Monthly Archives: November 2014

‘Easy’ Chocolate Mousse

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I call this ‘easy’ dairy free chocolate mousse, but I am well aware that ‘easy’ for most people is popping to the shop and buying some. Even so, whether you eat dairy or not, I don’t think any shop bought chocolate mousse can ever really compare with the delightfully rich homemade variety.

This is definitely a grown up version – rich, chocolatey and gently flavoured with coffee for extra depth and flavour. So although this is not as easy as buying ready made I would encourage you all to try this, as we all deserve something as scrumptious as this for a treat.

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Christmas Gingerbread

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Christmas is my favourite time of year and I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to Christmas foods. Why should we restrict ourselves to 4 short weeks to enjoy all the wonderful flavours of Christmas?!

So, with that – and the abundance of Christmas adverts coming on TV this week – I felt it was the perfect time to make some gingerbread. With the addition of Cinnamon, All Spice, and orange the humble gingerbread is taken to a new Christmas-y level.

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Dairy Free Profiteroles, Hazelnut Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Sauce

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I used to LOVE profiteroles and they were something I had accepted I would never be able to eat again. A big part of this was a lack of confidence making any sort of pastry dairy free, plus being stuck about what to fill them with. However, after watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off and getting a lesson in how to make custard from my mum, I felt I should be brave and at least try.

And I’m so pleased I did – because they were a lot easier than I thought they would be and were SO tasty. These were a complete first attempt as I had never made choux pastry, or crème pâtissière and I’m pleased to say that I succeeded!

Choux pastry is a great thing to know how to make, and really not as hard as you think. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you can go on to make eclairs, or cream puffs (with a different filling of course) or even savoury gougères. From the vast amount of research I did on profiteroles, I found that two things are key.

  1. Get a lot of air in the dough by whisking more than you think you’d need to as you incorporate the eggs. This helps them rise and become very hollow in the centre.
  2. Add steam – the simplest way to do this is to ensure you do not evaporate off too much water when you create the dough and to shake water over your profiteroles before you bake them. It sounds mad – but steam is the raising agent in choux pastry.

The crème pâtissière was the perfect filling for the profiteroles and the hazelnut flavour from the milk was deliciously complimentary with the chocolate sauce. No one was missing the cream 🙂 Although the milk carton (I used Alpro) does state ‘not for cooking’ I did not find any issues with the flavour or texture of the milk once heated. I can see myself perfecting my creme pat as it is such a versatile filling for desserts… so expect to see this again!

I was concentrating hard on these as I cooked (we had my boyfriend’s parents round for lunch and there was no back up dessert – so the pressure was on!), so forgot to take good step by step photos as I went. Next time I make these I will write a ‘how to’ post with better step by step instructions so you can all enjoy some perfect homemade profiteroles.

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Orange Blossom and Cranberry Cupcakes

Orange Blossom and Cranberry Cupcakes

Orange Blossom and Cranberry Cupcakes

These cupcakes were a bit of an experiment and one I will certainly be making again. Orange blossom water was also a new ingredient for me, and it provided a very grown up and delicate orange flavour to the buttercream icing.

Another success with these cupcakes was a new recipe for dairy free buttercream. After a lot of research on the internet, I read about a vegetable oil based ‘butter’ called Trex. What a great discovery this was! Trex has a similar consistency and look to lard – very hard, slightly crumbly and very white in colour. My usual buttercream recipe uses just dairy free butter, such as pure, but this can be very soft given that Pure has a similar consistency to margarine.

For this buttercream I reduced the amount of dairy free butter and replaced it with Trex – and voila – a smooth, creamy and stiff buttercream! It was a dream to pipe and kept its shape beautifully.

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Beautifully piped improved dairy free buttercream recipe

The cranberries in the cake are a hidden surprise. For these I sprinkled the cranberries in the bottom of each case and the spread the batter on top. Next time though I would definitely incorporate the cranberries into batter.

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I topped each with a piece of Pecan Brittle (recipe can be found in my Chocolate Caramel cake) for decoration… plus made some extra for me to eat, but that’s just between you and I!

And incase you’re wondering… yes, that is Pudsey Bear on my cupcake cases. Lakeland are currently selling them and donating part of the cost back to Children In Need.

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Jam Filled Doughnuts

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Dairy free doughnuts! I was so excited to make these! Can you tell?! I haven’t had a doughnut in over 5 years – This is something I have not found anywhere dairy free, so imagine how pleased I was when I successfully made them. I always thought they would be extremely difficult to make, very time consuming and fiddly, so I did not bother to look up a recipe.

I then stumbled across a recipe for doughnuts in Jamie Magazine and saw that doughnuts did not seem quite as hard as I thought. Sort of like bread with a few extra ingredients, and then fried. So I took the plunge… and it worked! A sweet soft chewy mouthful with a pop of sweet jam in the middle… ideal. The only thing was that my doughnuts were not quite as pretty as those in the picture of the recipe. I’m sure that will come with practice, and, lets face it, thats hardly the most important thing when it comes to doughnuts!

I would say these doughnuts are best eaten fresh on the day you make them. If you decide to keep any for the next day, stop after deep fat frying them, and only coat in sugar and fill with jam just before eating. Microwave on high for 15 seconds to heat them up again. Continue reading

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Chocolate Caramel Cake with Pecan Brittle

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So this week, as I’ve been talking about my blog at work, I was challenged to come in with some office treats. I think I definitely overstretched myself on a Wednesday evening!

For in I came with a made up concoction – Chocolate caramel cake, topped with caramel icing and salted pecan brittle. I agree – even I was impressed that I managed that all in an evening after work… The end result was great though – a light, moist chocolate sponge, buttery (although made without normal butter!) sweet caramel buttercream icing, with a crunchy piece of nutty brittle on top – delightful. And the best comment from a friend who tried it – they would never have guessed or been able to tell it was dairy free. Music to my ears!

I will admit that I had to do the caramel sauce for the icing twice. The first time my thoughts were on dinner so I overcooked it slightly… and in the bin it went! Also, having neglected to properly check ingredients, I did not see that I only had about a third of the required amount of cocoa powder, so a certain amount of improvisation was needed that I would not do again. I added 60g of a dark 80% chocolate bar which I thought would compensate, but the resulting sponge was not chocolatey enough my colleges and I decided.

The pecan brittle was a real first attempt, and worked surprisingly well. It was just on the right side of burnt – with a smokiness that cut through the usual sugary sweetness of brittles. I have though bought myself a sugar thermometer for next time to ensure it doesn’t go to the wrong side of burnt 🙂

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Chocolate Caramel Cupcake with Salted Pecan Brittle

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