Dairy Free Digestive Biscuits

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Delicious dairy free imitations of the British classic – the chocolate digestive biscuit! Crumbly, sweet biscuit, generously topped with chocolate makes it the perfect dunker in a  cup of tea.

I will admit that although I generally don’t struggle with being dairy free anymore, I do miss the ease of being able to pick up a packet of something in a shop, and devouring it without giving consideration to the ingredients. I have several things I really miss like this, with Twixs topping the list, and milk chocolate digestives following in a close second. I ate an unreasonable amount of digestives whilst at uni…. they used to be my treat for studying (1 biscuit every time I turned the page… it was an excellent encouragement!).

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I can’t swear that these are an exact replica of the elusive chocolate digestive, but what I can promise is that these are a delicious substitute. Unfortunately, they do require you spend some time baking them as even McVities dark chocolate digestives contain milk (McVities, if you’re reading this – we would all appreciate if that changed!!), but they are worth the effort if you’re looking for a great, dunk-able, chocolate biscuit recipe.

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The other great thing about making these yourself is that you can control the sugar in them. This is not about a health kick! Simply making the biscuits fit to different tastes… although I’m a great lover of dark chocolate, and (despite starting up a baking business!) don’t have a huge sweet-tooth myself, I do acknowledge that some people do. So, if this sounds like you, don’t be afraid to add another 15g of sugar.

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Top these however you like; personally, I loved them plain, just topped with dark chocolate. However, go as fussy as you like! I also topped some with finely chopped hazelnuts, but you could try dried fruit, other nuts, or a mix of different types of dairy free chocolate if you preferred.

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Amaretti & Nectarine Muffins

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An unusual, but deliciously flavoured muffin; packed with fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits, with a generous grown up twist of Disaronno, these muffins sure do make a tasty treat!

Ok, so I’ll admit by saying these muffins were much, much, much more delicious that they look! Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I should have considered leaving some of the delicious fresh nectarine and amaretti biscuits just for the topping… I just got a bit over-keen as it all smelt so good, and before I knew it, I’d run out and it was all in the muffin mix…. you live and learn – and, remember, never judge a book by it’s cover!

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So, personal complaint about the look of the muffins being over, lets get on to the good stuff. These muffins were delicious. I adapted a muffin that was suggested for a not-so-wholesome breakfast, and turned it into a good old fashioned tea time treat. I kept a lot of the goodness in there, namely, that they’re relatively low in sugar (for a muffin – there’s a still a lot of sugar in these!) as they get a lot of sweetness from the fresh nectarine, and use yoghurt in the batter, adding a good dose of protein.

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Then, what better pairing than fresh fruit and almond? I struggle to think of a fruit I wouldn’t want to add almonds to! Nectarines, peaches, plums and berries are, however, some of my favourite fruits to combine with almonds, and the combination in these muffins is perfect. To ramp up the almond flavour, I’ve used almond flavoured non dairy yoghurt, amaretti biscuits (they also add a delightful, sweet crunch to the soft and tender crumb of the muffin) and of course a healthy dose of Disaronno liqueur.

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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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Black Forest Naked Cake

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A decadent, rich, and indulgent naked cake. Featuring all the best loved flavours of the old school Black Forest gateau, this cake is ideal for a crowd on a special occasion.

There are many things I love about this blog, but giving me life direction surely has to be one of them! I started this blog when I really wasn’t enjoying adult life, and slowly it has helped me piece together what I want to do. Bravely, in about 6 months time, I will become a full time baker, specialising in allergy friendly bakes. I’m so excited about this, but also slightly nervous – cue getting in as much practice as possible of big, grand cakes!

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To celebrate a weekend bash at ours with some of our closest friends, and to use the best of the seasonal flavours (hello, fresh cherries!!), this cake came to life. My fiancee loves all things chocolate, so Black Forest flavours seemed perfect to combine the best of both.

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Black Forest gateau, for those of you not in the know, is a traditional German dessert made with light chocolate sponges, doused in the cherry liqueur Kirsch, filled and topped with whipped cream and black cherries. It is both rich and light at the same time, and these days slightly reminiscent of the 80’s!

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This cake takes all the best flavours of the gateau, and brings it into 2016 in the form of a naked cake. Between the three layers of chocolate sponge is a rich buttercream, dusted with cocoa, and then topped with a sour Morello cherry jam. The top of the cake is piled high with woodland fruits, before having a cherry compote and chocolate sauce drizzled over it.

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Although this cake would be perfect with a coffee at tea time, it screams to be eaten as a dessert. This cake is wonderfully rich and filling, so add a side of more fresh cherries and berries for contrast.

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Gingernuts

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Crisp and crunchy ginger biscuits, based on the infamous ‘Gingernut’. These are simple, quick, hard to get wrong, and pack a wonderfully strong ginger punch.

These biscuits came around when I was in need of a quick fix… I really fancied a biscuit, but had very little lying around the house. After a quick, rushed look through the cupboards, I found I still had half a packet of crystallised ginger, and decided I would give ginger biscuits a try.

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Now, I have to admit that I never ate a Gingernut biscuit before I cut out dairy – but many people since have sampled these and tell me they’re even better than the original. The amount of ginger here is not for the faint hearted. By using crystallised ginger and ground ginger, the flavour is unmistakeable, and almost a little on the warm side. I also, controversially, use demerara sugar in my Gingernuts. I love the caramel flavour it adds to any baking dish, and here, it really ramps up the crunchiness.

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Often, I complain that I rarely go back to my good bakes and do them again. I’m always on the hunt for a new recipe to write, and as there are only two of us in our household, we already have a lot of sweet things to eat just from one recipe a week! However, these I can truly say have been the exception to the rule. I have so far made them 5 times since the first trial… and am making them again as we speak! If that’s not testament enough to their greatness, then I just don’t know what is!

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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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Banoffee Muffins

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A mix of two fantastic things – banana and toffee – I am still to find anyone who doesn’t love banoffee! These quick to put together muffins are delicious and easy, and the perfect any-time treat.

So we just moved house – life has understandably been a little hectic, and so apologies that the recipes have been a little few and far between! However, this recipe is a real winner, and only really came about because we moved house.

We were lucky enough to have my other half’s parents come and help us with a bit of DIY just before we moved in, and I felt that a days hard work (on a  bank holiday weekend no less!) deserved a treat. We were purposely running our store cupboards low, but we did seem to have an almost endless supply of bananas and various types of sugar. So out came the idea for a banoffee muffin. Sugary and sweet to keep us filled with energy during the somewhat fun and stressful task of DIY.

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These muffins are deliciously moist and very hard to get wrong. It’s also a great way to use up old bananas that might otherwise be destined for the bin. With a quick caramel sauce for the toffee flavour, and packed full of bananas, it uses such a classic flavour combination that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who disliked these!

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Oreo Cupcakes

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Rich chocolate cupcakes topped with vanilla buttercream, stuffed with Oreo cookies throughout. From a hidden cookie at the bottom of the cake, right through to crushed Oreos in the buttercream, it seems that the only thing to make a chocolate cake even better is a cookie!

Yes… I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and continued this trend. I was too intrigued not to try! What’s not to like about the idea of combining cookies and cake?!

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I still remember when I found out Oreos were dairy free. It was like the light at the end of the tunnel smacked me in the face! Because not only did it mean I could actually eat Oreos… but I also started checking other biscuit types to see what they were made of. And lo and behold, quite a lot of surprising biscuits are dairy free! Take the classic, chocolate bourbon biscuit. Most of them are dairy free! So if you ever want to butter me up (not literally of course), a sneaky dairy free Oreo or bourbon biscuit is the way to do it.

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However, getting back to the point of these cakes – I really was intrigued by the idea of combining biscuits and cakes. Like a good mash-up song, it seemed like something that should really work, and great news – it did! The cakes are typically moreish, and with a soft, vanilla flavoured buttercream, it would have been hard to go wrong. But then add in a crunchy, surprise oreo hidden at the bottom of the cupcake. And add some crushed oreos to the cake and buttercream for little, crispy nuggets of flavour and you are on to an absolute winner!

 

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I can by no means claim to be the genius who first came up with this idea… however, it has left me with a lot of thoughts of what else could we make a hybrid out of…. watch this space!

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Salted Caramel Ginger Cake

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A devilishly dark and sticky cake, made all the better with a considerable amount of crystallised ginger for a bit of fiery kick. It’s even better the day after baking, if you can hold off eating it all at once!

I love ginger. It’s one of those things that appear on our shopping list each week without fail. We cook a lot of asian inspired food, and it’s a quick and guaranteed way of packing a punch quickly. However, despite having it around, I’d never really thought before about using it as a baking ingredient. Having researched ways to use ginger, I found a recipe for a caramel and ginger cake. It sounded too good not to try, and despite being a little bit dubious, I’m so glad I did! It was just delicious.

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This cake is simple to make, with an amazing quick caramel sauce used as both an ingredient in the sponge and a topping. I will definitely be using this caramel sauce again! It gave the sponge a real depth of flavour that can be hard to achieve in quite a plainly flavoured sponge, and the extra wet ingredients kept the it perfectly moist. Then the ginger – crystallised ginger in this case – is roughly chopped and just folded into the cake batter. It is the ginger flavour that benefits from being left an extra day. It wasn’t necessarily stronger, just more consistent across the cake, and the ginger chunks in the sponge had almost melted away.

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Although you could definitely tell this was no diet cake, it’s a treat I can’t wait to have again. For a simple recipe, it packs quite the flavour-filled punch!

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