Salted caramel filled cookies

Salted caramel is one of my very favourite things so when I was approached to create a bespoke recipe using a vegan salted caramel sauce from Bad Brownie company I jumped at the chance. What better way to get the creative juices flowing than having a delicious new product to use as a starting point for inspiration?

***Paid partnership with the Bad Brownie, featuring their vegan salted caramel sauce***. I receive many offers for collaboration but will only accept those that fit the ethos of Lucy’s Friendly Foods, so most get turned down. This sauce is Free From all the allergens we avoid and so I have welcomed working with the Bad Brownie Company***

I tend to make my own caramel sauce, and you can find my recipe here: homemade caramel sauce recipe, but this very thick and sticky salted caramel sauce from the Bad Brownie Company is a really handy jar to have in your store cupboard if you don’t want to make it. This sauce can be purchased through Bad Brownie’s vegan brownie page.

It’s free from the allergens we avoid and is clearly marketed as vegan, and what is even better is that it’s really rather delicious, far tastier than other shelf-ready brands I’ve tried. I’m thinking it will be a really handy addition to the larder when you want to add a swirl to a cheesecake, or drizzle over some brownies.

Now to come up with a recipe using it… I first thought of making a caramel cake but I felt a bit non-plussed by the idea, it just wasn’t exciting enough. So, thinking cap back on… what works extremely well with caramel? Well, chocolate of course! I could have made some filled chocolates, but do many other people actually spend their time at home make handmade chocolates? I can’t say i do it that often myself.

My thoughts wandered to those caramel filled waffles you see in coffee shops, how about some kind of caramel filled cookie? A deep, dark cocoa-rich cookie with a caramel filling perhaps? Like a caramel filled Oreo type cookie? It turns out thick gooey caramel sauce sandwiched between two slightly bitter crisp chocolate cookies is very pleasing match. Seek out this wonderful caramel sauce and give it a go.

One thing to be aware of is that unless you eat these caramel filled cookies right away, the sauce – as it warms to room temperature – will start to ooze out. No biggie, but it will make them a bit messy! So, if you want to keep the cookies for a few days I’d recommend the my alternative cream filling that has a wonderful dollop of caramel goodness in the middle, then you really do get the best of both worlds.

Salted Caramel Stuffed Cookies

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

Makes approx. 24 sandwich biscuits

100g hard vegetable fat (I use Trex)

180g caster sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

100ml dairy-free milk

240g plain flour

70g cocoa powder

2 tsp cornflour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Filling:

60g vegetable fat

60g dairy-free spread

350g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste

Salted caramel sauce

1.     Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade

2.     Cream together the vegetable fat and sugar. When fluffy, add the dairy-free milk and vanilla. Mix well. If it looks like it’s split add a couple of tbsp of flour to the mix

3.     Sift in the remaining ingredients and bring together to a firm-ish dough.

4.     Place half on a sheet of baking paper, place more paper on top and roll out to 1/4-1/2cm thickness. Cut out rounds with a cookie cutter and remove the ‘in between bits’. Transfer to a lined baking sheet.

5.     Bake for 12-15 minutes. Cool on the tray for five minutes before moving to a wire rack.

6.     Repeat with remaining mixture until it’s all be used up.

7.     Meanwhile, make the filling. Whisk together the vegetable fat and dairy-free spread. Add the vanilla.

8.     Add the icing sugar in 1/2 cup measurements, until fully incorporated. It may look like breadcrumbs, so squeeze together to form a stiff paste.

9.     Either, sandwich 1 tsp salted caramel sauce between two cookies, or

10. Roll out large grape size balls of filling and press onto a cookie, make a hollow in the centre of the filling and fill with ½ tsp salted caramel sauce. Squish another cookie on top.

11. These cookies keep well for a few days in a sealed container.

As mentioned, I really don’t often accept collaborations unless I believe in a product. I also have a firm stance on click-through adverts which I never accept as they spoil they experience of browsing for me. This was one collaboration I was happy to be part of, it’s a great product and a brand I can believe in.

A Guide to Buying Olive Oil

I was approached by Jamie’s Italian to feature this rather gorgeously designed infographic on buying olive oil. As I’m a big fan of Jamie Oliver, especially since his recent affection for more plant-based foods in his cooking, I was happy to say yes.

It’s also pretty useful and I’m certainly going to refer to it when buying olive oil in the future, especially next week when we head to Italy, so the timing couldn’t be more handy for me! Besides, who knew Spain produced more olive oil than Italy and Greece combined?

Apparently Jamie’s Italian also caters well for allergies, we’ve never tried eating there but I hope we can seek one out soon – here’s one in Norwich as an example: https://www.restaurantchoice.co.uk/restaurants/jamies-italian-norwich.html

Disclaimer: I was paid a fee by Jamie’s Italian to feature this infographic, but only decided to do so as it is rather useful and fits the content of my blog. 

Essential Holiday Packing Guide

Holiday Packing by Big S

Does holiday packing stress you out too? With our holidays fast approaching I’m starting to fret about what we need to take with us, so I thought it would be handy to share my holiday checklist. It might settle my packing nerves which are slightly heightened this year due to a new destination country where our command of the language is pretty feeble, and maybe it could help with your packing wobbles too.

If you have any essential that I’ve missed off, please let me know. Perhaps we could make a definite allergy-friendly packing checklist? I hope you like the added hand drawn pictures that go with this post? The girls wanted to be involved and it’s provided a useful creative activity for this rather damp and dreary summer holiday!

Essential holiday Packing by Little S

 

MY Packing Checklist

  1. Documents – Well, I guess everyone knows this, but as an allergy family a few extras are necessary
    • Passports and/or identity cards
    • Travel documents such as flights and hotel bookings
    • *Travel insurance which covers allergic reactions* –  call the company and check.
    • E111 or European Health Insurance (EHIC) card as it’s now called (if travelling in Europe as a European)
    • Letter from the doctor to confirm the need to carry medicines (it’s also probably best to gloss over you are carrying sharp items when going through security at a provincial airport when you don’t have a great command of the language! – I have learnt this at my cost!)
  2. Food – I’m thinking that it’s unlikely that non-allergy families think so much about food whilst packing for holidays, but for us it’s a BIG preoccupation. This is an example of what we’ll take:
    • Dairy-free margarine – seems to travel pretty well if kept relatively cool
    • Dairy-free milks – We prefer Oatly and it isn’t available everywhere so if possible we take a few cartons. This obviously has to be in check-in baggage on a flight and depends on weight allowance. Otherwise unless you’re going totally ‘off the beaten track’ most reasonable size supermarkets in most countries will sell soya milk
    • Dairy-free soft cheese – only if possible, but it does make great emergency dips and sandwich fillings
    • *Biscuits* – for us this is crucial. We have never come across brands we can buy whilst on holiday and we always find it’s important to have those sweet treats to keep up energy when on holiday. And I tend not to get the option to bake on holiday.
    • Savoury snacks – similar to biscuits it can be hard to find safe snacks, so things like rice cakes, crackers and bars can be a godsend.
    • Chocolate – I’ve never found any safe chocolate on holiday and everyone needs chocolate, right?
    • Spreads such as marmite and dairy-free chocolate spread. Clearly it’s not just us, as there was a news report this week that said Marmite was the most confiscated branded product at London City Airport! These spreads may not be available, the jars provided in guest houses may have cross-contamination from buttery knives and they make great standby sandwich fillings.
    • Breads – again safe breads can be hard to source so if we’ve space we’ll chuck in a few packs of wraps and pittas that won’t get squashed
    • Stock powder – I always pack some Vegan Marigold Stock powder, essential for quick magic pasta or risottos
    • Cake! – Am I only person who bakes a cake or two to go on holiday?!? I generally opt for a golden syrup loaf cake which transports pretty well in a suitcase
    • Sandwich bags or clingfilm – essential for all those picnics and food for journeys
  3. Information – it’s well worth doing the research before you go, it certainly makes me feel more at ease!
    • Allergy translation cards – essential to feel at ease when the language is unfamiliar
    • Information on location of pharmacies, Doctors and Hospitals (and how to ask for them)
    • Research into suitable local food and potential restaurants – there may well be a branch of your favourite chain restaurant which you can rely on
  4. All the usuals I really don’t need to give you a list of clothes, books, phone chargers, games etc!
  5. For the journey – again it needs to be thought about in advance, sadly as an allergy family spontaneity isn’t part of our holidays!
    • Picnic and plenty of food for the journey – airports and ferries/trains have proved particularly bad at giving us any food options other than crisps and sweets!
    • All necessary medications to hand
    • Anti-bacterial wipes for those generally pretty grimy fold-down trays or hired car seats

Those are the items that come to mind, and are definitely in our rather over-laden bags. I think our days of taking just hand luggage are well behind us!

Rice Up Wholefoods Co=operative, Southampton

Definitely worth a detour for: Rice Up Wholefoods Co-operative, Southampton

dairy-free cheese at Rice Up Wholefoods

I’ve only just found this awesome health food shop. No supplements for body builders here, just great, well chosen products for those with restricted or extremely healthy diets. It even has a deli counter with dairy and egg free ready made sandwiches, salads and cakes – how cool is that!

dairy-free milks at Rice Up Wholefoods

The Seed, Buckfastleigh, Devon

I’m always delighted to find an independent health food shop, especially one in such a tiny, cute town as Buckfastleigh. It was very unexpected in such a small place, and it was one minute’s walk from where we stayed. A most welcome find 🙂

Well stocked with plenty of dairy free cheeses and milks, gorgeous fresh fruit and veg and also great coffee on tap. The staff were super friendly and helpful, with bags of local knowledge and advice. What’s not to like? Well worth a browse if you’re passing….

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The Bran Tub, Petersfield

Health Shops, worth taking a detour for:

The Bran Tub, Petersfield, Hampshire, UK

This lovely, cavernous health food shop has been a regular pilgrimage for us – a true well stocked treasure trove which is always buzzing with customers. I’ve found some real hard to find gems here, from soya condensed milk to real dairy-free choc ices. Definitely well worth a visit!

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Free-from Chocolate Advent Calendar

All my daughters’ friends seem to have chocolate advent calendars. We usually have versions with toys behind each window, but since I really want to make sure they feel just like everyone else, I went on a mission to find a free-from variety.

Moo-Free makes one that looks promising, but since it “may contain traces of nuts” it is not good enough if you have a nut/peanut allergy.

Kinnerton make a true nut, dairy and egg free version but you have to be organised enough to pre-order direct from the company. I just wasn’t that organised this year.

This Celtic Chocolates advent calendar is the one we opted for, and was easily available in Holland & Barrett health food stores. It doesn’t have much allergy info on the pack (it simply says ‘contains soya’) but I’ve spoken to the manufacturer and he explained their zero tolerance policy on any nuts entering the factory. He certainly convinced me that Celtic chocolates are as safe as can be. December 1st tomorrow, and we’re ready to go.

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Pom-Bear Original Crisps now milk-free

Pom-bear crisps seem to be a favourite with children (or maybe just the adults that buy them for the children!) but have always been out of bounds to us as even the original, salted flavour contained milk.

It seems that they’ve changed the recipe (but I’d still check the ingredients on every pack, just to be sure) and the original, salted flavour is now milk-free. Nice one Pom-bears! They may not be the healthiest food but one that often appears at children’s parties and places that welcome children – at least we now have one more option (in our very limited selection) of a snack which we can grab and go…

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Pom-Bear Original Crisps now milk-free

Pom-bear crisps seem to be a favourite with children (or maybe just the adults that buy them for the children!) but have always been out of bounds to us as even the original, salted flavour contained milk.

It seems that they’ve changed the recipe (but I’d still check the ingredients on every pack, just to be sure) and the original, salted flavour is now milk-free. Nice one Pom-bears! They may not be the healthiest food but one that often appears at children’s parties and places that welcome children – at least we now have one more option (in our very limited selection) of a snack which we can grab and go…

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Dairy and Nut Free Cocoa Powder – found at last

Tesco’s once again comes up trumps with an allergen free cocoa powder.
I’d been buying cocoa powder in Marks and Spencer as it was the safest I’d found but it is still ‘made in a factory that uses milk’. Now Tesco will be the favoured supermarket (again) for cocoa powder… The only warning on the pack is that they cannot guarantee that the ingredients are nut free (although the recipe contains no nuts), but then again that applies to all products.

Update (Oct 2012): I haven’t been able to find this cocoa powder for a while. The only one available from Tesco’s own brand now seems to be the Everyday Value Fat Reduced Cocoa Powder. Bizarrely, this cocoa has no allergy advice on the container – nothing to suggest it does or does not possibly contain milk or nuts. I was a bit nervous to use it, and even phoned the manufacturers. They have confirmed that it is free from any allergen 🙂

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