Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

I haven’t posted a cupcake recipe for an age. I don’t know why because I’m often making them, tinkering away with the flavours and designs, and they always go down a treat.

These were inspired by our current new obsession, caramel chocolate. We used to buy those delicious Choices caramel chocolates all the time as a special treat but I haven’t seen them for sale in ages. Have they been discontinued? Sad times if so as they were truly scrumptious.

Luckily the new Nomo brand from Kinnerton has come to our rescue with these utterly moreish caramel chocolate bars. I slightly miss the oozy caramel filling but the taste of these is spot on gorgeous and besides you can’t have everything!

So here we have chocolate caramel cupcakes – enjoy 😊

(I must apologise about the piping though, my last piping bag split so I had to improvise, hence all the varying and unusual looks! They still taste great though 😀 )

Chocolate Caramel Cupcakes

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

makes 12

175g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

25g cocoa powder

100ml sunflower oil

150ml dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

pinch of salt

1/2 tsp caramel essence

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 5
  2. Mix together the dairy-free milk, lemon juice, essence and oil. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Add the bicarb to the wet ingredients and stir.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix to thoroughly combine.
  6. 2/3 rds fill the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Caramel Chocolate Buttercream 

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

Enough to spread on 12 cupcakes, double the mix to pipe luscious mounds of buttercream!

1/3 cup dairy-free margarine
2 tbsps vegetable fat such as Trex
1/3 cup cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp caramel essence plus a splash of dairy-free milk

  1.  Whisk together the fats.
  2. Add the cocoa and whisk well.
  3. Whisk in the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, adding the essence and a splash or so of milk.
  4. Pipe or spread onto the cupcakes.
  5. top with 1/2 a square of Nomo Caramel Chocolate

 

Rich Chocolate Sorbet

It’s not often that we swelter like this – well that used to be the case, who knows for the future 😦

All anyone is thinking or talking about is the heat! I do love how us Brits are totally obsessed with the weather and talk above it over any other ongoing national crisis.

Even I, with my constant baking and cooking, have had to turn off the oven to cope with the extreme heat. But that won’t stop me experimenting and tinkering with flavours 😉

After a little hiccup from the new divine Nomo chocolate (made by Kinnerton so safely free-from) the other week where they copied and pasted some of my old recipes onto their website without crediting me, I have been gifted a year’s supply of chocolate. [p.s I have not been paid in any way for this recipe, the free chocolate was due to their mistake and I’m making full use of it!] In fact we now have so much chocolate in the house that I’m having to cook with it even more than usual, and usual is really really often! I was so disappointed when I first noticed they had used my recipes without asking or crediting, but delighted that they have turned out to be the brand I hoped they were; there are now full credits on the website and they’ve suggested future collaboration which i’m really excited about 🙂

So with masses of chocolate to happily get through and a heatwave in progress, my thoughts turned to chocolate sorbet. As I’ve mentioned before we’re big sorbet fans in this household and the thought of turning some delicious chocolate into a light, fresh and refreshing pudding seemed just right.

It turns out that chocolate sorbet is totally delicious. It’s lighter than ice cream, full of chocolate flavour and quicker to set than fruity sorbets. I made the mix at lunchtime and it was acceptably frozen by the evening (see the final photo after the recipe), even better by the next day or later in the week. I don’t have an ice cream maker to churn the sorbet so my version is a little grainy, but I actually find that quite pleasant as the grainy bits are like tiny chocolate chips, giving both added flavour and texture.

Chocolate Sorbet

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

serves 6

200g caster sugar

40g cocoa powder

400ml water

70g dairy-free chocolate, finely chopped

  1. mix together the sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan. Pour in the water gradually to avoid any lumps of cocoa
  2. Dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes to make a chocolate sugar syrup.
  3. place the finely chopped chocolate into a bowl, and slowly pour over the sugar syrup. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Cool.
  4. Pour into a Tupperware box and place in the freezer. Every couple of hours stir through with a fork to get rid of any large ice crystals. Once a sorbet texture is obtained, simply keep in the freezer ready to scoop.
  5. or, cool the chocolate mix, then pour into your ice cream machine and churn as indicated by the manufacturers instructions.

Trail Mix Picnic Bars

If you’re heading outside this weekend you’ll be wanting to make these trail mix picnic bars to fuel your adventures. They’re full of the energy giving goodness (and fun) of trail mix packed into gooey chocolate coated crispy bars, perfect for sustenance on the go.

The pretzels add a salty, savoury note to the biscuits and cereal which is most moreish. You could almost say these along with a large drink of water could replace the sugars and salts lost during strenuous exercise – then again you could just say they’re yummy!

I’ve added dried fruit as I think it’s an important addition into any trail mix but it is fully optional. However, photographed bars don’t contain any dried fruit as my children would have refused to eat them if they had! Feel free to substitute nut or seed butter for the Biscoff spread if you can wish/can, which will give another dimension to the bars.

Ideally made the day before, these bars can also be made at the last minute as long as they have some setting time in the fridge or freezer.

Trail Mix Picnic Bars

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

makes 16 small bars, multiple recipe for more

40g salted pretzels, roughly crushed – keep 10g aside for the topping

30g biscuits, roughly crushed (I used Lotus Biscoff)

60g cereal of choice, I used an old pack of Cocoa Pops

30g dried fruit of choice (optional)

100g golden syrup

50g Lotus Biscoff spread

25g sugar

85g dairy-free dark chocolate

Handful of sprinkles

  1. Line a 2lb loaf tin
  2. Melt together the syrup, sugar and biscoff spread until it’s a smooth caramel consistency
  3. Mix in the crushed biscuits, 30g of the crushed pretzels, the cereal and dried fruit
  4. Tip into the lined loaf tin and press down, making the mixture nice and level off. Place in the fridge to set.
  5. Melt the chocolate and spread over the set mix. Sprinkle on the extra pretzels and a handful of sprinkles. Return to the fridge. When the chocolate has fully set, cut into 16 even sized bars. Keep covered in the fridge.

Chocolate and Lime Tart

Everyone needs a showstopper dessert recipe made from simple store cupboard ingredients, and this one certainly fits the bill. Most people love chocolate and will sigh with delight when a rich chocolate pudding is produced, combine that with the delicate, elegant look of a tart and you’re surely onto a winner!

I’ve made this chocolate tart many many times and it always goes down a treat. This version is pepped up with a hint of zesty lime for added freshness, and it just seemed to make it more seasonal.

The filling is super simple; a mixture of chocolate, dairy-free milk, sugar and cornflour but the end result has the luscious taste and texture of a super rich chocolate truffle. Combine that with crisp pastry and you’re in heaven!

Served on its own or with a side of dairy-free whipped cream decorated with a sprinkle of lime zest and you have a dessert fit for any occasion

Chocolate and Lime Tart

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

makes 1 tart

150ml dairy-free milk

100ml water

3 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp corn flour

170g dairy free dark chocolate, chopped

2 tsp vanilla extract

zest of 1 lime

sprinkle of quality salt

1/2 block shortcrust pastry

  1. Line the tart case with shortcrust pastry, prick all over, fill with baking beans and blind bake.
  2. Once it’s browned and the edges have cooked through [about 15 minutes in a medium oven] remove the beans and crisp up the base [another 5 or so minutes]
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling. Place the water and dairy-free milk and sugar into a saucepan and gently heat.
  4. Take 1 tbsp of the warmed milk mixture and mix to a smooth paste with the cornflour
  5. Pour the cornflour mix into the oat milk and stir well, bring to a bubbling boil and add the vanilla.
  6. Place the chopped chocolate into a bowl. Pour over the hot oat milk and stir to until its a smooth mixture. Season with a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour into the chocolate into the pastry case. Level off, sprinkle over the lime zest and salt and refrigerate for a few hours until set.
  8. Serve thin slices (it’s very rich) with a dairy-free cream topped with a little more lime zest.

 

Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

I do love a loaf cake. They seem more casual and everyday than a round cake, and you can concentrate on flavour rather than fancy adornments. I also find them very useful to whip up for a pudding, tea time treat or snack at short notice; without the icing a cake can be made from start to finish in under an hour (with most of that time in the oven).

This particular recipe produces the most amazingly textured cake – it has what Mary Berry would call a good crumb! It also keeps fantastically well for a few days, so a loaf cake made on a Sunday can be used as an after school snack, or lunch box filler for the whole week.

I’ve added a good amount of some of the new Nomo chocolate from Kinnerton as I know my children love anything with chocolate in, but this cake would also work fantastically well with the addition of glace cherries, dried fruit or even handful of fresh berries.

Chocolate Chip Loaf Cake

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

makes 1 2lb loaf

250g or 2 cups self-raising flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

30g or 1/4 cup corn flour

pinch of salt

115g or 1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

200g or 1 cup sugar

180g or 3/4 cup dairy-free yogurt

1 tsp vanilla extract

170 ml or 3/4 cup dairy-free milk

35g dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped

35g dairy-free creamy chocolate, chopped

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/gas mark 4
  2. Line a 2lb loaf tin
  3. Sift together the flour, corn flour, bicarbonate and salt and set aside
  4. Mix together the yogurt, dairy-free milk and vanilla and set aside
  5. Cream together the spread and sugar until light and fluffy
  6. Alternately add the flour and yogurt mix (about 1/3rd of the mix each time) and whisk well between each addition.
  7. Stir in the chopped chocolate
  8. Pour into the loaf tin and level off
  9. Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a knife cones out clean
  10. Cool briefly in the tin before unmoulding.

Brunch Bars – the cereal bars of your dreams

Cereal bars seem to be big news. I don’t buy them (it’s rare to find a nut and dairy-free cereal bar) and don’t often venture down the ‘bar’ aisle of the supermarket. I happened to wander down it the other day and was utterly overwhelmed by the amount and variety of bars on offer. They really must be a ‘thing’ for lots of people.

I certainly get the point – a mid-morning snack with a healthy vibe (whether that is true or not is another matter!) must be a good idea. It stuck me that maybe we needed a friendly cereal bar in our lives, one to act as breakfast on the hoof or as an interesting addition to these daily triple packed lunches I seem to be making.

This recipe took a while to evolve, but the wait was worth it, these bars are seriously good. I’ve been eating them all week, and I’m not a cereal bar eater! They combine granola (homemade in this case) for flavour and texture with rice crispies for crunch. This is enrobed in a delicious mix of sugar, syrup and biscoff spread. Nut or seed butter would work wonderfully and give a ‘nutty’ undertone if you can tolerate it. Don’t worry if you don’t have safe granola just sub for oats (ideally toasted) and a handful of dried/freeze-dried fruit of choice. There must be some shop bought dairy-free and nut-free granola available, but I’ve not come across it. Do let me know of any recommendations.

I definitely recommend the chocolate drizzle – not only does it look nice but it also gives a touch of luxury. Besides, chocolate is always a good addition!

Brunch Cereal Bars

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

makes 6 large bars

100g granola

25g rice krispies

60g caster sugar

90g golden or maple syrup, or use honey

50g Biscoff spread (or nut/seed/wow butter of choice)

20g dark dairy-free chocolate

  1. Melt together the sugar, syrup and biscoff spread until you have a thick smooth mixture
  2. Stir in the granola and rice krispies and stir until everything is coated in the rich caramel sauce
  3. Press into a baking tin lined with parchment. I used a 2lb loaf tin which is perfect for the amount quoted about. If you want to make more, double the quantities and use a standard square baking tin.
  4. Place in the fridge or a cool place to set.
  5. Melt the chocolate and drizzle over, leave to set.
  6. Cut into 6 bars.