Tag Archives: Cake

Triple Chocolate Muffins

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A moist, squidgey, and seriously chocolatey muffin perfect for any chocoholic – even a dairy free one!

These chocolate muffins are another one of those ‘I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to post it!’ recipes. I think I will forever remember asking my mum to make these one last time before I trialled giving up dairy (who knew that it would quickly become permanent!) – because I couldn’t possibly imagine never eating them again! These were the one thing I really wanted one last time because these muffins are seriously good, and seriously chocolatey. There’s no endless list of fancy flavours in these – it’s just chocolate, chocolate and, you guessed it, more chocolate!

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This recipe is for triple chocolate muffins – meaning a combination of milk, white and dark chocolate is used. The original recipe uses equal amounts of all three chocolates; I’ve increased the amount of dark chocolate, and really reduced the amount of dairy free milk chocolate. I find dairy free chocolate alternatives (particularly milk and white chocolate) can distinctly lack a chocolatey flavour – so by ramping up the amount of dark you keep the intense chocolate effect, but you keep it light and sweet enough with the addition of the white and milk chocolate. Dairy free white chocolate can be a bit hit and miss; I would encourage everyone to try different varieties from different shops to find one that tastes good and melts properly. I’m still searching for the perfect replacement but the best one I’ve found in the UK is Tesco’s own brand dairy free white chocolate buttons.

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The original recipe comes from BBC Good Food’s ‘Chocolate’ mini magazine from their April 2005 edition (that just proves how well loved this recipe is in my family – 10 years and still going strong!) and apart from substituting the butter and chocolate for dairy free alternatives, the only other change I’ve made is to use yoghurt and vinegar instead of soured cream. This is a great way to substitute soured cream in a recipe where it doesn’t matter than the consistency is a little thinner – and it works perfectly here.

When my mum used to make these it would be lucky if there was one left 20 minutes after they’d been baked. If, somehow, you’ve managed to resist scoffing them all immediately, warm them up in the microwave for 15 – 20 seconds to take them back to that perfectly freshly baked gooey mess they should be.

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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

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Sweet yet tart lemon cupcakes, perfect for a special occasion. A lemon sponge, filled with a pop of lemon curd in the middle, topped with light as air Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

These cupcakes are something special. Lemony to the core (literally!), but topped with Swiss Meringue Buttercream which is definitely worth the effort. This was the first time I’d eaten (let alone made) Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and despite the process being quite lengthy, the result was spectacular. Like a cross between a marshmallow and traditional buttercream, it is the smoothest, lightest icing you will ever eat. Also a bonus that it’s not too sweet, which works wonderfully well with lemons.

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I left these as just pure and simple lemon, which seems just right to show off the two ‘technical’ elements of this cake. Both the Lemon Curd and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream might seem quite daunting, but the good thing is you can do both of them in advance! The Lemon Curd will keep in an unopened jar for a couple of months and the buttercream can be kept in the fridge for a few days before use. Then all you need to do is bake the cupcakes, which I promise is exceedingly simple!

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If the Swiss Meringue Buttercream seems like a step too far, then a regular buttercream would also work well. You will get a sweeter result, but that’s not always a bad thing! Simply cream together 1 part butter to 1 and 1/2 parts icing sugar, and then add lemon curd to taste. I have to say this is one of my favourite buttercreams – the eggs in the curd help the buttercream go a very very pale colour, and it really lightens up the texture.

These cupcakes would make a wonderful gift or treat on a special occasion, and I can promise they will be gratefully received by anyone…. except perhaps someone who doesn’t like lemons!

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Lemon Curd

IMG_1536Dairy free lemon curd – a sweet but tart, luscious spread with a punchy lemon hit. Ideal for filling cakes, flavouring buttercream or even just slathering onto ice cream!

Lemon curd is just one of those things I never thought I would be able to make. For some reason those mysterious jars of bright yellow, tart goodness just seemed like they would be too complicated to make at home. Not that I understood how it was made, of course – more that it just seemed the kind of thing that only Delia Smith or Mary Berry could pull off.

So what is lemon curd? Perhaps for many of my non UK readers this sounds very unfamiliar and strange! Well, I’ll give you the practical description, and then my own description. Lemon curd is essentially eggs, butter, lemon juice and zest. It is slowly cooked over low heat until the eggs cook and thicken, and the curd can coat the back of a spoon. But that sounds so unappealing!!

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A much better description is this; a luscious, sweet but tart smooth mixture, the consistency of a thick sauce (somewhere between chocolate spread and hoisin sauce – strange description I know, but I think it sums it up well!), with a really big punchy lemon flavour. You can make different fruit curds (I love raspberry curd and will do a post on that later this summer!) and it can be used in lots of ways – such as spreading on toast, filling a cake or flavouring buttercream, just to name a few.

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So, despite my worry about making it, giving up dairy meant I had to find a way to eat lemon curd again… nothing else quite hits the spot like it! And actually when I finally was brave enough to try I realised it wasn’t really that hard. I tried various recipes and liked this Delia Smith one best. Don’t get me wrong – it is definitely a nerve wracking experience the first few times (and if you, like me, end up with scrambled eggs it can really put you off trying again!) but once you get the hang of it and know what to expect, it feels easier and is definitely worth it.

 

This is my first two part post – so if you weren’t already tempted to give this a try, next week I’ll be posting these Lemon Meringue Cupcakes where the curd is used as a filling and a flavouring for the buttercream. So go on, be brave and give it a try!!

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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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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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Carrot Cake (Gluten, Wheat and Dairy free – no one will know the difference!)

IMG_2214 Carrot cake is the marmite of cakes – people either love it or they hate it. I’m a strange one, a carrot cake convert we might say. I never used to like it (perhaps I thought all carrot cake tasted very carrot-y?) but was 100% converted by this recipe. It is now one of my go-to’s if I fancy making a quick cake.

Even better, I think I’ve really cracked making a cake gluten, wheat and dairy free without people being able to tell. I can boldly say this as I did quite a few taste tests on people at work and no one could tell the difference. I have a colleague who is unable to eat gluten or wheat, so often I’ve been put off bringing my baking to work knowing how it feels to be the one missing out. However, I thought this would be a great recipe to attempt switching the flour for an alternative because, as far as cakes go, carrot cakes have a relatively low amount of flour in them as they are also held together by the carrot. I used Doves Farm’s gluten and wheat free self raising flour and I have to say I was pleased and amazed at the results. I will definitely be making them again and trying some different cake recipes with the flour.

This carrot cake has an interesting mix of ingredients, but do give it a try as they work perfectly together. The sultanas are bursts of sweetness throughout the cake, a good contrast to the crunch of the walnuts; and the coconut, cinnamon and nutmeg compliment the sweet carrot flavour to make the cake very aromatic.

The recipe also calls for quite a lot of carrots, so choose your carrots carefully based on how carrot-y you like your carrot cake. It is quite simple… If you want a stronger carrot flavour, use fresh carrots – the lovely bright orange juicy ones. If you don’t want a very carrot-y carrot cake, use older carrots – the slightly duller in colour and drier ones. Like I said, simples! IMG_2220 Continue reading

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Chocolate Truffle Cake

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Deliciously rich, moist and intense chocolate cake with a hazelnut truffle buttercream filling and covered in chocolate ganache, it’s perfect for any special occasion. No one will ever believe this is dairy free!

Is there any cake as universally loved as chocolate cake? Certainly not in my experience, and what’s wonderful about chocolate cake is the huge variety you can make. A chocolate cake can be light, sweet and perfect for an afternoon treat or it can be rich, dark and decadent. This cake without a doubt falls into the second category.

The chocolate sponge gets its depth of flavour and soft texture from some surprising ingredients – melted chocolate, coffee and coconut yoghurt. The chocolate and coffee provide the intense chocolate flavour – be sure not to skip the coffee, you really can’t taste it but it helps bring out the chocolate flavour like nothing else. The coconut yoghurt is added to help the cake stay soft and moist and it provides a slightly tangy unsweet flavour which works well in such a rich cake. You could use any type of plain non dairy yoghurt but I preferred coconut. You can’t taste the coconut flavour, but it provides the tang of normal yoghurts which I find most non dairy yoghurts lack.

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The hazelnut truffle buttercream filling has to be one of my favourite things about this cake and no words will do it justice. Naughtily smooth, sweet and chocolatey but less rich than the ganache, it is the perfect filling to provide sweetness to the rest of the cake. It’s called ‘truffle’ filling because you could refrigerate this buttercream and when cold, spoon it into little truffles… Not that I did that of course…

To finish off the cake I’ve covered it with chocolate ganache and chopped roasted hazelnuts. Ganache is just chocolate and cream but it makes the perfect cover for a special occasion cake, shiny and smelling divine it makes the cake irresistible to all… even to those rare people who say they don’t like chocolate cake!

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Raspberry Meringue Cupcakes

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Happy New Year! I find it strange the way January starts the year. After all the excitement in December, January can seem dull and plain with little to look forward to. So today I created these cupcakes, full of wonderful summery flavours to remind us that winter will shortly be giving way to the brighter seasons.

These cupcakes are lightly flavoured with lemon and then with a hit of raspberry in the centre – provided by my homemade Raspberry Curd in this instance – but you could easily do this with raspberry jam if making curd is a step too far! Raspberries are, in my opinion, one of the best summer fruits. Once they are back in season I will do a step by step post on how to make raspberry curd – it is well worth the time and effort.

— Update! — If you would like to see how to make the Raspberry Curd, the full recipe is here.

I decided to top these cupcakes with meringue as Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourite desserts, and it makes such a nice change to heavy buttercream as a topping. I’ve used Italian Meringue as it is already cooked by the time you top the cupcakes by whisking in a hot sugar syrup so it doesn’t create any wetness on your cakes. Plus its tasty 😀

Enjoy!

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Hazelnut Mocha Cupcakes

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These cupcakes combine three of my favourite flavours… coffee, chocolate and hazelnuts! They look very impressive, but with the right kit and a bit of know how really are quite simple. That’s the beauty of baking 🙂 These hit the spot on a rainy Saturday and were great with a cup of nice coffee on the side.

This post shows one of my favourite ways to pipe buttercream. It looks difficult, but, truth be told, it is all in using a particular piping nozzle (a wilton 2d – there are pictures further down). The two tone effect is created using two contrasting colours of icing – one colour goes in your piping bag first so the outside edge of your bag is covered, and then you add the second colour into the middle of the piping bag. As I said, much more simple than it looks! On these cupcakes I created the effect using a dairy free chocolate spread and coffee buttercream.

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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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