Chocolate tiffin mousse cake – my Platinum Pudding worthy of The Queen

Have you tried my magic four ingredient chocolate mousse cake. if you haven’t you really should because it’s a fantastic showstopper made with just a few ingredients. Everyone i’ve ever served it to has loved it! So i thought I’d make a luxury version for my entry to The Platinum Pudding Competition. I was convinced it would be special enough to celebrate the Queen’s special year.

Well, sadly Fortnum’s didn’t think the same and I haven’t made it to the final. To be honest, I think they’re missing the trick, because the beauty of this recipe is that it works with any ingredients, free-from or not, and they can be bought in virtually any shop in nearly every corner of the globe. I even made it with dairy-cream and chocolate to test it out! That involved making it when no-one was home and then thoroughly sanitising the kitchen! Now that was dedication to the cause!


What could be a better, more inclusive celebratory pudding than one anyone can make, that everyone should easily be able to buy the ingredients for, and that can cater for everyone despite any dietary restrictions, and is delicious and celebratory? Well, The Queen might not benefit from this delicious pudding, but you all can. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


The basic premise is a chocolate tiffin (allegedly one of The Queen’s favourite puddings) topped with a light mousse-like chocolate cream and then decorated with some white chocolate and glitter. In my opinion, it’s a definitely pudding fit for The Queen.


Chocolate Tiffin Mousse Cake

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


Makes one 18-20cm cake

85g dairy-free chocolate

60g dairy-free margarine or butter

2 tbsp golden syrup, honey or maple syrup

8 biscuits, roughly broken (such as digestives, ginger nuts or rich tea)

200ml (one pack) dairy-free whipping cream , I used Oatly whippable

150g dairy-free dark chocolate or 175g dairy-free milk chocolate

  1. Grease and line a springform cake tin
  2. Melt together the 85g chocolate, margarine and syrup.
  3. Roughly break the biscuits and add to the chocolate mix, stir well so they are well covered. Press into the base of the cake tin and place in the fridge to set.
  4. Whip the whipping cream on high speed for at least two minutes, or until light and fluffy.
  5. In a microwave or a Bain Marie melt the chocolate, let cool a little.
  6. Gently stir the chocolate into the cream until well combined.
  7. Pour onto the biscuit base and level off the top.
  8. Place in the fridge to set.
  9. Remove from the tin and decorate as desired.

Spiced apple galette

This is the perfect last minute pudding for when you have nothing planned or unexpected guests. it’s maybe the easiest and prettiest tart you could make, and I guarantee everyone will be impressed by your fine pastry skills!

I’m not a particular fan of apple pie, but this galette is a class above and has a delicate refined taste.

I’ve added cinnamon and the biscoff spread for a Christmas vibe, but feel free to mix it up. Apples straight onto the pastry is good, as is a layer of apricot jam.

Spiced Apple Galette

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

makes 1 tart, which serves 4-6

  • 1 pack of puff pastry, shop bought is fine as long as its definitely dairy-free
  • 10g dairy-free margarine, melted
  • 1-2 crisp eating apples, I used Jazz apples
  • 2 tbsp Biscoff spread
  • 2 tbsps caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • Icing sugar, to sprinkle
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 6
  2. Roll out the pastry to 1/2 cm thick, then score round a dinner plate to make a perfect circle.
  3. Transfer to an un-greased baking sheet.
  4. Score a circular ring round the pastry, 1cm from the edge. Spread the Biscoff spread over the centre
  5. Quarter and core the apples (no need to peel unless you really want to), cut into very thin slices.
  6. Decoratively arrange the slices onto the pastry circle.
  7. Brush the pastry and apples with the melted margarine.
  8. Generously and evenly sprinkle the caster sugar and cinnamon over the top of the tart.
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top and the pastry is cooked through.
  10. Dust the top with icing sugar. At this point you can blow torch the icing sugar to give an extra cramaleized top, but it’s fine if you want to miss out that extra step.
  11. Serve warm or at room temperature with dairy-free ice cream, custard or pouring dairy-free cream.

Christmas Spice Cheesecakes

In my opinion no time of year is complete without it’s own cheesecake recipe. We really do love cheesecake in this household! I could have tried to include mincemeat, or clementine would have been nice but I know the younger members of the family are not fans of either of those. So what other Christmas addition could a cheesecake have? Well spice of course. Nothing says Christmas more than some warming spice whether in some gingerbread, mulled wine or even mince pies.

These cheesecakes we were a very big hit – the spice is on the form of ginger cookies in the base and Biscoff spread in the cheesecake layer. The result is delightful! In fact, by adding the Biscoff spread the cream cheese mixture gets a bit firmer, which is all the better for a no-bake cheesecake recipe. I find the addition of the yogurt is important to give a hint of sour that cuts through the sweet.

I’ve given the proportions for 4 individuals ramekins but I’d you want to make more, or one larger cake, just multiply as necessary.

Christmas Spice Cheesecakes

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

makes 4 individual ramekins

8 ginger biscuits, crushed

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted

150g dairy-free cream cheese (I use 1 tub of Oatly cream spread)

1 tbsp dairy-free yogurt

2 tbsp icing sugar

3 tbsp smooth Biscoff spread

Christmas decorations of choice

  1. Mix together the crushed biscuits with the melted margarine, divide between the 4 ramekins and press down to form a firm base. Place in the fridge to set.
  2. Whisk together the cream cheese, yogurt, icing sugar and Biscoff spread until smooth and well combined. I find it easiest to use a food processor, but you can whisk it by hand.
  3. divide the mixture evenly between the four ramekins and level off. Chill. When read to serve add Christmas themed decorations and a sprinkle of glittery icing sugar, if you have any.

Nut-free Pecan Pie

Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? For us it’s familiar from cinema but not in real life. But I find celebrations are always a great source of inspiration, and I felt that it would be a good way to grab some inspiration before we’re full steam ahead in the preparations for Christmas!

I was researching recipes to recreate for a friendly Thanksgiving and came across a pecan pie. Then a little light bulb went on, don’t pretzels looks a little like pecans? Well, maybe it just me that’s seen that connection! Perhaps, I could recreate all the yumminess of a pecan pie with no nuts? I really wasn’t sure it would work, but it seems people have made dairy and egg free pecan pies, so if I add that concept to my pretzel instead of pecan idea, then we might have a plan!

First I needed some sweet pastry, but I also wanted some added flavour (without added nuts), so I’ve included some blitzed up Biscoff biscuit crumbs to add a sweet spicy taste. It actually works wonderfully. Who’d have thought biscuit crumbs in a pastry dough would be a good idea.

The filling is loosely based upon the vegan pecan pie recipes I found during my research – combining silken tofu with soft brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon. Plus some added crushed pretzels for crunch.

The resulting pretzel ‘pecan’ pie has worked far better than I expected; the filling is sweet but spicy with a good texture and the topping of pretzels gives a salty crunch which contrasts brilliantly. I urge you to give this nut, egg and dairy free ‘pecan’ pie a go, hopefully you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as we were, even our American guest approved. 🙂 I might even be tempted to pretend we celebrate Thanksgiving just to bake another one this week!

Biscoff Sweet Pastry

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

 Makes 1 tart case

 

150g plain flour

50g Biscoff biscuits (about 6) blitzed to a powder

40g icing sugar

Pinch of salt

45g vegetable fat

45g dairy-free margarine

4-6 tsp cold water

 

  1. Mix together the flour, salt, biscuit crumbs and icing sugar
  2. Rub in the fats until you have a texture that resembles fine breadcrumbs
  3. Add the cold water, 1 tsp at a time to form a dough, knead lightly until you have a smooth ball.
  4. Between 2 sheets of baking paper, roll out so it’s big enough to cover the tart tin. Place in the fridge and chill well (the colder the better)
  5. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  6. Line the tart tin with the pastry, if it cracks (it’s delicate dough) just press some dough into any gaps. Fill with parchment and baking beans and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the beans, prick the base with a fork and bake for another 10 minutes until lightly golden. Leave to cool.

 

Nut-free Pean Pie

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

 Fills one tart case

 

200g silken tofu

150g soft brown sugar

100ml maple syrup

2 tbsp flavourless oil

1 and ½ tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp cornflour

44g pretzels (this was 2 mini bags but around 40-50g is a good amount)

 

  1. Melt the sugar, syrup and oil together until the sugar crystals have dissolved. Cool.
  2. Blend together the tofu with all the ingredients except the pretzels, until you have a smooth mixture. Roughly crush have the pretzels and stir through
  3. Pour into the tart case and top with the remaining pretzels
  4. Bake at 170 degrees Centigrade for around 45 minutes Keep an eye on the pastry, if it starts getting too dark, loosely cover with foil
  5. Leave to cool. The texture firms up over time and I’d say next day is perfect.

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

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

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

I love an easy pastry, one of those recipes that throw a few ingredients together and end up with a superb tasty sweet treat that everyone wows over. These easy cinnamon bun twists are just that, taking only a few minutes and little skill to end up with something that’s sure to get plenty of compliments. After all, who doesn’t love the sweet combination of spiced sugar with flaky crisp pastry?

These little puff pastry twists filled with a sugar and cinnamon mixture, akin to the filling of a cinnamon bun make a drool-worthy delicious pastry. Serve them as a quick homemade easy breakfast cinnamon roll, a perfect addition to coffee time or as a dessert with a pile of berries and some cream or ice cream.

The twisting may make these pastries look fancy but it’s terribly easy – just hold both ends and twist each away from each other until you have a loose ringlet of dough. Once baked they’ll puff up into a delightful twist of deliciousness. You don’t need to add the icing but i do think it makes them seem a bit more like a cinnamon bun, and who doesn’t love a little drizzle of icing?

Easy Cinnamon Bun Twists

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

makes 8-10

1 pack ready make puff pastry (ready rolled is easiest as you already have the required rectangle)

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

3 tbsp caster sugar

3 tsp cinnamon

1 tbsp icing sugar to dust the pastries before baking

water icing (3tbsp icing sugar mixed with 1-2 tsp water)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade and line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment
  2. Roll out the puff pastry and spread half with the margarine, sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon
  3. Fold over and cut into 8-10 stops with the one end being held together where the join is (it’s easiest to use a pizza roller)
  4. Twist each strip into a pastry ringlet and place on the lined baking sheet. Dust with the 1tbsp icing sugar
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.
  6. Cool and then drizzle with the water icing.

Churros Cake

We’re still in desperate need of anything that’ll make us feel good and for these dark dismal lock-down days to pass as quickly as possible, although that said today was beautiful and sunny and hopefully a hint of brighter things to come.
Isn’t it crazy that we’re nearly a year into the Covid-19 pandemic and some of the simple joys of the first lockdown (the peace and quiet, quality family time, having to be at home but in some really gorgeous sunny weather and just the novelty of the whole situation – whilst not forgetting the horror and the misery people have had to cope with) has been replaced with boredom and drudge. No-one has zoom calls and quizzes anymore, no-one enjoys yet another day with nothing interesting to do, it’s all gone on for far too long.
I do believe that some good food and tempting treats do add little rays of sunshine into these otherwise dismal days and have been baking like crazy. Some experiments are quickly forgotten about, others become the seeds of new and exciting recipes. This is one of those successes…

Churros, cinnamon buns, snickerdoodles and more – all these bakes have such a wonderful warmth about them, there’s something so ultimately comforting about baking (and eating) with cinnamon and sugar. It’s almost like a sweet warm hug, the kind of hug we’re all missing right now.

I saw a photo of a churros cake on Instagram and immediately knew I had to make a ‘friendly’ version. So here we have a lightly spiced sponge, rippled with a spicy cinnamon swirl and then sprinkled with a crunchy sugar coating, just like a churros in cake form. How could that not be a spectacular combination? Add a warm, dark chocolate ganache sauce and you’re in churros heaven!

 

I served this cake for both pudding and a teatime treat, and it worked superbly in both scenarios. It won’t look quite so pretty without a bundt cake tin but it’ll still taste amazing. Let me know what you think?

Churros Cake

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

 

makes one cake

370g self-raising flour

2 tbsps Birds custard powder (make sure it’s the diary free version)

220g caster sugar

1 1/2 tsps bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

290ml dairy-free milk

2 tbsps dairy-free yogurt

100g dairy-free margarine, melted

3 tbsp soft brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp caster sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Grease the cake tin with melted margarine and sprinkle over a dusting of caster sugar and cinnamon
  2. Sift together the flour, custard powder, bicarb and salt
  3. Stir in the caster sugar
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, melted dairy-free margarine and yogurt.
  5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry. Mix gently until well combined.
  6. Pour half into the cake tin, sprinkle over the cinnamon sugar and then top with the other half of the better. Gently marble thebatzer with a skewer and bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean
  7. Remove from the tin and sprinkle with the extra sugar whilst still warm. If you want to add a chocolate sauce melt together 50g dark chocolate with 3 tbsp dairy-free cream.

Black Forest Cheesecake

Sometimes a recipe evolves as a idea and sometimes it just happens due to the contents of the larder!
I wanted to make a cheesecake for Sunday lunch last week and had all the necessary ingredients except for the icing sugar that I use to sweeten the cream cheese filling. It was nearly a case of no pudding for Sunday lunch – shock, horror! Luckily lurking at the back of the baking shelf was the remnants of a bag of Sugar and Crumbs black cherry icing sugar… could I use that? Then lightbulb moment, of course if it’s black cherry flavour then that goes perfectly with chocolate and we can have a black forest cheesecake. Bingo! What started as an experiment using what I had in the cupboard ended up as a complete hit. Everyone was wowing about it as a combination, so it’s certainly worth recreating 🙂
I urge you to seek out Sugar and Crumbs icing sugars and cocoa powders – they’re allergen free and flavoured with natural flavourings, and add an fabulous flavour to many a dish. If you don’t have the flavoured icing sugar then use either 1 tsp cherry essence, or maybe a tablespoon of cherry jam to flavour the cream cheese filling. Perhaps even a marble of cherry jam would be a nice addition?
Have you come across the Oatly ‘cream cheese’ yet? I’ve been emailing them for years to bring it to the UK as all their products are so good, I really hoped it would be a great cream cheese alternative. We always used Tofutti out of preference, as the creamy smooth spread was in our opinion the best you could buy. So many dairy-free cream cheeses are too ‘cheesy’ and no good substitution for a standard cream cheese which is smooth, creamy and mild tasting. So since the UK distributor of Tofutti disappeared we’ve had a sad lack of cheesecakes. These have been sad sad days as cheesecake is the favourite pudding in the household. But now with Oatly creamy spread is widely available in Tesco and Sainsbury’s, it’s back to cheesecake a go-go! The mild flavour works perfectly as a cream cheese substitute and carries additional flavours without any underlying cheesy aroma.

This black forest cheesecake will be the prefect Valentine’s day pud – i hope you enjoy as much as we did ❤

Black Forest Cheesecake

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

makes one 20cm cake, serves 4-6

115g Biscuits, crushed (I used Lotus)

1 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, melted

1 tub of dairy-free cream cheese (150g)

1 tbsp dairy-free yogurt

2-3 tbsp black cherry icing sugar

30g dairy-free dark chocolate

fresh or glace cherries to garnish

  1. Line a spring form cake tin with parchment.
  2. Mix together the crushed biscuits, cocoa powder and melted margarine. Press into the bottom of the tin (and slightly up the sides if you’d like the biscuit crumb edge look). Place int he fridge to chill.
  3. In a food processor (or with a whisk), whisk together the cream cheese, yogurt and 2 tbsps icing sugar. Taste and add more icing sugar if desired. Pour over the chilled base and level off. Leave in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to set.
  4. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the cheesecake. Garnish with glaze or fresh cherries.

Pear Tart Tatin

You will notice a theme in the coming weeks of comfort and joyful foods that will hopefully brighten your day (as well as mine when I develop and make them) and help us through this darkest of Januarys.
I still find it mind boggling that only a year ago we had no idea what the last year would bring and our lives would turn out so differently. We’ve been lucky with work carrying on from home and schools doing a fantastic job of offering great education from home, but I know it hasn’t been so easy for many many others. People getting seriously ill, losing jobs, struggling with their mental health and opportunities disappearing out the window. It’s just all so sad; i don’t notice on a normal day but then you go into town and see everything shut and it dawns on you that the world is a different place to a few short months ago. Like everyone, I do so hope things get better and we can return to some kind of normality soon.

But in the meantime, what we need is serious comfort food; a great big hug on a plate! Surely a Tart Tatin, with it’s crisp and flaky base topped with delicious caramel and juicy fruit must be the epitome of feel good food.

I think people presume a Tart Tatin is difficult to make but it’s so easy and you only need a few ingredients to make a delicious drool-worthy tart. Apparently created by a happy mistake, the beauty of a good tart Tatin is that a little bit of scruffiness only adds to the appeal. A normal Tart Tatin is laden with butter but you really wouldn’t notice the difference with my friendly version.

Pear Tart Tatin

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

serves 4-6

100g caster sugar

30g dairy-free margarine

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 pears, peeled , cored and cut into 12 wedges each

1/2 pack dairy-free puff pastry (about 250g)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade
  2. Roll out the pastry and cut out a circle a little bigger than the top of the pan you’re going to use.
  3. Place an oven-proof pan (if you have one) on a medium heat. Add the sugar and let is dissolve until it forms a light golden caramel. Carefully add the margarine and cinnamon (it will splatter a bit) and swirl to combine. Add the pear slices and turn over in the caramel so they are nicely coated.
  4. Either pour into an oven proof dish or use the one you made the caramel in. Neatly arrange the pear slices and let cool for a few minutes
  5. Place the pastry circle on top and tuck the edges in
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and is golden all over
  7. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then place a plate on top of the pan and quickly invert the dish.
  8. Serve wedges with ice cream or dairy-free pouring cream