I’m not the kind of lass who watches a lot of sports. And I lucked into marrying a man who’s more likely to update his spreadsheet of where to get a decent espresso, than  mark a motorcross event into our shared diary. 

But the Rugby World Cup is a little bit different. When it rolls around, once every four years, all bets are off.

The last time it was on we watched a good slice of it on the couch at my godson’s place. He was little enough then to still be wearing  pajamas with feet attached.  We and his parents would watch the recorded matches them while eating roast lamb and drinking stonkingly great red wine from their cellar. Over the course of the evening The Hungry One and his best man move from discussing tactics to why George Gregan (the then Australian Captain)’s coffee stores weren’t better. The wives’ conversations also flitted towards the game but took occasional deviations into whether the All Blacks’  Dan Carter or Richie McCaw were fitter male specimens.

This time around we’re on the other side of the world. But the games have been high on the radar. Particularly since my butchers are Kiwi, so purchases of meat  have also involved some discussion about Dan Carter’s groin.

This time around  The Hungry One and I have been watching the games  in our lounge room at 9 am on  weekend mornings.

Same same, but different.

This time it’s us in our sleepwear (though neither of us have feet still attached to our pajamas). We’ve been  drinking espressos instead of red wine.  And instead of getting stuck into roast lamb, we may have had amaretti and fig cheesecake for breakfast.

This is a ‘same same but different’ sort of cheesecake. It’s got all the flavours you might expect, but it’s a little different in the textural stakes.

Instead of crumbling biscuits for a base, you quickly bake one giant amaretti cookie (though the mixture also makes enough to make a small batch of cookies to pick at as well).

The amaretti carries a muted almond flavour- both from the meal in the mixture and the booze that kicks it all  along. By the time you’ve layered on some sweetened cream cheese, sliced figs and grated chocolate the base huddles into  a comforting marshmallow consistency.

It’s a gentle scrum of flavours that works well as a team. It doesn’t have to be topped with figs – plums or apricots would also be grand.

It certainly doesn’t have to be eaten for breakfast.  In fact, it would probably be at its best when consumed after a meal of roast lamb and red wine with some of your closest friends.

But as I said, the world cup only rolls around once every four years.

Which is about as often as one should start a day with a slice of chocolate topped cheesecake.

Amaretti, fig and chocolate cheesecake

Serves 4 -6 (or 2, with leftovers for the next morning)

1 baking tray. Baking paper. Electric beaters. Spatula. Bowl.


Amaretti cookies/ biscuit base 

340g/12oz ground almonds
340g/12oz caster sugar
4 egg whites
30ml/1fl oz amaretto liquor (though you could substitute for Frangelico or even brandy)

 Cheesecake and topping

300 g tub of cream cheese
1/4 cup of icing sugar
Zest and juice of half a lemon
5 figs, sliced
30 grams of dark chocolate, grated

Here’s how we roll

Make the amaretti biscuit base
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3.

2. In a large bowl beat the egg whites until firm.

3. Mix the sugar and the almonds gently into it.

4. Add the amaretto liquor and fold in gently until you have a smooth paste.

5.  Place some greaseproof paper on a baking sheet. 

6. Use 3/4 of the mixture to make one 20 cm diameter circle of cookie and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.

(Use the remaining batter to make teaspoon sized cookies placed at least 3 cm apart on a baking sheet lined with baking paper). Bake them for 15- 20 minutes until golden brown.

7. To make the cheesecake filling beat together the icing sugar, cream cheese, lemon zest and lemon juice until smooth.

8. Top the cooled cookie base with the cheesecake filling, chopped figs and grate dark chocolate over the top. Allow to set in the fridge for two hours.