Decadent Chocolate Braid

With days starting to merge into each other in Coronavirus lockdown (and it’s only day 9!) I’m determined to somehow make each day different and special.

It may be an annoyance , a bit scary and frankly a bit like living through a disaster movie, but there are also positives we need to focus on to stop feeling overwhelmed by the situation. It’s an enforced opportunity to take a pause, to reconnect as a family and focus on the simpler things in life: I’m really enjoying seeing my mum and brother on ‘Houseparty’ a few times each day, being creative with the food and resources we have in the house and trying to make our food as exciting as possible.

This chocolate braid is a fabulous recipe – it’s quick and easy but looks impressive and tastes totally luxurious. It would make a very indulgent breakfast if you’re missing pain au chocolat, a seriously good pudding with cream or ice cream, or just a naughty work from home snack!

Decadent Chocolate Braid

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

serves 4-6

1/2 pack of puff pastry, ready rolled is easiest as it’s nice an rectangular!

1/3 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine

50g dairy-free chocolate, finely chopped [optional]

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade and line a baking sheet with baking paper
  2. Mix together the caster sugar, margarine, cocoa powder to form a soft paste. Set aside.
  3. Roll or unfold the pastry. Imagine it is 3 columns and spread the chocolate paste over the middle column leaving a little gap at each end. Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate
  4. Cut the edge columns with diagonal slices, 1cm apart the whole way down. This should mean you get to remove a triangle at the top.
  5. Fold over the top flap of pastry and then alternating sides, cross over a pastry ribbon from each side until you get to the bottom
  6. Brush with dairy free milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and puffed up
  7. Cool and then dust liberally with icing sugar

 

Fudge

Now that worthy January is out of the way I can start posting my backlog of recipes, and what better day to make fudge that when storm Ciara is battering the country.

Fudge is such a naughty sweet treat, utterly delectable and rather moreish, but it certainly didn’t fit into the clean living start of the year! Little S had been badgering me to make fudge for ages – it had featured at a school charity sale and all her friends swooped onto the bags of fudge like a flock of hungry seagulls. Obviously she couldn’t have any 😦 but she couldn’t fail to notice how much the others were enjoying it.

So here is my friendly fudge recipe – it doesn’t make huge amounts (which is probably best with a sweet but naughty treat!) and when I’ve tried to increase the amounts the texture hasn’t been as good, so I definitely recommend sticking to the stated recipe. The basic recipe can carry any traditional fudge flavour but I have tended to opt for chocolate because not only do we all love chocolate but also the resulting colour is the best – the dairy-free margarine can otherwise give a yellow fudge which is far less appealing!

I have to say, now that the girls have tasted fudge it’s a recurrent request!

I would recommend using a kitchen thermometer is essential – you can make fudge but he using the old school soft set test but with a thermometer you’ll get it right every time 🙂

Dairy-free Fudge

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

150ml dairy-free milk

175g caster sugar

50g dairy-free margarine

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

50g dairy-free dark chocolate (optional)

pinch of salt

  1. Place the milk, sugar and margarine into a deep saucepan and melt together
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat to a rolling boil. Boil for 10-15 minutes stirring regularly. You will notice the bubbles change as the temperature increases and continue until you reach 115 degrees Centigrade
  3. Turn off the heat, add a pinch of salt and leave to cool for a 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the vanilla and/or chocolate if using. Pour into a lined tin and leave to set.
  5. Once fully set cut into squares and enjoy

 

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pots

Rich, decadent and very chocolatey truffle pots – think those little Gu pudding pots you can buy, but tastier, friendly and with only three ingredients! These totally fit the bill of emergency easy but utterly delicious pudding option! They set nicely after an hour or two in the fridge, but are still rather delicious if eaten whilst still oozy.

This recipe was inspired by one by Celia Brooks Brown in “Entertaining Vegetarians”

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pots

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

 

serves 4

125g dairy-free chocolate, such as Nomo

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

2/3rds cup dairy-free cream, I used Oatly

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and melt together over a gentle heat (or in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds).
  2. Stir until smooth and unctuous.
  3. Pour into small glasses/shot glasses/small ramekins. Top on the work surface to get rid of any little bubbles.
  4. Chill until ready to eat.

 

 

Rich Chocolate Sorbet

It’s not often that we swelter like this – well that used to be the case, who knows for the future 😦

All anyone is thinking or talking about is the heat! I do love how us Brits are totally obsessed with the weather and talk above it over any other ongoing national crisis.

Even I, with my constant baking and cooking, have had to turn off the oven to cope with the extreme heat. But that won’t stop me experimenting and tinkering with flavours 😉

After a little hiccup from the new divine Nomo chocolate (made by Kinnerton so safely free-from) the other week where they copied and pasted some of my old recipes onto their website without crediting me, I have been gifted a year’s supply of chocolate. [p.s I have not been paid in any way for this recipe, the free chocolate was due to their mistake and I’m making full use of it!] In fact we now have so much chocolate in the house that I’m having to cook with it even more than usual, and usual is really really often! I was so disappointed when I first noticed they had used my recipes without asking or crediting, but delighted that they have turned out to be the brand I hoped they were; there are now full credits on the website and they’ve suggested future collaboration which i’m really excited about 🙂

So with masses of chocolate to happily get through and a heatwave in progress, my thoughts turned to chocolate sorbet. As I’ve mentioned before we’re big sorbet fans in this household and the thought of turning some delicious chocolate into a light, fresh and refreshing pudding seemed just right.

It turns out that chocolate sorbet is totally delicious. It’s lighter than ice cream, full of chocolate flavour and quicker to set than fruity sorbets. I made the mix at lunchtime and it was acceptably frozen by the evening (see the final photo after the recipe), even better by the next day or later in the week. I don’t have an ice cream maker to churn the sorbet so my version is a little grainy, but I actually find that quite pleasant as the grainy bits are like tiny chocolate chips, giving both added flavour and texture.

Chocolate Sorbet

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

serves 6

200g caster sugar

40g cocoa powder

400ml water

70g dairy-free chocolate, finely chopped

  1. mix together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Pour in the water gradually to avoid any lumps of cocoa
  2. Dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes to make a chocolate sugar syrup.
  3. place the finely chopped chocolate into a bowl, and slowly pour over the sugar syrup. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Cool.
  4. Pour into a Tupperware box and place in the freezer. Every couple of hours stir through with a fork to get rid of any large ice crystals. Once a sorbet texture is obtained, simply keep in the freezer ready to scoop.
  5. or, cool the chocolate mix, then pour into your ice cream machine and churn as indicated by the manufacturers instructions.

Summer Berry Sorbet and Arlettes

Summer is here (at last!) and the shops are full of delicious ripe berries, so much so I’m constantly popping them into my shopping basket. Whilst you can’t beat a bowl of fresh berries, a homemade sorbet is a close second (especially now it’s hot), and a great option when you’ve managed to squash the whole punnet on the way home, like I did this week.

Whilst the dairy-free ice cream ranges are constantly improving, I’m more of a sorbet fan. A good sorbet is utterly delicious and so packed full of flavour that’s it’s perfect on a hot sunny day. Even before we were catering for food allergies, D and I would always choose sorbet for pudding.I’ve served this sorbet with these wonderful little wafers called Arlettes. They’re puff pastry spirals, rolled out very thin, coated in icing sugar and baked until golden. They’re the perfect caramel flavoured crisp accompaniment for any kind of pudding.

Summer Berry Sorbet

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

serves at least 6

150g caster sugar

200ml water

juice of 1/2 a lemon

400g berries

  1. Roughly chop the berries and then whizz up in a food blender. Sieve if you like a smooth sorbet, don’t if you like some pips.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water and lemon juice by bringing the syrup to a rolling boil. Immediately turn off and stir in the berry puree.
  3. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn as instructed, or pour into a Tupperware box and place int he freezer. If using the Tupperware method, remove from the freezer ever hour or so and give the sorbet mix a good stir/whisk, to break up any large ice crystals. The whole process should take 4 or 5 hours.
  4. Serve with this wonderful caramelised, crispy Arlettes for a show stopper dessert.

Arlettes

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

makes about 20

1/2 pack puff pastry

lots of icing sugar

  1. Roll the puff into a neat rectangle and then roll up to form a tight cylinder. Wrap and freeze for at least half an hour so it is very cold. Once chilled cut into 1/2cm slices
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
  3. On top a mound of icing sugar, roll out each circle until very very thin and totally covering in the icing sugar. Stamp out fluted circles, or traditional leaf shapes
  4. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes until totally golden. Keep a close eye on them, a burnt Arlette is not nice! Once golden, turn over and bake for a further couple of minutes.
  5. Cool on a wire rack. These are best eaten on the day they’re made.

Chocolate and Lime Tart

Everyone needs a showstopper dessert recipe made from simple store cupboard ingredients, and this one certainly fits the bill. Most people love chocolate and will sigh with delight when a rich chocolate pudding is produced, combine that with the delicate, elegant look of a tart and you’re surely onto a winner!

I’ve made this chocolate tart many many times and it always goes down a treat. This version is pepped up with a hint of zesty lime for added freshness, and it just seemed to make it more seasonal.

The filling is super simple; a mixture of chocolate, dairy-free milk, sugar and cornflour but the end result has the luscious taste and texture of a super rich chocolate truffle. Combine that with crisp pastry and you’re in heaven!

Served on its own or with a side of dairy-free whipped cream decorated with a sprinkle of lime zest and you have a dessert fit for any occasion

Chocolate and Lime Tart

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

makes 1 tart

150ml dairy-free milk

100ml water

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp corn flour

170g dairy free dark chocolate, chopped

2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime

sprinkle of quality salt

1/2 block shortcrust pastry

  1. Line the tart case with shortcrust pastry, prick all over, fill with baking beans and blind bake.
  2. Once it’s browned and the edges have cooked through [about 15 minutes in a medium oven] remove the beans and crisp up the base [another 5 or so minutes]
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the water and dairy-free milk and sugar into a saucepan and gently heat.
  4. Take 1 tbsp of the warmed milk mixture and mix to a smooth paste with the cornflour
  5. Pour the cornflour mix into the oat milk and stir well, bring to a bubbling boil and add the vanilla.
  6. Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Pour over the hot oat milk and stir to until its a smooth mixture. Season with a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour into the chocolate into the pastry case. Level off, sprinkle over the lime zest and salt and refrigerate for a few hours until set.
  8. Serve thin slices (it’s very rich) with a dairy-free cream topped with a little more lime zest.