Chocolate Fudge Loaf cakes

Mini chocolate fudge loaf cakes

Can you believe that the summer holidays are over? At the start they always seem like they’ll go on forever, but in the end they rush by and before you know it it’s September and the start of a new, an extremely long term. Whilst there is an excitement of the new school year it always makes me feel a bit nostalgic, that summer is over and I feel sad at any lost opportunities and just the freedom of weeks of holiday stretching out before us.

But rather than focusing on what has ended, let’s focus on the new beginnings and the fantastic things to come this year. If anything deserves some celebratory cakes then that does! So to mark this new start and hope it’s going to be a great one, here are some rather fabulous mini chocolate fudge loaf cakes to welcome everyone home from the first day back. I don’t think there is much better than being welcomed home by a wonderfully yummy freshly baked treat. These are so delicious you might want to make more than the 4 in the recipe, as they’ll make not only a wonderfully rich and fudgy teatime treat but also a rather special pudding with the addition of some vanilla ice cream or dairy-free whipped chantilly cream.

Mini Chocolate Fudge Loaf Cakes

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes one 4 mini loaf cakes, multiple as necessary

  • 120ml or 1/2 cup hot water
  • 25g or 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 120ml or 1/2 cup dairy-free milk
  • 85g or 1/4 cup golden syrup, or maple syrup
  • 60ml or 1/4 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla
  • 135g or 1 cup plain flour
  • 55g or 1/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt

for the icing:

  • 1/4 cup/ 60g dairy-free margarine
  • 1 tbsp dairy-free milk
  • 1/2 tbsp golden syrup or maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 100g dairy-free dark chocolate

– Preheat the oven to 180 Degrees Centigrade/ Gas mark 4

– Grease and line a loose bottomed cake-tin

– Whisk together the hot water and cocoa

– Mix in the milk, golden syrup, oil, vinegar and vanilla

– Stir in the sugar

– Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt

– Mix to form a very sloppy mix, with no lumps

– Pour into the mini loaf cases and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a knife comes out clean.

– Cool in the tin, before removing and transferring to a wire rack.

– Meanwhile, melt together the icing ingredients and simmer for a few minutes until thick and glossy. Let cool.

– Pour the icing over the cooled cakes so they have a nice thick topping.

– Decorate if desired and leave to set.

No bake cookies and cream cheesecake

Cheesecake, albeit a dairy-free version is the most popular pudding in this household, in fact it’s always been one of my favourites ever since I was a child, however our preference is always a no-bake version. The close textured, some might say cleggy consistency of the baked version is less to my taste, whereas the no bake type has a freshness that I particularly like. It’s also a breeze to make which is always a bonus!

We always preferred Tofutti for cheesecakes as the texture and subtle sweetness was exactly right, but sadly we haven’t been able to buy any in the UK for a couple of years. We tried to make do with other brands for a while but they were never quite right, often with too much of a fake cheesy flavour for our liking. However, since Oatly have released their creamy spread we have a firm new favourite. In my opinion it’s a fantastic creamy cheese alternative, mild yet creamy and a brilliant spread to use in a cheesecake. Combine this with dairy-free whippable cream and you have a cheesecake with the texture of clouds – utterly divine.

Another fairly new find has been the Tesco free-from bourbons – Little S used to love Tesco bourbon biscuits so much but they sadly changed the recipe and they now have a sesame warning, which is too much of a risk for Little S so we have to avoid her favourite biscuits – sad days 😦

Luckily, Tesco have produced a new free-from version, they’re not quite the same but a pretty good substitute and they’ve made us very happy. Combined these crushed up chocolate cookies with the cloud like cheesecake mix and you have a heavenly dessert. Go on, make it this bank holiday weekend and you’ll have some very happy family or guests 🙂

No Bake Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegan and vegetarian)

makes 1 cake

200g cookies, 150g finely crushed for the base 50g roughly crushed for the filling and topping

50g dairy-free margarine

4-5tbsp icing sugar, to taste

1 tub Oatly creamy spread

I carton whippable oatly cream

  1. Crush the cookies, trying to keep some a little bigger for mine through the cheesecake. Place 150g of the crushed cookies into a bowl, add the melted margarine and stir. Press into the bottom of a tin (springform is easiest) and place in the fridge to set
  2. Whip the Oatly whipping cream until it is the texture of whipped cream, add the icing sugar and creamy spread and whip until it’s all beautifully combined.
  3. Take a few spoonfuls aside and place into a piping bag if you wish to decorate with rosettes.
  4. Fold the remaining crushed cookies into the cheesecake. Spoon onto the chilled base and smooth over. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.
  5. Remove the tin and decorate with any remaining cookie crumbs and rosettes of whipped cream.
  6. This cheesecake keeps in the fridge for about 3 days

Hales of Cartmel, Cumbria

We sadly had to postpone our longed for holiday to the Greek Islands due to COVID and have ended up in the Lake District. It’s stunning and we’ve always meant to visit but it really isn’t a hot and sunny Mediterranean holiday – that’ll have to wait until things return to a bit more like normal. We also seemed to time it extremely badly, after two weeks of scorching weather it’s been chilly, unbelievably wet at times and generally ridiculously changeable! But maybe it’s often like that in The Lakes and I guess it wouldn’t be so wonderfully green and verdant if it didn’t rain a lot 😉

We’ve done a lot of the Southern Lakes including Coniston, Windermere and a fell or two and had to have a trip to Cartmel, the home of both l’Enclume and sticky toffee pudding. Sadly a trip to L’Enclume was not on our itinerary but I did get sticky toffee pudding for presents (I’ll also make my own friendly sticky toffee pudding when we get home 😊).

Cartmel is a gorgeous picture perfect Cumbrian village and a lovely place to wander about, but the highlight turned out to be Hales of Cartmel. As usual with ice cream parlours we thought it it would be a ‘oh wouldn’t that be nice’ and then move along. But Little S spied a whole list of vegan Ice creams on offer, so it was certainly worth going in and asking. Sadly on our first visit it was closing time so we had to come back the next day. Oh my we were pleased we had! The owner was so knowledgable and well informed. She has a whole range of vegan ice creams and knew exactly how they were made, with a full run down of how the ice cream machines were thoroughly cleaned between batches. As soon as we mentioned allergies the first thing she did (without prompting) was to go and thoroughly wash the scoop and fetch fresh hot water for cleaning between portions, now that’s the sort of service that makes us feel confident and happy!

Not only were there ice creams, but also a whole list of safe sorbets ranging from lemon to the rather lovely sounding passionfruit and pineapple. All these were made by Luxury Lakes Ice Cream. There were safe cones on offer and even a warning given over some varieties which were made in a facility that handles allergens, plus a variety of safe toppings from marshmallows to sherbet and sprinkles. Again the owner knew immediately which toppings were allergy safe and I even noticed that she kept these in a closed box to avoid any cross-contamination. Why can’t more establishments have care and attention to detail like this?

We were in ice cream heaven! It was such a joy to have a wonderfully allergy aware owner, safe ice cream and an abundance of choice! Since Yorica sadly shut down we haven’t had the joy of an ice cream parlour with a choice, and this find was so exciting we talked about our choices for most of the day and made a return visit for the pure joy of another ice cream 🙂

As we’re so unused to choice it was almost overwhelming, with a stunning array from the usual strawberry, vanilla and chocolate to the more exciting Biscoff, tiramisu and thunder and lightning which was by far our favourite. After all who can resist vanilla ice cream swirled with honeycomb and chocolate sauce?

So if you are visiting the Lakes and are anywhere near Cartmel I would thoroughly recommend a visit even if it’s just a pick up a delicious allergy-friendly ice cream.

Savoury Palmiers

What’s better than a crispy savoury snack? Not much if this household is to go by! Well these are an easy and rather moreish addition to your repertoire and the ideal accompaniment to drinks or to nibble on whilst watching a film.

Using up only half a pack of puff pastry and a few store cupboard essentials, they’re basically leftovers!

Savoury Palmiers

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

1/2 pack puff pastry

1/2 pack puff pastry (ready rolled is the easiest)

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

2tbsp tomato purée (preferably sundried)

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment
  2. Sprinkle the pastry with oregano and chilli flakes and roll out the pastry to a neat rectangle (see below for images of the steps)
  3. Turn the dough over and spread with the tomato puree and sprinkle over the nutritional yeast
  4. Fold up by bringing the sides to meet in the middle and then repeat. Cut into 1/2 cm slices and place spaced out on a baking sheet. Ideally pull out the ends to make little ears.
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Cool and enjoy.

Rhubarb Granita

There’s a lot of rhubarb around at the moment, but what to do when it’s a scorcher of a day and rhubarb crumble is not the most ideal dish for the menu? Why not try this gorgeous candy floss pink, icy and refreshing rhubarb granita instead? Maybe you think you’re not a rhubarb fan? Well this recipe has converted rhubarb haters after one just one taste and this frozen pud will delight everyone either in the hot weather like today or as a wonderfully interesting palette cleanser.

This granita has none of the bitter, sour stringyness you can get from a bad rhubarb dessert, instead it’s tangy, sweet but sour and really rather delightful. The tart zingy icy crystals are wonderfully refreshing and you’ll be sure to look at rhubarb in a whole new light. I added grenadine this time for added colour and a touch a sweet fruitiness but it’s still delicious without. Go on give it a go, and let me know what you think 🙂

Rhubarb Granita

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, gluten-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes enough for 4-6 portions

400g rhubarb

150g sugar

150ml water

1-2 tbsp grenadine (optional)

1. Wash the rhubarb and chop into 5cm lengths.

2. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let it bubble along for up to 30 minutes until the rhubarb has completely broken down.

3. Strain through and fine sieve and let the liquid cool. Stir in the grenadine if using.

4. Place in a container and freeze until just frozen (at least a few hours in the freezer). Break up with a fork and enjoy the tart tangy icy crystals

Blueberry muffins

I do have a fondness for blueberry muffins, they’re a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast, or anytime for that matter! Are blueberry muffins a little out of favour these days? They don’t seem to be on my radar anymore… maybe it’s because you don’t come across them often, or maybe it’s because I don’t get out very often these days 😂

Maybe it’s time to put the humble but rather delicious blueberry muffin centre stage once again? Well you can certainly do just that with these friendly versions. The sponge is light and fluffy just like a muffin should be, and once you’ve added a good handful of blueberries, the fruity tart morsels and delicate sponge make a stunning combination. If like in this house, some people have an aversion to fruit in baked goods, it’s pretty simple to divide the batter and add choc chips to half and blueberries to the other, then everyone is happy 😉

If using choc chips simply replace the lemon zest with 1 tsp vanilla extract and use a big handful of choc chips rather than the blueberries.

These muffins keep well for a few days in a loosely cover container, or freeze well if you’d rather 😀

Blueberry Muffins

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

makes 12

230g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tbsp cornflour

Pinch of salt

170g caster sugar

Zest of 1 lemon (for the blueberry version)

200ml dairy free milk

70g dairy free margarine, melted

1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar

A big handful of blueberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade and line a muffin tray with paper liners.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the zest if using.
  3. Combine the milk, melted margarine and vinegar and pour into the dry ingredients.
  4. Gently mix so the batter is a bit lumpy but there are no patches of raw flour.
  5. Stir in the blueberries.
  6. 2/3rds fill each muffin liner and bake for 15-20 minutes until we’ll risen and golden. Cool.