Category Archives: Sweet treats

Vegan Hot Cross Buns

 

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Vegan Hot Cross Buns; moist with grated apple, warm with gentle spices, and sweet with dried cranberries, these are worth every minute of work. Get baking, there’s less than a month till Easter!

It just wouldn’t be Easter without Hot Cross Buns. Maybe this is something very specific to the UK but here you know Christmas is over when the mince pies are replaced with Hot Cross Buns even though Easter is still 3 months away! That being said, this is not a complaint as I love the ever changing seasons, and what better way to celebrate than with food that reminds you that warmer weather is on the way.

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This is my second Hot Cross Bun recipe on the blog. Without eggs, these are slightly lighter and more justifiably a breakfast food, and potentially slightly better for you! For me, this was all about making sure I still had a way to eat a tasty, delicious, and fresh Hot Cross Bun in time for Easter!

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My Hot Cross Buns are heavier with fruit than normal. As well as the traditional mixed peel and sultanas, I’ve added grated apple and dried cranberries for a nice sweet and sour hit. The apples tend to melt away here, but they keep the buns deliciously moist and sweet.

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These don’t need any topping apart from a light scraping of dairy free butter, and perhaps a smidge of honey or golden syrup if you eat these for elevenses. Personally, this is one of my breakfast treats, but that doesn’t mean I can’t eat them at 11, and again at 4, and again after dinner!

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Doughnuts, Take 2!

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Vegan doughnuts, so naughty and so good. Yes they involve a bit of deep frying, but, trust me, they are sooo worth the effort!

Who knew vegan doughnuts could be so good? Honestly, I’ll never go back to making them with eggs (even if I could eat them!) as it’s just not necessary! This is such a good recipe that’s quick to make, and if you can be brave to deep fry them, you’ll never go back to buying any sort of doughnut.

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I chose to fill my doughnuts with raspberry jam. It’s a classic for a reason, right? These are definitely my favourite was to finish off a doughnut… I don’t know what in life could be better than biting into a freshly made still warm doughnut, sticky and crunchy on the outside with an explosion of jam in the centre that just dribbles all over your fingers.

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These are definitely quite high up on the naughty scale… I know you can bake doughnuts…. but personally I sort of think if you’re going to eat one, do it properly and make it fried. The baked ones, although good, just miss the addictive texture of soft, fluffy dough in the middle with a crisp skin on the outside. These definitely hit the spot! And with quite a lot of sugar in them already, the extra bit of oil from frying really isn’t going to kill you!

I might do another post showing some other ways to finish off these doughnuts soon. I’m making it sound like that’s for your benefit…when really it just justifies me eating these again!

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Vegan Crepe Pancakes

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Fabulously simple, it’s hard to believe these are vegan. These are still as light and moreish as their eggy counterparts, just a teeny bit better for you.

I love pancakes, and every year I like to focus on bringing a new pancake recipe to the blog. This year, however, you’re being treated to two new recipes – both vegan! Although I’ve always been keen to experiment with more vegan recipes, I will admit that I have another personal reason for now giving it a wholehearted go (but that is a story for another time). Safe to say for now that finding a way to make great vegan pancakes has been a big part of my happiness in the last few months. The approaching Pancake Day (next Tuesday 28th Feb!!) is just a great excuse to share them!

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I will admit that I was very sceptical of vegan crepes working. I just couldn’t understand how they could hold together without an egg… let alone how they could be as light yet crispy as a ‘normal’ pancake. But these really are, and they honestly use the simplest of ingredients; flour, baking powder, non dairy milk and oil. That’s it. Unless you count the lemon and sugar toppings of course!

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I’ve said it before that I think baking powder is the secret to amazing vegan baking, and here it is no exception. The purpose of the baking powder here isn’t really to ‘rise’ the pancake, but to give it a light texture from all the air bubbles – much like an egg does. The only thing then that you’re missing is the fat. Ever so important in baking, this is such a key step to cracking vegan recipes. So don’t be put off by the oil content. It may sound a lot, but trust me when I say it’s needed to help bind the pancakes together, and to give them flavour.

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So here it is… my last pancake recipe for Pancake Day 2017. I personally don’t think these need anything other than a light sprinkle of sugar followed by a generous squeeze of lemon. But maybe that’s because I’m old school! Go mental with these and top them however you like – chocolate sauce and banana, ice cream and caramelised oranges… the combinations are delicious and endless!

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Vegan Banoffee Pancakes

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Fluffy American Banoffee pancakes, good for breakfast or dessert! And just in time for Pancake Day!

So, you might be seeing a lot more vegan recipes on here from now on! That story is for another post though, so here you’re just going to hear me marvel about how you can still make delicious, soft and chewy American pancakes with no dairy and no eggs!

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How, I hear you say?! Well, it seems that often the best results come from using no traditional egg replacers at all, but a simple bit of added baking powder. Perhaps the end result is slightly denser than an eggy-American pancake – but, with the added banana and caramel you are honestly not going to notice or care!

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I often make these for breakfast (without the caramel, but I will admit I add a light drizzle of maple syrup at the end!) but with Pancake Day fast approaching (28th of February people, get that date in your diaries!!) I thought I would add a special sweet pancake to my blog’s collection.

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I love caramel, and as I alluded to in my Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, and have become slightly obsessed. It just goes with everything, and at least with some banana and cinnamon in here you can *almost* trick yourself into thinking these are healthy! They are delicious though, and perfect topped with ice-cream and lashings of the caramel sauce. These would make a fantastic Pancake Day dessert!

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Passionfruit Bars

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Delicious passionfruit curd topped shortbread bites, perfect for a posh afternoon tea or after dinner bite with coffee. Deceptively simple to make, I can’t wait to try these with a variety of flavours!

 I saw a version of these somewhere in a magazine, and thought they looked so pretty and dainty. I definitely wouldn’t describe my style of baking as dainty… as much as I’d love to try and conquer the grand macaron, I’m just not sure I have the patience.

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And that was how I went into making these… let’s try and succeed something dainty. And it seemed that actually, the only thing that’s dainty about these is the size you cut them into! It really is nothing more tricky than a tray bake, cut into delicious teeny-tiny pieces.

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And what a treat is contained in these little bites… sweet, crumbly shortbread, topped with a sweet and sour passionfruit curd, then dusted generously with icing sugar. The passionfruit curd makes a delicious change from lemon; it’s subtly sweeter, and this curd recipe gives it a good strong passionfruit flavour. This recipe uses fresh passionfruit which allows you to decide how many of the seeds to keep in – by keeping half, it gave a lovely crunch to these otherwise quite soft bites.

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Amaretto & Honey Custard

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The perfect accompaniment for any dessert that goes with almonds; Think pastries, apples, or autumnal stoned fruits. So simple, you’ll question why you’ve not made custard before!

This custard was made to go alongside this Apple & Frangipane Gallette, but honestly would be perfect with many, many desserts! Custard is a wonderfully simple thing to make, but this knowledge makes it ever so slightly dangerous…. you end up in a situation where custard is literally at your fingertips all the time!

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Apple & Frangipane Gallette

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A family sized, sharing pudding made with homemade rough puff pastry, frangipane, and sweet apple compote, served with an almond liqueur custard . All far more complicated than it sounds, this is essentially a glorified apple pie!

You know how sometimes the best things are borne from accidents? Yeah, well this was one of them – an accident I’m absolutely thrilled happened and worked! So, what was this accident, I hear you ask? I happened to have a good portion of un-used frangipane in the fridge (as you do!), and had a bit of a craving for autumnal flavours. Combined with wanting to see if I could master rough puff pastry dairy free, this dessert began to take shape.

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If you don’t fancy going the whole hog and making rough puff, you could easily substitute this for shop bought puff pastry – make the rough puff if you have the time, as I promise it’s so rewarding seeing all the layers of flakey pastry once cooked and knowing you did that! – but I’ll admit cheating with shop bought does help this dessert come together a lot faster.

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The pastry shell looks a little fancy – you could even call it free form! – but is stupidly easy. Just don’t tell your impressed guests! You simply pile the fillings into the centre of a large circle of pastry, and pull in the corners and pinch them together. Wash on a bit of egg glaze, sprinkle with sugar, and voila; perfection.

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The fillings themselves are even more special (and simple) than the pastry. Frangipane is one of the simplest fillings you could ever make (chuck in a bowl and mix kinda simple), and gives any pudding a sweet, intense, almond-y flavour. Hidden under the apple compote, it’s the perfect complimentary companion to the other flavours.

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You could serve this with any accompaniment you like, but this Amaretto & Honey Custard is just perfect.

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Hazelnut Custard

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Thick, creamy, hazelnut custard. The perfect accompaniment to any chocolate dessert, or simply poured over ice cream. 

Ok, so before I gave up dairy, making custard from scratch seemed like a completely pointless exercise. Why make it when it’s so readily available, in all it’s thick, vanilla-y, custard-y goodness?? And then I realised how much I had taken this for granted when suddenly these options were gone!

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It’s not that you can’t buy dairy free custard – you can, it’s quite good and I eat a lot of it, but sometimes it just doesn’t go with everything. Custard is also a wonderful ‘base’ ingredient that has lots of different uses (ice cream, creme patisserie, the list goes on…), and the dairy free shop bought stuff just doesn’t always cut it.

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I started by trying to make a good vanilla custard, however I have to admit that this recipe is still in development – soy is a strong flavour to try and cover up! But it was in the midst of these failed custards that I found hazelnut custard… Here, there’s no covering up; this is all about letting the hazelnut flavour shine.

The next few week’s recipes will focus on using this hazelnut custard in a different ways; there’s an ice cream coming up that is a particular highlight. So use this week to get perfecting your custard. It’s really not difficult to make at all, and a great excuse to have a few sneaky puddings – try it warm, poured over these classic brownies to start with.

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Apple Dessert Pancakes

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A perfect dessert pancake; light and fluffy yet more indulgent than something appropriate for breakfast. This recipe would be ideal for Pancake Day which is now just around the corner on February 9th!

I really do love Pancake Day; maybe it’s because I’m very non discriminatory – I love all food related holidays!- but a day dedicated (sort of) to pancakes, what’s not to love! That being said, I almost always do the same two types of pancakes on pancake day. A good old crepe and these Blueberry Pancakes. This year, I thought it was time to branch out, so, voila – Apple Pancakes!

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These are as deliciously easy as the blueberry variety; a simple store-cupboard ingredient list, grated apple, and a pinch of cinnamon. To top them, I’ve made some caramelised apple slices which are more than a little bit naughty. The thin slices of apple are gently caramelised in golden caster sugar and butter and by letting them cook gently, the apples get very soft, and almost jelly like. Sounds odd, but trust me it works!

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I drizzled mine with maple syrup – I’ll use any excuse to add a bit of maple syrup wherever it can go, so these pancakes were of course not going to be an exception! A small scoop of ice cream didn’t go amiss either, but this really is entirely optional. Although the pancakes themselves are sweeter than I would make for breakfast, I need the ice cream to really make it feel like dessert.

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The other great thing about these pancakes (just in case I haven’t already given you reason good enough!) is that you can do them easily for a crowd. These pancakes keep really well once baked; just put in a foil covered oven proof dish to reheat again when needed. And if there’s something I like even more than eating the pancakes, it’s sharing the day with a big group of people, all huddled round a small table, stuffed to the brim, but begging for just one more pancake!

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Raspberry Marshmallows

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Light as air, melt in the mouth, flavoursome Raspberry Marshmallows. These are the absolute indulgent treat; if you’ve never had a homemade marshmallow before now, then I’m begging you to try this recipe!

As I mentioned before, I’m lucky enough to have gotten engaged to my boyfriend (or I suppose Fiancé now, although neither of us can say the word with a straight face!) in October. We’ve done a fair bit of wedding planning, including booking our venue, but it was whilst searching for one that I had my very first homemade marshmallow.

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As we went from venue to venue, plied with champagne and chocolates (not dairy free, unfortunately, although of course Matt did not complain!), we were really beginning to flag. And then, at the lovely Stanwell House Hotel in Lymington, they had trays and trays of these perfectly formed, identical, pink raspberry marshmallows. They were just…. amazing. So much so that although the venue wasn’t perfect for us, I couldn’t stop myself from going on and on about how amazing it was (read: the marshmallows completely overtook my opinion of everything else!).

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After eating a homemade marshmallow, I think it will be hard to ever eat a shop bought again. These just literally melt in the mouth… they’re so light and airy, and surprisingly less sweet than usual. Don’t get me wrong – they are still by far the sweetest thing I’ve ever baked. But as they’re not as sweet as usual, you can eat more… which is definitely dangerous. The other way in which they significantly differ is flavour. There’s no way you could mistake these for anything other than raspberry flavoured; whereas those pink marshmallows you buy in the supermarket bags – any idea what flavour they are? – they’re raspberry too!

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Before I started looking at homemade marshmallow recipes, I wasn’t really sure what was in them. When you look at the back of a shop bought packet, the ingredients are really a little vague. Proper marshmallows are egg white, sugar, gelatine, and flavouring – and are simpler to make than I thought. I’m not going to pretend that this is a super simple bake as it definitely requires a sugar thermometer and ideally a free standing mixer or second pair of hands. It also requires multitasking – they key to perfect marshmallows is getting your egg whites and sugar syrup ready at the same time. Even I will admit that I failed miserably on this at the first time – my egg whites got way over whipped, so I had to bin them and start again… whoops!

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I would definitely advise making these for a large group (or take the rest into the office!) as it makes a surprisingly huge amount from only two eggs, and this will help reduce the risk of eating them all… something I did seriously have to think about! I now daydream about the many other possible flavours I could make, so watch this space for more!

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