can use peanut, pecan, almond, walnut, cashews etc, roughly chopped

200g dark dark chocolate (I use Callebaut 70% callets)

50g golden syrup

A big pinch of sea salt


Line your square baking tin with parchment.

Place the cherries, coconut, ginger, dried fruit and tea bags in a medium-sized bowl and pour over the boiling water. Leave to steep for 10 minutes, then squeeze out the teabags and discard.

Put the chocolate, golden syrup and salt in another bowl and micrwave on full power for 30 seconds. Stir and give it another 10-20 second blast, you want the chocoalte melted but not boiling.

Add the chocolate mix to the bowl with the fruit and tea, add the broken up biscuits and nuts, and stir really well to combine. Tip into your prepared tin and refrigerate for 20 minutes, until set.

Cut into squares and dust with cocoa powder. They won’t last long, and when you make them again there’s the option to vary the ingredients for a slightly different result.

© Linda Galloway 2020