Triple Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake

In my opinion free-from puddings are much harder that cakes, biscuits or treats. I have a fair few favourites, but i’m always looking for a new exciting pudding option. Do you have a go-to pudding favourite? I’d love some ideas to get excited about ūüôā

Cheesecake is a perennial favourite in this household (it’s even been requested instead of a cake for a birthday before now!), and the larger is still groaning with leftover Easter chocolate, so in a way the decision was made for me. I fairly often make a chocolate cheesecake, so this new version had to stand out and wow the crowd! Since more chocolate is always a crowd pleaser, I’ve created this standout triple chocolate layer cheesecake, to tempt even the most fussy cheesecake afficionadoes!

It may look complicated, with the different layers, but actually it’s very simple. You’ll just have a couple more bowls to wash up, but surely that’s a small price to pay for such a deliciously decadent dessert.

This is a tofu based cheesecake. Sounds unappetising, right? Well, it’s certainly enough to put off my sister in law who will happily devour this saying ‘oh that’s delicious’ until I tell her it’s made from tofu, then she immediately puts her fork down! Tofu really divides people, but when you think about it it’s just a thick paste made from a milk, just like cream cheese; it just needs to be treated right and then it can taste top notch, and this cheesecake is a case in point.

Triple Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake

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

makes one 12 inch cheesecake, enough to serve at least 8

175g crushed biscuits, ideally chocolate flavour

40g dairy-free margarine, melted

350g pack firm silken tofu

100g dairy-free dark chocolate, I particularly like Kinnerton

75g dairy-free white chocolate

5 tbsps golden syrup/maple syrup (or use honey if you’re not vegan)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

grated chocolate to decorate

  1. Melt the dairy-free margarine and stir into the crushed biscuits. Press into the bottom of a loose base tart tin. Place in the fridge to set.
  2. Meanwhile, portion the tofu into 200g and 150g.
  3. In a blender pulse the 200g of silken tofu with 3tbsp syrup/honey until smooth.
  4. Melt the dark chocolate and 1/2 tbsp oil together either over a bain-marie or in a microwave. Stir until smooth.
  5. Carefully stir the chocolate into the tofu mix until well combined.
  6. Pour over the biscuit base. Smooth over the top and then leave to set in the fridge for at least a few hours.
  7. Clean the blender and pulse the remaining 150g of silken tofu with 2 tbsp syrup/honey until smooth.
  8. Melt the white chocolate and 1/2 tsp oil together, stir until smooth.
  9. Carefully stir the white chocolate mixture into the tofu mix. Pour over the set dark-chocolate layer and level off. return to the fridge to set.
  10. Decorate the top as desired, I used grated ‘milk’ dairy-free chocolate.

 

Maple Syrup Flapjacks and the stress of being an ‘allergy family’

Flapjacks must be the ultimate energy giving treat, packed full of oats and sugar and easily transported, they’re definitely the bar to take when snacks will be hard to find, or pure energy is needed due to strenuous activity. I’ve tried many flapjacks recipes and believe me, there are a lot of bad ones out there which resemble sweet sawdust more than an indulgent treat. This recipe on the other hand, is knockout, resulting in such wonderful sweet gooey bars, you’ll definitely be reaching for another one!

If you follow me on FaceBook you may be aware of my recent additional stress from being an ‘allergy mum’. At age 14 we have finally agreed for Big S to go on her first foreign school trip. It has always felt like too much of a responsibility to hand to the staff before, but she’s growing up fast and we had to say yes sometime. Obviously when the trip was first advertised I had a long conversation with the lead teacher about Big S’s requirements. She’s only allergic to milk but they’re going to Northern France where dairy is used in lots of cooking. I was reassured that the hotel had been spoken to, she would safely be catered for, and arrangements could be made for her not to go into an environment where lots of milk could be present in the goats cheese making farm visit. We knew that nonetheless food would still be an challenge, but so far so good.

Then, it all went pear-shaped ūüė¶

Last week we had the presentation about the trip. There was mention that on the final day the children will have to buy their own supper at the shopping centre, or on the ferry on the way home. ¬†I started to feel a bit stressed, her command of French isn’t huge and while we can pack her off with ‘allergy cards’ to show, would she even understand the reply to be confident enough to eat the food? So many worries….

Then it got worse….. I spoke to the lead teacher and she said there was a problem. GULP! The hotel has refused to provide any food at all for Big S. To compensate, the school, has arranged for them to eat supper in a local restaurant which knows of the milk allergy and is happy to cater for her. BUT, she will not be provided with any breakfast or lunch for the entire trip, that’s 4 days! We’ve been given a slight refund and she can take her own snacks, or buy her own food in France. That’s all very well, but how can you take enough food for 4 days? We also know from experience that ready to eat food that is dairy-free is hard to find in France. She’s also a teenager who desperately doesn’t want to stand out as different. So much stress and worry on so many levels! We’re going to have to make plans, research and be extremely organised! I know she will survive (she’ll be very hungry) and still have a wonderful time, but it’s awful to think of sending my daughter to another country with little food provided and little ability to buy much there.

I’ve spoken to many people in the past few days as I’ve been so very stressed and rather tearful about the whole thing, and it’s made me realise that non-allergy families have no idea of the stress we live under all the time. My FaceBook community who ‘get it’ have been extremely supportive, understanding and helpful. Others, who don’t see the issues, much less so. It’s been suggested that i just send her with a few cereal bars and she’ll be fine. Yes, she’ll be fine, but how would they feel about sending their daughter to another country with only a few cereal bars? She can’t go and buy a bar of chocolate to keep herself going. She can’t join her friends in eating a McDonald’s hamburger or buying a crepe in the market when they get hungry. She’ll survive, but a cereal bar doesn’t quite cut it! I guess, as an allergy-mum and in writing this blog, creating safe-recipes etc. I’ve made it my priority to ensure my children are well catered for; it goes against everything I stand for to send her away to such unknown!

Anyway, I will send her with cereal bars (and much much more!), and some of these devilishly good flapjacks. Hopefully she’ll share them with her friends and they’ll provide a good hit of home-made energy and goodness!

Maple Syrup Flapjacks

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

makes about 24

200g dairy free margarine

200g demerara sugar

100g golden syrup

100g maple syrup

400g oats (preferably not giant oats)

1/2 tsp salt (preferably fleur de sel)

  1. Preheat oven to¬†180 degrees Centigrade.¬†Line a 30×20 cm (approx.) baking tray with foil
  2. Melt together the dairy free margarine, sugar, syrups and salt
  3. When the sugar has dissolved mix into the oats and spread into the lined baking tray
  4. Bake for 15-20 mins until golden
  5. Cool well before cutting into bars/squares. Or freeze whole and cut when defrosted.
  6. Try not to eat too many!!

Baked Caramel Cheesecake (dairy-free, nut-free, egg-free)

Are you a baked or unbaked cheesecake fan? I definitely prefer unbaked one but they seem almost distinct desserts to me, more like siblings than twins. So it’s probably a good thing to have a wonderful baked cheesecake in your repertoire as well. In fact, I did some cheesecake research before devising this recipe and it seems that cheesecakes are popular throughout much of the world, with subtle variations but the baked version is more traditional.

There are many vegan recipes for baked cheesecakes but most seem to be made of soaked cashews. Clearly that’s not going to fit with my requirements of being nut-free but also I personally think people are deluding themselves with cashews. To me the resulting concoctions taste like cashew nuts funnily enough – like all nuts they have a strong pervading flavour. It seems like that’s just me as people rave about cashew-based puddings, but I have never come across a cashew product which isn’t inherently nutty. So, yep you guessed it, there are no nuts in my baked cheesecake!

This cheesecake recipe is made using tofu and in my opinion gives amazing results, the texture is completely spot on to replicate the dense, slightly cloying nature of a baked cheesecake, with the bonus prizes of a bit of wobble and squidge. I have to admit that while the results were really authentic, nobody in the family liked it as much as an unbaked cheesecake – I guess we’re just a family that prefers that fresher taste.

To add flavour to tofu which is essentially very bland, I’ve incorporated a few dollops of Lotus caramelised spread, giving a wonderful caramel taste which works so well with a fruit syrup. I’m thinking that chocolate spread or Wow Butter would work well too.

 

Baked Caramel Cheesecake

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan) N.B. contains soya

Makes an 8 inch cheesecake

15 ginger nuts or 18 Lotus biscuits

3 tbsp dairyfree margarine

300g silken tofu

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tbsp dairyfree milk

4 tbsp lotus caramelised spread

4 tbsp icing sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Centigrade
  2. Turn the biscuits into crumbs by either placing in a bag and thumping with a rolling pin or whizzing in a food processor
  3. Melt the margarine and combine with the biscuit crumbs. Press firmly into a springform cake tin and bake for 10 minutes. Cool.
  4. Mix together the cornflour and milk to make a thin paste and set aside.
  5. In a food processor, blend together the tofu cornflour paste, lotus spread and icing sugar until totally smooth.
  6. Pour on top of the biscuit base and level off. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until set with a little wobble in the middle and slightly browned around the edges.
  7. Leave to cool fully in the tin.
  8. Serve with blueberry couli or caramel sauce.

Perfect Cinnamon Swirl Buns

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Who doesn’t love cinnamon buns? Not only are they light, fluffy and sweetly spicy, but they also make your house smell heavenly as you make them. I’ve tried many versions over the years, but never been totally happy with the results until now. As I’ve said before, I often shy away from egg-replacers and prefer to use standard store cupboard essentials. I don’t know why really, it’s just how I like to cook. This is a totally reliable recipe I’ve developed which only uses ingredients you would find in any household store cupboard¬†and can easily be pronounced!

This recipe gave the most perfect results, and they’ve been thoroughly tested with plenty of batches ¬†– the dough is soft and silky without a hint of stickiness and an absolute joy to work with. The filling packs the right kind of¬†cinnamon punch. I do recommend the double whammy of glaze and then icing. The buns themselves are not overly sweet and the glaze gives a wonderful stickiness and everyone likes a drizzle of icing on top!

The addition of sprinkles is totally optional, but does add a little fiesta of summer colour which I find rather appealing in these sweltering hot days.

Cinnamon Buns 

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

makes about 20

 

250-300ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

400g plain flour

2 tsp dried yeast

50g or 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

For the filling:

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

1 tbsp hundreds and thousands sprinkles

For the glaze:

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 tbsp water

2 tbsp pearl sugar/sugar crystals

And/or:

1/4 cup icing sugar

Water to make into a runny paste

sprinkles

  1. Melt the margarine and milk together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot
  2. In a bowl mx together the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, cornflour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mix
  3. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked
  4. Cover and let double in size
  5. Knock back and roll out to a large rectangle
  6. Smear on the dairy-free margarine. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon (and sprinkles if using), then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  7. Cut into even slices – I managed to get 25 small slices from mine
  8. Place on lined and greased baking pans and leave to rise again for another half an hour
  9. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F
  10. Bake for 17-20 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through
  11. Melt the brown sugar with the water and brush over the top and sprinkle with the pearl sugar (if using)
  12. Remove from the pans and peel off the paper
  13. Drizzle with the water icing and add sprinkles if desired

 

Brilliant Bubble and Squeak Cakes

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Brilliant bubble and squeak cakes, dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free

It’s suddenly all about the leftovers. With Christmas over for another year, it’s time to think up ways of eating all the festive foods without feeeling like you’ve eaten the same meal for multiple days in a row. We’re definitely¬†in comfort food territory, food to warm the soul on brisk chilly days, and potatoes lend themselves so well to this.

D and I are fans of the odd cabbage based dish but I’ve never managed to persuade the girls – I guess it’s always been thus with children and cabbage.¬†But hidden in potato could work?

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The brilliant part of these bubble and squeak cakes is that they’re naturally dairy-free, with no fat included in the recipe to bind them together – sure you have to roast the mini potatoes originally, and then fry them to give a crispy outside but it’s not so naughty.¬†The potato cake¬†is also the most fabulous carrier of any green veg really, enrobing it in comforting mashed and roasted potato.¬†I’ve always found the name very appealing too, the bubble and squeak being from the sound makes while cooking.

I’ve used cabbage here, but this recipe will work brilliantly with chopped up roasties from your Christmas or Sunday lunch, and any leftover veg you fancy. Try these with any left-overs or as part of a full English breakfast. Veggies and non veggies will love these.

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Bubble and Squeak Cakes

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

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free-from potato cakes

Serves 4

2 large baking potatoes, baked and still warm

2-3 small to medium potatoes, cut into small cubes

Green or cabbage of choice, shredded and blanched

Salt and pepper

  1. Roast the potato cubes in oil and seasoning (plus any herbs optional) for about 30-40 minutes at 180 degrees centigrade, until golden and crispy. Set aside.
  2. Using a potato ricer (my preference), rice the insides of the large cooked baked potatoes. (Keep the skins to make stuffed potato skins!). Stir in the mini roasties and cabbage/greens, season well.
  3. Press into a ring that is on baking paper and then place in the fridge to firm up.
  4. Fry in flavourless oil until golden on each side and then transfer to a hot oven for 15 minutes.
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veggie full English with bubble and squeak cakes

Mustardy potato and green bean salad

potato and green bean salad

It’s still Jersey Royal season, and I’m determined to¬†use this wonderful seasonal produce as much as possible, while it’s still at its best. Most people prefer new potatoes very simply boiled, I like to cook them ‘en papillotte’ – so simple and no chance of getting them waterlogged. But still we’ve started to tire of them that way too, which is such a shame when they’re so wonderfully delicious.

So, here is a stunner of a potato salad recipe to fire up your imagination and add a bit of interest to your new potatoes when you’ve tired of the¬†traditional recipes. As far away from a mayo-based traditional creamy affair as possible, and all the better for it, the strong¬†mustardy dressing adds powerful background¬†flavour and warmth, pepped up with the twang of shallots, chives and pretty chive flowers. The idea of honey in the dressing may seem crazy – honey with¬†potatoes anyone? – but it¬†is¬†only a light¬†touch which lifts the mustardy flavours without giving any noticeable sweet effect. The green beans add a little¬†green crunch and I recommend¬†them, although the salad remains almost as majestic without.

I can see this becoming my go-to potato salad recipe this summer.

Mustardy Potato and Green Bean Salad (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan) N.B. contains mustard

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200g new potatoes, boiled whole in their skins until tender
100g fine green beans
1 small bunch of chives, finely chopped
Chive flowers to garnish (optional)

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For the dressing;

1 tbsp whole grain mustard (yes really)
1 tbsp wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/2 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

  1. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
  2. Top and tail the green beans and cut in half, blanch for 3-4 minutes and then plunge in cold water. Boil or steam the potatoes, until tender.
  3. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut into chunky slices and pour over 2/3rds of the dressing. Gently toss to combine. Leave to fully cool.
  4. Once cool, stir in the blanched green beans, chives and the additional dressing. Garnish with chive flowers.
  5. This salad is best eaten at room temperature.

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