Chocolate chip shortbread

There’s something so wonderfully tempting about shortbread – a not too sweet biscuit with a ‘buttery’ crumbly texture topped with a shower of sugar. They’re not only elegant but also extremely versatile. They work as a stand alone cookie, as an addition to a fine pudding or to sandwich a delicious filling; now that’s a multitasking cookie if ever I’ve come across one.

These shortbreads have the addition of rich dark chocolate chips which I feel compliments the ‘buttery’ crumbly dough. You may think you’d really miss the butter in shortbread, as so often it’s the selling feature with a ‘all butter’ tagline, but by using one of the firmer plant-butters you get a similar fat-rich ‘buttery’ mouth feel. Shortbread also keeps really well so fill up the biscuit tin and it’ll keep you going all week!

 

‘Buttery’ Chocolate Chip Shortbread

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

 makes about 16

150g plain flour

50g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

Pinch of salt

100g dairy-free butter, fridge cold and cubed

50g chocolate chips

20g caster sugar, for sprinkling

 

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the sugar, vanilla and salt.
  2. Rub in the butter with your fingertips, or the mixer. As there is a large proportion of butter to flour you will form a dough pretty quickly after getting to the breadcrumb stage. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. Briefly knead the dough to make it nice and smooth, and making sure the chocolate is evenly distributed.
  4. Between two sheets of parchment, roll out the dough to 3mm thick and then place in the fridge to rest for 30 minutes
  5. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade
  6. Stamp out circles from the chilled dough and place, spaced apart onto a lined baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 15-20 minutes until starting to gain a hint of colour around the edges.
  8. Sprinkle with caster sugar whilst hot and then move to a wire rack to cool

 

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies (with or without a chocolate cream filling)

Yay, it’s Spring at last. Suddenly there’s light, warmth and colour popping up all over the place. If feels like a new start and I have this urge to add colour and flavour to my bakes.

I’ve got some exciting ideas with raspberry and lemon, but first up are these fun, extremely happy and colourful vanilla sprinkle cookies. How could a batch of these not make you smile and improve your day? Great as they are on their own, and they really are delicious, you can always make them even better with a wonderfully chocolate cream filling. Surely a filling improves any cookie, and with the sprinkle decoration and the chocolate heavy centre you’ve got a match made in heaven. These cookies do spread out quite a bit in the baking so mine are large, if you want to make small versions make the balls of dough olive sized and reduce the baking to around 8 minutes

 

Vanilla Sprinkle Cookies (with or without a chocolate cream filling)

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

 

Makes 10-12

112g dairy-free margarine

100g caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla paste

155g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

¼ tsp salt

Quite a lot of sprinkles – I used half a tube!

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment
  3. In a large bowl cream together the margarine, sugar and vanilla until well combined and lighter in colour.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb and salt and mix to form a soft dough.
  5. Break off walnut sized pieces and roll in a bowl of sprinkles until totally covered
  6. Place well-spaced apart on the lined baking sheet
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes until starting to turn golden.
  8. Let firm up on the baking tray and then move to a wire rack to fully cool
  9. Eat as they are or fill with the delicious chocolate cream (recipe below)

 

Chocolate Cream

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

60g dairy-free margarine

200g icing sugar

1 tsp dairy-free milk (if needed)

25g melted dairy-free chocolate

  1. Whisk the margarine  with the icing sugar until it is all incorporated, adding the milk if the mixture is too stiff.
  2. Stir in the melted chocolate.

Sensational Scones

You’ve got to love scones; light, fluffy, just sweet enough and the perfect carrier for a delicious topping. No proper afternoon tea is right without a batch of warm scones, and this recipe always goes down a storm. You can even freeze them, defrost, pop into the oven for a couple of minutes and then you can have an elegant afternoon tea in a flash.

When we had our stressful tea at Pan Pacific we met Cherish Finden and she said that scones were the most difficult thing to recreate free-from. Now these aren’t gluten-free (but I know others who make them gluten-free), but I can assure you that these are just as good as a traditional scone. Go on, give them a go and let me know what you think?


The most crucial part of scone making is a light touch – you must add air whilst rubbing in the margarine and definitely no kneading! Just very lightly bring together the dough and you’ll have some sensational scones. Just add some jam and dairy-free whipped cream and you can have a sensational tea at home.


Sensational Scones

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

  • makes 10-12
    • 450g plain flour
    • 3 tsps baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 75g dairy-free margarine
    • 70g soft brown sugar
    • 300ml dairy-free milk
    • 1 tsp vanilla essence (optional)
    • 2 tbsp Demerara or granulated sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 6
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt. Stir in the sugar.
  3. With your fingertips, gently rub in the dairy-free margarine until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the dairy-free milk and vanilla essence (if using).
  5. Bring together to a very soft, sticky dough. Turn onto a floured surface and very gently bring together to a soft, smooth dough.
  6. Pat out with your fingers until 3 cm thick.– Cut out with a well-floured 6cm cookie cutter (or whatever size you choose)
  7. Place on an oiled and floured baking sheet. Brush the tops with dairy-free milk and sprinkle with Demerara or granulated sugar.
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden on top.– Cool on a wire rack.

Tropical Granola Bars

 There’s something so handy about a cereal or granola bar, the can fit into so many situations – breakfast on the run, a quick pre-lunch snack, a picnic staple, or a post-workout refuel. As people are heading back into offices, these could be the perfect accompaniment to a sandwich in a packed lunch.

 When I used to go into an office regularly I always felt super pleased if I had a homemade packed lunch addition, rather than an additive filled less superior shop bought bar; hopefully these will make you just as pleased too 😊

This recipe is loosely based upon Yotam Ottolenghi’s Granola Bar recipe form the original ‘The Cookbook’, so you know they have good pedigree, and they have to taste delicious.

 

Tropical Granola Bars

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

 Makes 8 large bars

 

22g dried cranberries or sultanas

22g dried mango, chopped

22g dried pineapple, chopped

120g oats

22g sunflower seeds

15g desiccated coconut

50g dairy-free margarine

50g golden syrup or honey

50g demerara sugar

½ tsp salt

½ tsp cinnamon

 

  1. Place the dried fruits into a bowl, cover with hot water and leave to soften for ten minutes. Then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade
  3. Line a 2lb loaf tin with parchment
  4. In a bowl, mix together the oats, sunflower seeds, drained dried fruit and coconut and set aside.
  5. In a large saucepan melt together the margarine, syrup and sugar until the sugar has totally dissolved.
  6. Fold in the oat and fruit mixture, adding the salt and cinnamon. Make sure the mixture is well combined.
  7. Tip the mixture into the lined loaf tin, press down and level off.
  8. Bake for 22 minutes until starting to turn golden around the edges.
  9. Remove from the tin and cool completely before cutting into bars.
  10. These bars keep well for up to a week if placed in an airtight container.

Bounty flapjacks

Well , doesn’t it truly feel like we’ve been in January for about 3 months so far? What is it about the post Christmas/New Year period where everything seems to slow down and weeks drag on forever?

It also means that we’re well back into the routine of packed lunches and working lunches, so I needed some tasty additions to pop in along with the usual sandwiches. Flapjacks are a brilliant packed lunch option – they’re slow release energy oats but also bundles of sugar to keep the spirits and energy levels up. People seem to presume that flapjacks are healthy because they’re made of oats, all I can say is that they surely have never made their own as they’d know how much sugar/syrup they contain!

We particularly like coconut flapjacks, and this recipe is a riff on that, Bounty flapjacks featuring a coconutty flapjack base and then a dark chocolate and coconut topping. These little bites of paradise will certainly help you get through the never ending January days!

Bounty Flapjacks

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

  • 200g dairy free margarine
  • 200g demerara sugar
  • 200g golden syrup
  • 400g oats (preferably not giant oats)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (preferably fleur de sel)
  • 50g desiccated coconut
  • 85g dark dairy-free chocolate
  •  
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Centigrade
  2. Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with parchment
  3. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrup and salt
  4. When the sugar has dissolved mix in the oats and coconut (keeping aside 1 tbsp of coconut for the topping)
  5. Spread into the lined baking tray
  6. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  7. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares.
  8. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over the bars, sprinkle the remaining coconut over the top

Lebkuchen

I’ve made it – 12 recipes of advent for Christmas 2021 completed just in time! At one point I didn’t think I’d get there, but somehow I have ended with plenty of recipes on hold until next Christmas! Wishing all my readers a very Happy, safe and healthy Christmas. Thank you for all the comments, views and interaction, and making it all seem worthwhile 🙂

I’ve wanted to recreate these traditional German gingerbread cookies for a while, as to me they seem extremely festive and quite exotic. I haven’t eaten many in my life so I’m hoping this is an authentic recreation to add to the festive repertoire. We found them to be how one would imagine an old-fashioned gingerbread cookie to be, which is no bad thing. Lebkuchen often have a heavy dosing of cloves but I didn’t have any in the cupboard, so I’ve opted for a touch of mixed spice for an extra Christmas vibe.

 You can ice with either the water/lemon icing that hardens to a crisp crust or with melted chocolate, or maybe both to please all tastes?

 

Lebkuchen

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

 Makes about 12

125g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

50g soft brown sugar

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp mixed spice

2 tsp cocoa powder

Pinch of salt

1 tbsp flavourless oil

1 tbsp golden syrup (or honey)

70ml dairy-free milk

For the glaze:

50g icing sugar

1 tbsp water or lemon juice

And/or:

50g dark dairy-free chocolate, melted

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees centigrade fan/180 degrees centigrade non-fan. Line a cookie sheet with non-stick parchment.
  2. Mix together the first eight dry ingredients. Add the oil, syrup and milk and milk to form a soft dough.
  3. Roll out to 1cm thick and use festive cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Place spaced apart on the cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  5. When cool, mix together the glaze and/or melt the chocolate and coat the cookies.

 

Gingerbread Wreath

We’re big fans of gingerbread in this house, and especially this recipe, so it had to feature in some form of my 12 recipes of Advent 2021.

This recipe gives the most perfect soft or crispy results (depending on cooking time) and has just the right amount of sugar and spice. This year I’ve made the biscuits into a holly wreath as a stunning centre piece for the table. Although, we’ve already devoured this batch so i’m going to have to make another nearer Christmas! I’m thinking it would look rather lovely with some candles in the middle, in the centre of the Christmas table, what do you think?

Gingerbread Wreath

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

Makes 12-15
50g/ 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine
20g/ 2 tbsps dairy-free cream cheese
75g/ 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
2 tbsps golden syrup
20ml/ 1.5 tbsps dairy-free milk
170g/ 1 1/2 cups plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
icing sugar
roll out green fondant icing plus red icing for added berries

  1. Cream together the margarine, cream cheese, sugar, syrup and soya milk
  2. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground ginger. Knead into a soft dough
  3. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/2 cm thickness. Cut into shapes with leaf shaped cookie cutters.
  4. Bake on a greased baking sheet for 10-12 minutes at 190 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 5 (10 minutes for soft, 12 for crisp)
  5. Cool on the sheet a little before transferring to a wire rack
  6. Roll out the icing, dusting the surface with icing sugar and cut out with the same cookie cutter. Spread a little icing sugar/water mix in each cookie to attach the icing. Join the leaves together in a wreath shape and add some red roll our icing ‘berries’

Chocolate Tiffin Wreath Cake

Our family is divided over the issue of Christmas cake; I make one every year and some of the family devour it like there’s no tomorrow, and others would simply rather have anything else.

I’ll be making both a chocolate yule log and a traditional Christmas cake to please everyone, but I reckon this chocolate tiffin wreath cake will probably be the most popular offering. Not many can resist a good tiffin, and this version is particularly fine with plenty of fudgey chocolate filling mixed with a good selection of biscuits (plus no random bits of dried fruit which seem to give my children nightmares!)


You could easily make this is any cake tin, but if you have a bundt tin, you’ll get a fine wreath shape which immediately looks festive and rather tempting. I’ve been quite restrained and topped this with a white chocolate snowy like drizzle and some Christmas decorations, but i reckon you could go all out if that’s more your style 🙂

Chocolate Biscuit Tiffin Wreath Cake

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


170 g dairyfree chocolate
120g dairyfree margarine
3 tbsps golden or maple syrup
12 biscuits, roughly crushed ( I used Lotus )
20 g Rice Krispies
50g white chocolate
Christmas decorations

  1. Line a bundt tin or loaf tin with two layers of cling film
  2. Melt together the chocolate, margarine and syrup. Stir well to form a gorgeous truffle mixture
    Fold in the crushed biscuits.
  3. Pour into the lined mould and bring over the cling film so it is entirely covered. Press down firmly for a compacted centre and even top
  4. Place in the fridge for at least a couple of hours to firm up
  5. Melt the white chocolate and drizzle over the top
    add decorations and leave to set

Snowball Cookies

These are my riff on those nutty, icing sugar or caster sugar coated almond sandies or Mexican wedding cookies, but made nut free. The white snowy coating of icing sugar makes these perfect for the Christmas season and they’d look gorgeous alongside some other cute little petit fours with a strong coffee at the end of Christmas lunch. Then again, these are delicious enough for anytime of day or year.

By leaving out the nuts you end up with a surprisingly soft filling that is subtly spiced, but enough to get a proper hint of Christmas. We found them remarkably moreish, and I hope you do too.

We might leave some of these out for Father Christmas this year, although the powdery sugary coating may make an awful mess on his lovely red suit, so don’t feel too bad if you devour them all before he arrives and you have to leave out a less exciting cookie!

I’m trying to post 12 recipes of Advent this year, so look out for more exciting festive themed recipes to come in the next few weeks. Any Christmas recipe you’re lacking and you’d like a recreation then get in touch and i’ll do my best 🙂


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


makes about 14-16

80g dairy-free margarine
80g icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1.2 tsp cinnamon
150g plain flour
pinch of salt
20-30g icing sugar to roll in

  1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees fan/180 degrees non-fan
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment
  3. Cream together the margarine and icing sugar until light and fluffy, add in the vanilla and cinnamon.
    sift in the flour and salt and combine to form a soft dough
  4. Roll into marble sized balls and placed, spaced apart on the line cookie sheet
  5. Bake for 10 minutes, until risen and a tiny hint of colour
  6. Cool for 5 minutes and then roll in the icing sugar, making sure they are liberally covered in the icing sugar ‘snow’

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.