Pepparkakor – Swedish Ginger Thins

I always love a cooking challenge and so was happy to be asked for a Pepparkakor recipe. These Swedish Ginger thins are a Scandinavian Christmas must have and rightly deserve a place on my site.

I’ve only had the Anna brand ones, those very thin crisp flower shapes biscuits often found in health food shops. They always make me think fondly of my step-Grandmother who would always buy Anna’s Ginger thins and a variety of dried fruit for my girls to graze on when they were tiny. She was always very kind to me and made such an effort to cater for us, despite the dietary challenges.

These pepparkakor are a little less thin and crisp and not so dark in colour as I only had syrup available rather than the syrup and treacle required. But the spice is spot on and they make a lovely addition to the Christmas spread.

Pepparkakor (Swedish Ginger Thins)

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

makes 16-20

125g dairy-free margarine

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cardamon

50g caster sugar

40g soft-brown sugar

50g golden syrup (or ideally 25g treacle and 25g syrup)

35ml water

250g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

  1. Cream together the margarine, sugar and spices.
  2. Melt the syrup (or syrup and treacle) into the water
  3. Add the syrup mix and flour, bicarb and salt to the creamed margarine and mix to a soft dough.
  4. wrap and rest for a couple of hours in the fridge
  5. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade
  6. Roll out the dough to 2-3mm thick and stamp out festive shapes.
  7. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes until golden
  8. Cool on a wire rack
  9. These are best iced but if you don’t have time (like me) a little dusting of icing sugar is nice too 🙂

Pomegranate and Grenadine Pâte de Fruits (Fruit Jellies)

I’ve always loved to make homemade sweets, and as pate de fruits are such an essential part of Christmas (especially for the French side of the family) these homemade fruit jellies are the perfect addition to my 12 days of Christmas.

If you’re not familiar with pate de fruits they’re a fruity jelly sweet, like a soft fruit pastille, covered in sugar. Made with fruit juice, sugar and pectin they’re naturally vegetarian and allergy friendly despite being not particularly healthy. But then again it’s Christmas and it’s time for luxury and indulgence.

Making homemade sweets seems like the height of luxury and difficult techniques, but these are super simple and you end up with some beautiful 100% natural pure fruit pastilles. One batch makes enough for well over 50 jellies, making it easy to have some for our Christmas treats as well as an addition to my homemade hampers. As long as they’re kept in an airtight container they will keep for months.

This recipe is adapted from the fabulous book on preserving by Pam the Jam. I’d thoroughly recommend seeking it out if you enjoy delicious and exciting preserving. I’ve chosen a combination of pomegranate and grenadine as it felt suitably festive and packs a punch of flavour, but you can easily swap any juice you’d like.

Pomegranate and Grenadine Pate de Fruits

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

makes 50-100 jellies

500ml pure pomegranate juice

juice of 1 lime

3 tbsp grenadine

450g granulated sugar

15g pectin

75g glucose syrup

1 tsp flavourless oil

  1. Line a 20cm square baking tin with parchment
  2. Pour the juices and syrup into a deep saucepan.
  3. Stir the pectin powder into half of the sugar. Sprinkle over the juice and stir, heating gently until the sugar has dissolved.
  4. Add the rest of the sugar, the glucose syrup and oil. Let the sugar dissolve. Then bring to a rolling boil.
  5. You want the temperature to reach 108 degrees Centigrade. This will take 10-15 minutes and you will notice the bubbles changing as the mixture heats. Be sure to scrape down the sides whilst the mixture is bubbling.
  6. As soon as it reached 108 degrees Centigrade, take the pan off the heat and pour into the lined tin.
  7. Leave to cool, then cover with baking parchment. Once fully cold and set cut into pretty shapes. Squares or triangles are the most efficient but I like using mini cookie cutters to stamp out little shapes.
  8. Roll each shape in caster sugar and then store in an airtight container until ready to eat.

Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

I’m always looking for new savoury snack ideas as they can be sadly hard to find if you’re on a restricted diet. Breadsticks are mainly out of bounds due to traces of sesame, few crackers are suitable and cheese straws are a obvious no-no! Some crisps and popcorn are good but you can’t always eat crisps, well maybe you can buy you probably shouldn’t!

These little crunchy Italian bites are a great addition to the snacking scene. They savoury, crunchy and moreish – just perfect with an aperitif or to snack on whilst watching a film.

They seem to have been quite a hit as the first batch disappeared in a couple of hours – always a good sign. I think I’ll have to make a couple of extra batches to keep us going through Christmas and to add little bags to my homemade hampers!

Taralli biscuits are often flavoured with fennel but I’ve use balsamic vinegar, sun dried tomato paste and oregano. I think it results in a subtle but delicious savoury taste. If you want to ramp up the flavour use double concentrated tomato purée instead.

Sundreid Tomato and Balsamic Taralli Biscuits

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

makes about 40

250g plain flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp dried oregano

3 tsp sun-dried tomato paste

20ml cheap balsamic vinegar (don’t waste the good stuff here!)

80ml white one or grape juice

60-80ml extra virgin olive oil

to glaze: 1 tsp tomato paste mixed with 1 tsp dairy-free milk, flaky salt crystals

  1. Stir in the salt and oregano into the flour. Add the tomato paste, olive oil and white wine and bring together to a soft dough.
  2. Knead until silky and smooth.
  3. Wrap and rest in the fridge for at least an hour
  4. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade Fan, 190 degrees non-fan
  5. grab small grape sized pieces of the dough and then roll into half cm wide sausages. Cross over the ends to make a loop and place on the lined baking tray while you shape the rest.
  6. Bring a pan of water to the boil. Drop in the Taralli, ten or so at a time and boil until the rise to the surface. This will take a minute or two.
  7. Place back on the lined baking sheet.
  8. Brush with the glaze and sprinkle with the salt. 
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and crispy. 
  10. Cool on wire rack. These will get more crunchy as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to a week (if they last that long!)

Nut-free, dairy-free Rugelach

Happy Hanukkah! I’ve always wanted to make some nut and dairy-free Rugelach and Hanukkah is the perfect time to come up with a new recipe. Rugelach is a filled pastry originating from the Jewish communities of Poland. They are buttery and flaky with a sweet cinnamon scent.

Normally made with a nutty filling this version replaces the crunch with Demerara sugar spiced up with wonderfully warming cinnamon. Apricot jam would have been a nice addition but I didn’t have any to hand.

I did wonder if the dough would work dairy-free as it’s essentially butter, cream cheese and flour. I’ve never made rugelach before so I’m not familiar with how they are meant to taste but this dairy free version is delightfully crisp, flaky and moreish. Be warned that the dough is very soft and sticky so you have to be sure to chill it well before shaping and be prepared for some stick!

Hopefully someone who is familiar with the usual rugelach can give these a go and let me know if they’re at all authentic? Either way they’re pretty delicious and a great snack for Hanukkah or any other time!

Nut-free and Dairy-free Rugelach

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

makes 24

110g dairy-free margarine

120g dairy-free ream cheese (I used Violife creamy)

150g plain flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

zest of 1/2 a lemon

for the filling:

2 tbsp demerara sugar

2 tbsp granulated sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

extra demerara sugar and dairy-free milk to finish

  1. Cream together the margarine and cream cheese.
  2. Add the salt, sugar and plain flour and mix to form a very soft dough. 
  3. Split into two and wrap each half in cling film and chill for at least a couple of hours.
  4. When fully chilled preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade fan, 180 degrees centigrade non-fan
  5. Roll out each half of dough between two sheets of parchment until about 2mm thick. It will be sticky!
  6. Sprinkle over half of the filling on each circle and then using a pizza cutter, divide the circle into twelve equal slices.
  7. Starting at the wide end, roll up each slice until it looks like a little croissant.
  8. Place on a lined baking sheet.
  9. Brush with dairy-free milk and sprinkle over a little extra Demerara sugar.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes (turning he baking sheet half way through) until golden.
  11. Cool on a wire rack.

 

Mini Christmas Muffins (with a mince pie version)

Mini muffins are such a great bake. Tasty, moreish and bite sized. I like to pop a couple into a lunchbox for a tasty sweet treat, or have a platter ready to welcome everyone home.

These mini muffins taste like Christmas; spiced with cinnamon, mixed spice, nutmeg and clementine zest. I think they’ll make a lovely treat to leave out for Father Christmas or as a Festive treat with hot chocolate while snuggled on the sofa in pyjamas.

I added a filling of mincemeat to half the mix to make mince pie muffins – and very nice they were too. Although I was the only family member to try those – everyone else hates mince pies!

 

 

Christmas Spice Mini Muffins/Mince Pie Muffins

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

Makes 24 mini or 6 large

120g or 1 cup plain flour

75g or 1/3rds cup soft brown sugar

1/2 tbsp baking powder

large pinch salt

55g or 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, melted

75ml or 1/3rd cup dairy-free milk

125g or 1/2 cup dairy-free yogurt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp mixe spice

a pinch of ground nutmeg

zest of 1/2 clementine

(optional) 1/2 tsp mincemeat for each mini muffin 

water icing and Christmas decorations

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 Degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 5. Line a muffin tin
  2. In a bowl mix together the milk, yogurt, vanilla and melted dairy-free margarine. Set aside.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, spices and zest. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until combined (make sure you don’t over mix).
  5. 2/3rds fill each muffin liner. (for the mince pie version, 1/3rd fill then add the mincemeat and then top with the other 1/3rd of muffin mix)
  6. Bake for 12-14 minutes for mini muffins or 20-25 minutes for large ones, until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.
  8. Either leave plain or top with water icing (add just enough water a few drops at a time to make a very thick icing) and Christmas decorations

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

img_1545I don’t often come across dairy-free white chocolate so I was just delighted to find that MooFree now produce white chocolate bars and chips. This is so exciting, I have so many ideas swirling around my brain on where white chocolate can fit into my recipes. Keep watching for  rather special cheesecake coming very soon 🙂

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I used to (pre-Covid) sometimes ahve coffee in a branch of ‘Gail’s Bakery‘ and I would always notice the rather lovely looking ‘back to front’ chocolate chip cookies – by which I mean dark cocoa flavoured biscuit with white chocolate chips shining out like treasure in a piece of coal. So here’s my friendly version turning a choc chip cookie on it’s head – in fact maybe it could be even better, with the delicious contrast to rich cocoa rich cookie and bright white sweet morsels.

Reverse Chocolate Chip Cookies

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

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makes about 18

  • 50g or 1/4 cup cup soft brown sugar
  • 150g or 2/3rds cup caster sugar
  • 150ml or 2/3rds cup sunflower oil
  • 60ml or 1/4 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 180g or 1 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 25g or 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 50g or 1/2 cup dairy-free white chocolate, chips or chopped
  • (optional) 25g oe 1/4 cup chocolate chips

– Preheat the oven to 160 Degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 3

– Lightly grease two baking sheets

– Whisk together the oil, milk, sugars, vanilla and cornflour. It will combine to form a smooth caramel.

– Sift in the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt. Mix well.

– Fold in the chopped chocolate

– Roll into walnut sized balls, place slightly apart on the baking sheets and flatten a little.

– Bake for 12 minutes

– Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before moving to a wire rack.

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