Vegan Mini Key Lime Pies

Vegan Mini Key Lime Pies

I heard of vegan key lime pies a while ago and I have wanted to try them out for ages. I finally got around to it last week and I was so pleased with the results! I used pecans in the base because they make me think of American desserts, which the traditional key lime pie is. I added spinach and avocado to the filling to give it a green hue. And I wanted a creamy topping to compliment the zesty filling, so I used some whipped coconut milk. These mini key lime pies are 100% vegan and therefore dairy free, and they are also refined sugar free and gluten free.

To make the base I used my nutribullet to whizz up 150g almonds, 150g pecans and 160g dates.

I melted 90g coconut oil and mixed it into the nuts, then pressed the mixture into mini tart tins lined with cling film. I then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to set.

 

To make the filling I again used my nutribullet to whizz up 200g cashews (that had been soaked overnight), 1 avocado, 6 tbsp maple syrup, the juice of 7 limes, 70g melted coconut oil and a handful of spinach. I was perfectly smooth and creamy.

I poured the filling into the tart cases, then put it back in the fridge for 1 hour to set.

I again used my nutribullet to whizz up two tins of coconut milk (it had been in the fridge and I only used the solid white milk at the top of the tin) along with 2 tsp vanilla extract and 4 tbsp maple syrup. I piped it onto the mini pies in rosettes and sprinkled some lime zest in the middle.

These pies taste so good! The flavour is the perfect balance between zesty lime flavour and creamy sweetness. They would make a great dessert at a dinner party. I love eating vegan desserts as they always taste so sinful, but really they are full of goodness!

I’m linking these mini pies up with Treat Petite hosted by myself this month.

Also linking up to Cook Blog Share hosted this month by Recipes Made Easy, and Free From Fridays hosted by Free From Farmhouse.

5 from 1 vote
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Vegan Mini Key Lime Pies


Servings 8
Author thebakingexplorer

Ingredients

  • 150 g Almonds
  • 150 g Pecans
  • 160 g Dates
  • 160 g Coconut Oil melted
  • 200 g Cashews soaked in water overnight
  • 1 Avocado
  • 10 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 7 Limes zested and juiced
  • 1 Handful Fresh spinach
  • 2 tins tins of Coconut milk stored in the fridge overnight

Instructions

  1. To make the base use a nutribullet or a food processor to whizz up the almonds, pecans and dates

  2. Mix in 90g of the melted coconut oil, then press the mixture into mini tart tins lined with cling film. Put them in the fridge for 30 minutes to set
  3. To make the filling use a nutribullet or a food processor to whizz up the cashews, avocado, 6 tbsp of the maple syrup, the juice of the limes, 70g of the melted coconut oil and the spinach until it was perfectly smooth and creamy
  4. Pour the filling into the tart cases, then put them back in the fridge for at least 1 hour to set
  5. Use a nutribullet or a food processor to whizz up the solid white coconut milk from the top of the tins along with the vanilla extract and 4 tbsp of the maple syrup. Pipe or spread it onto the mini pies, then sprinkle some lime zest in the middle
  6. Store in the fridge until serving
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Simnel Spiced Easter Cheesecake

Simnel Spiced Easter Cheesecake

Simnel cake is a traditional option over the Easter season, it’s packed with fruit, spices and covered in marzipan. This delicious Easter cheesecake is a modern way of enjoying those flavours. The base is made from fruity shortcake biscuits, the cheesecake filling has added spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and the whipped cream is flavoured with almond. It’s also decorated with Galaxy Golden Eggs which are so pretty and yummy! I also used them to decorate my Chocolate & Caramel Golden Egg Cupcakes. It is also so easy to make, which is just what I needed as I’ve had a really rough couple of weeks. I apologise in advance if you’re squeamish, but I won’t go into too much detail when I explain what happened. I had a wisdom tooth removed; the procedure itself went fine and I came home with a very numb mouth and giggling from the after effects of the drugs they used to sedate me. I took painkillers consistently for the next few days to keep the pain at bay. A few days later it all started to go downhill and the pain intensified to a point when I mentally and physically could not cope with it anymore, the painkillers stopped working and I became desperate for it to stop. After a visit to the dentists I was told the area was infected and I was given antibiotics. They did their magic, but made me very sick for several days. It’s now nearly two weeks later and I’m finally back to myself, and most importantly I can eat and chew again!

I started by whizzing up 250g fruit shortcake biscuits (I got mine from Tesco and they were the own brand in a purple packet) in my food processor until they were fine crumbs. I added 80g melted butter, mixed them all together, then pressed into the bottom of a 23″ springform tin. I put it in the fridge for 30 mins to set.

For the cheesecake filling I used my electric hand whisk to mix together 750g full fat cream cheese, 180g icing sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp mixed spice and 1/4 tsp nutmeg. Once it was combined I added 300ml double cream and continued too mix until it was thick.

I put the filling over the base and smoothed it down as best I could. I left it in the fridge overnight to set.

To decorate the Easter cheesecake I whipped up 200ml double cream along with 2 tbsp icing sugar and 1 tsp almond extract. I piped two rows of cream using my Wilton Number 6B Open Star tip (slightly obsessed with this tip at the moment!)

Simnel Spiced Easter Cheesecake

I then added Golden Galaxy Eggs all around in between the rows of cream, and in the middle I sprinkled a mixture of toasted flaked almonds and some gold confetti sprinkles I found in Tesco. I then added some gold glitter all over the cheesecake as the final touch!

The Easter cheesecake was so creamy and the spices and almond in the cream all combined to create that Easter flavour that reminds you of simnel cake and hot cross buns. The Galaxy golden eggs and gold glitter made it look decadent and added extra indulgence. This would be an amazing dessert to enjoy after Sunday lunch, or any time over the Easter season.

       

I’m linking this Easter cheesecake recipe up with Cook Blog Share hosted this month by Easy Peasy Foodie, with Recipe Of The Week hosted by A Mummy Too, and with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

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Simnel Spiced Easter Cheesecake

Servings 12

Ingredients

Base

  • 80 g Butter melted
  • 250 g Fruit shortcake biscuits

Filling

  • 750 g Full fat cream cheese
  • 180 g Icing sugar
  • 300 ml Double cream
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg

Decoration

  • 2 tbsp Icing sugar
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 200 ml Double cream
  • 1 pack of Golden Galaxy Eggs
  • A handful of Toasted flaked almonds
  • Golden confetti sprinkles
  • Edible golden glitter spray

Instructions

  1. Use a food processor to whizz up the fruit shortcake biscuits until they are fine crumbs

  2. Add the melted butter and mix together, then press the mixture into the bottom of a 23" springform tin. Put it in the fridge for 30 mins to set

  3. For the cheesecake filling use an electric hand whisk to mix together the full fat cream cheese, the 180g of icing sugar, the cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg. Once it is combined add 300ml of the double cream and continue to mix until it thickens

  4. Pour the filling over the biscuit base and smooth it down. Leave it in the fridge overnight to set

  5. To decorate the cheesecake whip up the 200ml of double cream along with the 2 tbsp icing sugar and the almond extract. Pipe two rows of cream using a Wilton Number 6B Open Star tip, or any other rosette tip you have

  6. Add the Golden Galaxy Eggs all around the cheesecake in between the rows of cream, in the middle sprinkle a mixture of the toasted flaked almonds and the gold confetti sprinkles. Then add gold edible glitter all over the cheesecake as the final touch

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Raspberry & Coconut Tarts (Vegan)

Raspberry & Coconut Tarts (Vegan)

Happy New Year everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful time celebrating. We had a quiet one at home, which I enjoy more these days. Now it’s that time of year when we all start evaluating our lifestyles and making some healthy changes (that may or may not be long lasting!) These Raspberry & Coconut Tarts are packed full of goodness, easy to make and taste really good, like really good, so good you might not even believe they are healthy if you hadn’t made them yourself! They’re also vegan friendly, so if you’ve decided to follow Veganuary they are a great recipe to try out.

To make the base I put 100g blanched almonds, 90g dried dates, 90g wholegrain crackers, 2 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder and a pinch a salt into a food processor and blitzed it until it resembled fine crumbs.

I melted 55g of coconut oil and added it to the ‘crumbs’ along with 6 tsp maple syrup and mixed it all together. I lined eight holes of a cupcake pan with cling film, then pressed the mixture into the holes making sure the sides and bottom were of an even thickness. Then I put it in the freezer for 30 minutes.

To make the filling I took two cans of coconut milk out of the fridge and seperated the thick white topping from the coconut water at the bottom. You can reserve the water and use it for smoothies or curries. Then I whisked it up along with 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 4 tbsp maple syrup (I like it quite sweet but you can add less maple syrup if you wish).

I took the tart cases out of the freezer and took them out of the pan and removed the cling film. I filled each one generously with the coconut cream, then placed some fresh raspberries on top, and finally sprinkled some chopped roasted hazlenuts on top.

And the tarts were done! This is the kind of healthy and vegan-friendly food more people need to try as it tastes so decadent and naughty when you eat, but it’s actually good for you. Surely the perfect health food?!

The tart base is crunchy and tastes sweet and chocolatey, and the coconut cream melts in the mouth. You can add any fresh berries or fruit to these tarts depending on your preference, and any nuts too.

I’m linking this recipe up to Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi this month (and me on alternate months).

And to Healthy Vegan Fridays hosted by Rock My Vegan Socks.

Recipe adapted from Healthista/Fearne Cotton.

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Raspberry & Coconut Tarts (Vegan)

Servings 8

Ingredients

  • 100 g Blanched almonds
  • 90 g Dried dates
  • 90 g Wholegrain crackers
  • 2 1/2 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 55 g Coconut oil
  • 6 tsp Maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 2 400ml cans of Coconut milk stored in the fridge overnight
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 24 Raspberries
  • A handful of Chopped roasted hazelnuts

Instructions

  1. To make the base put the blanched almonds, dried dates, wholegrain crackers, cocoa powder and salt into a food processor and blitz it until it resembles fine crumbs

  2. Melt the coconut oil and add it to the 'crumbs' along with 6 tsp of the maple syrup and mix it all together

  3. Line eight holes of a cupcake pan with cling film, then press the mixture into the holes making sure the sides and bottom are of an even thickness. Then put it in the freezer for 30 minutes

  4. To make the filling separate the thick white topping from the coconut milk then whisk it up along with the vanilla extract and 4 tbsp of the maple syrup

  5. Take the tart cases out of the freezer and take them out of the pan and remove the cling film. Fill each one generously with the coconut cream, then place some fresh raspberries on top, and finally sprinkle some chopped roasted hazelnuts on top

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Bakewell Tart: GBBO Week #5

Bakewell Tart: GBBO Week #5
After all of the shock news last week, we’ve had a further blow this week in the news that Mary Berry will not be following the show when it moves to Channel 4. Paul Hollywood confirmed that he would be staying with the show, making him the only one to remain. There was a foreshadowing of the future moment this week when Sue made a joke at Tom’s bench and then walked off saying “I’m leaving the tent”… oh Sue, if only you’d known!

The signature challenge this week was to make two different types of Danish breakfast pastries. Mary wanted the bakers to produce a crisp buttery pastry and Paul said this challenge was all about time management. They all used enriched doughs and all of the bakers except Jane made one dough that they split in two. Jane made Pain Au Raisin with a orange and cardamom dough and Raspberry, Chocolate & Almond Danish with a cinnamon dough. Candice was the only baker to brave a savoury pastry with her Croque Monsieur Kites featuring mushrooms, gruyere and pancetta.

Selasi’s pastries were very tropical themed and featured pineapple, orange and mango. Val was being her usual unqiue self and had brought dental floss with her to cut her pastry with. I hope it wasn’t mint flavoured! Benjamina went all American with her flavours and made peanut butter and banana pinwheels, and pecan swirl with maple syrup and candied bacon. Everyone struggled towards the end with timing, and Rav even forgot to bake one of his pastries.

Tom didn’t fare so well during judging as one of his pastries was dry and the other was so raw the judges wouldn’t even taste it. Val, Selasi and Benjamina all had problems with their pastry being undercooked too. The judges like the flavour of both Rav and Andrew’s fillings. Jane got a great result with her pain au raisins, and Candice’s savoury pastries went down very well.

This week’s technical was to make a Bakewell Tart, I love how they are bringing all the technical’s back to basics this year. There was a bit of internet uproar over the tart in question due to the icing covering the top, however this was Mary’s version of a Bakewell Tart. The judges expected all of the bakers to know what a Bakewell Tart looked like and to know all of the techniques involved in making one.

The recipe instructions were very minimal, and Selasi suggested that the more ‘aged’ bakers would know what they were doing. Val got stuck in straight away, as did Jane. However, Val was only using the second sheet of the instructions and she only saw the first sheet after 20 minutes of time had gone by. She’d guessed all of the recipe quantities. To be honest I’m not sure how she did this as the instructions started from number 5 on the second sheet which would surely have been the biggest clue. Even when she did find out, she still continued to ignore the instructions and made a series of bad decisions, despite the fact she makes a Bakewell Tart every week at home. Rav came last as his pastry collapsed, Val came 7th, Andrew was 6th as his oven wasn’t turned on for the first 15 minutes, Benjamina 5th, Tom 4th, Selasi 3rd, Candice 2nd and Jane was 1st.

The showstopper this week was to make 48 filo pastry amuse bouches (aka canapes), one savoury and one sweet. Filo pastry is quite a nightmare to make from scratch, I’ve done it myself once before when I made a Fruit Strudel. Mary advised that the pastry should be wafer thin and Paul wanted the canapes to be bite size.

Val went with a Christmas theme and used mincemeat in her filo parcels. Jane was quite brave I thought by using cone shaped moulds to wrap her filo around, they looked like such a faff and kept falling over. Tom was very ambitious by mixing chocolate with chilli and steak – yes you read that right! He is taking things too far in my opinion, there’s experimental and then there’s just plain risky. Selasi was using coffee to flavour his sweet filo, and he said that simplicity was a good thing. Benjamina was influced by her Nigerian roots to add plantain to her showstopper.

Then the stretching began! The bakers used broom handles, rolling pins and even pasta makers to roll out their filo until it was as thin as possible. Rav and Selasi both finished before the time was up, whereas Jane and Val were rushing to complete the challenge. Benjamin, Andrew, Selasi all did well. Paul didn’t like the flavour of Tom’s filo fillings and said he was ‘disappointed’. Even though the judges thought Jane’s amuse bouches were too big, they loved her flavours. Val was only able to present 12 of her savoury filos, and the 12 were underdone. The pastry for her sweet filo was far too thick. Candice and Rav both also got great results.

Val left this week, and although I’d found her quite irritating (I think she has a bit of a Marmite personality where you either love or hate her), I did feel sorry for her as she seemed very upset. The winner of star baker was Candice, however Jane came very close. Next week is a new theme – Botanicals week!

I decided to make a Bakewell Tart this week as I’ve never actually made one. I wanted to make the more traditional looking tart with flaked almonds on top and a drizzle of icing. As pretty as Mary’s version looked, it’s a bit too much icing than I prefer on my Bakewell.

I started by making the pastry. I rubbed 100g butter into 230g plain flour until it resembled breadcrumbs.

I added 3 tbsp cold water and formed a dough.

I rolled out my pastry on my Joseph Joseph Roll Up Non-Slip Silicone Pastry Mat which I am loving using, it’s definitely my favourite product from their new baking range which they kindly sent me a few weeks ago. I’ve already used it three times!

I lined a 9 inch tart tin with the pastry, leaving an overhang. I used a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry. Then I chilled it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

I scrunched up some baking paper and lined the pastry, then added baking beans. I baked it on 200C/180C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.

To make the frangipane I creamed together 160g butter and 160g caster sugar. Then I added 1 large free range egg, 1 tsp almond extract and 160g ground almonds.

I took the pastry out of the oven and removed the baking beans and paper. I trimmed the edges for a neater finish.

I baked the pastry again for 10 minutes on the same temperature.

I spread a layer of seedless rapsberry jam on the bottom of the pastry case. I used approximately a third of a jar.

I piped the frangipane over the top to avoid it mixing with the jam, then I smoothed it out on top. I sprinkled over some flaked almonds.

I baked the tart on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes

I can understand why Mary and Paul chose this as a technical challenge as it really fits with their theme of going back to basics. Any baker who bakes regularly will be able to knock one of these together easily and without too much fuss. It really is all about basic skills. When it was fully cool, I finished the tart with a drizzle of 60g icing sugar mixed with enough water to get a thick, but pipable paste.

You really can’t beat a Bakewell Tart and this was devoured within an hour by my colleagues! It was full of almond and jammy goodness, and the pastry was lovely and crisp.

     

I’m linking up with Bake Off Bake Along hosted by Rhyme & Ribbons and This Particular, with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation, with Recipe of the Week hosted by A Mummy Too, and Cook Blog Share hosted by Easy Peasy Foodie.


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Bakewell Tart

Ingredients

  • 260 g Butter
  • 230 g Plain flour
  • 3 tbsp Cold water
  • 160 g Caster sugar
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 1 Egg large
  • 160 g Ground almonds
  • 4-5 tbsp Raspberry Jam
  • A handful of Flaked almonds
  • 60 g Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the pastry rub 100g of the butter into the plain flour until it resembles breadcrumbs
  2. Add the cold water and form a dough
  3. Roll out the pastry, line a 9 inch tart tin leaving an overhang. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the pastry then chill it in the fridge for 30 minutes
  4. Scrunch up some baking paper and line the pastry, then add baking beans. Bake it on 200C/180C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes
  5. To make the frangipane cream together 160g of the butter and the caster sugar. Then add the egg, almond extract and ground almonds
  6. Take the pastry out of the oven and remove the baking beans and paper. Trim the edges for a neater finish
  7. Bake the pastry again for 10 minutes on the same temperature
  8. Spread a layer of the jam on the bottom of the pastry case
  9. Pipe the frangipane over the top and avoid it mixing with the jam, then smooth it out on top. Sprinkle over the flaked almonds
  10. Bake the tart on 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 45 minutes
  11. When the tart is cool, mix the icing sugar with enough water to get a thick, but pipable paste. Drizzle or pipe over the tart

 
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Cherry Traybake & Bake Box 4 Unboxing

Cherry Traybake & Bake Box 4 Unboxing

Bake Box 4 arrived last week and as usual I was very excited to find out what was inside! If you’ve not heard of Bake Box before it’s a bi-monthly subscription service for all the baking lovers out there. Once you sign up, every two months you receive a themed box filled with bakeware items, a specialist decorative item and 6 recipe cards to inspire you. You can read my other Bake Box posts here and here.

This month’s theme was Teddy Bear’s Picnic and inside the box was:

  • A teddy bear shaped cake mould
  • A lattice pastry roller
  • Toadstool and owl shaped and embossed cookie cutters
  • 3 stencils
  • 3 Cherry shaped icing cutters
  • Yellow food colouring

The item I liked the most was definitely the lattice roller. I’ve seen them on TV, but always thought it was a bit of a frivalous item to buy, so getting one as part of the box was perfect! The cookie cutters were also really cute and I loved their woodland design.

The recipe cards were a gorgeous looking selection of picnic treats and stunning bakes. I decided to make the cherry traybake as I love cherries! It also looked like an easy recipe to pack up for a picnic whilst still looking really pretty.

I started by making the sponge. I creamed together 225g butter and 225g golden caster sugar. Then I whisked in 3 eggs and 3 tbsp milk. Finally I folded in 275g self raising flour, 3/4 tsp baking powder and 65g ground almonds.

I tossed 200g glace cherries in flour then added them to the mixture. I added more than the recipe suggested as the pot of cherries I had was 200g so I thought I may as well use it all up.

I poured the batter into a lined traybake tin and smoothed it out.

I baked it on 160C Fan/ 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes.

To make the cherries I decided to use 250g marzipan as I had it in the cupboard already and I thought the almond flavour would go well with the cherry sponge. I split the marzipan in half and kneaded green and red food colouring into each half. I then dusted my work surface with icing sugar and rolled them out into strips and connected them by rolling the edges together.

I used the cherry plunger from Bake Box to cut out the cherry decorations. I lay them on some baking paper to set.

When the sponge was cool I brushed it all over with 2 tbsp jam. I used strawberry as I had some in the fridge, but of course cherry would be ideal.

I rolled out 1kg of white ready to roll icing.

I covered the sponge with the white icing, trimmed the edges, then cut the traybake into squares – 4 by 6.

I brushed water onto the back of the cherry decorations and stuck them down onto each square.

I thought the traybake looked so pretty! The cherry design from the plunger looked so fun and colourful. The sponge was delicious too, it was really light and perfectly punctuated by the sweet cherries throughout.

      

I am linking these up with Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi this month, with Cook Blog Share hosted by Sneaky Veg Blog, and with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

Disclaimer: I am sent the Bake Box free of charge, all opinions are my own.

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Cherry Traybake

Ingredients

  • 225 g Butter
  • 225 g Golden caster sugar
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 tbsp Milk
  • 275 g Self raising flour
  • 3/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 65 g Ground almonds
  • 250 g Marzipan
  • 1 kg White icing
  • 2 tbsp Jam
  • Red food colouring
  • Green food colouring
  • 200 g Glace Cherries

Instructions

  1. To make the sponge cream together the butter and golden caster sugar. Then whisk in the eggs and milk. Finally fold in the self raising flour, baking powder and ground almonds
  2. Toss the glace cherries in some flour to coat them then add them to the mixture
  3. Pour the batter into a lined 12" x 9" traybake tin and smooth it out

  4. Bake it on 160C Fan/180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes
  5. Split the marzipan in half and knead green food colouring into one half and red food colouring into the other half. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and roll them out into strips, connect them by rolling the edges together
  6. Use the cherry plunger from Bake Box to cut out the cherry decorations. Lay them on some baking paper to set
  7. When the sponge is cool, brush it all over with the jam
  8. Roll out the white icing, either onto cling film or onto a icing sugar dusted work surface
  9. Cover the sponge with the white icing, trim the edges, then cut the traybake into squares - 4 by 6Brush water onto the back of the cherry decorations and stick them down onto each square
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Stollen Muffins

Stollen Muffins
I’m pretty sure that everyone can relate to the feeling of never having enough time to do the things you want to do. For me this relates to baking a lot. I wish I had more time to bake all the things I’d like to try! So sometimes a recipe like this is just what I need. Instead of making stollen, which needs 2 hours time to prove, I thought I’d transform it into muffins for a quicker result with just as much flavour!

I started by creaming together 100g butter and 100g caster sugar.

In a separate bowl I whisked up 2 eggs, 100ml milk, 25ml brandy and 1 tsp almond extract.

I also measured out 60g dried cranberries, 60g mixed peel, 60g sultanas and 60g diced up marzipan. I sprinkled a little flour in and mixed it around to coat the fruit and marzipan. This stops it sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they are baking.

I combined the egg mixture into the creamed butter, then added 200g self raising flour, 50g ground almonds, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp mixed spice and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

I separated the mixture into 12 tulip muffin cases and sprinkled some flaked almonds over each muffin. I baked them on 180C for approximately 15-20 minutes. It will depend on your oven as to how long they take but you want them to be golden brown on top and a skewer to come out clean.

I left them to cool completely then dusted them generously with icing sugar.

If you are a fan of stollen and also short of time like me, I highly recommend this recipe. It’s got everything your taste buds are craving; Christmas spices, sweet fruit and nutty marzipan. It embodies Christmas and will be a guaranteed hit for all your family, friends or colleagues!

I’m entering these into a few blogging challenges this month…

Starting with Treat Petite, hosted by Cakeyboi, where the theme is Red and Green (aka Christmas).

I’m also entering it into Simply Eggcellent hosted by Belleau Kitchen where this month anything goes.

And into Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Fab Food 4 All as I used some leftover marzipan and dried fruit that was in the cupboard.

And into the No Waste Food Challenge ran by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and this month hosted by Jen’s Food for the same reason.

And finally into Alphabakes hosted by Caroline Makes and The More Than Occasional Baker, this month the letter is N for Noel so anything Christmassy goes!

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Stollen Muffins

Servings 12

Ingredients

  • 100 g Butter
  • 100 g Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 100 ml Milk
  • 25 ml Brandy
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 60 g Dried cranberries
  • 60 g Mixed peel
  • 60 g Sultanas
  • 60 g Marzipan diced
  • 200 g Self raising flour
  • 50 g Ground almonds
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 1/4 tsp Nutmeg
  • Handful of Flaked almonds

Instructions

  1. Cream together the butter and caster sugar
  2. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs, milk, brandy and almond extract together
  3. In a third bowl, measure out the dried cranberries, mixed peel, sultanas and marzipan. Sprinkle a little flour in and mix it around to coat the fruit and marzipan. This stops it sinking to the bottom of the muffins while they are baking
  4. Combine the egg mixture into the creamed butter, then add the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg
  5. Separate the mixture into 12 tulip muffin cases and sprinkle some flaked almonds over each muffin. Bake them on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for approximately 15-20 minutes. It will depend on your oven as to how long they take but you want them to be golden brown on top and a skewer to come out clean
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Golden Oat Raisin & Almond Cookies

Golden Oat Raisin & Almond Cookies
Healthy baking is all the rage right now, The Great British Bake Off even did a ‘free from’ themed episode this year which included dairy, gluten and refined sugar free challenges. We’re all more aware of what we’re eating and we’re being told we need to cut down on certain foods. I’ve always maintained that moderation is important, so it nice to add a healthy element to baked goods where I can. These Golden Oat Raisin & Almond Cookies are packed with wholegrain goodness plus oats, almonds and raisins. A tasty treat with hidden health benefits!

I was sent two bags of Marriage’s The Master Millers Golden Wholegrain Flour to bake with and I decided to make these cookies with the plain flour. Using wholegrain flour in your baking is an easy way to get more fibre in your diet. Marriage’s Golden Wholegrain Flour contains twice the amount of fibre than regular white flour. Current guidelines recommend that we should be eating 18g of fibre per day, and research has shown that only 5% of people in the UK manage to meet this target, so we need all the help we can get!

I toasted 100g almonds in the oven on a lined baking tray for 5 mins at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5.

I chopped them up into pieces.

I creamed together 100g butter with 200g soft brown sugar. I then whisked in 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg and 1 tbsp golden syrup.

I mixed in 125g oats, 1 tsp baking powder and 125g Marriage’s The Master Millers Golden Wholegrain Plain Flour.

Then I added the chopped almonds along with 100g raisins.

I used my hands to shape pieces of the mixture into balls which I then flattened down. I put them onto a lined baking tray leaving room for them to spread.

I baked the cookies on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 15 minutes until they were lovely and golden.

I sent these with my boyfriend to take into work with him as I not only have my own colleagues requesting bakes, I also have his colleagues asking for them too! It’s great to have a wide audience of willing volunteers to eat my bakes. The cookies went down really well and I grabbed one when they were still warm, which really is one of the best parts of baking. They were so yummy, I would call these a hearty and comforting bake that makes you feel very homely – if that makes sense!

I’m entering these cookies into this month’s Alphabakes hosted by The More Than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes…, the letter this month is ‘M’ for Marriage’s flour in this recipe!

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Golden Oat Raisin & Almond Cookies

Ingredients

  • 100 g Almonds
  • 100 g Butter
  • 200 g Soft brown sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tbsp Golden Syrup
  • 125 g Oats
  • 125 g Golden Wholegrain Plain Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 100 g Raisins

Instructions

  1. Toast the almonds in the oven on a lined baking tray for 5 mins at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Then chop them up into pieces
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar. Then whisk in the vanilla, egg and golden syrup
  3. Mix in the oats, baking powder and flour
  4. Then add the chopped almonds along with the raisins
  5. Use your hands to shape pieces of the mixture into balls. Flatten them down and put them onto a lined baking tray, leaving room for them to spread. Bake the cookies on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for about 15 minutes until they are lovely and golden.
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Honey & Orange Cupcakes

Honey & Orange Cupcakes
I’ve mentioned before that I attend my local Women’s Institute (WI) on a monthly basis. Well last month’s meeting was a bit different in that we had an outing to visit some nearby bees. I had no idea that there are beehives on the roofs of many of the city’s buildings. After a talk from a local beekeeper we headed up to the roof of The Printworks where they have chickens, a vegetable garden and two beehives. It was dark when we visited, but I found the below photo online which gives a much clearer view!

The bees are looked after by someone from the Hard Rock Cafe, vegetables from the garden are used to make soup for the homeless, and the wild flower section of the garden was dontaed by Bez from the Happy Mondays. Who knew all this was going on right above our heads! Bees are such fascinating creatures and so essential to our environment. Friends of the Earth are currently campaigning against the governments decision to use bee harming pesticides in the UK, you can read more about it by clicking here.

So in honour of our bee themed meeting I decided to make some honey flavoured cupcakes with cute little bees on top! To make the bees I started by rolling chunks of golden marzipan to make the bees bodies. I laid them onto baking paper.

I melted a few blocks of dark chocolate in the microwave and painted the bees stripes and eyes onto the marzipan bodies using a brand new paint brush. You could probably also do this with a cocktail stick.

I pushed flaked almonds into the bees to make the wings.

Soon I had a swarm of marzipan bees! I made 30+ cupcakes for my WI meeting, but I’ll give you the recipe for 12 cupcakes, then you can double and triple it as you need.

To make the cupcakes I started by creaming 150g butter, 50g honey and 100g caster sugar.

I added 2 eggs, the zest of one orange, 3 tbsp orange juice and 1 tsp orange extract.

Finally I mixed in 150g self raising flour.

I baked the cupcakes on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes until golden brown. I got a new oven recently and it bakes things super fast so you may need to leave them in for 20 minutes depending on your oven.

I made some buttercream by mixing 150g butter, 50g honey, 400g icing sugar and 1 tsp orange extract. I piped it onto the cupcakes when they were fully cool.

Finally I added the super cute marzipan bees! I loved the final effect, the little ‘bees’ looked so adorable. I got some really lovely comments when I presented them at the meeting and was pleased to see them all fly off the table!

 

I’m entering these into Belleau Kitchen’s challenge Simply Eggcellent, this month the theme is cake.

 

It’s also National Cupcake Week at the moment, which is great timing to share this recipe!

Sponge recipe adapted from Rowse Honey.

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Honey & Orange Cupcakes

Ingredients

  • 120 g Golden marzipan
  • 6 blocks of Dark chocolate
  • 50 g Flaked almonds
  • 300 g Butter
  • 100 g Honey
  • 100 g Caster sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Orange
  • 2 tsp Orange extract
  • 150 g Self raising flour
  • 400 g Icing sugar

Instructions

  1. To make the bees, roll chunks of golden marzipan into an oval shape. Lay them onto baking paper

  2. Melt the dark chocolate and paint the bees stripes and eyes onto the marzipan bodies using a small paint brush or a cocktail stick
  3. Push the flaked almonds into the bees bodies to make the wings
  4. To make the cupcakes, cream 150g of the butter, 50g of the honey and the caster sugar together
  5. Add the eggs, the zest of the orange, 3 tbsp of the orange's juice and 1 tsp of the orange extract. Mix well
  6. Fold in the self raising flour
  7. Bake the cupcakes on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool completely
  8. Make the buttercream by mixing 150g of the butter, 50g of the honey, the icing sugar and 1 tsp of the orange extract together until smooth. Pipe it onto the cupcakes
  9. Finally add the marzipan bees

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Chocolate Dipped Almond & Orange Biscotti: GBBO Week #2

Chocolate Dipped Almond & Orange Biscotti: GBBO Week #2
We’re on week two and that means biscuits on The Great British Bake Off. The first challenge was to make Biscotti – an Italian, twice-baked biscuit. They had to make 24 of them whilst maintaining consistency. Paul and Mary were looking for a dry biscuit with a good snap, but not so dry it breaks your teeth!
 
 

There was some really experimental and unusual flavours being used in the biscotti. Alvin flavoured his with jackfruit, which is very popular in South East Asian cooking. Ian added rosemary to his mix, and Ugne used white wine and goji berries. We also found out that Paul (the contestant Paul, not Paul Hollywood) used to be a cold stream guard aka one of those guards in the big black fuzzy hats that stand outside Buckingham Palace!

 

The biscotti had to cool before it’s second bake, que a lot of baking tray wafting from the contestants. I was impressed with Mat’s dedication to uniformity, he used a ruler to measure each biscuit before slicing! My favourite’s were Tamal’s Cinnamon, Maple & Cranberry Biscotti. They looked amazing, but the judges felt there was too much going on in terms of flavour. Ian got glowing results for his addition of rosemary to his biscotti Dorret didn’t do too well as Paul said her biscotti had no flavour.

 

This week’s technical challenge was to make eight Arlettes. Of course, no one had heard of them! They are biscuits made from puff pastry and rolled to be wafer thin and create a pretty swirl. They originate from France and are cinnamon flavoured. Paul was rubbing his hands together and grinning quite wickedly at the thought of the bakers trying to make these!

 

The bakers struggled with time as they had to fold the dough and chill it several times, they also weren’t sure at which stage they should add the cinnamon, and which way to roll up the dough. Marie really struggled as her oven wasn’t set correctly and only presented four Arlette’s, which meant she came last. Paul and Nadiya didn’t do very well either. First place went to Dorret with Flora in second and Ian in third.

 

I was really excited by the showstopper this week as it sounded so fun and really opened up the opportunity to be creative. We have some really imaginative bakers on the show this year! They were asked to make 36 biscuits, presented in a box also made out of biscuit, but a different kind of biscuit. Mary wanted them to be ambitious, show a variety of techniques, and of course taste amazing!

 

For the box, most contestants went for gingerbread and shortbread as they are sturdy. For inside the box both Ian and Paul made pink macarons, both Flora and Mat made earl grey flavoured tea bag shaped biscuits, Alvin went for brandy snaps and Nadiya chose fortune cookies (pictured above). Ugne made some traditional Lithuanian biscuits, Tamal made checkerboard shortbread and Dorret made some green tea flavoured frog biscuits, although Paul Hollywood though using a cookie stamp was a ‘shortcut’. Not sure if I agree, surely he didn’t expect her to cut out 36 frogs by hand?! Oh wait, he probably did…!

 

Ian very cleverly made a cylindrical box using a tin he had made himself, which impressed the judges. Sandy was the only one to make a savoury biscuit box using sundried tomato and parmesan flavours. Mat made a fire engine box which I thought looked brilliant! And Paul agreed, calling it ‘fantastic’. Both Alvin and Nadiya didn’t manage to finished their boxes, with Alvin unable to construct his and Nadiya unable to decorate hers. Despite that, both their biscuits were really impressive and well made.

 

Marie left us this week, the judges felt her bakes were too simple and she wasn’t pushing herself out of her comfort zone. Ian won star baker, deservedly so! Next week it’s time for bread week, or as Mat would say, a doughverload!

I’m not a huge fan of biscotti, and I have made it once before, but I was a bit pushed for time this weekend as I went to Aberdeen to visit my brother. I would have liked to have given the biscuit box a try, maybe when I have more time! I loved how Tamal dipped his in chocolate so I decided to do the same as I think it improves the presentation and overall look of the biscotti.

I started by toasting 145g blanched almonds. I laid them out onto a lined baking tray and popped them in the oven on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 8 minutes.

Once they were toasted I left them to cool, then chopped them up.

For the biscuit dough I weighed out 260g plain flour, 150g granulated white sugar, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt. I mixed them together.

In a separate bowl I beat 3 eggs with 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp almond extract. I also added the zest of 1 orange.

I mixed the wet and dry ingredients together, along with the chopped almonds, which made a very wet dough.

I carefully shaped it on the baking tray into a rectangle, it was approximately 35cm long and 10cm wide. I didn’t bother rolling it on the work top as it was far too wet.

I baked the dough on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 35 minutes. Depending on your oven it will take 30-40 minutes. I left it to cool for about 30 minutes.

I used a serrated knife to carefully slice the cooked dough. I baked the slices again for 20 minutes, turning them over at the 10 minutes mark. They were nice and crisp and when I pressed them in the middle there was no give.

For the final touch I melted 130g dark chocolate and dipped in one of the edges of each biscotti. I left them to set on some baking paper.

I was really pleased with my second attempt at biscotti! It went much better this time and I actually really liked them! So they must’ve been alright. The almond flavour was lovely and the orange came through, if you wanted a stronger orange flavour you could double up the zest quantity, but I was happy with how these turned out. They were just crunchy enough so no risk of any teeth breaking! I think I’m going to go and have one with a hot drink…

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

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Chocolate Dipped Almond & Orange Biscotti

Ingredients

  • 145 g Blanched almonds
  • 260 g Plain flour
  • 150 g Granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond extract
  • 1 Orange
  • 130 g Dark chocolate

Instructions

  1. Lay the almonds out onto a lined baking tray and pop them in the oven on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 8 minutes. Once they are toasted leave them to cool, then chop them up
  2. For the biscuit dough mix together the plain flour, granulated white sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. In a separate bowl beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and the almond extract. Then add the zest of the orange
  4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together, along with the chopped almonds, to make a wet dough
  5. Carefully shape the dough on the baking tray into a rectangle, approximately 35cm long and 10cm wide
  6. Bake the dough on 150C/300F/Gas Mark 2 for 35 minutes. Leave it to cool for about 30 minutes
  7. Using a serrated knife, carefully slice the cooked dough. Bake the slices again for 20 minutes, turning them over halfway through
  8. Melt the dark chocolate and dip in one of the edges of each biscotti. Leave to set on some baking paper
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Lemon & Almond Ricotta Cakes

Lemon & Almond Ricotta Cakes
When I was packing up my flat to move I was throwing out a lot of things and giving bags to charity. It got me looking at my baking supplies and ingredients too. I gave a bunch of baking supplies I’d never used, and duplicates I didn’t need, to charity. I had a lot of dry ingredients in the cupboard too and I wanted to try and use them up. I had some ricotta in the fridge that needed using, along with some lemons, and in my baking cupboard I had almonds. I found this recipe on Food Network for American ‘biscuits’, but to me and you they are little cakes!

I creamed together 200g caster sugar, 115g butter and the zest of 2 lemons.

I then mixed in 250g ricotta.

I added 1 egg and the juice of 1 lemon and mixed well.

I weighed out 300g plain flour, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt, and mixed it into the wet ingredients.

I divided the mixture out between 12 muffin cases.

I sprinkled some toasted flaked almonds and some demerara sugar over each cake.

I baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes until risen and golden.

They can be eaten warm or cold, and are delicious either way. I think they would be nice with some lemon curd!

The cake were lovely and fluffy inside with a light and fresh flavour. The almonds and sugar on top are a nice crunchy contrast. I’m not sure why Americans call these biscuits… anyone?!

I am entering these into this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, ran by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All, this month hosted by Baking Queen. I used ingredients in my fridge and cupboard that needed using up to make these cakes.

I am also entering this into this month’s No Waste Food Challenge, hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary. I used up food to make these cakes that would have otherwise been binned.

I am also entering this into Family Foodies Italian Challenge, hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, this month’s theme is family friendly Italian themed foods. Ricotta is an Italian cheese and these cakes would be a great family bake.

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Lemon & Almond Ricotta Cakes

Ingredients

  • 200 g Caster sugar
  • 115 g Butter
  • 2 Lemons
  • 250 g Ricotta
  • 1 Egg
  • 300 g Plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Powder
  • A large handful of Toasted flaked almonds
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar

Instructions

  1. Cream together the caster sugar, butter and the zest of the lemons
  2. Mix in the ricotta
  3. Add the egg and the juice of 1 of the lemons and mix well
  4. Then mix in the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt
  5. Divide the mixture out between 12 muffin cases
  6. Sprinkle the toasted flaked almonds and demerara sugar over each cake
  7. Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 20 minutes until risen and golden
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