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.

Summer Berry Sorbet and Arlettes

Summer is here (at last!) and the shops are full of delicious ripe berries, so much so I’m constantly popping them into my shopping basket. Whilst you can’t beat a bowl of fresh berries, a homemade sorbet is a close second (especially now it’s hot), and a great option when you’ve managed to squash the whole punnet on the way home, like I did this week.

Whilst the dairy-free ice cream ranges are constantly improving, I’m more of a sorbet fan. A good sorbet is utterly delicious and so packed full of flavour that’s it’s perfect on a hot sunny day. Even before we were catering for food allergies, D and I would always choose sorbet for pudding.I’ve served this sorbet with these wonderful little wafers called Arlettes. They’re puff pastry spirals, rolled out very thin, coated in icing sugar and baked until golden. They’re the perfect caramel flavoured crisp accompaniment for any kind of pudding.

Summer Berry Sorbet

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

serves at least 6

150g caster sugar

200ml water

juice of 1/2 a lemon

400g berries

  1. Roughly chop the berries and then whizz up in a food blender. Sieve if you like a smooth sorbet, don’t if you like some pips.
  2. Dissolve the sugar in the water and lemon juice by bringing the syrup to a rolling boil. Immediately turn off and stir in the berry puree.
  3. Pour into an ice cream machine and churn as instructed, or pour into a Tupperware box and place int he freezer. If using the Tupperware method, remove from the freezer ever hour or so and give the sorbet mix a good stir/whisk, to break up any large ice crystals. The whole process should take 4 or 5 hours.
  4. Serve with this wonderful caramelised, crispy Arlettes for a show stopper dessert.

Arlettes

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

makes about 20

1/2 pack puff pastry

lots of icing sugar

  1. Roll the puff into a neat rectangle and then roll up to form a tight cylinder. Wrap and freeze for at least half an hour so it is very cold. Once chilled cut into 1/2cm slices
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade.
  3. On top a mound of icing sugar, roll out each circle until very very thin and totally covering in the icing sugar. Stamp out fluted circles, or traditional leaf shapes
  4. Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 5-6 minutes until totally golden. Keep a close eye on them, a burnt Arlette is not nice! Once golden, turn over and bake for a further couple of minutes.
  5. Cool on a wire rack. These are best eaten on the day they’re made.

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.

Fudge Brownies

Is there anything more delicious that a rich, fudge brownie? Personally, I can’t think of many more pleasing desserts than a warm fudge brownie topped with ice cream and caramel or chocolate sauce; I’m even salivating at the thought of it!

I was having coffee with a friend recently and she had a brownie with her cappuccino. I had a little taste as she was raving about it but I found it bland and stodgy, certainly not the brownie of my dreams.  I felt like I had thrown down the gauntlet to myself to make a far superior, friendly brownie. Some brownies are cake, some are dense, and some like these beauties are rich, fudgy and very very full of chocolate. It turns out I like these types the best 🙂

This recipe replies on lots of melted chocolate for richness and soft brown sugar for a fudge flavour. The middle it dense and gooey, the top slightly crispy, surely the profile of a perfect brownie.

I recommend warming these for 10 seconds in a microwave before eating with ice cream and warm sauce for the ultimate indulgence.

Fudge Brownies

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

makes 9 good sized brownies

100g dairy-free chocolate

60g dairy-free margarine

110g soft brown sugar

100ml dairy-free milk

1 tbsp cornflour

1 tsp vanilla

100g plain flour

4 tbsp cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

  1. Line an 20cm/8inch square baking tin with parchment. preheat the oven to 170 degrees Centigrade
  2. Melt together the chocolate and margarine either in a microwave or over a Bain-marie. Stir until smooth
  3. Stir in the sugar.
  4. Whisk together the cornflour, milk and vanilla and pour into the chocolate. Combine thoroughly.
  5. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into the chocolate mix and gently fold until you have a smooth batter.
  6. Pour into the tin and level off. Bake for 18 minutes or until a knife comes out almost clean, a few moist crumbs are ok.
  7. Cool in the pan and then cut into 9 squares.

Confetti Traybake

Easy, tasty and pretty what more could you want from a cake recipe? I needed to make a quick after-school snack and thought something pretty was what was needed with the May sunshine shining through the windows, and surely no-one can resist a colourful sprinkle strewn traybake when they return home from a long and busy day at school.

I think the combination of vanilla sponge, baked with sprinkles stirred in for a colourful ‘funfetti’ effect, vanilla buttercream and a topping of more sprinkles is as pretty as a picture. The added bonus is that this recipe can be whipped up in about 40 minutes, which includes cooking and cooling time, you can’t get much quicker than that for a wow-worthy cake.

Confetti Traybake

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

200g self-raising flour

100g caster sugar

pinch of salt

100ml sunflower oil

150ml dairy-free milk

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sprinkles

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5
  2. Line a square baking tray with parchment
  3. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl. Stir in the sugar.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together the dairy-free milk, lemon, vanilla and oil.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently mix, until well combined. Stir through the sprinkles.
  6. Pour the mix into the lined tin, level off and bake for 20-22 minutes, until lightly golden and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

for the buttercream:

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine
1 tbsp vegetable fat
around 2 cups icing sugar
a splash of dairy-free milk

  1. Whisk together the fats
  2. Whisk in the icing sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, adding a splash of dairy-free milk. You may not need all the sugar, just keep checking the taste and texture
  3. Spread the buttercream over the cooled traybake and scatter liberally with sprinkles