Mini doughnuts are the perfect way to celebrate the season of blood oranges. The doughnuts carry the zest of the oranges and their juice makes this beautiful naturally pink sticky icing for the top. They're just heavenly!Read More
A simple but beautiful Kladdkaka chocolate cake, gluten free and perfect for sharing with friends and family for lunch or supper. Adorn it with berries and serve it with cream for an extra indulgent twist.Read More
Enjoy these mini cauliflower and spelt pizzas with all your favourite toppings. And best of all, they're completely gluten free!Read More
Deliciously decadent chocolate brownies you can enjoy even if you're gluten and dairy free!Read More
As summer beckons, it brings with it the desire to eat more healthily. But that doesn't mean we can't all enjoy a sweet treat from time to time! These mini chocolate chip cookies are gluten free and dairy free and perfect for the job :)Read More
A healthy cake alternative, completely gluten free and made with delicious almonds and flavoured with orange blossom honey and chamomile tea. The perfect accompaniment for afternoon tea!Read More
Although our winter has been pretty mild, there's a biting wind and we tend to get torrential rain one minute (usually just before the school run is about to start!) and glorious sunshine the next. I'm definitely in need of a little bit of comfort and so it'a been a biscuit sort of week in our house.
I went to wholesale earlier in the week and came back with a big box of beautiful lemons. They are the sign that spring is on its way and are brightening up my kitchen daily. I have dinner plans for the weekend with them, but I had a biscuit plan today.
My quest for dairy free alternatives is ever on my mind and I wanted to have a go at dairy free shortbread -- and why not make it gluten free too? I'm always a huge fan of lemon so my shortbread biscuits were to be lemon and I decided to pair them with earl grey tea. Now I'm not an earl grey tea drinker but I thought it would be interesting to try.
The dairy free alternative I used was Dairy Free Pure Sunflower which was an experiment as I found it at the supermarket and hadn't used it before. The flour was Gluten Free Plain Flour and I also added in some Corn Flour too. The dough is easy to make. The butter, vanilla essence, earl grey, lemon zest and sugar are creamed together in a bowl for around 5 minutes. Then the flour and cornflour are stirred in and mixed gently to form a dough. This is a sticky dough. I popped it in the freezer overnight and it came out of freezer soft the next day so don't worry if yours has this consistency.
The surface should be well-floured and a little more flour sprinkled on top of your dough before rolling it. I found it easier to pat down the dough with my hand until it was the thickness I was looking for (0.5cm) and then a quick roll with rolling pin just to smooth the surface. Once you have used your cutter to great effect (I used a 6cm cutter), gently move each cookie to a lined baking tray. They don't spread much during baking so you don't need to leave too much space between each biscuit.
Then bake them at 170 degrees (fan) for 15 minutes. They don't change much in colour or go golden brown like other biscuits might. You should remove them from the oven and gently move each one on to a cooling tray with a spatula and allow to cool.
Using tea in these biscuits might not be to your taste. You don't have to put it in. I loved the speckled texture but it does add a floral note to the final biscuit. They would work beautifully with just lemon -- maybe with the zest of two lemons since it's your only flavour.
I love these little shortbread biscuits. They are light, have a beautiful snap and are perfect with a cup of tea. I have eaten almost the entire batch on my own!
Lemon & Earl Grey Shortbread (Vegan and Gluten Free)
adapted from Wallflower Girl's Vegan Chamomile & Lemon Shortbread
- 200G DAIRY FREE PURE SUNFLOWER (or an alternative dairy-free butter)
- 1 TSP VANILLA PASTE OR EXTRACT
- 1 TBSP EARL GREY (loose tea)
- ZEST OF 1 LEMON
- 100G CASTER SUGAR
- 300G GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR
- 1 TBSP CORN FLOUR
- Make the dough the day before you want to bake your biscuits
- Place your butter, vanilla, earl grey, lemon and sugar in a bowl and cream together -- around 5 minutes
- Stir in the gluten free flour and corn flour and gently mix until a dough is formed -- it will be a sticky dough
- Wrap in clingfilm and place in the freezer overnight
- When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan) and line a baking tray with parchment
- Flour your surface well and place the dough on top, sprinkling the top of the dough with more flour
- Using your hands, pat the dough until it's around 0.5cm thick
- Flour your rolling pin and gently roll the surface just to make it smooth
- Using a cutter, cut out your shapes and gently move them to the baking tray
- Bake for 15 minutes
- Remove from the oven and gently transfer your biscuits from the baking tray to a cooling rack
- Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy :)
Do you ever walk into a cafe and see the wonderful display of cakes and muffins and think, "I could make that?" I'm always wondering how I could make the things I see every day and have been wanting to try crustless quiches for some time. So today I got to rustling them up for my lunch. Think of them as a crustless quiche or eggy muffin -- they're a cross between the two, I think.
They can be made with the ingredients you yourself love or whatever you have to hand. I wanted to make mine from broccoli, ricotta and feta as the main flavours. The mixture takes ten minutes to make and then they bake for thirty minutes in the oven so are super quick to turn around. They are perfect for a simple supper served with a salad or a lingering brunch with friends. I was so in love with them, I just ate two, but sssshhh -- just our little secret!
Experiments often don't work out the way you want the first time, but these are perfectly delicious. I only made three but have scaled up the mixture below to make six. You can make as many as you like but work with one egg per muffin and scale accordingly. I started by cutting the broccoli into tiny florets and put them in the base of the muffin holes -- when they're cut so small they cook perfectly and come out lovely and tender. Then the egg mixture is made with egg and ricotta, whisked until they're smooth and then seasoned with a little salt and pepper to taste. On top of the broccoli, I put some crumbled feta and the poured over the egg mixture. Then on the surface of them, I gently placed a few more pieces of feta and a couple of dollops more of ricotta -- and sprinkled them with chives. They bake for thirty minutes and arrive from the oven all lofty and puffed up. They quickly deflate which is no problem as these are quiches and not soufflés and I served mine warm from the oven.
I'm often eating scraps for lunch whilst everyone is away at school and work and it's sometimes difficult to feel inspired.
When these are so simple to make and with so few ingredients, it's not difficult to give yourself a treat now and again, is it?
Broccoli and Feta Crustless Quiche
Makes 6 muffin quiches
- 6 EGGS
- 270G RICOTTA CHEESE
- 180G FETA CHEESE
- 120G BROCCOLI (broken into tiny florets)
- CHIVES (chopped, to taste)
- SALT & PEPPER (to taste)
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)
- Whisk the eggs and 240g of the ricotta in a bowl until smooth -- place the remaining ricotta to one side
- Season with salt and pepper
- Place the small pieces of broccoli in the bottom of each muffin hole
- Crumble 120g of the feta evenly in each muffin hole on top of the broccoli -- place the remaining 60g to one side
- Pour the egg mixture evenly into muffin cavity
- Gently place the remaining ricotta and feta on the surface of each muffin
- Place gently into the oven and bake for 30 minutes
- The muffins should be golden brown and well risen
- Eat immediately :)
Happy New Year! I hope you and your loved ones had an amazing festive period and aren't feeling too sad about pulling down your decorations and archiving the Christmas carols until next year :) We were very ready to welcome in the New Year and I am super excited about all the new adventures we'll enjoy! One year into blogging and here are my top photos from Instagram over the last year - I'm very proud of them and have lots of exciting goals for this year ;-)
Christmas always comes with lots of baking and I decided to take a break from blogging for the festive period as I always find it much trickier with my terrible twosome in tow! We're three weeks into our school holidays with only a couple of days left to go now. It was great to have some time to reflect and feed the soul - and also to think about some dietary changes to our family.
We already have psoriasis in the family which means staple foods like tomatoes and potatoes are struck off our shopping list as well as red meat and shellfish amongst other foods - and we also have to be mindful about how we combine food groups. We don't stick to it rigidly but there are definitely some foods we always have to avoid. A month or so ago, one of my sons was diagnosed as intolerant to dairy (cow and goat milk), egg white and nuts (almonds, pistachios and hazelnuts). The dietician and I laughed that at least he wasn’t gluten intolerant too and I promise you, I was thankful for small mercies!
We’re lucky that these foods don’t affect his gut and it’s (just?) eczema that we’re dealing with. Still in testing mode right now and we’re hopeful this is just a phase that will pass, especially since his favourite foods are milk, cheese, eggs and macarons! We’re not going to cut dairy and eggs out completely but obviously reduce and manage them and look for other options. We’ve immediately switched to soya milk and there’s no egg on toast in any form, but we’re allowing a little of these in baked goods. We’re also teaching him about making choices about how he eats. Time will tell.
So I wanted my first blog post of the year to be dedicated to him as he's been such a trooper. He's never grumbled or groaned and has embraced this new phase with gusto. I spent some time last year investigating vegan baking and looking at how I could replace ingredients that I traditionally used in baking, although at that time it was more out of interest than any kind of necessity. One of my favourite recipes was this Chocolate Cupcake with Coconut Frosting. This is a lovely frosting but its limitations are that I just can't get it to look as pretty as I’d like and if I use sprinkles or cocoa nibs as a topping, they discolour the icing after a little time. Just before Christmas I experimented with vegan butter and cream cheese in a frosting, but my son declared this was not a success taste-wise and the frosting was too soft and the peaks drooped after piping :(
I turned to a book that a friend gave me during my baking odyssey last year - Babycakes. I baked these Raspberry Scones from it which were delicious but I couldn’t easily find ingredients in other recipes and it was relegated to the bookshelf for a later date. Great to have this handy right now! One of the common ingredients they use in their cakes is apple sauce so I decided to replace the sugar that I had in my original recipe with some of this sauce and see if I could make a squidgier cake. And I also wanted to try some of their chocolate frosting.
The apple sauce can be bought (sugar free) but was very simple to make. I used two Granny Smith and two Pink Lady apples, peeled and cored and chopped into 1cm pieces. These were mixed with lemon juice, cinnamon and agave nectar (check out the free from section of supermarkets) and then roasted on a tray for 35 minutes. Once they have been roasted and cooled, they need to be blitzed to a smooth puree with hot water and more agave nectar and immediately refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container. This made double the amount I used in the cupcakes. Very simple and amazingly sweet with the agave nectar.
I then made the frosting as it needs to be refrigerated for at least six hours (it can be kept for up to a month in an airtight container). This is also simple to make but does require dry soy milk powder which I couldn’t find locally in any health food stores and ordered from Ebay (I haven’t experimented with leaving this out). All the ingredients bar the coconut oil and lemon juice are blitzed in the food processor and then the oil and lemon juice are added slowly with the motor running. I think my lemon juice might have been too cold as the frosting did start to solidify as I added the final ingredients and became very lumpy and not very attractive! So I microwaved it in short bursts until the lumps had melted and then stirred it until it was smooth. Then covered it with clingfilm and popped it in the fridge.
I have spent the last few days working on this frosting as it still turned out lumpier than I expected so the final product looked smooth but when you dipped into it, it looked very granular. I did re-melt it and then refrigerate it again which worked. The recipe also says that if it's too soft when removed from the fridge, you can add liquid coconut oil into it - the oil will start to solidify when it hits the chilled frosting and go stiffer. BUT - given my experience, you would need to take care that the coconut oil doesn't solidify into little lumps again.
Finally I decided to remove the sugar from my previous Chocolate Cupcakes and in their place add agave syrup and the roasted apples. You can play around with the sweetness of these two so you can make it perfect for you, but this definitely made a softer crumb and squidgier cupcake. The cupcakes are simple to make - mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately and then add them together, mixing thoroughly. I ran out of rice flour when I was making them so used a mixture of rice flour and gluten-free plain flour. When baked, the cupcakes need to be completely cool before adding the frosting as it could melt the coconut oil within - and once they've been frosted I found they held up well as long as kept cool but they stayed okay in the kitchen and did not need to be refrigerated. The frosting piped very easily but when holding the piping bag, I needed to hold it near the top as the warmth from my hand started to slightly melt the frosting so the first ones piped had better definition than the last ones.
These turned out brilliantly. The pro's of this frosting are that you can get a peak and look of traditional buttercream which is the one ambition I've had with making vegan frosting. The cupcakes with the apple sauce made a much lighter cake crumb and I definitely think this addition is worthwhile. However you really need to like the coconut flavour as it's predominant in the frosting (fortunately we do!) Also, I noticed that after some time, the sprinkles started to melt slightly into the frosting so if you do want to use them, I'd suggest sprinkling just before serving.
I am absolutely thrilled to start the new year off with such a bake that works for my entire family. Free from baking was definitely not my comfort zone a year ago but a girl's gotta move with the times.
Next stop - vegan vanilla frosting :)
Home-Made Apple Sauce Ingredients (can be refrigerated for up to a week, from Babycakes)
- 2 GRANNY SMITH APPLES
- 2 PINK LADY APPLES
- 30ML LEMON JUICE
- 2TSP CINNAMON
- 80G AGAVE NECTAR (for pre-roasting)
- 40G AGAVE NECTAR (for blitzing in the food processor)
- 80ML HOT WATER
Home-Made Apple Sauce Method
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees (fan)
- Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
- Peel, core and chop the apples into 1cm pieces
- Mix the apples with the lemon juice, cinnamon and 80G agave nectar in a bowl
- Spread them out over the lined baking tray
- Bake for 35 mins, rotating the tray 180 degrees after 20 mins
- Allow to cool
- Blitz in the food processor with 40G agave nectar and the hot water
- Place in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to a week
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients (enough for 24 cupcakes, from Babycakes)
- 360ML SOY MILK
- 70G SOY MILK POWDER
- 30G COCOA POWDER
- 60ML AGAVE NECTAR
- 1TBSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 240ML COCONUT OIL
- 2TBSP LEMON JUICE
Chocolate Frosting Method
- In a food processor, blend the soy milk, milk powder, cocoa powder, agave nectar and vanilla extract for 2 mins
- Add slowly the coconut oil and lemon juice, alternating them
- Extra step: if you mixture goes lumpy, then microwave it for short bursts until the lumps melt (it’s just the coconut oil solidifying)
- Mix until smooth and then pop it into an airtight container
- Refrigerate for at least 6 hours and keep for up to a month
Chocolate Cupcakes Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes)
- 250G RICE FLOUR
- 1 TSP XANTHUM GUM
- 1½ TSP BAKING SODA
- 1 TSP SALT
- 270G SUGAR
- 60G COCOA POWDER
- 320G SOYA MILK AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 150G MELTED COCONUT OIL AT ROOM TEMPERATURE
- 2½ TBSP APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
- 2½ TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 290G AGAVE SYRUP
- 125G HOME-MADE APPLE SAUCE (see above for recipe)
Chocolate Cupcakes Method
- Heat the oven to 170 degrees and line 2 cupcake trays with cupcake papers. Melt the coconut oil and put to one side to cool down. Ensure that the soya milk is out of the fridge and at room temperature.
- In one bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: the rice flour, xanthum gum, baking soda, salt, sugar and cocoa powder and mix well. Then in another bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: the soya milk, coconut oil, vinegar, vanilla, agave syrup and apple sauce. If you put the milk and coconut in first and the milk is not at room temperature, the coconut oil will start to solidify. This can be rescued by warming gently in the microwave with short 15 second bursts until the coconut oil re-melts.
- Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix by hand with a wooden spoon.
- Fill each of the 24 cupcake papers with around 1/3 cup of batter and then bake for 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Remove the cupcakes from the tin and leave to cool. It's important that they're completely cool before you frost them otherwise the frosting will start to melt.
- Keep the frosting in the fridge until you're ready to use it - I filled up my baking bag in advance and kept it in the fridge as the warmth from your hands will start to melt the frosting
- Hold the piping bag near the opening at the top as you pipe, keeping your hand as far away from the nozzle as possible to keep it from melting
- Once piped, you don't need to refrigerate the cupcakes but the frosting will start to melt and take on a sheen if the room is too warm
- Add sprinkles just before serving :)
A quick post for the end of the week as we take off on our holiday expedition for 2 weeks of sun and fun with the boys. These Pistachio Cookies are seriously good. I mean, SERIOUSLY good. You have to love coconut and pistachios but add an egg white and some icing sugar and these are the only ingredients of these tasty little cookies. I also love the rich green colour inside as you bite into them! I pinned the recipe a while ago and they're from Zerrin's Give Recipe blog if you want to take a look at more of her tasty recipes :)Read More
Back to the big smoke after our mini-break in the countryside and we swapped flowers, animals and rolling hills for Kensington in the sunshine as we headed to the Science Museum for Space exploration! Great fun, but thoroughly exhausting - and hubby and I were relieved to collapse on the sofa by late afternoon :) I needed a pick-me-up, moreish and yummy - and healthy would be an added bonus.
After searching for lavender throughout the local stores and garden centres over the last couple of weeks (having decided not to order it online as it would take too long and then had to wait even longer to find it naturally) I found some last week at my parents' house. Dried lavender from last year's lavender crop in their garden and I only needed three-quarters of a teaspoon. It's been safely sitting in my bag for when I had enough time to make the second recipe I wanted to try from Hemsley & Hemsley, their Lavender & Maple Coconut Macaroons. I LOVE all the ingredients of these little macaroons, even though most shop assistants I approached when searching for the lavender to use in cooking looked at me like I was nuts.
This recipe is gluten and dairy free and the only sugar comes from the maple syrup so this is a healthy alternative to cookies and cakes. The macaroon itself is made predominantly from shredded coconut so for me, is very reminscent of the macaroons I enjoyed when growing up, when macarons (the deliciously almondy French variety I love so much) were a thing of distant dreams. As with many of my other bakes, I used liquid egg whites but you can use the whites of 3 medium eggs instead if you prefer. There is just the merest hint of lavender in these macaroons and I think this could be upped, probably to at least 1 tsp next time I make them. They don't take long to make, so provided you have the ingredients in your store cupboard, you can whip them up in no time for a lunchbox or afternoon treat.
I love these little macarons. There's not much about coconut I don't like, but I really like the pairing with maple syrup and the hint of lavender for a slightly more unusual twist. This is the second recipe I've made from Hemsley & Hemsley (see the Pumpkin Puds recipe here) and am hard pushed to say which I prefer more, so I forsee I will be making these two recipes many times over - just while I make my mind up, of course!
Lavender & Maple Coconut Macaroons Makes 18 (from Hemsley & Hemsley)
- APPROX ¾ TSP LAVENDER FLOWERS
- 4 TBSP MAPLE SYRUP
- ½ TBSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 150G UNSWEETENED DESSICATED COCONUT
- 180G LIQUID EGG WHITES (OR EGG WHITES OF 3 MEDIUM EGGS)
- 1/8 TSP SALT
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and line two baking trays with parchment paper
- Finely chop the lavender and mix it with the maple syrup, vanilla extract and coconut in a large bowl
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form
- Gently fold the egg whites in with the coconut mixture using a metal spoon
- Using a tablespoon measure, scoop the mixture onto the baking parchment and then neaten the mounds with your hands
- Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the macaroons are lightly browned
- Remove them from the baking tray and place on a wire rack to cook (I used a slice to remove them as they were a bit sticky underneath but they came away easily)
- They are quite soft when they first come out of the oven, but firm up as they cool down!
I thought I'd squeeze in a small end of the week blog post about these gorgeous little Sesame Pudding Spheres that I've been playing with this weekend. I found them a while ago on Dine X Design which is a beautiful website focusing on gorgeous recipes and design features, all photographed beautifully. Dine X Design feature a couple of variations on these with Green Matcha Tea Puddings and Frozen Pudding Treats too.
So of the three variations, I decided to make the Sesame Pudding Spheres which I then sprinkled with Matcha Tea and additional sesame seeds. The original recipe calls for black sesame paste and I couldn't get this locally, so used the greenish tahini paste from the local supermarket. I think the spheres look more striking in black against the green of the Matcha tea so it would be worth searching out the black sesame paste, especially if you're planning to make this for a dinner party. I really love the flavour of these spheres, mainly because they remind me of a lovely Coconut Sago pud we enjoyed last New Year's Eve at Mekong Baby in Auckland! This was a Thai fusion restaurant and I think these pudding spheres would work best at the end of this kind of meal. The coconut flavour really shines through and from the fridge, they're very light and refreshing, with the additional sesame seeds adding a touch more texture. And better still, they're completely dairy and gluten free so perfect if you're looking for a Free From dessert!
I'm inspired to take these flavours and work on recreating the Coconut Sago pudding we enjoyed and also have a go at the Dine X Design frozen spheres too. Super simple to make, these are definitely a fun little bite-sized pudding :)
Dairy-Free Green Tea Matcha Pudding (from Dine X Design)
- 3 TBSP BLACK SESAME PASTE (I couldn't find this locally so used regular tahini paste)
- 5 TSP CRUSHED BLACK SESAME SEEDS
- ½ CUP CASTER SUGAR
- 4 TSP AGAR AGAR
- 2½ CUPS ALMOND MILK
- 1 CUP COCONUT MILK
- Put the sugar, sesame paste, seeds and almond milk in a medium saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring until all the contents dissolve
- Once boiling, add the agar agar and stir again until it's dissolved
- Add the coconut milk, stir and remove from heat
- Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes until cool
- Pour into a mould (the recipe recommends spherical ice cube trays but I used my metal cake ball pan and set them as half spheres, putting them together when they're fully set)
- Serve with a dusting of matcha green tea powder and sesame seeds
- They do tend to melt once out of the fridge so it's worth keeping them refrigerated until you plan to eat them!
Hello, everyone! Huge apologies for my radio silence over the last week, but we went away for Easter and ended up staying away a little longer than planned. The week was spent out and about enjoying the sunshine and sea air with the boys and not so much time couched at home in the kitchen. But it didn't stop me planning and having arrived back late this afternoon, I planted two feet firmly in the kitchen to whip up my latest creation. If you're not a fan of Instagram or Facebook, here are a few of my Easter creations from the last week or so. We have indulged in way too much chocolate and cake!!
So whilst we were away, I succumbed to buying Deliciously Ella in the local supermarket. It sat there looking all shiny on the shelf and having been inundated with Ella's Instagram photos of her book launch and recipes, I fell hook, line and sinker! I think it's always interesting to understand the path that people take and I found Ella's story very uplifting and inspiring - and although left with little choice, I admire her determination to rise from the brink of hospitalisation and overnight transform her eating into a plant-based diet. The first recipe I resolved to try was the Avocado Chocolate Mousse.
The same day as I bought Ella's book, an e-mail pinged into my inbox from Jamie Oliver with an Eat Well This Easter message - and amongst his suggested eats were Vegan Chocolate Pots. Hmmm...which chocolate delight to try first. Or maybe both at the same time?
So I decided to have a little chocolate mousse-off with these two recipes. For sure, the easier of the two options was Jamie Oliver's Vegan Chocolate Pots. The main ingredients were dairy-free dark chocolate and tofu mixed with maple syrup and vanilla paste (the original recipe included zest of a lime - the supermarket had run out! - and dark rum - but I'm not fond of alcohol in puds). Ella's recipe was a little more complicated and required a few more ingredients and a bit more effort. First of all, I had to make Almond Butter which involved roasting almonds for 10 mins and then blitzing them in the food processor for fifteen minutes to create a creamy butter. Once I'd made this ingredient, I was then able to move on to the mousse itself which involved blitzing an avocado, bananas, Medjool dates, almond butter, cacao powder and maple syrup in the food processor. Easy as. And so, the verdict?
Well, I first taste tested them on the boys. Honestly, they weren't keen. I'd hoped blitzing lots of good food with chocolate flavour might persuade them that these were yummy chocolate puds. Then I tried it on hubby. I think we both agreed that the Jamie Oliver Chocolate Pots were the clear winner and also could pass as a "regular" chocolate mousse at a dinner party. Although for me there was still a clear taste of tofu which kind of detracted from it a little. Perhaps the rum would have softened this flavour and if you are a fan of alcohol fueled puds, I would definitely recommend giving this a go.
What I like about Ella's pud is that I feel seriously healthy eating it. I mean, avocadoes, bananas and dates plus its other goodies. Sadly the taste wasn't quite as enjoyable and I think this might have been down to one of two things: my avocado and bananas weren't overly ripe (and she does call for very ripe bananas) and I think the ripeness will definitely enhance this next time (note, I said next time so it can't have been that bad!); and then Jamie's recipe called for melted dark chocolate and I think this really added to the richness over the cacao.
But I'm comparing this to what I call a regular chocolate mousse (dairy-laiden and eggy) and what I have learned of late, is that you can't substitute and expect things to taste the same (we have a psoriasis sufferer in the family and I tried to make a beetroot spag bol - beetroot remains the work of the devil to me to this day - I couldn't make it through more than more mouthful!) There are many reasons for choosing different kinds of diets, but in my humble opinion it means learning to love different flavours and foods and not just trying to recreate past loves. I would definitely recommend giving these two a go!
Avocado Chocolate Mousse (adapted from Deliciously Ella) Makes 2 ramekins
- 1 RIPE AVOCADO
- 2 RIPE BANANAS
- 6 MEDJOOL DATES, PITTED
- 2 TBSP ALMOND BUTTER (see below)
- 2½ TBSP RAW CACAO POWDER
- DRIZZLE OF AGAVE NECTAR
- To make the almond butter, turn on the oven to 180 degrees (fan) and roast 150g almonds (with skin) for 10 minutes
- Then pop them into the food processor with a sprinkling of salt and blitz for around 15-20 minutes
- Remove and set aside
- Peel the avocado, remove the stone and put it in the food processor with the other ingredients
- Add a splash of water and drizzle of agave nectar and blitz until smooth (mine took around 10-15 minutes)
- Spoon into bowls and chill until ready to eat
Vegan Chocolate Pots (from Jamie Oliver) Makes 2 ramekins
- 100G DAIRY-FREE DARK CHOCOLATE
- 350G SILKEN TOFU
- 80G MAPLE SYRUP (I RAN OUT AFTER 60G SO MADE THIS UP WITH AGAVE NECTAR)
- ½TBSP VANILLA BEAN PASTE
- OPTIONAL: ½ TBSP DARK RUM, SMALL PINCH OF DRIED CHILLI FLAKES, SMALL PINCH SEA SALT
- Melt the chocolate in the microwave for around 1½ minutes (check after every 30 seconds) until melted and set aside
- Put the tofu in a tea towel and ring out the excess water, then add to the food processor with the remaining ingredients (minus the chocolate)
- Blitz for 2 minutes and then add the chocolate
- Blitz again until smooth
- Divide the mixture between two bowls and chill for at least 15 minutes in the fridge
Although it's technically springtime and we've seen some signs of sunshine in recent days, today it's grey and windy here in south-west London and we need to bring a little bit of sunshine into our home! A couple of friends recommended I try Nigella's Lemon Polenta Cake - although to date on the blog I've been keen to work through different bakers (and have already featured a Nigella recipe) but am making an exception here as both waxed lyrical about this one. And then yesterday Nigella posted a Regram of this very same cake but suggesting that the butter could be replaced with olive oil to make a completely gluten-free and dairy-free which sealed the fate of this bake and here it is.
It's a very light cake and the real magic is the infusion of lemon syrup which soaks into the cake post-baking. The original recipe I looked at contained 200g butter, but as I mentioned, Nigella yesterday posted on Instagram suggesting that this could be replaced with 150ml light olive oil so I thought I'd make this switch. Although Nigella suggests baking for 40 mins, I checked mine after 35 mins and it was very much done by then so I'd keep an eye on it from 30 mins onwards.
I also read a few comments from people that their cake tended to drop in the middle when it comes out of the oven and this is to be expected due to the lack of gluten. However I found that mine didn't drop and kept good form - until I decided that I couldn't wait for it to be completely cool before removing it from the tin and then I put it on a non-flat plate and it did drop a little! But I can assure you it didn't affect the taste :) I love the yellow sun-shine colour of the inside and it's super-moist from all of the lemon syrup, but remains lovely and light, whilst the polenta adds a slight grittiness which gives it some added texture. This would be a great cake for afternoon tea or lunch with friends.
Lemon Polenta Cake
- 150ML LIGHT OLIVE OIL (YOU CAN USE 200G UNSALTED BUTTER AT ROOM TEMP IF YOU PREFER)
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 200G GROUND ALMONDS
- 100G POLENTA
- 1 ½ TSP BAKING POWDER (GLUTEN-FREE IF REQUIRED)
- 3 LARGE EGGS
- 2 LEMONS (ZEST FOR CAKE BATTER & JUICE FOR SYRUP)
- 125G ICING SUGAR
- Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees
- Line the base of an 8 inch spring form cake tin with baking paper and grease the sides with butter
- Put the olive oil and sugar into a mixer and beat together until light brown
- In a separate bowl, mix the almonds, polenta and baking powder
- Add a third of this to the mixer and beat until well-mixed then add 1 egg
- Repeat twice, ending with the final egg
- Add the lemon zest and beat until well-mixed
- Scrape the batter into the prepared baking tin
- Cook in the oven for around 35 mins until a skewer comes out clean-ish and the edges have shrunk away from the sides of the tin. My cake was well set when it came out of the oven but the middle may wobble slightly and that's okay. Leave the cake to cool on the side whilst you make the syrup
- Boil the lemon juice and icing sugar in a small saucepan until the icing sugar has dissolved
- Make little holes across the top of the cake with a cocktail stick and then pour the syrup all over the top - you may need to do this in bursts waiting for the syrup to sink in before you add more
- Leave to cool before taking it out of its tin. And enjoy!
It's been a crazy week. I haven't had much time for baking and have mostly been running around doing back to back errands. We're ending it with an impromptu visit from my parents and there was a definite need for something rich and chocolatey this afternoon! This is Nigella's recipe for Chocolate Olive Oil & Almond Cake and is both gluten and dairy free - and I can assure you that the lack of either of these does not compromise the taste of this lovely little cake! A couple of changes I might try next time would be to exchange the almond meal for plain flour (needed for anyone with a nut allergy), add instant espresso in place of the vanilla or use coconut sugar in place of the regular white sugar.
I had a slice about 15 mins out of the oven and just warm, it was seriously delicious and would only be improved with a dash of vanilla ice-cream, I think. There are lots of flourless chocolate cake recipes with dark chocolate, but I wanted one that was made from cocoa so chose this one from Nigella and I would wholehearted recommend this for Sunday lunch with friends, a dinner party or maybe even a weekend afternoon treat. It's also very simple to make :)
Chocolate Olive Oil & Almond Cake
- 150ML OLIVE OIL (PLUS A LITTLE MORE FOR GREASING THE CAKE TIN)
- 50G GOOD-QUALITY SIFTED COCOA POWDER (I USED GREEN & BLACK'S)
- 125ML BOILING WATER
- 2 TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
- 150G GROUND ALMONDS
- ½ TSP BICARBONATE OF SODA
- PINCH OF SALT
- 200G CASTER SUGAR
- 3 LARGE EGGS
- ICING SUGAR FOR DUSTING
- Preheat your oven to 170°C. Grease an 8" springform tin with a little oil and line the base with baking parchment.
- Sift the cocoa powder into a bowl or jug and whisk in the boiling water until you have a smooth paste. Whisk in the vanilla extract and then set it aside to cool a little.
- In another bowl, combine the ground almonds with the bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt.
- Put the sugar, olive oil and eggs into a mixer and beat together on fast speed for 3 minutes (it should be a pale, aerated and thickened cream).
- Turn the speed down a little and slowly pour in the cocoa mixture. When it's mixed in, scrape down the side of the bowl and then slowly tip in the ground almond mixture with the mixer still running.
- Scrape down the sides again and then pour this liquid batter into the prepared tin.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the sides are set and the very centre, on top, still looks slightly damp.
- Leave it to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack, still in its tin, and then ease the sides of the cake with a small metal spatula and spring it out of the tin.
- Eat warm or leave to cool, if you can wait that long!