No bake cookies and cream cheesecake

Cheesecake, albeit a dairy-free version is the most popular pudding in this household, in fact it’s always been one of my favourites ever since I was a child, however our preference is always a no-bake version. The close textured, some might say cleggy consistency of the baked version is less to my taste, whereas the no bake type has a freshness that I particularly like. It’s also a breeze to make which is always a bonus!

We always preferred Tofutti for cheesecakes as the texture and subtle sweetness was exactly right, but sadly we haven’t been able to buy any in the UK for a couple of years. We tried to make do with other brands for a while but they were never quite right, often with too much of a fake cheesy flavour for our liking. However, since Oatly have released their creamy spread we have a firm new favourite. In my opinion it’s a fantastic creamy cheese alternative, mild yet creamy and a brilliant spread to use in a cheesecake. Combine this with dairy-free whippable cream and you have a cheesecake with the texture of clouds – utterly divine.

Another fairly new find has been the Tesco free-from bourbons – Little S used to love Tesco bourbon biscuits so much but they sadly changed the recipe and they now have a sesame warning, which is too much of a risk for Little S so we have to avoid her favourite biscuits – sad days 😦

Luckily, Tesco have produced a new free-from version, they’re not quite the same but a pretty good substitute and they’ve made us very happy. Combined these crushed up chocolate cookies with the cloud like cheesecake mix and you have a heavenly dessert. Go on, make it this bank holiday weekend and you’ll have some very happy family or guests 🙂

No Bake Cookies and Cream Cheesecake

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

makes 1 cake

200g cookies, 150g finely crushed for the base 50g roughly crushed for the filling and topping

50g dairy-free margarine

4-5tbsp icing sugar, to taste

1 tub Oatly creamy spread

I carton whippable oatly cream

  1. Crush the cookies, trying to keep some a little bigger for mine through the cheesecake. Place 150g of the crushed cookies into a bowl, add the melted margarine and stir. Press into the bottom of a tin (springform is easiest) and place in the fridge to set
  2. Whip the Oatly whipping cream until it is the texture of whipped cream, add the icing sugar and creamy spread and whip until it’s all beautifully combined.
  3. Take a few spoonfuls aside and place into a piping bag if you wish to decorate with rosettes.
  4. Fold the remaining crushed cookies into the cheesecake. Spoon onto the chilled base and smooth over. Place in the fridge for at least half an hour to set.
  5. Remove the tin and decorate with any remaining cookie crumbs and rosettes of whipped cream.
  6. This cheesecake keeps in the fridge for about 3 days

Rhubarb Granita

There’s a lot of rhubarb around at the moment, but what to do when it’s a scorcher of a day and rhubarb crumble is not the most ideal dish for the menu? Why not try this gorgeous candy floss pink, icy and refreshing rhubarb granita instead? Maybe you think you’re not a rhubarb fan? Well this recipe has converted rhubarb haters after one just one taste and this frozen pud will delight everyone either in the hot weather like today or as a wonderfully interesting palette cleanser.

This granita has none of the bitter, sour stringyness you can get from a bad rhubarb dessert, instead it’s tangy, sweet but sour and really rather delightful. The tart zingy icy crystals are wonderfully refreshing and you’ll be sure to look at rhubarb in a whole new light. I added grenadine this time for added colour and a touch a sweet fruitiness but it’s still delicious without. Go on give it a go, and let me know what you think 🙂

Rhubarb Granita

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

makes enough for 4-6 portions

400g rhubarb

150g sugar

150ml water

1-2 tbsp grenadine (optional)

1. Wash the rhubarb and chop into 5cm lengths.

2. Place in a saucepan with the sugar and water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and let it bubble along for up to 30 minutes until the rhubarb has completely broken down.

3. Strain through and fine sieve and let the liquid cool. Stir in the grenadine if using.

4. Place in a container and freeze until just frozen (at least a few hours in the freezer). Break up with a fork and enjoy the tart tangy icy crystals

Pear Tart Tatin

You will notice a theme in the coming weeks of comfort and joyful foods that will hopefully brighten your day (as well as mine when I develop and make them) and help us through this darkest of Januarys.
I still find it mind boggling that only a year ago we had no idea what the last year would bring and our lives would turn out so differently. We’ve been lucky with work carrying on from home and schools doing a fantastic job of offering great education from home, but I know it hasn’t been so easy for many many others. People getting seriously ill, losing jobs, struggling with their mental health and opportunities disappearing out the window. It’s just all so sad; i don’t notice on a normal day but then you go into town and see everything shut and it dawns on you that the world is a different place to a few short months ago. Like everyone, I do so hope things get better and we can return to some kind of normality soon.

But in the meantime, what we need is serious comfort food; a great big hug on a plate! Surely a Tart Tatin, with it’s crisp and flaky base topped with delicious caramel and juicy fruit must be the epitome of feel good food.

I think people presume a Tart Tatin is difficult to make but it’s so easy and you only need a few ingredients to make a delicious drool-worthy tart. Apparently created by a happy mistake, the beauty of a good tart Tatin is that a little bit of scruffiness only adds to the appeal. A normal Tart Tatin is laden with butter but you really wouldn’t notice the difference with my friendly version.

Pear Tart Tatin

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

serves 4-6

100g caster sugar

30g dairy-free margarine

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 pears, peeled , cored and cut into 12 wedges each

1/2 pack dairy-free puff pastry (about 250g)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Centigrade
  2. Roll out the pastry and cut out a circle a little bigger than the top of the pan you’re going to use.
  3. Place an oven-proof pan (if you have one) on a medium heat. Add the sugar and let is dissolve until it forms a light golden caramel. Carefully add the margarine and cinnamon (it will splatter a bit) and swirl to combine. Add the pear slices and turn over in the caramel so they are nicely coated.
  4. Either pour into an oven proof dish or use the one you made the caramel in. Neatly arrange the pear slices and let cool for a few minutes
  5. Place the pastry circle on top and tuck the edges in
  6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry has puffed up and is golden all over
  7. Let cool for a couple of minutes, then place a plate on top of the pan and quickly invert the dish.
  8. Serve wedges with ice cream or dairy-free pouring cream

White Chocolate Cheesecake

Cheesecake of the diary-free variety is the most popular pudding in this household. It has even been requested instead of a birthday cake, which is quite some praise! We’ve always preferred Tofutti as the cream cheese substitute due to the smooth creamy texture and mild flavour. So many dairy-free cream cheeses seem to want to make their product ‘cheesy’ tasting which is (in my opinion) neither authentic nor nice. A conventional cream cheese has a mild, creamy and smooth nature which is not happily replaced by an overly cheesy tasting grainy affair! As you can tell, we’re quite particular about cream cheese substitutes, but that is only because so many of them are frankly awful. Sadly Tofutti is no longer available in the UK – when I last contacted them they were looking for a new distributor but it seems that it is another thing that’s Covid has got in the way of. I still do Tofutti google searches almost weekly but to no avail 😦

So needs must and we have had to make do with Violife which is probably the next best choice after Tofutti (although using it in a bagel like we did with Tofutti is maybe best avoided!).

I have made a delicious Ottolenghi white chocolate and honey cheesecake a few times and have really wanted to make the recipe ‘friendly’. In fact, the addition of white chocolate not only tempers any cheesiness but also gives a fantastic set cheesecake texture. All in all the combination of white chocolate and tart yogurt with the dairy-free cream cheese gives a wonderful finish and I’d thoroughly recommend giving it a go.

It may be January and the time for resolutions and health, but everything is so grim and bleak right now that a celebratory decadent white chocolate cheesecake is just the ticket! I’ve served mine with homemade blueberry compote but a drizzle of honey, or any fruity sauce would make a wonderful finishing touch.

White Chocolate Cheesecake

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

serves 6-8

125g ginger or biscoff biscuits, crushed

40g dairy-free margarine, melted

170g dairy-free cream cheese

50g dairy-free greek style yogurt

20g icing sugar, sifted

zest of 1/2 a lemon

100g dairy-free white chocolate, melted

  1. Mix the melted margarine with the crushed biscuits and press into the base of a spring-form tin. Place in the fridge to firm up
  2. Whisk together the cream cheese, yogurt, icing sugar and zest until totally smooth
  3. Stir in the melted white chocolate until fully combined
  4. Pour over the biscuit base and level off. Place in the fridge for a least an hour to set
  5. Remove the tin and serve in slices drizzled with fruit compote, sauce or a honey

Christmas Biscoff and Chocolate Truffle Pots

These little chocolate pots are a genius, quick and fail safe recipe. You can make them in minutes but people are always wowed by the rich decadent result. They’re basically my version of those little Gu pots that everyone seems to love. They may look tiny, and they are pretty small but they’re so rich you really don’t need much to feel like you’ve had a satisfying pudding.

These are perfect for that special occasion when you’ve not got a suitable pudding – a few staple ingredients and a couple of minutes later (with half an hour or so chilling time in the fridge) you have a rich and delicious delight.

This is my Christmas version with a layer of biscoff spread underneath to add that festive spice vibe and then topped with festive sprinkles. I guarantee that these will go down a storm!

Christmas Chocolate and Biscoff Truffle Pots

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

serves 4

125g dairy-free chocolate, such as Nomo

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

60ml cup dairy-free cream, I used Oatly

6 tsp Biscoff spread

Sprinkles to decorate

  1. Place all the ingredients (except the biscoff spread) in a saucepan and melt together over a gentle heat (or in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds).
  2. Stir until smooth and unctuous.
  3. Place 1 tsp of biscoff spread at the bottom of each glass or ramekin
  4. Pour the chocolate mixture over the top. Tap on the work surface to get rid of any little bubbles.
  5. Add festive sprinkles
  6. Chill until ready to eat. (I like to remove them from the fridge about 10 minutes before eating for a more velvety texture, straight out of the fridge they’re more like a truffle)

Incredible Triple Chocolate Brownies

At times like this where everything is so odd and uncertain, there is one thing for sure and that’s that we need comfort, joy and chocolate!

These triple chocolate brownies really are incredible. Made with only a little flour so you can eek out your supplies and just a few cupboard essentials, meaning that you should be able to create this chocolatey hug without having to venture to the supermarket . Really the supermarket is a mission that I really wouldn’t recommended right now, not only does it take twice as long due to quests to get in and also pay but why are there so many people who seem to think they’re immune to social distancing. I seriously feel stressed out and a little traumatised by my visit this week!

So my advice is; stay in, stay safe and make these brownies and for a little while everything might feel right with the world 🙂

Incredible Triple Chocolate Brownies

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

makes 9 large brownies

4 tbsp cocoa powder

150g self-raising flour

110g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 tbsp flavourless oil, I use sunflower

250ml dairy-free milk

70g dairy-free chocolate, melted

50g dairy-free chocolate chips, or equal amount of chopped chocolate

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Line a brownie tin with parchment
  2. In a bowl, mix together the cocoa, self-raising flour, caster sugar and salt.
  3. Pour in the oil, milk and vanilla and mix to form a smooth batter
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate (this will make the batter much stiffer and far richer)
  5. Stir in 2/3rds of the chocolate chips
  6. Transfer to the lined brownie tin and level off.
  7. Sprinkle over the remaining chocolate chips
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should be a bit gooey looking in the middle. Cool fully in the tin before cutting into portions.

Decadent Chocolate Braid

With days starting to merge into each other in Coronavirus lockdown (and it’s only day 9!) I’m determined to somehow make each day different and special.

It may be an annoyance , a bit scary and frankly a bit like living through a disaster movie, but there are also positives we need to focus on to stop feeling overwhelmed by the situation. It’s an enforced opportunity to take a pause, to reconnect as a family and focus on the simpler things in life: I’m really enjoying seeing my mum and brother on ‘Houseparty’ a few times each day, being creative with the food and resources we have in the house and trying to make our food as exciting as possible.

This chocolate braid is a fabulous recipe – it’s quick and easy but looks impressive and tastes totally luxurious. It would make a very indulgent breakfast if you’re missing pain au chocolat, a seriously good pudding with cream or ice cream, or just a naughty work from home snack!

Decadent Chocolate Braid

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

serves 4-6

1/2 pack of puff pastry, ready rolled is easiest as it’s nice an rectangular!

1/3 cup caster sugar

2 tbsp cocoa powder

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine

50g dairy-free chocolate, finely chopped [optional]

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade and line a baking sheet with baking paper
  2. Mix together the caster sugar, margarine, cocoa powder to form a soft paste. Set aside.
  3. Roll or unfold the pastry. Imagine it is 3 columns and spread the chocolate paste over the middle column leaving a little gap at each end. Sprinkle over the chopped chocolate
  4. Cut the edge columns with diagonal slices, 1cm apart the whole way down. This should mean you get to remove a triangle at the top.
  5. Fold over the top flap of pastry and then alternating sides, cross over a pastry ribbon from each side until you get to the bottom
  6. Brush with dairy free milk and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and puffed up
  7. Cool and then dust liberally with icing sugar

 

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pots

Rich, decadent and very chocolatey truffle pots – think those little Gu pudding pots you can buy, but tastier, friendly and with only three ingredients! These totally fit the bill of emergency easy but utterly delicious pudding option! They set nicely after an hour or two in the fridge, but are still rather delicious if eaten whilst still oozy.

This recipe was inspired by one by Celia Brooks Brown in “Entertaining Vegetarians”

Rich Chocolate Truffle Pots

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

 

serves 4

125g dairy-free chocolate, such as Nomo

1 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

2/3rds cup dairy-free cream, I used Oatly

  1. Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and melt together over a gentle heat (or in a microwaveable bowl and microwave on high for 45 seconds).
  2. Stir until smooth and unctuous.
  3. Pour into small glasses/shot glasses/small ramekins. Top on the work surface to get rid of any little bubbles.
  4. Chill until ready to eat.

 

 

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.

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.