Tag Archives: dessert

Lemon Meringue Pie

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Sweet, tangy Lemon Meringue Pie. Impress your family and friends with this completely homemade dessert; You don’t have to tell them it is a lot simpler than it looks! 

Lemon Meringue Pie is really quite self explanatory, but just incase you’ve never eaten one… Imagine thin, crisp, just sweet pastry, with a generous filling of tart lemon curd which makes your house smell Amazing (capital letter definitely justified!) as it bakes, and then topped with soft, pillowy meringue, with a crisp, sugary meringue-crust on the top. Sounds great, right! Now imagine just how good it tastes…

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Lemon Meringue Pie is such a classic dessert for a very good reason. The combination of the sweet meringue and pastry, heightened by the sharp lemon curd filling just makes it the perfect way to end a meal. Although sometimes it can be on the sweet side, this recipe provides just the right balance of sweet and tart flavours, giving it an appeal to all the family.

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You can make the making of Lemon Meringue Pie as complicated as you like… or we can use a few cheats to really speed it up! The first thing that will be your friend if you are in a hurry is shop bought pastry. Although perhaps not as satisfying as making your own, it sure does speed it up if you need to do this quickly. And, most of them are dairy free! It is very surprising, but read through the ingredients and often they don’t contain any milk… Just avoid the ones that shout about being ‘all butter pastry’ obviously!

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The other way to speed this up is to make your lemon curd in advance. OK – so that’s not really ‘saving’ time, as you’ve still got to make it – but Lemon Meringue Pie does not keep very well, so if you’re short on time the day you want to eat it, taking it straight from a jar you’ve previously made is a great time saver. If you do need to make some just for this pie, then take my Lemon Curd recipe and only make 1/2 the recipe (which is a generous amount for this dessert). By making it right before you bake the pie, you save time not faffing around with sterilising jars and worrying about everything being squeaky clean – we do this normally because we want to be able to keep it mould free in the fridge for some time, but here it’s going to eaten that day so we don’t need to worry!

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So give this classic dessert a go, and you’ll find this will become a family favourite to go back to time and time again.

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Lemon Shortbreads, Coconut Milk Whipped Cream and Berries

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Crumbly, buttery lemon shortbread cups filled with whipped coconut cream and raspberry curd, and topped with fresh raspberries. A delightfully simple dessert perfect for summertime.

You know those beautifully presented, tiny patisserie-type desserts? The ones that look just so appealing, delicate, and perfect? Yeah? Well, these were an attempt! Perhaps the presentation was slightly amiss, but they definitely delivered on taste. I also loved being able to use my Raspberry Curd in these, as usually it is reserved for cakes and ice cream toppings – but it just worked so perfectly with these flavours.

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These desserts look complicated and fiddly, like you’ve spent a lot of time and effort on them – but as with lots of my baking, I can assure you that is not the case! The only real effort required for these cups are the biscuits themselves, and they are as simple as you can get; they just look more fancy (and, therefore, more effort) than a normal biscuit because of it’s shape, which just comes from baking it in a cupcake tin.

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Once the shortbread cups are baked and cooled, the only other effort is whipping the coconut cream, which one could hardly call any effort at all! They are finished off by dolloping in a teaspoon of curd and the cream, and finally by popping a fresh raspberry on top. If you haven’t already made some raspberry curd (and don’t fancy the effort), a thickened raspberry puree would work just as well. These would make an elegant ending to a dinner party, or a lighter alternative to cake at tea time.

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Chocolate Meringues

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These chocolate meringues make a great dessert paired simply with berries and vanilla ice cream. Chewy and very chocolatey, they make a wonderful alternative to traditional white meringues.

Flavoured meringues were something I had wanted to try for ages. I don’t know why, but whenever I see flavoured, colourful meringues in the shops they just look so appealing; and none more so than chocolate meringues. At this time of year when berries are popping up everywhere, light, chocolatey desserts are the perfect accompaniment. So I thought I’d give them a try!

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Having had lots of busy weekends one after the other, these were great to make as a quick dessert as once the meringues were done, it only needed some fruit and ice cream on the side. They also keep really well in an air tight container for 4 – 5 days, making them perfect to bake in advance and have ready when needed.

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I’ll be honest and say they are a bit trickier than a normal meringue – only because you have to be really gentle folding in the chocolate and cocoa powder. But if you can handle standard meringue, you will be absolutely fine with these. Whereas normal white meringues can become very crunchy, crack easily and taste mostly of lightly caramelised sugar, these are the opposite – wonderfully chewy, more sturdy in texture and with chocolate chips studded throughout they’re full of flavour.

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If you’re feeling fancy, you could make a quick raspberry sauce to pour on top – or use my raspberry curd recipe which I will be posting soon. They’re great without it, but the sauce does add an extra bit of zing to compliment the sweet chocolate meringue.

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Pavlova – Dairy Free!

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A sumptuous dessert, sure to amaze anyone – dairy free or not. A crisp, light, and yet chewy meringue, filled with billows of coconut milk cream and crowned with a mass of delicious seasonal fruit. The perfect dessert to wow a crowd.

Pavlova brings back a lot of childhood memories for me… warm summer evenings, surrounded by family and friends, everyone full to the brim after a delicious meal. Then, out comes the Pavlova… the crowning centre piece. So light, crisp and sweet, with a pile of pillow-y soft cream, and then a towering mass of sweet fruit. And of course everyone devours it!

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Pavlova is something I’ve really missed – It’s something where cream is a very main and important ingredient, and you can’t hide the flavour. Soya cream doesn’t whip very well (or at least no variety I’ve ever found does!), and has a discernible soya aftertaste – not great if you’re serving it up to dairy eaters who will definitely think it is below standard. Over the last few months, I’ve been doing a lot of research into dairy free alternatives and time and time again I saw whipped coconut milk as a replacement for whipped cream. Really, I thought? Does that really work? What’s the texture like? I also worried about everything having to go with coconut… as much as I love it, it doesn’t always go with everything in the same way that cream does!

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However I have to say I am a complete convert! Just by refrigerating the coconut milk, it whips perfectly and the texture and appearance is exactly like whipped cream – soft, billowy mounds of it would make a great side to lots of desserts to replace normal cream – and although the coconut flavour is not overwhelming in the slightest, you could soften the flavour by folding in a few tablespoons of dairy free yoghurt, which also loosens the texture slightly.

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Pavlova is great dessert to have up your sleeve, especially as the end result is spectacular and it really is very easy. You can even make the meringue part a day or two before which is always useful. Pavlova is a basic meringue recipe with two key ingredients – white wine vinegar and cornflour. It is the addition of these two ingredients which gives Pavlova it’s famous chewy texture in the middle, which just keeps you coming back for more.

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Simple 5 Ingredient Fruit Tart

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A quick and simple 5 ingredient fruit tart – Flakey puff pastry topped with jam and fresh fruit, served with ice cream. Perfect if you’re in a hurry!

Catering for anyone with an allergy is hard; I know a lot of my friends over the years have worried about how and what they will cook for me, and one meal still seems to flummox the best of them – dessert! So far the desserts on my blog have catered more towards someone who has had to give up dairy – to show them the impossible is possible – however not everyone has the time or inclination to make them. Sometimes you just want a quick and simple dessert whether it’s to make for yourself or for someone else.

And so it is this dilemma that has inspired this post; here I present a simple 5 ingredient dessert, which only features 1 dairy free ingredient! How have I done this, I hear you say? Well, with one of my shop-bought-dairy-free-life-savers – pre-made puff pastry. I remember the first time I realised that most pre-made puff pastry didn’t actually have any milk in it… it was like a world of possibilities opened up in front of me. Along with the pastry, the other ingredients are jam, fruit, sugar and dairy-free ice cream.

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The ingredient list might seem a bit vague but this is the beauty of it – so simple, and so versatile. The hardest thing you need to do is work out which fruit and jam combination you want to use! The flavour combinations really are endless; Pear & raspberry, apricot & rhubarb, apple & berries, peaches & orange marmalade, even banana and dairy-free chocolate spread would work!

So next time you need to bake a dairy free dessert for someone and get stuck, remember the puff pastry magic and get creative!

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Classic Apple Pie

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A classic apple pie; a just-sweet apple filling with hints of vanilla and cinnamon, encased in crisp shortcrust pastry. Perfect served with a scoop of ice cream or lashings of custard.

My new years resolution for 2015 is to master making pastry from scratch; with my family down this weekend, a succulent leg of lamb roasting away for Sunday lunch, an apple pie felt very appropriate – and what a great way to keep working on my pastry skills.

It is hard to go wrong with an apple pie – it’s so versatile you can really add and change the flavours to suit your taste. For my mum who has been away in India it seemed the perfect English dessert to allow the flavour of her much beloved apples (which are in very short supply in India!) to shine through.

I tried a new shortcrust pastry recipe for this which I will certainly use again. The pastry takes less than 5 minutes to make and once baked is delightfully short and crisp in texture. No soggy bottoms in sight! By letting it chill for a few hours in the fridge it is strong enough to be rolled very thinly without cracking which also makes it easy to line the tin with. You can, of course, cheat and buy a ready made shortcrust pastry (just read the ingredients carefully to find one without milk products!) but this really is quicker than popping to the shops and far more satisfying!

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The filling is very simple, only consisting of 4 ingredients – apples, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. I used Bramley apples for the pie filling and would highly recommend seeking these out rather than using other varieties. Bramley apples are strong in apple flavour and most importantly are sharp rather than sweet. This means you can add small amounts of sugar to create a just-sweet pie – which is then perfect to serve with copious amounts of ice cream or custard. Bramley apples also retain their shape well when cooked which means you still have whole chunks of apple in the pie which gives a pleasing texture.

To fit this in around cooking a Sunday roast it is easiest to fully bake it before you cook your roast and then reheat for about 15 minutes at 200 degrees when you are ready for dessert.

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Christmas Chelsea Buns

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Christmas for me normally kicks in around the 1st of November, but this year I’m still waiting for the feeling to hit – and we’re only two and a half weeks away!

So to try and tempt the Christmas spirit, I created dairy free Christmas Chelsea Buns. Lovely soft dough flavoured with clementines, filled with mincemeat and nuts – what’s not to like! These were not as hard as they look, especially if you have made bread before. Don’t be put off by the amount of time stated for the recipe. A lot of that time is proving and baking when you can be doing other things.

I took the inspiration from Paul Hollywood’s book ‘How To Bake’. Rather than using just dried fruits as in the book, I have used ready made mincemeat for added flavour and Christmassy-ness.

These make a great afternoon treat, dessert or even breakfast if you have a particularly sweet tooth!

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‘Easy’ Chocolate Mousse

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I call this ‘easy’ dairy free chocolate mousse, but I am well aware that ‘easy’ for most people is popping to the shop and buying some. Even so, whether you eat dairy or not, I don’t think any shop bought chocolate mousse can ever really compare with the delightfully rich homemade variety.

This is definitely a grown up version – rich, chocolatey and gently flavoured with coffee for extra depth and flavour. So although this is not as easy as buying ready made I would encourage you all to try this, as we all deserve something as scrumptious as this for a treat.

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Dairy Free Profiteroles, Hazelnut Crème Pâtissière and Chocolate Sauce

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I used to LOVE profiteroles and they were something I had accepted I would never be able to eat again. A big part of this was a lack of confidence making any sort of pastry dairy free, plus being stuck about what to fill them with. However, after watching an episode of the Great British Bake Off and getting a lesson in how to make custard from my mum, I felt I should be brave and at least try.

And I’m so pleased I did – because they were a lot easier than I thought they would be and were SO tasty. These were a complete first attempt as I had never made choux pastry, or crème pâtissière and I’m pleased to say that I succeeded!

Choux pastry is a great thing to know how to make, and really not as hard as you think. Once you’ve mastered the recipe, you can go on to make eclairs, or cream puffs (with a different filling of course) or even savoury gougères. From the vast amount of research I did on profiteroles, I found that two things are key.

  1. Get a lot of air in the dough by whisking more than you think you’d need to as you incorporate the eggs. This helps them rise and become very hollow in the centre.
  2. Add steam – the simplest way to do this is to ensure you do not evaporate off too much water when you create the dough and to shake water over your profiteroles before you bake them. It sounds mad – but steam is the raising agent in choux pastry.

The crème pâtissière was the perfect filling for the profiteroles and the hazelnut flavour from the milk was deliciously complimentary with the chocolate sauce. No one was missing the cream 🙂 Although the milk carton (I used Alpro) does state ‘not for cooking’ I did not find any issues with the flavour or texture of the milk once heated. I can see myself perfecting my creme pat as it is such a versatile filling for desserts… so expect to see this again!

I was concentrating hard on these as I cooked (we had my boyfriend’s parents round for lunch and there was no back up dessert – so the pressure was on!), so forgot to take good step by step photos as I went. Next time I make these I will write a ‘how to’ post with better step by step instructions so you can all enjoy some perfect homemade profiteroles.

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