Mexican Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

I love these cookies – they’re rich, chocolaty, soft and scrumptious! I had a brief time before having children when I wanted to start a cookie business and back then these were some of my absolute favourites.

It does sometimes surprise me which recipes are most popular on my blog. Out of the 500+ recipes, it so often comes back to the same ones again and again. There are many winning recipes that don’t seem to get a second chance, maybe they’re just less known about and therefore less searched for? I first posted this recipe when I initially set up my blog in 2012, and I still absolutely love these cookies. Here I’ve added a variation using aquafaba, so you have a choice of aquafaba or flaxseeds as the binder. Do eat these cookies quickly, they’re best eaten warm for the oven. Or reheat for a couple of minutes before eating to enjoy the crisp exterior and soft cakey centre.

Mexican Chocolate Earthquake Cookies

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

makes about 24

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup melted dairy-free margarine

2 tbsps golden syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

use either:

1/3 cup oat milk and 1 tbsp ground flaxseeds

or use; 1/4 cup dairy-free milk and 3tbsp Aquafaba

100g melted dairy-free chocolate

250g plain flour

2 tbsps cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

large pinch of salt

1 cup of icing sugar to roll dough in

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Sift the icing sugar onto a plate and set aside
  2. In a bowl mix the sugar, dairy-free margarine, syrup, vanilla, oat milk, flax seeds (or aquafaba) and melted chocolate
  3. Sift in the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. It should produce a soft dough
  4. Take tablespoons of mix and roll in the icing sugar. Place on a lined baking sheet and press down slightly
  5. Bake for 12 minutes. Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack.
  6. Best eaten straight away, or next day will do (invite people over or send into school/work!)

Dotty Cookies

Delicious syrup flavoured soft (or crunchy) cookies studded with colourful chocolate beans (a.k.a Smarties), these must surely be the most cheerful cookies around, and just perfect to celebrate the first signs of spring.

Is it just me, or has this winter been endless? I can’t even imagine not wearing a coat and sunshine seems to have been a rare occurrence for such a long time. Whilst I love the cosiness of Winter, I’m seriously craving a bit of light and heat, and seeing the leaves and blossom appear on the trees. Spring, we’re ready for you!

I’ve spent years trying to source ‘safe’ Smarties. Ages ago we could buy ‘Whizzers’ which were a variety of safe colourful chocolate beans and definitely filled the cheerful chocolate hole. Sadly they were discontinued and we’ve had no readily available alternative for a long long time. Sad days 😦

To my delight, I’ve recently come across two new varieties which are occasionally available in the UK. Chocolate No-No’s, made by No Whey Chocolates based in the US and Colourful Chocolate Beans made by Clarana in Germany. Chocolate No-No’s are my preference as they are top 8 free, whereas the Clarana beans are made in a factory which uses peanuts, milk, almonds and nuts and so poses a risk we’re not willing to take. They are the more authentic in taste and look so if you’re happy with a ‘may contain’ then they are probably the ones to opt for.

You may think it rather foolhardy to use two packs of these expensive and hard to source chocolate beans in a cookie recipe? Maybe, but i’ve wanted to make my own version of these colourful and full of fun cookies for such a long time, it seemed like a good use of this scare resourse. They remind me of the Spotty Cookies which always used to be sold in cafes and soft-play centres when my girls were tiny. I’d always see them admiring the pretty dotty cookies and feel sad that i had to hand over a boring box of raisins or some rice cakes instead. It may have been a wait but here is my Dotty Cookie recipe. The chocolate beans seem to remain slightly melted inside for a fair few hours which is a wonderful contrast to the crunchy sugar shell. These were gone in no time, so whilst it may have been a long wait, it was most definitely worth it!

If you don’t want to waste your smarties, these cookies work equally well with chocolate chips instead.

Dotty Cookies

(free-from milk, eggs, nuts, soya, sesame, vegetarian and vegan)

makes about 12

125g dairy-free margarine

80g caster sugar

3 tbsp golden syrup or maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla essence

180g plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch of salt

approx. 100g chocolate beans [you’ll want 6 per cookie]

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/180 degrees Centigrade Fan Oven. Grease two cookie sheets and set aside
  2. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in the syrup and vanilla.
  3. Sift in the flour , bicarbonate, baking powder and salt. Mix to form a soft dough.
  4. Roll into balls the size of ping pongs and gently flatten onto the baking tray
  5. Bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and press the smarties into the top of the cookies, 6 per cookie is ideal.
  7. Return to the oven for minutes. Cool briefly on the trays before transferring to a wire rack.
  8. For a crunchier cookie, change the cooking times to 12 minutes plus another 2 with the beans on.

 

 

Homemade Speculaas Biscuits

I really love making biscuits, I think I like making them more than any other food. There’s something about it that I find relaxing and rewarding. Perhaps I should be listening to myself, maybe a cookie business is the way forward!

Anyway, I’m constantly on the look out for inspiration, be it in supermarkets, bakeries, magazines or online. Seeing something new to experiment with and recreate makes me happy, and happiness in certainly needed in the cold dark days of January. The inspiration for these speculaas biscuits comes from the gorgeous Ottolenghi cookbook ‘Sweet‘ which I got for my birthday. I’m a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi and his food, and as you can imagine a recipe book of his sweet treats is right up my street. These homemade Lotus biscuits caught my eye straight away, and I have to say that with a few tweaks and experiments the resulting ‘friendly’ biscuits are spot on. The spice [and if you can get hold of genuine speculaas spice then all the better – The Speculaas Spice Company makes a really delicious spice blend or use this recipe to make your own] and crisp nature of the biscuits make them the ultimate accompaniment to a cup of tea or coffee.

You may ask why bother when Lotus biscuits are ubiquitous all over Europe? Well, they may be easily found, but in my opinion homemade is generally best and these biscuits would win hands down in any ‘cookie-off’.

Homemade Speculaas Biscuits

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

 

makes about 30

220g plain flour

1/2 tbsp baking powder

1&1/2 – 2 tsp speculaas spice mix

pinch of salt

125g dairy-free margarine

160g soft light brown sugar

20-30ml dairy-free milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 210 degrees C/190 degrees C fan/Gas Mark 6
  2. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy, add 20ml dairy-free milk. The mix may split after this addition, if so add an handful of the flour.
  3. Sieve in the flour, spice, baking powder and salt and bring together to a firm dough. If it remains too crumbly add an extra splash of the milk.
  4. Roll out to the thickness of a pound coin and cut out shapes. Place slightly apart on lined baking sheets and bake for 12 minutes, turning the trays round half way through so they brown evenly. Cool on the trays before moving to a wire rack.
  5. These biscuits keep really well for about one week.

Super Simple Mini Cupcakes – maybe the easiest recipe in the world!

 

It’s the start of birthday season in this household – we all have Autumn birthdays and so it’s a frantic run up to Christmas filled with various celebrations. Obviously, birthdays need cake and as you can imagine all my cakes are homemade.

These teeny tiny cupcakes were probably the first ever dairy and egg-free sweet recipe I devised, but never the less I get requests for them at every birthday! Maybe it’s their size but these miniature cupcakes always go down a treat; they also freeze brilliantly which is fantastic for being prepared for any situation. They can be defrosted and iced ready to take to a birthday party in a flash, making it easy for my daughters not to feel left out when it comes to the all important cake time!

They are light but tasty and can be made any size, and are very easy to flavour with choc chips, essences or dried fruit. Probably the simplest cupcake recipe you’ll ever come across, this is great one to pass to people who want to cater for an egg-free and dairy-free guest without any unusual ingredients, visits to the supermarket or complicated instructions! I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t like them, which really must be the best review going.

Super Simple Mini Cupcakes

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

 

(makes about 12 standard size or around 24 mini cupcakes)

110g plain flour

1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder

pinch salt

50g caster sugar

150ml water

40ml sunflower oil

1/2 tsp vanilla extract or other essence of choice

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and line a muffin/cupcake tin
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Then stir in the sugar
  3. Add flavourings as desired. 40g choc chips or 50g dried fruit plus a splash of extra water
  4. Pour in water and oil and stir until well combined, but don’t over-mix. Some tiny lumps are fine, as with a muffin batter.
  5. 2/3rds fill the cupcake/muffin cases
  6. Bake standard size for 20-25 mins until golden, mini size for 10-15 mins.
  7. Cool and ice if desired.

Hot Cross Scones

 

Get it? Since Easter is all about Hot Cross Buns they have to feature. However, I also love scones, then why not link the two to make some wonderfully seasonal baked goodies which are a little out of the ordinary?

The spicing, with added fruit and peel (if desired), is to my mind, the taste of Easter. Who would have thought it would work so beautifully in scone format (or biscuit as I believe they’re known in the US).

Obviously any Easter recipe must feature a cross so these little spiced scones are topped with a water icing cross which was more effective and maybe a bit more celebratory than a traditional flour paste version.

 

Hot Cross Scones

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

Makes about 12

 

220g plain flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

2 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Up to 100ml dairy-free milk

handful of dried fruit and 2 tbsp mixed peel (optional)

1-2 tbsps granulated sugar

1 tbsp dairy-free milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade/Gas mark 6
  2. Grease and flour a baking sheet
  3. Mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, sugar and spices. Rub in the margarine until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the dried fruit and mixed peel if using.
  4. Pour in some of the oat milk. Gently bring together to form a soft dough (do NOT knead or you’ll end up with rock hard scones!). Add more milk if necessary.
  5. Gently pat out to a circle about 5cm thick. Stamp our circles and place on the baking sheet. Gather up the remaining dough, pat out again and stamp out more circles until all the dough is used up
  6. Brush the tops with dairy-free milk and sprinkle over some granulated sugar
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well risen and golden on the tops and bottoms
  8. Cool on a wire rack

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Have you ever had an an American style coffee cake? Not a coffee flavoured cake which were so popular in the U.K. in the 80s but a spiced cake made to be eaten with coffee?

A few years back I worked on a project in the US Virgin Isles (beautiful Caribbean waters), and we ate an American style diet and as we were very busy, convenience was the key. I have to say the catering, which we took turns to help with, was not always very inspiring, however, crumbly topped spiced coffee cake was one flavour which stayed with me. If I remember correctly, it was a boxed cake mix we used, but certainly not a familiar style of cake in the UK.

 

I’ve tried to recreate my memory with little success over the years, but now I think I’ve cracked it. The sponge is moist and spiced and the topping is sweet, crunchy and crumbly – and indeed does go rather well with a coffee. Handily enough it also makes a great pudding when served with custard. Double bonus to have a recipe with multiple uses up your sleeve.

 

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

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

  • 2 cups self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 cup Bird’s custard powder or corn flour
  • 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine, such as Pure
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup soya yogurt, preferably vanilla flavour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup oat milk

For the filling:

  • 1/4 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

For the streusel topping:

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, such as Pure
  1. Mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling and set aside.
  2. In a bowl stir together the flour, sugar and cinnamon for the streusel topping. Rub in the margarine with your fingertips to make a crumble like consistency. Set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4. Grease and line a spring-form cake tin
  4. Sift together the flour, custard powder or corn flour and bicarbonate and set aside
  5. Mix together the yogurt, oat milk and vanilla and set aside
  6. Cream together the margarine and sugar until light and fluffy
  7.  Alternately add the flour and yogurt mix (about 1/3rd of the mix each time) and whisk well between each addition.
  8. Pour 1/2 of the mix into the cake tin and level off.
  9. Sprinkle over the cinnamon/sugar mix on top, then pour the rest of the cake mix over the top.
  10. Scatter over the streusel mixture and then bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife cones out clean
  11. Cool briefly in the tin before unmoulding.