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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Oreo Pancakes with Raspberries & Creme Fraiche

Oreo Pancakes with Raspberries & Creme Fraiche

Pancake day this year falls on 28th February, however pancakes get much more than a day in my house. I eat them for my breakfast at the weekend whenever I have enough time to do so. I usually have blueberry pancakes drizzled with maple syrup. When I heard you could make pancake batter in a NutriBullet, and a healthier pancake batter at that, my mind immediately thought of adding oreos. Trust me to put biscuits into a healthy recipe! This recipe for Oreo Pancakes with Raspberries & Creme Fraiche is a healthy treat, good for you, but with a little naughtyness mixed in. It’s also super easy and quick to make in your NutriBullet.

The kind folks at ao.com recently sent me this fab NutriBullet, a product which I have been wanting to purchase for ages, and in fact I wasn’t far off buying one when this lovely offer from them came along. I was so excited when it arrived. The first thing I made in it was these pancakes and it’s such a fantastic idea to make things other than smoothies in it. It could be used in lots of different ways to assist with your baking, for example whizzing up biscuits to make cheesecake bases, or nuts and dates if you’re making a healthier option. It could also be used to purify fruits for sauces, or mash up bananas for banana bread.

I started by heating up a little oil in a frying pan. I used a silicone brush to coat the pan with the oil as this gives a light coverage so you don’t need to use as much oil. I used grapeseed oil, but coconut oil would also be good.

I put all of the ingredients into the large cup of the nutribullet and whizzed them up. It took literally seconds to blitz it all into a smooth batter.

I poured the batter into a bowl and broke up 9 oreos into it, then stirred them in.

I wanted to make small American style pancakes so I used a ladle to pour a small amount of batter into the frying pan.

I fried the pancakes until they were golden on both sides.

I served them topped with creme fraiche (I used a half fat option), fresh raspberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. They were hearty and filling, and tasted wonderful. The creme frachie with the oreos gives that ‘cookies and cream’ flavour. These oreo pancakes would make a fab weekend treat, and kids will love them too!

I’m linking this up with Cook Blog Share hosted this month by Hijacked By Twins.

And with the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Ilka’s Blog and Marathons & Motivation.

And with The No Waste Food Challenge hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary as I was using up the leftover oreos I had from making a Strawberry Milkshake Oreo Cheesecake earlier in the month.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver. I was sent the NutriBullet for free to try out, all opinions are my own.

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Oreo Pancakes with Raspberries & Creme Fraiche

Ingredients

  • 260 g Wholemeal flour
  • 300 ml Almond milk
  • 2 tsp Baking powder
  • A pinch of Salt
  • 1 Banana sliced
  • 1 Egg
  • 11 Oreo biscuits
  • 300 ml Creme Fraiche half fat optional
  • 250 g Raspberries
  • Maple syrup to serve
  • Vegetable oil for greasing the pan

Instructions

  1. Heat up the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat

  2. Put the flour, egg, banana, milk, baking powder, salt and 2 of the oreos into the larger nutribullet cup and whizz it up into a smooth batter

  3. Pour the batter into a bowl and break up the remaining oreos into it, then mix them in

  4. Using a ladle, spoon the batter into the frying pan, you can make a large pancake or lots of small ones

  5. Let the pancakes cook for around 5 minutes on each side until golden

  6. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche, a sprinkling of fresh raspberries and a drizzle of maple syrup

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Chocolate & Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies (Vegan)

Chocolate & Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies (Vegan)

I don’t know why, but telling someone that a brownie is vegan can really put them off. I’m not sure why this is as nowadays you can bake so many delicious treats without using any animal products. I took these Chocolate & Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies into work (without mentioning the ‘v’ word) and my colleagues happily scoffed the lot, especially when I told them they contained no butter and were made with coconut sugar as this immediately removed any January diet-related hesitation over whether to indulge or not. They are rich, sweet and super moist. If you’ve never tried vegan baking before, this is a great place to start!

I started by making the caramel. In a pan I warmed 160ml coconut cream with 70g light brown sugar. I let it bubble for 5 minutes whilst constantly stirring.

I took the caramel off the heat and added a mixture of 4 tbsp maple syrup, 6 tbsp peanut butter (I used Meridian Smooth Peanut Butter with no palm oil), 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp salt. I poured it into a bowl and put it in the fridge to cool.

For the brownie batter I put 250g plain flour, 200g golden caster sugar, 150g coconut sugar, 90g cocoa powder, 1 tsp baking powder and 1 tsp salt in a bowl and stirred it together.

I then added 250ml almond milk, 2 flax eggs, 250ml vegetable oil and 1 tsp vanilla extract and whisked it all together.

I poured the batter into a lined baking tray, then added blobs of the peanut butter caramel all over and swirled it all together with a knife.

I baked it on 180C/160C Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 45 minutes.

The brownies were so fudgey and gooey, and the peanut butter caramel is to die for. I personally would add more peanut butter next time for a stronger taste, but it depends how much you love peanut butter. If you don’t like it, you could use another nut butter or omit the caramel entirely and just make some yummy chocolate brownies.

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

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

And with Recipe Of The Week hosted by A Mummy Too.

And with We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin & Thyme.

Recipe adapted from the Telegraph.

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Chocolate & Peanut Butter Caramel Brownies (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 160 ml Coconut cream
  • 70 g Light brown sugar
  • 4 tbsp Maple syrup
  • 6 tbsp Peanut butter
  • 2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 250 g Plain flour
  • 200 g Golden caster sugar
  • 150 g Coconut sugar
  • 90 g Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 250 ml Almond milk
  • 2 Flax eggs see note
  • 250 ml Vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. To make flax eggs: 2 tbsp linseeds, ideally ground up in a food processor or spice grinder, soaked in 4 tbsp water for at least 10 minutes in the fridge.

  2. Start by making the caramel. In a pan warm the coconut cream with the light brown sugar. Let it bubble for 5 minutes whilst constantly stirring, then take off the heat and pour in a bowl

  3. Mix together the maple syrup, peanut butter, 1 tsp of the vanilla extract and 1 tsp of the salt, add it to the caramel and put it in the fridge to cool

  4. In a bowl mix together the plain flour, golden caster sugar, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and 1 tsp of the salt

  5. In another bowl whisk together the almond milk, flax eggs, vegetable oil and 1 tsp of the vanilla extract, then add it to the dry ingredients and mix together

  6. Pour the batter into a lined baking tray, then add blobs of the peanut butter caramel all over and swirl it all together with a knife

  7. Bake on 180C/160C Fan/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 45 minutes

  8. Allow to cool then cut into squares

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10 Vegetarian Mason Jar Salad Recipes

10 Vegetarian Mason Jar Salad Recipes
 Mason jar salads are an easy way to pack a healthy lunch for taking to work, or any on the go activity. The basic principal is that the ingredients are layered up, starting with the dressing and any wet ingredients at the bottom, veggies and proteins in the middle, and then salad leaves at the top. When you’re ready to eat, you shake it up, tip it all out into a bowl or plate and dig in! You can also now get jars that have a separate compartment for the dressing, like the one I have which is pictured above (there’s a link at the bottom of the post to where you can buy it). With a mason jar salad you can create your perfect tasty lunch, tailored to your own tastes and dietary needs, the possibilities really are endless! In order to celebrate National Vegetarian Week (16 – 22 May 2016) I decided to gather together 10 vegetarian mason jar salad recipes that look sure to brighten up any lunch hour!

Courgetti, Farro & Mozarella Salad by Rachel Cooks
This salad looks really easy to prepare and is full of goodness.

Artichoke & Tortellini Salad by Organize Yourself Skinny
A nutrious mix that is also a fantastic way to use artichoke.

Mexican Chickpea Salad with Chilli-Lime Dressing by Back To Her Roots
If you love spicy food and mexican flavours, this is the mason salad jar for you!

Guacamole Mason Jar Salad by Popsugar
A simple salad with a spicy kick that will satisfy your cravings for chips and dips!

Carrot Noodle Salad with Sweet Chilli Vinaigrette by Nosh & Nourish
A delicious asian style salad including hemp seeds, which are packed with nutrion.

Greek Mason Jar Salad by Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice
I adore greek food and this is making my mouth water!

Apple & Walnut Salad by Eat Within Your Means
This crunchy salad is full of textures and flavours and makes me think of summer.

Egg Salad by Make and Takes
A simple but tasty mix of egg salad and leafy greens.

Rainbow Salad with Avocado Hummus by Oh My Veggies
This super healthy salad is also vegan friendly and the avocado hummus sounds heavenly!

And finally… Giant Cous Cous, Chickpea and Feta Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing by me! Writing this blog post really inspired me to try out my first mason salad jar recipe. I combined some of my favourite salad ingredients to make a delicious lunch to take to work. I adore giant cous cous and feta is one of my favourite cheeses to have in salad. I found raspberry balsamic in Holland & Barrett and have loved it ever since, it still has that vinegar tang, but with a fruity hint. Give it a try!

I am entering this into No Croutons Required which is hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and the theme is veggie recipes.

And into Meat Free Mondays hosted by Tinned Tomatoes.

And into Food Year Link Up hosted by Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen, for National Vegetarian Week.

And into Tasty Tuesdays hosted by Honest Mum.


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Giant Cous Cous, Chickpea and Feta Salad with Raspberry Balsamic Dressing

Ingredients

  • 60 g Giant Cous Cous
  • 50 g Chickpeas
  • 45 g Feta
  • 6-8 Plum tomatoes
  • 1 Sweet Gem Lettuce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Honey

Instructions

  1. Cook the giant cous cous according to the packet instructions. Allow to cool fully
  2. To make the dressing, mix the ingredients together well. You may like more honey, salt or vinegar depending on your personal taste so adjust the quantities to your own preference
  3. Mix the chickpeas into the giant cous cous and add the mixture into the mason jar. (If you are using a jar without a separate dressing container, add the dressing at this point)
  4. Layer the feta, then cherry tomatoes, then lettuce
  5. When ready to eat, pour in the dressing, shake the jar, and pour out onto a plate and dig in!

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Cardamom & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache Tart (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Cardamom & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache Tart (Vegan & Gluten Free)
A while back the kind people at Magazine.co.uk signed me up for 3 magazine subscriptions of my choice. (If you follow my blog you may remember this delicious Coconut Bar Cake I made from Olive magazine.) So this time round I got my first issue of Veggie magazine through the letterbox. I chose all food related magazines for my subscriptions – obviously! As we’re a vegetarian friendly household I’m always looking out for new veggie recipes so it was the perfect fit.

Veggie magazine is completely vegetarian, from it’s recipes to the beauty and skincare products it recommends. It also includes some vegan and gluten free recipes. My sister is vegan and we’ve recently found a love of baking together so when we do we of course make vegan friendly treats. So this chocolate tart was an easy choice to make as it sounded damn delicious!

I started by making the tart base which involved gently warming 75g coconut oil and 4 tbsp maple syrup in a pan. Once it melted together I added 150g dessicated coconut and 2 tbsp cocoa powder and mixed in.

I pressed the base into a tart tin making sure to pack it as tightly as I could and also cover the sides. I decided to use my rectangular tin as I love the elegant look of a tart this shape.

I baked the base on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes, I left it to cool. Put it on a baking tray when in the oven as some of the coconut oil can leak out.

I made the filling by warming 270ml coconut cream, 1 tsp ground cardamom and a pinch of salt until just simmering. I then left it to thicken for 10 minutes with a lid on the pan.

I added 100g 70% dark chocolate to the coconut cream and stirred until it melted. If you want this to be a vegan tart make sure the chocolate doesn’t contain any milk (‘may contain’ is ok as this is related to people who have allergies).

I poured the ganache into the tart base and put it in the fridge for 2 hours to set. Once set I decorated it with raspberries and a sprinkling of salt. You could decorate it with any fresh berries you like, or some grated dark chocolate, or leave it plain.

Wow this tart was decadent! The filling was so rich and creamy with the perfect chocolate hit. The cardamom lingered delicately in the background and the sea salt provided the perfect kick. The base was deliciously crunchy, it all came together so well. This is a dessert that can be enjoyed by vegans and non-vegans alike, and would be perfect for a dinner party where your guests have mixed dietary needs.

I’m entering this into We Should Cocoa hosted by Tin & Thyme. The theme this month is butter, or coconut oil for vegan recipes.

And the Sunday Fitness & Food Link Up hosted by Marathons & Motivations and Ilkas Blog.

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Cardamom & Sea Salt Chocolate Ganache Tart (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Ingredients

  • 75 g Coconut oil
  • 4 tbsp Maple Syrup
  • 150 g Desiccated coconut
  • 2 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 270 ml Coconut cream
  • 1 tsp Ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 100 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 10 Fresh raspberries

Instructions

  1. Gently warm the coconut oil and maple syrup in a pan. Once melted, add the desiccated coconut and cocoa powder and mix in
  2. Press the base into a tart tin, pack it tightly along the bottom and sides
  3. Bake the base in the tart tin, and on a baking tray in case any coconut oil leaks out, on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes. Then leave to cool
  4. Make the filling by warming the coconut cream, ground cardamom and a pinch of the salt until just simmering. Then leave it to thicken for 10 minutes with a lid on the pan
  5. Add the dark chocolate to the coconut cream and stir until melted
  6. Pour the filling into the tart base and put it in the fridge for 2 hours to set. Once set, decorate with raspberries and a sprinkling of salt
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Chocolate Avocado Brownies

Chocolate Avocado Brownies
I’ve heard about baking with avocado for a long time and I’ve always wanted to try it out. I thought January would be the perfect time for it as being more healthy is on everyone’s minds. Avocados are so nutrious and are filled with vitamins and healthy fats, they have been shown to lower cholesterol and are also full of fibre. There is nothing bad about avocados that’s for sure! Alternative ingredients are all the rage right now and I’ve become even more aware of other options to dairy products since my sister became vegan. Unfortunately these brownies aren’t vegan friendly, but the frosting is! So you could easily add it to a vegan bake.

I started by mashing up 2 ripe avocados. As they are so popular now you can buy them ready and ripe, or ripen at home. I use a stick blender to make sure I got it as smooth as possible, you could also use a food processor. I mixed 200g sugar into the avocados.

I melted 260g dark chocolate. I used these 70% dark chocolate chips from Chocolate Trading Co. Dark chocolate is also another great ingredient as it is full of minerals and antioxidants.

I mixed the melted dark chocolate into the avocado mixture, then added 4 eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. I also added 2 tsp vanilla extract.

Finally I mixed in 30g cocoa powder, 80g plain flour and 1/2 tsp salt. I poured the brownie batter into a lined baking pan.

I baked the brownies on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. I left them to cool completely on a cooling rack.

To make the chocolate frosting I again mashed up 2 ripe avocados and used a stick blender to get them super smooth and lump free.

To the avocado I added 325g icing sugar, 5 tbsp cocoa powder and 1/2 tbsp vanilla. It went very glossy and smooth. I spread it over the brownies and cut them into squares.

When I took the brownies into work I told everyone they were healtheir brownies and there was a secret ingredient in them. No one guessed correctly and everyone was so surprised to find out these had avocados in them! I got some amazing feedback and everyone really liked the brownies, they were very fudgy and dense, and the frosting was so delicious – a close competitor to regular buttercream I think!

I am entering these into myself and Cakeyboi‘s monthly baking challenge Treat Petite. This month’s theme is fruit & veg.

I am also entering these into Belleau Kitchen’s challenge Simply Eggcellent, this month’s theme is healthier recipes.

Brownie recipe from Fake Ginger.

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Chocolate Avocado Brownies with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Ingredients

  • 4 Ripe Avocados
  • 200 g Caster sugar
  • 260 g 70% chocolate
  • 4 Eggs
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 80 g Plain flour
  • 30 g Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 325 g Icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp Cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp Vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Mash up 2 of the avocados. Use a blender to get the smoothest consistency. Then mix in the sugar
  2. Melt the dark chocolate and add it to the mixture
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing between each addition. Then add the vanilla extract
  4. Mix in the cocoa powder, flour and salt. Pour into a lined baking pan
  5. Bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes
  6. For the frosting, mash up the other 2 avocados. Use a blender to get the smoothest consistency
  7. Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and vanilla. Spread it over the brownies and cut them into squares
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Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake

Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! You probably know if you follow my blog that I absolutely hate to see food wasted or thrown away, so I’m always looking for ways to use up leftovers and avoid any having to go in the bin (one day I will have a garden with a compost heap!). Food waste happens so much more than usual over the festive period so I’ve been doing my best to use up what I can. I found this awesome recipe for a Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake and it was just perfect as I had exactly the right amount of parsnips left over from Christmas dinner to use up. I’ve made cakes using courgette and carrots before, but never parsnip so I was also excited to see how it turned out.

I started by lining and greasing a loose bottomed 22cm cake tin. You can also use two sandwich tins if you wish.

I melted 175g butter, 250g light brown sugar and 100ml maple syrup on a low heat. I let it cool slightly. Use pure maple syrup if you can (not maple ‘flavoured’ syrup), I was lucky to receive some Canadian maple syrup as a gift.

I grated 250g parsnips and 1 apple using a food processor. I added the zest and juice of 1 orange.

Into the cooled butter mixture I whisked 3 eggs.

I then added the dry ingredients 250g self raising flour, 2 tsp mixed spice and 2 tsp baking powder.

Finally I folded in the grated parsnip mixture, as well as 50g chopped pecans.

I poured the mixture into my tin.

I baked the cake for around 1 hour on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Make sure it is done in the middle by testing it with a skewer as this is a very big and dense cake. If you use two sandwich tins, you will only need to cook it for 30 minutes.

To make the filling I whisked 250g mascarpone with 3 tbsp maple syrup. I used my hand mixer to do this as it thickened the filling nicely. I cut the cake in half and spread it over the middle. I put the other half of the cake on top and finished with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

The cake was so delicious! I loved the freshness of the filling, the texture that the chopped pecans added and the overall flavour was absolutely scrumptious! I couldn’t have guessed there were parsnips in the cake if I hadn’t made it myself. Although it is of course still cake, it certainly felt like a healthier snack and made me feel much better after all the indulgence of the past week.

I’m entering this into Extra Veg hosted by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

And into Credit Crunch Munch hosted by Fab Food 4 All.

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Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake

Ingredients

  • 175 g Butter
  • 250 g Light brown sugar
  • 100 ml Maple Syrup
  • 250 g Parsnips
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Orange
  • 3 Eggs
  • 250 g Self raising flour
  • 2 tsp Mixed spice
  • 2 tsp Baking Powder
  • 50 g Pecans chopped
  • 250 g Mascarpone
  • 3 tbsp Maple Syrup

Instructions

  1. Line and grease a loose bottomed 22cm cake tin, or two sandwich tins
  2. Melt the butter, light brown sugar and 100ml of the maple syrup on a low heat. Let it cool slightly
  3. Grate the parsnips and apple, add the zest and juice of the orange
  4. Whisk the eggs into the cooled butter mixture, then add the flour, mixed spice and baking powder
  5. Fold in the grated parsnip mixture, as well as the pecans
  6. Pour the mixture into the cake tin. Bake the cake for around 1 hour on 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Make sure it is done in the middle by testing it with a skewer as this is a very big and dense cake. If you use two sandwich tins, you will only need to cook the cake for 30 minutes
  7. To make the filling whisk 250g mascarpone with 3 tbsp maple syrup using an electric whisk. Cut the cake in half and spread it over the middle. Put the other half of the cake on top and finish with a sprinkling of icing sugar.
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Sweet Potato Brownies with Honey Cream Cheese: GBBO Week #5

Sweet Potato Brownies with Honey Cream Cheese: GBBO Week #5
The Great British Bake Off has followed the same format of episode themes for a few years now, so it was great to see it move with the latest food trends and have a ‘free from’ themed episode this week. The bakers started with a sugar free cake, however it was more accurately a refined sugar free cake as the bakers could still use honey, agave nectar, maple syrup etc. All of the bakers were still reeling from Ian’s repeated star baker victories, and it’s clear to see that they have all decided to change their tactics in order to knock him off the top spot!

A lot of the bakers used fruit to sweeten their cakes. It was nice to see Ian make a more ‘normal’ flavoured cake, he used pear, ginger and honey for his cake. Although the judges didn’t think it was sweet enough and Paul thought the pears were the wrong choice. Mat made a carrot cake using honey and dates for sweetness and also flavouring it with spices. Paul also went for carrot cake but instead used agave nectar and sultanas for sweetness and added pecans. The judges liked both carrot cakes.

Honey and grapefruit polenta cake was Tamal’s effort and he got his syringes out again to inject grapefruit syrup into it. The judges were big fans. Alvin went for a classic pineapple upside down cake using agave nectar for his sweetness. He was very worried when he finished his bake about 45 minutes before everyone else, but the judges loved it. Paul called it superb and Mary said it was the perfect balance. Ugne gave herself a big challenge by making her cake gluten free as well and giving it a checkboard pattern. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for her as her cake broke and her icing melted.

Flora made an extremely pretty pistachio, apple and cardamom cake, which she decorated with madelines. The judges thought it looked really good, but that the cake was over moist and stodgy. Nadiya was the only one to use mulberry molasses for her sweetness, and she also made a blueberry sugar free jam using basil seeds. She used a genoise sponge which the judges said was too dry, however they were impressed with her flavours.

Gluten free was the technical challenge and the bakers were asked to make 12 identical gluten free pittas. And they only had 2 hours! They were all given some psyllium powder which is gluten free but creates a gelatinous brown mixture to replace the lack of gluten. The bakers all said it didn’t smell very nice!

Alvin wasn’t sure what shape a pitta should be and had a triangle in mind for a while, thankfully he realised it should be oval shaped! None of them knew how long to work the dough for or how long to prove it for. There wasn’t much confidence in the tent at all and they all seemed nervous and confused. Alvin came last, Tamal 7th, Ugne 6th, Ian 5th, Mat 4th, Flora 3rd, Paul 2nd and Nadiya 1st.

The final ‘free from’ challenge was the showstopper and the judges requested a diary free ice cream roll containing silky smooth ice cream covered in jam, then wrapped in sponge. Mary wanted to see outstanding results from the bakers. Paul wasn’t planning on holding back with his opinion at all! I have to say I was incredibly relieved to see they all had ice cream makers, plus extra freezers at the end of each bench. The BBC were clearly planning on not having another ice cream fiasco!

Everyone used coconut milk for their ice cream which inspired a lot of tropical flavours. Alvin used buko pandan, a traditional Phillipino flavour, alongside mango and passion fruit. Paul went for mango, lime and coconut ice cream with a pineapple jam. He also made a fondant bikini clad girl which created some hilarious moment with Mel and Sue as they advised he give her bikini bottoms a gusset, so funny! Tamal made passionfruit ice cream and also pineapple jam. Ian made a mango and stem ginger ice cream, and decorated his roll with a very clever caramel palm tree embedded in marzipan.

Mat made a faux pas by deciding to roll his ice cream like a swiss roll, instead of rolling the sponge around a log of ice cream. This meant he didn’t have much ice cream when he presented it to the judges. Flora also went off piste and made a buche using a very thin chocolate sponge, pear jam and vanilla sponge. Unfortunately the judges weren’t entirely impressed by either of their efforts.

Ugne made peanut butter ice cream, grape jelly and a chocolate roll. The judges weren’t convinced by her flavours, but Paul loved her ice cream. She put her jam inside her ice cream though, which prevented it from freezing properly and she ended up with a melted mess. Nadiya made chocolate ice cream filled with a strawberry and lime mousse. She used a beautiful henna inspired pattern for her sponge. Mary and Paul were very impressed and loved her ice cream and patterned sponge.

Ugne left us this week after suffering two melted bakes. She was very gracious and vowed to continue baking and experimenting with her flavours. Star baker was awarded to Nadiya this week and you could tell how much it meant to her. Next week – pastry and soggy bottoms!

Personally, I don’t really see the point of having a sugar free cake. Don’t get me wrong, I think you should watch the amount of sugar in your diet and eat it in moderation. But cake is a treat, and if you’re going to have it, you may as well have one full of sugar, butter and whatever else you fancy! I’d rather eat less cake, than eat more cake but some of it be sugar free. For the purpose of my GBBO bake along, I decided to make these sweet potato brownies. They are something I’ve wanted to try for a while. I didn’t make them dairy free or gluten free, but there are recipes out there (Deliciously Ella’s one is popular) that are. I didn’t add any form of sugar to the sweet potato brownies as I wanted them to be truely sugar free.

I started by grating 250g sweet potato. I did it by hand, but you could use a food processor too.

In a bowl I measured out 200g self raising flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and 50g cocoa powder.

I melted 100g butter and mixed in 100ml semi skimmed milk and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

I added the butter mixture, 3 eggs and 1 mashed banana to the flour. I mixed it really well. Then I added the sweet potato and mixed it in.

I poured it into a lined baking tray and baked on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes. It was really hard to tell when it was done as it didn’t look like a normal sponge!

Ok, so the sweet potato brownies weren’t bad, but, well, you guessed it… they just weren’t sweet enough!! The banana certainly helped add flavour and very mild sweetness, but for me I just wasn’t feeling it. So I made some icing.

I mixed together 225g cream cheese, 30g butter and 85g honey. I squeezed the moisture out of the cream cheese using a muslin cloth first, I saw Paul doing it for his carrot cake and I have to say it really does make a difference. This icing is optional, if you really like the sweet potato brownies on their own then you don’t have to add it as it does contain honey which ultimately is sugar. The way I like to see it is that I’m eating less sugar than I normally would if I’d made a regular brownie, plus there’s the additional health benefits of the sweet potato and banana.

My boyfriend much preferred the sweet potato brownies with the icing, as did I! It gave them that extra edge they were missing. The sponge was a different texture than I was used to, but I liked it. I think the main hurdle with anything like this is getting over your normal expectations and accepting that a sugar free sweet potato brownie is not going to taste like a normal brownie!

I’m entering these sweet potato brownies into this month’s Credit Crunch Munch, hosted by Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All, as I didn’t have to go out and buy anything to make them. All of the ingredients were already in my fridge and store cupboard.

I am also entering them into Elizabeth Kitchen Diary‘s No Waste Food Challenge, this month hosted by Foodie Quine, for the same reason.

I’m entering this into the Bake Off Bake Along hosted by Rhyme & Ribbons and This Particular.

Brownie recipe from BBC Good Food

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Sweet Potato Brownies with Honey Cream Cheese

Ingredients

  • 250 g Sweet Potato
  • 200 g Self raising flour
  • 1 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 50 g Cocoa powder
  • 130 g Butter
  • 100 ml Semi skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 Banana mashed
  • 225 g Cream cheese
  • 85 g Honey

Instructions

  1. Grate the sweet potato by hand or in a food processor
  2. In a bowl measure out the self raising flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa powder
  3. Melt 100g of the butter and mix in the milk and vanilla extract
  4. Add the butter mixture, eggs and banana to the flour. Mix it really well. Then add the sweet potato and mix it in
  5. Pour it into a lined baking tray and bake on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 30 minutes
  6. For the icing mix together the cream cheese, 30g of the butter and honey. Spread over the cooled sponge, then slice into squares
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Baked Vegetable Omelette

Baked Vegetable Omelette
As an office worker I’m always on the lookout for healthy and nutritious lunch ideas. I like things that are easy to make, can be frozen and are transported easily. This baked vegetable omelette fits all those requirements perfectly! Plus it’s also delicious, low calorie, packed with protein and can be adapted to suit different tastes. Simply Health are a company that help businesses to support the health of their employees and they are currently focusing on promoting healthy lunches at work. It’s proven that eating a healthy lunch improves your performance at work, which is the perfect information you need when convincing your boss to get a fruit bowl in the office or to arrange cooking classes for staff! You can read more tips from Simply Health on their website.

I started by pre-cooking the vegetables in a pan with a little oil. The spray oil in a can is the best kind if you are watching your calories. I used a bunch of spring onions, 1 red pepper, half a white onion and a squeeze of garlic puree. I fried them until they were soft.

I used a rectangular dish to bake my omelette in and I brushed it with oil first to ensure the omelette didn’t stick. I find a rectangular dish better as square pieces of baked omelette are easier to portion.

I whisked together 3 eggs, 3 egg whites (for tips on how to use up the yolks click here) and 185ml semi-skimmed milk. You can season with salt and pepper at this point to your liking.

I tipped the vegetables into the dish, then poured in the egg mixture. I sprinkled 65g parmesan cheese over the top.

I baked the omelette on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes until the omelette was golden and didn’t have a wobble to it anymore.

I like to eat this omelette with salad and cous cous. When it’s fully cooled you can cut the baked omelette into squares and you will get 6 good sized portions from it. It can be frozen too and defrosted overnight – perfect to grab and go for lunchtime!

I’m entering this into Belleau Kitchen’s challenge Simply Eggcellent. This month’s theme is Anything Goes.

I am also entering this into Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy‘s challenge Extra Veg. This month’s challenge is hosted by Jen’s Food. This vegetable filled omelette gives you an extra portion of veg when served with salad or cooked vegetables.

 

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Baked Vegetable Omelette

Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1 Red pepper
  • Half an Onion
  • Garlic puree
  • Bunch of Spring onions
  • 1 tsp Olive oil
  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Egg whites
  • 185 ml Semi skimmed milk
  • 65 g Parmesan , grated

Instructions

  1. Pre-cook the vegetables in a pan with a little oil. Fry them until they are soft
  2. Brush a 27x18cm rectangular dish with oil
  3. Whisk together the eggs, egg whites and semi-skimmed milk. You can season with salt and pepper at this point to your liking
  4. Tip the vegetables into the dish, then pour in the egg mixture. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the top
  5. Bake the omelette on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 minutes until it is golden and doesn't have a wobble to it anymore
  6. Slice into portions and eat hot or cold
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Lime & Ginger Angel Food Cake

Lime & Ginger Angel Food Cake
Happy New Year everyone! I have had a wonderful Christmas break and I hope you have too. This Lime & Ginger Angel Food Cake is my first bit of baking for a couple of weeks now. That may not sound long, but for me it is! I know this time of year is when everyone starts to focus on healthy eating, and Angel Food Cake is a great option as it contains no butter so is low in fat. I also left the cake ‘naked’! So no buttery icing to worry about. Although I always try to eat well and have plenty of fruit and vegetables, I do think that indulgences are important. As long as it’s one slice of cake once a week, and not an entire cake every day, there’s no harm in my opinion!

The base of this recipe is an Ina Garten one that I use for all my Angel Food Cakes (I’ve made a Lemon one and Chocolate one before). I started by sifting together 170g plain flour and 2 tsp ground ginger (add 3-4 tsp for a stronger flavour), I sifted it 4 times to get plenty of air in it. I then added 100g caster sugar to the bowl and stirred in.

In my food mixer I whisked up 10 egg whites, along with 3/4 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. Once soft peaks formed, I slowly added 300g caster sugar whilst continuing to mix. If you need some ideas to use up your egg yolks, check out my post on Things To Do With Egg Yolks.

Once the mixture was glossy I added the zest of 3 limes and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and whisked in.

I gently folded the flour
and sugar mixture into the egg whites. Ina’s tip for folding works for me every time. Cut the mixture
down the middle with a spatula and pull it round the edge of the bowl,
keep doing this and turn the bowl as you fold. You need to be very gentle so you don’t lose any air.

I poured the mixture into my pan and put it in the oven on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 – 40 minutes. If you are using an Angel Food Cake tin (as pictured above), you do not need to grease the pan. If you are using a non-stick bundt tin, you must grease and flour it.

When the cake came out of the oven, I tipped it upside down to cool. Although the tin has little ‘legs’ to assist with this, I always put it on a cooling rack as well.

When it was fully cool I ran a palette knife around the edge and middle of the tin and the cake came out easily enough.

I decided to keep the cake ‘naked’ and dusted it lightly with icing sugar and garnished with some lime zest and chopped crystallised ginger. Angel Food Cake is so light and spongey, I love the texture of it and really enjoy eating it. I was pleased that the lime flavour came through so well, although the ginger wasn’t very strong. I think I’ll add another teaspoon next time.

It’s perfect paired with creme fraiche and some fresh berries!

I’m entering this into The More Than Occassional Baker’s monthly challenge, Alpha Bakes (hosted on alternate months by Caroline Makes). This month the letter is ‘L’.

 

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Lime & Ginger Angel Food Cake

Ingredients

  • 170 g Plain flour
  • 3 tsp Ground ginger
  • 400 g Caster sugar
  • 10 Egg whites
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Cream of tartar
  • 3 Limes
  • 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • Crystallised ginger chopped

Instructions

  1. Sift together the plain flour and ground ginger, sift it 4 times to get plenty of air in it. Then add 100g of the caster sugar and stir in
  2. In a food mixer whisk up the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar. Once soft peaks form, slowly add 300g of the caster sugar whilst continuing to mix
  3. Once the mixture is glossy add the zest of the limes and the vanilla extract and whisk in
  4. Gently fold the flour and sugar mixture into the egg whites
  5. Pour the mixture into an Angel Food Cake tin and put it in the oven on 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 35 - 40 minutes
  6. When the cake comes out of the oven, tip the tin upside down to cool
  7. When it is fully cool run a palette knife around the edge and middle of the tin to help the cake come out
  8. Dust it lightly with icing sugar and garnished with some lime zest and chopped crystallised ginger
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