Christabel’s Bolinhas


  • 1 1/2 cups semolina
  • 2 cups grated coconut (grind in 1/4 cup water)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp clarified butter
  • 1/4 tsp cardamon


Make a syrup of sugar in 1/3 cup water, then add ground coconut and clarified butter. Mix well then add the semolina and cardamon.  Mix again and let cool.  To the cooled mixture add in the egg yolks, mix well, then let sit overnight. Make into balls, and put on pre-greased tray. Bake on greased tray in preheated oven for 30 min at 350.

Note that there is something in the middle of each bolinha to take it up a notch. What can you do to give this sweet your personal touch?.



Sweet Potato Pie


  • 1 pound sweet potato
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ginger (crushed or powdered) to taste
  • 1 9 inch unbaked pie crust



Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin. You can easily soften the butter using a microwave.  I do so in 10 second bursts and you may need to do so differently based on the power of your microwave.

Break apart the sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mash it together well. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon, crushed ginger/ginger powder, and vanilla. Beat until mixture is smooth using a mixer. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes (preheated oven), or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Do not get alarmed. The pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

As usual the recipe can easily be modified to suit your tastes. To me that’s the fun of it.  Taking something and making it your own. The potato is sweet enough not to add sugar.  This time I removed all the white sugar and added a tablespoon of honey. I use ginger to give it some zing.  The pie is nice without it too.  Oh, I added some liqueurs to muddle the flavors a bit, while still ensuring the “sweet potato” came through.

Eggless Mango Chocolate Marble Cake

This cake was made for my aunt’s birthday dinner by my cousin and I.  It came out really well, nice and light and compact.  The brown and yellow swirls provide a nice contrast, the nuts texture… A perfect recipe to share.


All Purpose flour –  2 cups
Baking powder – 1 and 1/2 tsp
Baking Soda – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/4 tsp
Sugar – 3/4 cup
Oil – 5 tbsp
Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
Cocoa powder (unsweetened) – 1/4 cup ( dissolved in 2/3 tbsp of warm water)
Mango Pulp – 1 cup ( If you use fresh mango pulp you probably should pass through strainer to eliminate fibers)
Milk – 1/4 cup
Buttermilk / Yoghurt  – 1/4 cup
Chopped nuts – 1/3 cup

Method :

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar & oil then to this add mango pulp, milk, yogurt, vanilla, buttermilk and mix well.
  • In another small bowl, combine the dry ingredients of flour, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
  • Add the dry ingredient mixture to wet, mixing well.
  • In a small bowl combine cocoa powder and warm water to make a paste.
  • Transfer half the mango batter to another bowl, add cocoa paste, mix well.
  • Grease and line a pan with parchment paper.  Alternatively you can grease a 8 /2 inch square non-stick baking pan well, and flour it, which we did.
  •  There are a variety of methods to get the marbling effect.  We dropped the plain mango and mango chocolate batter alternatively in a checker board pattern for the first layer.  For the second we placed the tbsp. of mango batter on cocoa batter and a tbsp of cocoa batter on mango batter.  Complete rest of the batter alternating the batters to make a checker patter. Then make a swirl. For the swirl, you can draw a vertical line from left to right, next line right to left an inch apart from the previous one and then left to right again, an inch part from the previous line. You get the idea. Similarly draw horizontal lines top to bottom, bottom to top, top to bottom an inch apart from each line. Then tap baking pan to level the batter.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degree Fahrenheit. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until you put in a toothpick and it comes out cleanly.

Notes :

We didn’t use vanilla essence and it came out well.  The nuts were our choice and not included in the original recipe.

Chunky Fresh Mango Cake

Mangos are plentiful now in Goa, and so the idea of mango cake came up.  My cousin Preeti and I found this recipe on the web and made it.  It turned out really well, serving 8.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 egg
  • 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped peeled mango
  • 1/2 cup chopped cashew nuts


  1. In a small bowl, beat the sugar, oil and egg until well blended. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg; gradually beat into sugar mixture and mix well. Fold in mango and cashew nuts.
  2. Transfer to a greased 6-in. round baking pan. Bake at 375° for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes – If you use fibrous mango you should sieve the pulp first before using otherwise you will get mango fibers in the final cake.  The original recipe from the taste of home website used pecans, but we used what we had, cashew nuts.  Do not hesitate to experiment with the recipe, using alternatives such as a different oil if you do not have canola.  You could add additional spices, or raisins.  Your options are only limited by your imagination.

The Juiced Carrot Cake

Today some unique ingredients and processes, so do not miss out on the fun. Cooking a la casa de Virgilio is always about adventure and using what you have to make great tasting food. And the cake turned out great, so follow along below and enjoy a taste from my home to yours. If you do not understand “juiced carrot” or any other tid bits you can go to the end of this post for an explanation, but I figured many of you might just want to get along with the baking.

And do not worry – I have provided the more conventional alternatives and equivalents so you can choose to be adventurous like me, do the conventional thing and ignore ideas like “juiced carrots”, or take the road between – the choice is yours.


  • all purpose flour – 2 cups
  • baking powder – 2 tsp
  • baking soda – 2 tsp
  • salt – 1/2 tsp
  • ground cinnamon – 2 tsp (almost all recipes call for 3 tsp – I am not a cinnamon fan)
  • ginger powder – 1/2 tsp (I like ginger, most other recipes don’t have this)
  • nutmeg – 1/2 tsp
  • eggs – 5 (most recipes use large eggs. I use medium -smaller so I use 5 instead of 4)
  • oil – 1 1/8 cups (recipe called for 1 1/4 cups and I missed that – oops)
  • juiced carrots – 1 1/2 lb (1 lb shredded carrots = 2 cups and we need 3 cups of grated carrots)
  • confectionery sugar – 1 cup (didn’t have 1 cup of granulated white sugar)
  • packed brown sugar – 1 cup
  • chopped cashew nuts – 1/2 cup (recipe called for 1 cup of walnuts or pecans)
  • soaked raisins – 1/4 cup (recipe called for 1 cup, and said nothing about soaking – I soaked in a mix of swiss chocolate syrup, Afri Koko liquor  and cashew feni. for 12 hours)
  • chopped blanched almond slivers – large handful to serve as garnish (no recipes I found had this as they typically make/use cream frosting which I do not fancy)


  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare two 9” pans or one 12” cake pan or one 9”x 13” sheet pan by lining with parchment or wax paper. In my case I used two 1.5 qt pyrex loaf pans and a 1 2/3 cup pyrex bowl. I had two potlucks so one for each, plus something for me to enjoy beforehand and make sure it passed the stomach test as it was all an experiment.
  2. Mix together in a bowl together flour,baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg and ginger.
  3. In a bigger bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, sugars, for about minute or so.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and mix for about 2 minutes more.
  5. Add the grated carrots. Then add nuts and raisins, and vanilla.
  6. Pour batter in prepared pans and bake for approx. 45 to 50 minutes. Then raise temp to 350 and do it for another 10 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting a skewer, it should be dry when taken out, or just barely touching to have something a touch more moist. (Original recipe suggested just 40-50 minutes at 325 but I discovered it was too wet at the 45 minute mark, and so adjusted accordingly.)

A slice of my moist juiced carrot cake is the featured picture for this post.

Variations (Yes More Variations): I always say that any flavor ingredients like powders of nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, clove, ginger, allspice, chili, black pepper are fair game and can be added and subtracted according to mood. Any nuts suggested can be substituted for a different kind. Raisins can be switched with dates, currants… Soak your dried fruit in different marinades of liquor, hard liquor… and you add to the list of choices. Naturally I keep in mind what is the main product that I drew my initial inspiration from and who is going to consume the end result. For the potlucks I was not very adventurous.

Part of my creative process and what exactly is “juiced carrot”:
I had a lot of extra carrots that I was taking a little too long to consume and with a couple potlucks coming up I thought that some dessert was the perfect solution. And what is easier than cake? So, carrot cake it was. Now, that was what I initially thought… I searched the net and all the cake recipes that I found asked for grated carrots! Now this was supposed to be easy and I couldn’t see it being easy to spend all that time grating cups of carrots. So, I looked around and saw the juicer. Why not use the juicer using the coarsest setting and the right extruder nozzle? At the end I could simply recombine liquid and pulp. Further internet research gave the right equivalents so I could also just weight the “juiced” carrots and know I had the right amount. Easy Peasy.



Mango Pudding

Today we combine a tropical fruit and cold climate dessert to get mango pudding.  Mango pudding is typically served cold and takes just 15 or so minutes of prep to make.


  • Mango pulp: 30/32oz can or 4 cups (1 cup typically works out to one medium large mango)
  • Coconut milk: 14oz can or 5/3 cups (1 cup is about 2.8 fl oz.)
  • 2 gelatin packets (3.6g)
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1 cup sugar

Combine mango pulp and coconut milk together.  Boil water and add gelatin.  (Sprinkle gelatin while stirring with whisk to prevent clumping.) Add sugar.  Add this mixture to mango/coconut milk while stirring.  This is it – 15 minutes and you are about done!

Pour the combined mixture in individual dessert bowls, or large dish, or however you wish to present the pudding.  Put the pudding container(s) in fridge to set and cool for at least 2 hours.  I typically make it the previous day.

Serve direct from fridge. Bon Appetit!

Please note that this is a forgiving recipe.  The amounts I have used and enumerated above are based on how the ingredients I bought were packaged.  You can make substitutions also such as fruit pectin instead of gelatin.

7/4/2013  I made this for a 4th of July get together and got great reviews.  Everyone liked it.  My next iteration is going to be substituting honey for sugar as I think that a “honey mango” flavor will work well.   

A Christmas Plate

Growing up our families used to exchange plates of homemade sweets.  This x’mas tradition has now morphed into stocking stuffers.  Everyone who is visiting for Christmas makes some sort of sweet to put in stockings.  The more people the greater the variety of treats to sample.  I like this as it helps change the focus of the holidays from “gifts” to “sharing food”.  And who doesn’t like to eat?Christmas Stocking StuffersStarting with the sweet in the silver cups and going clockwise we have coconut sweet, plain milk toffee (crumbly), nankatais, strawberry milk toffee (soft), bolinhas, and honey dark chocolate milk toffee (very chewy).  Toffee is made with sweetened condensed milk and I posted a recipe last year.  Bolinhas are made with coconut and semolina; nankatais with flour, sugar and ghee;  and coconut sweet with coconut and sugar.  These recipes are carefully guarded family secrets so I would be killed if I told you.  However, I wouldn’t want to just leave you salivating, and so you can start by checking out      

Chocolate Banana Bread

Chocolate Banana BreadA delicious moist no-kneading required bread perfect for dessert.  In time for the holiday season I share my twist on the traditional banana bread recipe.

Ingredients: 2 cups of mashed bananas (typically 5/6), 1.5 cups of sugar, 1 cup of oil, 4 eggs, 3.25 cups of flour, 0.50 cup of dark cocao, 2 tsp of baking powder, 1.5 tsp of baking soda, 0.25 tsp of cinnamon powder, 0.25 tsp of cardamon powder, pinch of salt, 5 tbsps of chopped cashew nuts, 4 tbsps of chopped flame rasins, plus chopped almonds for the top.

Mix in one bowl the bananas, oil and sugar and all the other ingredients in a second bowl.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, folding it in.  Pour batter into an 8 x 12 pan, and sprinkle crushed/chopped almonds on top.  Bake in pre-heated oven at 360 degrees for 40 minutes Check with a toothpick to make sure bread has finished baking – nothing sticks to the pick – before removing from oven

Note: I put wax paper down first, before adding batter to the baking pan, so that it is easy to remove the finished product.

Chewy Milk Toffee – This is not fudge!

Ingredients: 2 12 oz cans of sweetened condensed milk, 4 tbsps of unsalted butter, 1.5 cups of sugar, color/flavors to taste

On high heat stir the condensed milk, butter and sugar continually.  (Add whatever flavors/colors you desire.)It should be hot enough that it is bubbling without boiling. I use a wooden spatula for stirring. As time passes the mixture thickens, and you start to see the pan bottom as you stir.  When the mixture slowly spreads out after being pushed to one side it is ready for spreading.  Periodicaly check for how chewy it is by putting a little on a teaspoon and cooling in the freezer.

Spread out mixture on buttered surface, spread with buttered rolling pin and then score and cut into squares while still warm.