Category Archives: vegan

Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

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A surprise success, you wouldn’t know these chocolate cupcakes have no eggs or dairy in them! If you need a reliable vegan chocolate cupcake recipe, look no further.

I’ll be honest – I was very sceptical of these. How can you have a cake with no eggs? Eggs are an absolute staple in baking, they underpin the structure of everything (deep, I know!) and you’re often taught not to play around with egg quantities and temperatures in concern of a recipe failing. So how on earth can you have a cake without eggs?

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Well, it turns out you can quite easily and without any funky, hard-to-track-down ingredients. I can’t really explain how the below ingredients make up for the lack of eggs, but they do and these cakes still come out delicious, light and fluffy. It’s magic!

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If you, like me, are new to the world of vegan cakes, I will warn you about two things. 1 Vegan cake batter is wetter than a usual cake batter. Don’t be afraid and think you’ve done something wrong! 2 Because of this, you need to make sure the cupcakes are properly baked. Something I would rarely advise, but err on the side of caution and bake them for another minute if you’re not sure if they are ready. As delightful as they are when they are fully baked, when under-baked they can get a little bit pasty. Imagine the texture of a very under-baked cookie… you know how it can have a bit of a mushy texture, and it hangs around in your mouth a little too long? That’s what can happen to these. So – you have been warned. Now… BAKE!

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Salted Caramel Nuts

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Salted, caramelised nuts; a great skill to have up your sleeve – use to top desserts or bakes, or even just eat straight as they are!

These nuts are simply delicious. They are dangerously moreish and unfortunately simple. Sugar work is made out to be an extremely complex thing- but as long as you have plan white caster sugar and a thick bottomed, scrupulously clean pan it’s a doddle.

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I first made these with Christmas in mind, but now find myself fantasising of all sorts of bakes which could involve these. You could use any nuts; I tried hazelnuts and pecans and both were brilliant. Think of the hazelnuts with delicious, vanilla ice cream. Think of pecans on a stack of pancakes!

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I’m not going to give you the best step-by-step instructions of making caramel in this post. Perhaps I will at a later stage when I can master taking photos and watching the sugar like a hawk at the same time! If you’ve never done it before, I would take some time to google making caramel, so you get a feel for what to do – but the best thing you can do, by far, is practice. Be prepared that it might be slightly over or under caramelised the first time – but trust me, perfection will come quickly, and it is so worth it once you get there.

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Filed under Gluten Free, Sweet treats, vegan

Baked Apples

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A delicious, healthy, low sugar dessert perfect for using whatever you have around the house. Stuffed with pecans, sultanas and cinnamon, the maple syrup and butter filling turns into a beautiful caramel sauce. 

The third and last of my healthy baking series are these simple baked apples. This is one of my favourite desserts all year round as it is so quick and involves things that I pretty much always have around the house. Plus, it is genuinely healthy (as far as you can have a healthy dessert of course!) because they are low in sugar and count as 1 of your 5 a day!

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I use maple syrup as the sugar in this recipe; you could use any sugar, but I personally love the flavour of maple syrup. Nothing compares in my book! Plus, as an unrefined sugar, it is marginally better for you that using refined white caster sugar… but let’s be honest – the choice should be all about the flavour (especially if it’s got base!). As the recipe also uses sultanas (you could use any dried fruit really) and a sweet eating apple, you don’t need to add much maple syrup at all. The dessert is already quite sweet on it’s own, making it a perfect weekday evening treat.

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If that doesn’t tempt you enough, then let me tell you that honestly the hardest bit of this dessert is cutting the centre out of the apples, which can be done with a small sharp knife or an apple corer if you’re lazy, like me. That really is as hard as it gets! Once this is done, all that is left is mixing the remaining ingredients and stuffing the centre, and then baking. Easy!

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My recipe uses sultanas, pecans and cinnamon – which is just perfect at this time of year when the warming spices infiltrate your house as the apples bake. But you could make these at any time of year, with anything you have in the cupboards really! Vanilla works well with walnuts and cranberries; or use pistachios and raisins. Really anything goes!

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Filed under dessert, Fruit, Gluten Free, vegan

Health(ier) Maple & Pecan Flapjacks

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A healthier flapjack recipe – just as tasty, but with no dairy, wheat, gluten or refined sugar! Although not as nutritious as a piece of fruit, there are worse things you could eat!

Flapjacks; although kind in appearance and reminiscent of school lunch boxes and picnics, they are generally not a healthy treat with so much butter and sugar. Yes, they may be oat-y, but trust me, normally, the bad definitely outweighs the good!

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This version contains no dairy (would you expect anything else?!), wheat, gluten, or refined sugars. But I’m not going to pretend that these are ‘healthy’… they do still contain good amounts of fats and sugars, but here it is about recognising that you can make a bad or a better choice in those categories. This is a great recipe when you feel you want a treat; but particularly at this time of the year when our diets tend to go out of the window slightly with the copious amounts of sweet treats and drinks, it’s good to have a choice.

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I’m a big maple syrup fan – and combined with pecan nuts, it’s flavour is intense enough not to need help from a long list of ingredients. I like to use quite a strong maple syrup – a 2 or 3 on the strength scale – which does help the flavour pack a punch, but you can of course use a lighter flavour version.

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By using just maple syrup in the recipe, we’ve avoided having any refined sugar in the recipe. Of course maple syrup is still sugar – you can’t get away from that fact – but as it contains more than just sugars in it’s make up, you eat less true sugars per gram. That doesn’t give you free reign to eat as much as you want, but again it’s about understanding how to make the better choice.

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I’m praising myself slightly too much here for making these gluten and wheat free. As most flapjacks are oat based – and oats are not wheat – most will be gluten and wheat free, technically. The important thing is if you are making this for someone with a gluten intolerance, make sure you buy gluten free oats. Most oats are produced in wheat factories, so there is a very high level of contamination. So you have been warned!

 

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Apple & Blackberry Crumble

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A healthy low added sugar dessert, perfect for feeding a crowd in a hurry. It’s the perfect recipe to have up your sleeve in time for Christmas!

Yes, I’m sorry – I’m joining the bandwagon and mentioning Christmas! It just doesn’t seem possible that it’s that time already, but then here we are. This recipe, and the recipes over the next few weeks are very much inspired by my holiday to Australia, and perhaps not in the way you’d expect (spoiler: No crocodile or kangaroo ingredients in sight!)

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As a baking blogger, at times it can seem quite irresponsible filling up people’s news feeds with tempting desserts and sweet bakes. I often get asked by people how do I stay slim if I eat all of this – and there’s one giant secret. A good balanced diet!! Yes, I may eat cookies, and chocolate desserts, and ice cream – but not every day. Most days, if I want a dessert I’m reaching for something smaller, healthier, and simpler, and that’s what I want to share with you all.

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Australia fits in with this because I think they’ve really nailed how to do healthy the tasty way. Particularly in Melbourne, there were so many amazing cafes and restaurants packed with people, and all serving purposefully healthy, delicious food. It really made me think about why I hadn’t shared some of these recipes before…

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This Apple Crumble may surprise you as being ‘healthy’, but actually, despite its butter and flour filled topping, it contains low added sugar. At just over 6g of sugar per portion you can have either a whole portion of crumble, or one third of a piece of these Raspberry & Amaretti Brownies… and let’s be honest. Who has just one brownie!?

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The crumble also has less flour in the topping that normal. By using a mixture of porridge oats, nuts and flour you up the nutritional content of the top, plus you get way more crunchiness – perfect for a crumble topping in my book! You could even take the healthiness of this dessert one step further and use gluten and wheat free flour instead.

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Overall, I hope you enjoy this mini series of recipes. In the run up to christmas where everywhere is filled with unhealthy food, it can be nice to have a healthier choice when you just fancy a bit of pudding….

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Vegan Coconut and Blueberry ‘Cheesecake’

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A vegan dessert that has convinced even me it is possible to replace cheesecake. Although not cheese-y in the slightest, this is a soft, creamy and fruity dessert sure to fill that cheesecake gap in your life!

OK… Let’s be honest…It can’t really be a cheesecake without cheese. So I’ve named it ‘cheesecake’ as I just couldn’t think of a more apt name for this creamy, fruity, delightful dessert. The filling is soft and light, which surprisingly comes from cashew nuts, coconut milk and coconut oil. Sometimes I think coconut can be an over-used flavour in dairy-free baking, however I loved it paired with blueberries. It is certainly a favour combination I would like to try with other things – pancakes or french toast perhaps?!

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One thing that really attracted me to this recipe was that it used what I would call proper ingredients – sometimes I find that dairy-free and vegan recipes can have all sorts of weird ingredients in them and you have no idea what they are or where to buy them from. The creaminess in this ‘cheesecake’ comes from cashew nuts and coconut milk; together, when blended, they produce the most delightful, soft and creamy textured thick paste (sounds delightful, I know, but bear with me), which when chilled has almost the same texture as cream cheese. And because cashew nuts have such a gentle flavour, it leaves room for the coconut and blueberries to stand out.

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The other thing I have to admit is that I cheated slightly for the aesthetics of the dessert. This is very unlike me, but I have to admit I added a few drops of purple food colouring into the mix. Perhaps we have different varieties of blueberries here; whereas the blueberries from the original recipe turned the ‘cheesecake’ a brilliant hue of violet, mine turned it a distinct shade of grey… So I cheated and added a tiny bit of food colouring. Let’s be honest – it’s hardly the worst crime in the world and aesthetics of a dessert are important!

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As someone who has not eaten a real cheesecake for a very long time, this ‘cheesecake’ was delicious. It really hit the spot for a sweet creamy dessert, and the buttery biscuit base reminded me of the childhood cheesecakes my mum used to make. The dessert was also surprisingly easy and didn’t require baking. Really, apart from melting butter, this was more of an assembly job! The base is frozen, and, once chilled, the blended mixture is poured on top, and then the ‘cheesecake’ is frozen. Thawed thoroughly before eating, it looses any frozen texture and tastes deliciously like a chilled dessert. It may not be a real cheesecake, but it certainly came close!

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Chocolate Orange Shortbread Biscuits

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Deliciously like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange in biscuit form, these sweet but zesty shortbreads work for just about any occasion. Chocolatey and packed with orange zest whilst being simple to bake, these biscuits will appeal to everyone and can be made in just a few minutes with store cupboard ingredients.

Of all my bakes so far for this blog, these have to be one of my favourites. I just can’t resist the combination of orange and chocolate – it brings back so many childhood memories of waiting on Christmas day to find that Terry’s Chocolate Orange in your stocking from Father Christmas. Chocolate Oranges (along with Twixes) are still, to this day, one of the few foods I wistfully look at, thinking about how bad would it be if I ate a piece….

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As well as hitting that chocolate orange sweet spot, these shortbreads are also really simple to bake. Relying on almost all store cupboard ingredients, it makes them dangerously easy to make at anytime. For all their simplicity, the finishing touch of melted, drizzled chocolate seems to turn them from a simple concept to an almost premium looking biscuit. In the right packaging these could certainly pass for a Marks and Spencer’s biscuit.

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The other great thing about these is that there is always time for a biscuit. AM or PM, it just can’t go wrong – on your own, or with your family round, there’s always a good reason to eat a biscuit. So although these keep extremely well for a few days, it really is quite unlikely you will have any left…

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Dairy Free Garlic Bread

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A different take on classic buttery garlic bread; a ciabatta loaf generously covered in garlic, dried oregano and thyme, rubbed with olive oil and sea salt and baked. A great accompaniment to a lot of dinners!

Garlic bread is quite a departure from the normal sweet tooth bakes I post on here. However, it is still baked (so totally appropriate to post on here, right?!) and I felt quite an important one to post. I used to love garlic bread – I would have fought you for a whole plate of Pizza Express garlic dough balls anytime – dripping with butter, perhaps coated with cheese, and always stuffed full of garlic. And then when I gave up dairy, I was a bit stumped. I had always bought garlic bread. Or eaten it in restaurants. And I get that the premise is simply garlic and butter – but that never seemed quite the same when I tried it!

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I eventually came across a Jamie Oliver recipe, which was a great change from a standard, buttery garlic bread. Instead of butter, it used olive oil. Instead of a baguette, it used a ciabatta loaf. It was also covered in dried herbs and well seasoned. Now that looked interesting! That was something I had to try. And since then, I’ve mourned the loss of my dough balls no more. Well – a lot less!

The recipe is really simple and uses all store cupboard ingredients. All you need is a knife and an oven. No excuses not to try!

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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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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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