Homemade Party Rings (Iced Ring Biscuits)

egg-free iced biscuits

 

There aren’t many biscuits which are more appealing to children than party rings. Their pastel hued iced tops immediately give the impression of an occasion, to expect pass the parcel and balloons to magically appear. They’re certainly not the healthy option but I think most people have memories of party rings as children.

Whilst being milk and egg-free they may contain traces of nuts, so poor little Sofe can’t dig in when the plate of party rings appear. She has to sit back and politely say ‘no thank you’ when everyone else dives in with gusto. They’re also not veggie friendly so even if I was tempted I couldn’t indulge in a trip down memory lane!

vegan party rings

These vanilla flavoured crunchy biscuits are the perfect carrier for the shiny, crisp iced top. Of course you don’t need to do the multiple colours, they’re just as tasty with a single colour icing, but I went to town with the colours to try to recreate real party rings as best as I could. The icing takes a while to set, so if possible leave them to harden and dry out overnight before packing them up. It might seem odd to put them back in a low oven once iced, but it really does help give a shiny, smooth finish and despite what common sense says, the icing doesn’t melt!

Homemade Party Rings

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

dairy-free party rings

makes lots, at least 28!

2 1/3 cups of plain flour

2 tbsps cornflour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable fat (I used Trex)

1/2 cup dairy-free spread (Pure)

1 cup granulated sugar

2 tsps vanilla paste (or use one and one of another extract)

1/4 cup oat milk (Oatly)

  1. Sift together the flour, cornflour, salt and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl whisk together the fat, spread and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the extracts and oat milk and whisk again.
  3. Add the flour mix and carefully combine
  4. Roll out and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden round the edges
  5. Cool on the sheet before moving to a wire rack.

icing biscuits

for the royal icing:

4 tbsps aquafaba (water from a tin of beans or chickpeas)

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

4 cups icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

dairy-free milk to thin the icing

food colouring as desired

  1. In a stand mixer, or an electric whisk, whisk together all the ingredients until a smooth thick paste is created.
  2. Colour as desired. I split the mixture into four, and then coloured each with natural food colouring.
  3. Thin each colour with a splash of milk to make the icing a good consistency to coat the biscuits (thick, but thin enough to pipe!)
  4. Using a plain nozzle pipe one colour onto the rings, then pipe another colour on top and feather together the colours.
  5. Let set but leaving at room temperature for a good few hours. If you dare, return the iced biscuits to the oven for a couple of minutes for a smooth shiny finish and then leave to set.

homemade party rings, nut-free

 

dairy-free chocolate chip cookies

Muscovado Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

dairy-free chocolate chip cookies

I’ve always had a fondness for the magic of cookie making – how a simple dollop of dough can transform into delicate, delightful cookie in a matter of minutes. In my opinion, there little that’s more appealing than a tin or plate full of freshly baked cookies, especially if they’re still warm from the oven!

These are a twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie, using rich muscovado sugar for a caramel background and featuring the cute perfectly formed mini chocolate chips from Doves Farm. They’re not the cheapest and come in a dinky little tube, but they’re gluten, dairy, nut and soya free and are about as cutely perfect as a chocolate chip can be. None of those misshapen clumsy dollops so often found in free-from food!

nut-free vegan chocolate chip cookies

I would really really recommend this recipe – it makes the perfect chic chip cookie – crunchy and crispy around the edges with a softer interior – who could ask for more!

Muscovado Chocolate Chip Cookies

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

dairy-free, egg-free chocolate chip biscuits

makes about 18

2/3rds cup muscovado sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3rds cup sunflower oil

1/4 cup oat milk

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 and 3/4 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 3. Lightly grease two baking sheets
  2. Whisk together the oil, oat milk, sugars, vanilla and cornflour. It will combine to form a smooth caramel.
  3. Sift in the flour, bicarb and salt. Mix well.
  4. Fold in the chocolate chips
  5. Roll into walnut sized balls, place slightly apart on the baking sheets and flatten a little.
  6. Bake for 10 minutes
  7. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.

vegan chocolate chip cookies

 

Mango Chutney Crackers

mango chutney crackers, dairy-free

I don’t know where this idea came from, it just pretty much popped into my head when I was thinking of making my curried lentil soup the other day. Seemed logical to make something that would compliment the soup I was making, to match the spices. Something crisp and crunchy to go with smooth soup.

So I present these cracker shortbreads flavoured with sweet tangy mango chutney and cumin seeds. Not sure why I’ve never used mango chutney in any other cooking. They also make a nice cracker to serve with cheese (dairy-free or not, depending on your preferences and needs) or with a dip.

Mango Chutney Crackers

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

mango chutney crackers, vegan

Makes about 12

1 cup flour

1 1/2 tbsps dairy free margarine

2 tbsps mango chutney

1/2 tsp curry powder

Pinch of salt

Cumin seeds to sprinkle

  1. Rub the margarine into the flour, curry powder and salt until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Add the mango chutney and gently bring together to form a soft dough
  3. Roll out and cut out shapes, sprinkle with cumin seeds.

chutney crackers4. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake at 180 degrees for 12 minutes 

egg-free chutney crackers

 

chocolate cornflake cookies aka afghan cookies

Chocolate Cornflake Cookies aka Afghan Cookies

 

dairy-free, egg-free Afghan cookies

I’m in the process of ‘ Spring cleaning’ my larder, using up bits and bobs that have been lurking at the back of the shelves – there’s something about the new year and wanting to get stuff sorted. As you can imagine, my larder is pretty stuffed with ingredients, so any additional space is most welcome. So, that large half-used pack of cornflakes was definitely in my sights. It was using up far too much space! And that cookie jar needed filling.

Apparently chocolate cornflake cookies, also known as Afghan cookies are extremely popular in New Zealand. Worth investigating, I thought. The traditional Afghan cookie is a chocolate cookie, studded with crunchy cornflakes, topped with a rich ganache and with a walnut sitting on top. I’m obviously going to skip the walnuts, but the rest is pretty much fitting the brief.

I hope you like these crunchy chocolatey biscuits – they went down a treat here

Chocolate Cornflake Cookies aka Afghan Cookies

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

vegan cornflake cookies

200g dairy-free margarine

50g soft brown sugar

50g caster sugar

175g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking powder

1tbsp dairy-free milk

50g cornflakes

  1. Cream together the margarine and sugars.
  2. Stir in the flour, cocoa and baking powder. Adding the dairy-free milk to slacken the mixture and making it easier to combine.
  3. Gently stir in the cornflakes, trying to keep them as whole as possible
  4. Place tablespoons of the mixture into a lined baking sheet, with enough room to spread. Flatten slightly.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade
  6. Cool on a wire rack

For the icing:

1tbsp water

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsps dairy-free margarine

1/2 cup icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

  1. Melt together the water, caster sugar, vanilla and  margarine. Bring to a bubbling syrup and then pour in the cocoa powder and icing sugar. Stir to form glossy icing.
  2. Spread over the cookies and leave to set.

  

nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free macarons

Strawberries & cream macarons – egg-free and nut-free.

nut-free, egg-free, dairy-free macarons

Macarons, or to be precise Macarons Parisiens are those stunning little almond sandwiched delicacies which we all know because they are absolutely everywhere these days. It’s another one of those tempting treats that has been out of bounds for us, what with them being made with eggs and almonds/nuts.

It has taken me years to get this one right. One of those unattainable recipes that no matter how many times I tried, I’d never be able to make a free-from version. I’ve tried so many times before, but when you’re leaving out two essential ingredients of a recipe it’s understandable to find it difficult to make a free-from replica.

Those pretty pastel-hues kept me trying though. There was no way the macaron was going to win in this battle. This journey has taught me that I hate to be defeated and that everything is possible.

vegan no-nuts macarons

The first problem with free-from macarons was replacing the egg-whites but luckily last spring fellow bloggers started having great success with aquafaba. We were one step of the way there.

Next problem: how to replace the nuts? Almonds are intrinsic to a macaron, delivering not just flavour but also the gooey texture. I’d heard of people subbing coconut, but I’m not keen on coconut and find it a very strong flavour, which in my opinion doesn’t suit a delicate Parisien Almond Macaron. I was going along the lines of ground sunflower or pumpkin seeds but was having trouble sourcing trace-free seeds. Then during the last series of Masterchef the professionals one of the contestants made a cake using popcorn. Lightbulb moment! Why not use ground popcorn in place of the almonds? As it turns out it was a genius flash of inspiration. The ground popcorn has a similar light texture to ground nuts, minus the oil and combines beautifully with the whisked aquafaba meringue to form the perfect free-from replacement.

I was worried the popcorn would have too strong a flavour, but although you could detect it if you knew it was there, it doesn’t overpower once you have flavoured it with other things. Initially the texture is a little firmer than traditional macarons, but I hear that is usually the case with vegan ones made with aquafaba. If you can resist, leave them in the fridge overnight, then the filling melds with the shells to make a slightly softer and gooey centre, far more like the authentic recipe.
My recipe is created by tweaking and experimenting with the creations developed by Floral Frosting and Crazy Vegan Kitchen, and I thank those ladies wholeheartedly for giving me the beginnings of a recipe that could be made nut-free! The joy.

Macaron making isn’t difficult but it is quite a lengthy process – be sure to leave yourself plenty of time, as the folding  and resting are crucial to the recipe.

Nut-free, Egg-free Strawberry Macarons

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

free-from nut-free, gluten-free, egg-free macarons

makes about 14

Aquafaba from one tin of beans, you will need 3/4 cup

1/2 cup caster sugar

1 1/2 cups ground ready popped popcorn

1/2 cup icing sugar

Pinch of cream of tartar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp pink gel food colouring

1/4 tsp natural strawberry flavouring

  1. First reduce the aquafaba by about a third, you need to end up with 1/3 cup of aquafaba. Leave to cool
  2. In a food processor, grind the popcorn to a powder and then pass through a sieve. This takes a fair while and the popcorn turns to airy dust and flies everywhere. Be patient, you want the popcorn powder to  fine as possible. Combine with the icing sugar
  3. In a stand mixer, whisk the aquafaba and cream of tartar until you form a fluffy, bubbly mix. Slowly add the caster sugar until you have a glossy, thick meringue mixture. This will take a few minutes. Whisk in the colour and flavouring. meringue for macarons, egg-free
  4. Stir in half of the popcorn. Then gently fold in the other half, trying to retain as much air as possible. Once it is all combined, fold the mixture 15-20 times. This is called the macaronage.
  5. Transfer to a piping bag with a plain nozzle, and pipe even circles ( with the nozzle going directly downwards) onto a lined baking sheet. With a wet finger, smooth over the top of each macaron so there is no lumps or bumps. piping free-from macarons
  6. Once finished, pick up the baking sheet and drop in onto the work surface so it slaps down two or three times ( this is to remove any air bubbles)
  7. Leave uncovered at room temperature for at least two hours. This will encourage the tops to form a skin-like covering so that when they bake they rise up and form frilly feet round the bottoms.
  8. Preheat the oven to 120 degrees centigrade and bake the macarons for 22 minutes. Do not open the oven! Turn off the oven (still do not open!) and leave for a further 15 minutes. Open the oven door a little and leave for a further 15 minutes. Cool completely before removing from the baking paper.

  9. macarons made with aquafaba and popcorn

For the filling:

2 tbsps dairy-free margarine

2 cups icing sugar

1-2 tbsps dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp natural strawberry flavouring

  1. Whisk all together to make a thick, smooth buttercream. Pipe circles into the flat side of half the macarons and then sandwich together. ready to fill vegan macaron
  2. Keep refrigerated until ready to eat. They last really well for 2-3 days.

 

Cold Busting Lemon and Ginger Cookies

dairy-free, egg-free lemon and ginger cookies

Some cookies that are ideal at this time of year when everyone is sniffling and snuffling and germs seem to be lurking behind every corner. Well they might help. I see these cookies as a biscuit equivalent to a mug of hot honey and lemon that will soothe your throat and give your ailing self a big warm hug! The lemon adds that zing which you get when you bite in but also lingers after too and the ginger add subtle warmth that underpins the whole flavour.

Equally, they’re attractive to the eye and very tasty. Perfect served at teatime, and a nice change from the usual flavour combinations.

Cold Busting Lemon and Ginger Cookie

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

vegan lemon and ginger cookies

makes about 20 cookies

  • 1/2 cup dairy-free spread
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps golden syrup
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sprinkles
  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Line 2 cookie sheets with baking parchment.
  2. Cream together the spread, sugar, syrup, ground ginger and lemon zest. stir in the lemon juice.
  3. Sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Gently mix to form a soft dough. Stir in the sprinkles.
  4. Dollop tablespoon sized balls of the dough onto the baking sheets. make sure they are well spaced apart as they will spread during baking.
  5. Bake for 8 minutes until puffy and turning golden.
  6. Cool briefly before transferring to a wire rack.

cold busting vegan cookies