chocolate dipped spiced cookies

As I’ve said before, its challenging converting a tasty recipe to vegan as the flavours and textures can be very different from the standard ingredients that are usually used. I think vegan recipes also need to be more fun, so I am trying to come up with fun recipes on this blog that are not only vegan but look and taste as good if not better than the original with animal products in them. I’m trying these cookies out at a dinner party and will get back to you with their verdict.
Result! They wanted the recipe and they think they’re perfect for Christmas and as a homemade Christmas gifts!

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Georgia O’Keeffe’s chocolate brownies

These really are the best brownies I have ever tasted because they are not too sweet and are really chocolatey and nutty. My friends all ask me to bake them for them after they saw the shots on Instagram and started dribbling at the sight of them, and they really are dribble-worthy. The story about these amazing chocolate brownies is as follows. This recipe was found amongst the painter Georgia O’Keeffe’s collection of recipes in her cookbooks. She was a passionate cook and this recipe was hand written by her on Waldorf Astoria note paper. She was was staying there on April 30th 1963 to collect an award for the creative arts from Brandeis University, so they think she must have asked the hotel for the recipe because she loved them so much. O’Keeffe was a passionate foodie and collected recipes wherever she went, and a bit like me she dipped into healthy food and dipped into more indulgent food depending on her whim. Try them, they are beyond.

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rhubarb cake with spelt

Rhubarb cake is really pretty and really delicious and I have made it really healthy.  It’s created so you can also do a vegan version with egg replacer from health stores or on-line. It has the great flavours of orange zest and honey in it so it tastes amazing and it’s made with healthier spelt flour. It’s also perfect if you follow an egg or dairy free diet. I love rhubarb and think it should have a renaissance if it’s not already.

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caramelised roasted red onions

These onions are roasted until they are caramelised and sitting in an unctuous balsamic syrupy sauce. This recipe pays tribute to the humble onion as a vegetable in its own right. They are fab with a roast dinner or as a side dish and they are also great at room temperature along side salads and bread. But apart from being delicious, studies  have shown that rosemary has amazing anti ageing properties, ten percent of the population in the town of Acciaroli in Italy are over 100 years and scientists are putting it down to the rosemary in their diet and scientific studies have also shows that rosemary helps maintain and improve brain function and memory. So I’m adding Rosemary to my diet whenever I can, which is easy as I love the taste and smell.

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chewy vegan florentines

I took a Mary Berry recipe for Florentines and converted it to a vegan recipe, so they are dairy free. What is missing in some vegan baking is the luxurious taste of fine ingredients and interesting textures. These Florentines are chewy, tasty and very lux, perfect for a special occasion or just with coffee as a treat.
I’m testing them out later on friends, and I won’t tell them they are vegan then I’ll get back to you…..yay! They loved them and couldn’t tell they were vegan.

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jamaica ginger cake

Jamaica ginger cake is very nostalgic for me as it was a very occasional treat when I was growing up and I loved everything about it. I loved that it was a dark, dense, slightly sticky on the outside sponge cake made with lots of black treacle and fragrant with spices. They still make it today but I wanted to do a dairy free version that could also be vegan so I have created this recipe around the original recipe but omitted the butter and milk. It has a great texture as well as a great taste, and you don’t miss the dairy at all. The cake gets nicer over the next few days after baking and gets slightly sticky on the outside as the flavours mature. I tested it out on my friend’s teenage kids and they really loved it even though they had never had Jamaican ginger cake before. It’s dairy free heaven… but shhh, you don’t have to tell anyone it is because they won’t notice!

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date paste

I have been wanting to use dates to sweeten cakes and other foods for a long time. Sugar is something I try and cut out as much as possible and I tend to use maple syrup instead, except in cake baking as it’s a bit more complicated as the ingredients are integral to the recipe working. So I have been reading up about the best way to use dates as a sweetener and it seems that making your own date paste is deffo the best way to incorporate them into a recipe. So far I have also read that if a recipe uses a cup of sugar, you can then add two cups of date paste but you have to bear in mind there’s more water content in the date paste and it’s not as sweet as sugar. It also keeps in the fridge for up to two weeks and let’s not forget that dates are one of the major ingredients in sticky toffee pudding. So what could go wrong flavour wise…? I will try it out in my recipes, and am really interested which flavour cakes and even biscuits it will work with…plus it will sweeten things like oatmeal for breakfast.

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pear cake

This pear cake has a lot of pear in it, so it’s healthier and moist. If you read this blog you will already know I love pears, I love both the taste and the texture and this cake is made with whole meal spelt flour and olive oil so it’s dairy free.
I think the thing about most cakes, is they can be lacking in the flavour department but this one is spicy and has the subtle fragrance that comes from the pears. It’s perfect as a birthday cake or as a tea time treat or simply just because you fancy some cake.

Recipe

Serves 6-8.

Ingredients:
2 ripe pears
1/4 cup of golden caster sugar
1/4 cup of dark brown sugar
3/4 cup of mild olive oil
1/3 cup of runny honey or maple syrup
1 egg and one egg yolk (or if you want to make it egg free, use egg replacer for 1 1/2 eggs (from health food store))
1 1/2 cups of whole meal spelt flour
A pinch of allspice
A pinch of ground ginger
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Plus icing sugar for dusting
And a lemon if making icing
A deep 7 inch cake tin sprayed with cake release spray or lightly greased with cooking oil

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honey cake

Honey cake is, of course, a cake sweetened with honey, it’s deliciously packed with spices and it’s dairy free. It’s a tradition to serve it on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah in the hopes of ensuring a sweet New Year. The first time I tried it I really loved it… it’s totally perfect with coffee or after dinner. My version is a healthier version using lots of grated apples, wholemeal spelt flour and olive oil… and I promise you it’s a big hit. I sometimes make this as a birthday cake too and it’s perfect at Christmas with all its amazing flavours.

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pandoro or panettone bread and butter puddingu

Get your elasticated waist bands ready…this is a really indulgent dessert….but worth it because it’s truly delicious but definitely on the naughty list. Pandoro or panettone Italian cakes are perfect for a good old fashioned bread and butter pudding, as they are rather bread-like and lend themselves totally to this recipe, Pandoro particularly as its baked in a star shaped tin, so it looks very Christmassy when it’s sliced into star shapes. It’s also a delicious way to use them up if there’s loads in your larder at Christmas or afterwards or when you fancy doing something a bit different with them and want to turn them into an even more scrumptious dessert. It’s Italy meets England in the best possible way…and great for making with kids. You can get them to saw up the Pandoro into star shapes for you.
Recipe
Serves 3-4.
Ingredients:
250g of Pandoro or Panettone (I use the baby size ones)
30g approx of butter at room temperature
2 eggs
140ml of double cream
220ml milk
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 tablespoons of white caster sugar
Icing sugar for dusting
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