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I don’t know why, but in the cool, dull summer of 2012 my chilli plants did really well. The tomatoes and aubergines that were growing alongside them in the greenhouse were just rubbish – we harvested very few of either.  But the chillies produced lots of flowers, followed by lots of fruits.

Now that the temperature in the greenhouse is dropping, I’ve brought the chilli plants into the house.  Some of the plants like ‘Pretty in Purple’ and ‘Hungarian Black’ are reasonably windowsill-sized and are attractive enough to fit in among the other house plants.  Others are bigger, not looking their best and will probably get moved to the compost heap as soon as the chillies are used up.

I’m wanting to try to overwinter at least some of the plants.  A few years ago I managed to get a couple of plants through the winter, but as soon as spring arrived they both died – no logic to it, but that’s how it goes.  The main problem I always have with chillies growing indoors is aphids.  And since this year’s plants moved into the kitchen they have attracted a huge crowd of these bugs – I’ve tried washing them off and putting the plants outside on sunny days but neither of these pest control measures seems to reduce the aphid population for more than a few days.  Any ideas on this front would be warmly welcomed…

With lots of chillies to hand in the kitchen, I’ve been adding them to pasta sauces, pizzas and soups.  And to muffins too – chocolate and chilli make a great combination.  The chillies in this recipe give a nice bit of heat in contrast to the sweetness of the muffins, you can adjust the amount you add depending on how much heat you like.

These muffins are my offering for this month’s Breakfast Club.  The theme for November is chocolate – yes, an excuse to eat chocolate at breakfast was just too good to pass up!  The Breakfast Club is has its home with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours, and this month is being hosted over at Chocolate Log Blog.  So, for more chocolate-rich breakfast ideas head over to Chocolate Log Blog.

Chocolate, chilli & pecan muffins

200g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

100g caster sugar

½ tsp salt

1 egg

120ml milk

4 tbsp vegetable oil

50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped

1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

50g pecan nuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 200oC, 400F, gas 6.  Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the baking powder, sugar and salt.  In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the milk and vegetable oil then add this mixture to the dry ingredients.  Stir everything together until just mixed – lumps don’t matter as long as the flour is moistened.  Add the chocolate, chilli and pecans and stir again – just until they are evenly distributed through the mixture.

Spoon the muffin mix into the paper cases and bake in a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.  A skewer inserted into the centre of the muffins should come out clean when they are cooked.

Cool on a wire rack, put the kettle on and enjoy your breakfast!

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