Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

 

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It’s not long until Easter, so definitely time for some seasonal baking, and Easter is not Easter without hot cross buns. I made some friendly hot cross buns when I first started blogging and they’ve become a firm favourite. But with my children’s aversion to dried fruit, I concocted this variation that appeals more to them. This recipe also leaves out the flax seed egg-replacer – I seem to have moved away from replacers and prefer to adjust recipes so they don’t need them instead.

The addition of chopped chocolate may be slightly unconventional, but the resulting buns are delightfully aromatic and tasty with the bonus prize of the chocolate going oozy and gooey when the buns are toasted.

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Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

2 cups warm oat milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free spread

100g dairy-free chocolate, chopped

for the crosses:

2 tbsp flour

3 tbsp water

for the glaze:

2 tbsp sugar

2 tbsp water

  1.  In a large bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and pour in the oat milk and dairy-free spread, bring together to form a dough (adding more flour if too wet, or more liquid if too dry)
  2. Knead for about 5 mins until the dough is smooth
  3. Place in a bowl and cover, leave in a warm place to double in size
  4. Knock back, knead again and then form into 9-12 even sized balls. Place well spaced on a baking sheet lined with grease proof paper
  5. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  6. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  7. Bake at 190 degrees/Gas Mark 5 for 20 minutes until risen and the buns sound hollow
  8. Make the glaze by dissolving the sugar in the water and boiling briefly. Brush over the hot buns.
  9. Leave to cool on a wire rack.
  10. These buns are best kept loosely covered or the glaze will make them go a bit soggy.

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Blackberry Truffles

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Suddenly there are blackberries aplenty in the hedgerows – but you have to be quick before they’re snaffled by eager jam makers, or sadly wither on the bramble. A thousand miles better than any commercially available, tart, large, perfect blackberries. The small squishy shining black gems found in the wild are packed full of flavour, sweet and waiting to burst into a smear of purple black juice. The hedges near our house had a reasonable harvest, but not enough for any extravagantly filled pie, tart or jam…. so it was time for thinking caps on!

My lovely brother gave me some rather wonderful handmade chocolate from ‘Melt’ which was flavoured with blackberry and cinnamon. I was rather taken with the berry / chocolate combination, but found the cinnamon not to my taste. These are rolled in a mixture of icing sugar and purple edible sugar (not that you can notice the glitter!) as I’d run out of my first choice of cocoa powder. In the end I think they look rather pretty with the contrasting coating. Feel free to roll the truffle balls in anything you like, or nothing at all.

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

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makes about 16-20

  • 1 cup blackberries
  • 1-2 tbsp caster sugar (taste the blackberries to see how tart or sweet they are)
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 100g dairy-free dark chocolate, such as Kinnerton
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup, maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp dairy-free milk
  • 2 tbsp sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp edible glitter (optional)

– Place the blackberries, sugar and water into a saucepan and cook down until all the berries have burst and made a jammy texture

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– Pass through a fine sieve to remove all the pips and pour back into the saucepan
– Reduce until the liquid has thickened and is only about 2 tbsps worth – this will give you a lovely intense blackberry flavour
– Set aside to cool
– Meanwhile, melt together the chocolate, syrup and milk until smooth and silky and no lumps remain
– Stir in the reduce blackberry syrup and leave in a cool place to harden. It has to be firm enough to roll into balls, but not so firm that it has reformed into a solid lump!
– Put the sieved icing sugar into a shallow bowl (mix in the glitter if you are using)
– With damp hands roll the truffle mix into cherry sized balls, then roll each one in the icing sugar
– These keep well for up to 1 week

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Rose Creams

I had a sudden panic today – my last free day before Christmas and I was lacking a couple of presents. Eek, disaster! It certainly wasn’t a day to go shopping – far too much cooking on (of course) and other stuff around the house. So, it was a rummage in the cupboards that led me to come up with this idea for rose creams, using up some of the delightful crystallised rose petals that I bought in Provence in the summer, although you can make them without. These are just a floral variation on my peppermint cream recipe, which has proved to be a winner, and still generates lots of interest around the web. I’ve also in the past made orange creams. These are the same idea really, and I think rose creams would make an elegant gift to give to any relative. It may not seem like much rosewater compared to other ingredients, but a little goes a very long way, so don’t feel you aren’t putting enough in.

Rose Creams (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free [depending on chocolate used], sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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makes about 30

  • 2 1/2 tbsps dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1/2 tsp rosewater
  • 1 few drops of red food colouring
  • 85-100g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 1-2 large crystallised rose petals

– Place the sifted icing sugar in a large bowl.

– Add the melted spread, rosewater, food colouring and water and mix to form a soft (but not sticky) dough. If it’s too wet add more icing sugar, if too dry, add more water.

– Knead lightly on a surface dusted with icing sugar.

– Roll out to 1/2 – 1/4 cm thickness and cut out shapes with a cookie cutter, I opted for flower shapes.

– Place on a lined baking sheet and leave for a couple of hours or overnight in a cool dry place to dry out. Make sure you turn them over so they dry on both sides.

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– Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a bain marie.

– Dip the dried shapes in the melted chocolate, making sure they are well coated.

– If possible, decorate the top of each with a piece of crystallised rose petal.

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– Place back on the lined baking sheet and leave to set in the fridge.

– Keep refrigerated.

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Strawberry and Rose Chocolate Discs

I think most people love a luxury chocolate some time or another, but with a dairy and nut-free diet they can be hard to come by. A restricted diet shouldn’t mean plain foods and no luxuries. The solution, as usual, is to make your own! And really it only takes minutes to do.

Big S loves berries and floral scents so it was with her in mind that I combined rose water and freeze dried strawberries. This is an elegant, lady-like fine chocolate, just make sure to keep in the fridge.

Rose and Strawberry Chocolate Discs (dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)

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Makes 10-12

  • 1 85g pack dairy-free dark chocolate, I used Kinnerton
  • 1/2 tsp rose water
  • 2-3 tbsps freeze dried strawberries

– Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a Bain Marie
– Line a cookie sheet with baking paper
– Stir the rose water into the melted chocolate
– Place dollops onto the baking paper and spread thin
– Scatter over the dried strawberries
– Place in the fridge to set

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Crispy Chocolate Tiffin

Everyone seems to love a good Tiffin, or chocolate refrigerator cake, children especially, making it the ideal treat to have in for teatime treats for when children come round to play. It’s not really a complicated recipe at all and everyone has their own favoured versions, but this version is somewhere between classic Tiffin and chocolate crispy cakes with vegetarian marshmallows. And it went down a storm.

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

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makes enough for a 1 lb loaf tin

  • 150g chocolate biscuits, I used Tesco Bourbon
  • 1 1/2 cups rice Krispies
  • 1/4 cup dried fruit of choice, I used dried strawberries
  • 100g dairy-free dark chocolate, roughly broken
  • 3 tbsps dairy-free spread
  • 3 tbsps golden syrup
  • 1 small pack of marshmallows, I used Freedom Vegetarian Marshmallows

– Line a loaf tin with parchment

– Roughly break up the biscuits, you want some fine and some chunky bits.

– Mix together the broken biscuits, rice krispies, dried fruit and marshmallows.

– In a microwave or over a bain-marie, melt together the chocolate, spread and golden syrup.

– Pour over the dry ingredients and mix well until everything is well covered.

– Pour into the prepared loaf tin and press down to level off the surface.

– Place in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.

– Cut into even sized cubes and watch them being devoured!

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Orange Creams

Homemade chocolates are such a treat – especially if your bought options are limited. I think the combination of chocolate and orange is a good one – so here’s a variation of my peppermint creams, turned fragrant and fruity with orange essence. Just like the mint version, these are an ideal cooking project with children and make a wonderful gift or after-dinner treat.

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

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makes about 24

  • 2 1/2 tbsps dairy-free spread, melted
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 cups icing sugar, sifted
  • 1-2 tsps orange extract
  • 150g dairy-free dark chocolate

– Place the sifted icing sugar in a large bowl.

– Add the melted spread, orange extract and water and mix to form a soft (but not sticky) dough. If it’s too wet add more icing sugar, if too dry, add more water.

– Knead lightly on a surface dusted with icing sugar.

– Roll out to 1/2 – 1/4 cm thickness and cut out disc shapes with a cookie cutter.

– Place on a lined baking sheet and leave overnight in a cool dry place to dry out. Make sure you turn them over so they dry on both sides.

– Melt the chocolate in a microwave or over a bain marie.

– Dip the dried orange patties in the melted chocolate, making sure they are well coated.

– Place back on the lined baking sheet and leave to set in the fridge.

– Keep refrigerated.

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