Tag 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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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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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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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 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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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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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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