Monthly Archives: May 2015

Dairy Free Brownies

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Sweet, chocolatey, dangerously indulgent chocolate brownies. Simple and quick to make, they are the perfect dessert or sweet treat. Another seemingly impossible dairy free bake!

Oh brownies. Oh sweet chocolatey brownies. Sweet sweet fudge-y, gooey brownies… they’re just the perfect treat no one can resist! I can’t put into words how much I love this recipe, and keep thinking to myself how funny it is that it has taken me this long to put it on the blog! It’s a recipe I make really often (we’re talking at least twice a month!) and it’s just perfect.

These brownies make a fabulous low effort dessert (I love to drizzle a little chocolate sauce on top with a scoop of dairy free ice cream on the side), or when baked for a few minutes longer they come out as the best cold brownies you will ever have eaten. Still moist and fudge-y like a brownie should be, also like the most indulgent chocolate cake.

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I remember bringing these brownies into work once, and two amazing things happened; they disappeared like lightning, and no one could genuinely believe they were dairy free. One of my biggest fears of giving up dairy was giving up chocolate. And, probably very unsurprisingly, whenever I tell people that I’m allergic to milk, they also think this must mean a life without chocolate…. Wrong!

In come the heroes of this story…. dark chocolate and cocoa powder. Most dark chocolate is made without milk, so by adapting a recipe ever so slightly, you can still get that wonderfully creamy, sweet chocolate taste – just without the milk! Cocoa powder, the other saviour, is rather the same story – always be careful and check the label, but usually it doesn’t contain any milk. Cocoa powder is different from hot chocolate powder (which often does contain milk, and a very high amount of sugar), and being pure cocoa, a small amount goes a long way to provide a chocolate kick.

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This recipe is my go to standard – a recipe from my Boyfriend’s mum, Sue – and it’s so good, so reliable, that it would feel like cheating to even peek at another recipe. It’s also very quick, and you can make them as fussy or simple as you like. I’ve added hazelnuts and dried cranberries as these are some of my favourite things to add to a chocolate recipe (see my Rocky Road recipe to see what I mean!) but they really are perfect without them, just dusted with icing sugar.

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Chocolate Viennese Whirls

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Sweet, buttery, melt in the mouth Viennese Whirl biscuits sandwiched together with a chocolate truffle filling; these are perfect for a special occasion and would be a great alternative to cake. You’d never guess how simple these are to bake just by looking at them! 

Sometimes, I just don’t fancy cake. There, I said it! Sometimes something a little more sophisticated, a little less sweet does the trick. And just like there is a cake for every occasion, the same can be said for the humble biscuit… right the way from a rough and ready chocolate chip cookie to these splendid Viennese Whirls. They look so impressive, so time consuming, so “did you really make these at home?!“, but they are so so simple! IMG_1359 In texture, these biscuits are like an extremely short shortbread. A very buttery texture, they drift away in the mouth (because to even suggest melt would make them sound too heavy!) leaving behind a sweet buttery taste – yes, even without real butter!

These are Chocolate Viennese Whirls; unlike their familiar counterparts which are usually filled with jam and buttercream, they are less sweet, slightly more rich, and far more decadent. The chocolate filling is simply melted chocolate, then mixed with butter and caster sugar. I was surprised at the addition of caster sugar, but the texture of it really works and compliments the smooth biscuits with the smallest amount of pleasant crunch. And if you have some filling left over, you can roll it into balls and coat in cocoa powder for a quick and easy chocolate truffle! IMG_1370 I found this recipe a long long time ago in You magazine, and had it hoarded away in a pile marked ‘to try’. I’m so glad I did. The recipe was perfect and the only tweak I made was to the cooking time – I found mine needed a little longer in the oven to completely dry out, which is important as this is what gives them their lighter than light texture. IMG_1381 The trick to the shape of these fancy biscuits is a piping bag and nozzle. This might make you shy away in horror – but trust me, this is not a recipe where you need to have piping skills! The nozzle does all the work for you; pipe any shape you want and with a slightly damp finger, smooth over any edges you want to hide. If this really does fill you with fear, pipe some practice shapes onto a plate until you’re happy, then scoop the dough back into the piping bag to make your final biscuits.

If you don’t want to go as far as making the filling you can simply melt the chocolate and dip the biscuits in, as I did with some of mine – or, even easier, use a dairy free chocolate spread thickened with a little cocoa powder or icing sugar to sandwich them together! IMG_1393 Continue reading

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Filed under Biscuits & Cookies, Chocolate, vegan

Banana Bread

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Warning: Not for those who don’t like bananas! A really simple recipe for Banana Bread, ideal for a breakfast treat or snack any time of the day. A great way to use up any old bananas!

Banana Bread is such a good recipe to have up your sleeve. I don’t know about you, but at the end of the week we always have a few bananas left in our fruit bowl, abandoned as the week goes on due to their ever growing brown spots. This recipe is one of my favourites as you have to use old overripe blackened bananas – they have a much stronger banana flavour and of course are much sweeter, which is just perfect for Banana Bread. I much prefer bananas on the green side for eating, so I find this recipe transforms your bin worthy bananas into something utterly delicious; a moist, dense cake where the banana flavour is the star, compliment by crunchy walnuts scattered throughout.

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As mentioned, the main reason for using old, blackened bananas is the sugar content. The blacker the bananas, the sweeter and more mashable they are, which is ideal for this recipe. The recipe actually has a relatively low added sugar content, because the natural sugars in the banana make up for it big time. If you don’t have ripe enough bananas for this recipe you can cheat and speed up their ageing process by baking them, skin on, in the oven for about 10 minutes until black all over and very squidgey.

I’ve made this banana bread very simply, with ingredients you almost certainly have in your cupboard. Unusually for me there are no surprising ingredients, no long list of spices, no twist on a classic. Instead this is as pure a Banana Bread recipe as you can get – the only addition being walnuts (as I think every great Banana Bread has to have texture!). You could use any nuts you like, pecans would also work well.

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I really enjoyed eating this as a breakfast treat, just cold and thickly sliced. It felt naughty, but everyone needs a treat every now and then… as I seem to tell myself every weekend!

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Rocky Road

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A rich chocolatey treat that’s ideal to make in advance for a crowd. A chocolate lover’s dream that will surely delight anyone, and really no one will believe this is dairy free!

Rocky Road is one of my favourite recipes to whip out whenever we have a big group of people over. Whoever they are, whatever their age, whatever their tastes – no one says no to a piece of Rocky Road! With chunks of biscuit, marshmallow, nuts and cranberries enveloped in a chocolate blanket you can quickly produce something with universal appeal in advance – which is a winner in my book when a large number of people descend on your house!

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I also think Rocky Road is the ultimate chocolate treat, duly satisfying the biggest of chocolate cravings. It is rich and dense, packed with tasty sweet treats making it very moreish. The pieces might look small but trust me when I say they pack a serious chocolate punch! The perilous thing is that it is so easy to make, and worse yet, you probably have most of these ingredients in your cupboard at any one time… you have been warned!

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For this Rocky Road I used Hobnobs as the biscuit for crunch (For those of you not in the UK and perhaps not familiar with Hobnobs, they are an oaty biscuit – a bit like a flapjack in cookie form. The most important thing, of course, is that they don’t contain any milk, which can be a hard thing to find in a good biscuit) and added hazelnuts to compliment the chocolate and give additional texture. I’ve used dried cranberries – but any dried fruit with a sweet/sour edge would be perfect, such as dried sour cherries. The fruit is a sweet relief that cuts through the thick, luscious chocolate.

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So, next time you need to bake for a crowd or just want to make yourself a chocolatey treat, give this Rocky Road a try!

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Lemon, Blueberry and Mint Loaf Cake

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Perfect for spring; a light and zesty cake with a hint of fresh mint and bursting with blueberries, drizzled with a lemon and mint icing.

Last weekend the weather was lovely: spring sunshine, warm days and with it came the first BBQ of the year! To celebrate it only made sense to make a cake as bright as the weather outside. This cake is a really lovely take on a traditional pound cake where the same weight of butter, sugar, eggs and flour are used for the sponge. This is my favourite type of recipe for a cake as it always reliably gives a light texture with a buttery and cake-y flavour. Terrible description of pound cake flavour (cake-y, of course it will be cake-y) but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever had a great pound cake.

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What I love about this recipe is that it just sings ‘Spring is Here!’. With a big hit of lemon zest and a hint of mint, the cake is refreshing and not too sweet. I always find lemon compliments food with a light texture, and that’s no different here. The blueberries really help keep the cake moist, and are a juicy fruity hit when you find them. You could, of course, change the blueberries for any other berries which are in season.

The cake in the picture was made with 4 eggs, which, with hindsight, was too big a cake to successfully have the blueberries suspended throughout – as you can see, almost all of my blueberries sunk to the bottom! Because the cake was so thick, it took too long to set whilst cooking and so the weighty blueberries went down, down, down, down…. When I did it again with only 3 eggs (as per the recipe below) the blueberries stayed beautifully spread throughout the cake. So a word of caution if you plan to make the cake any bigger!

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