Triple Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake

 

In my opinion free-from puddings are much harder that cakes, biscuits or treats. I have a fair few favourites, but I’m always looking for a new exciting pudding option. Do you have a go-to pudding favourite? I’d love some ideas to get excited about 🙂

Cheesecake is a perennial favourite in this household (it’s even been requested instead of a cake for a birthday before now!), and the larder is still groaning with leftover Easter chocolate, so in a way my decision was made for me. I fairly often make a knock-out chocolate cheesecake, so this new version had to stand out and wow the crowd! Since extra chocolate is always a crowd pleaser, I’ve created this standout triple chocolate layer cheesecake, to tempt even the most fussy cheesecake afficionadoes!

It may look complicated, with the different layers, but actually it’s very simple. You’ll just have a couple more bowls to wash up, but surely that’s a small price to pay for such a deliciously decadent dessert.

This is a tofu based cheesecake. Sounds unappetising, right? Well, it’s certainly enough to put off my sister-in-law who will happily devour this saying ‘oh that’s delicious’ until I tell her it’s made from tofu, then she immediately puts her fork down! Tofu really divides people, but when you think about it it’s just a thick paste made from a milk, just like cream cheese; it just needs to be treated right and then it can taste top notch, and this cheesecake is a case in point.

Triple Chocolate No-Bake Cheesecake

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

makes one 12 inch cheesecake, enough to serve at least 8

175g crushed biscuits, ideally chocolate flavour but I used Lotus Biscoff

40g dairy-free margarine, melted

350g pack firm silken tofu

100g dairy-free dark chocolate, I particularly like Kinnerton

75g dairy-free white chocolate

5 tbsps golden syrup/maple syrup (or use honey if you’re not vegan)

1 tbsp sunflower oil

grated chocolate to decorate

  1. Melt the dairy-free margarine and stir into the crushed biscuits. Press into the bottom of a loose base tart tin. Place in the fridge to set.
  2. Meanwhile, portion the tofu into 200g and 150g.
  3. In a blender pulse the 200g of silken tofu with 3tbsp syrup/honey until smooth.
  4. Melt the dark chocolate and 1/2 tbsp oil together either over a bain-marie or in a microwave. Stir until smooth.
  5. Carefully stir the chocolate into the tofu mix until well combined.
  6. Pour over the biscuit base. Smooth over the top and then leave to set in the fridge for at least a few hours.
  7. Clean the blender and pulse the remaining 150g of silken tofu with 2 tbsp syrup/honey until smooth.
  8. Melt the white chocolate and 1/2 tsp oil together, stir until smooth.
  9. Carefully stir the white chocolate mixture into the tofu mix. Pour over the set dark-chocolate layer and level off. return to the fridge to set.
  10. Decorate the top as desired, I used grated ‘milk’ dairy-free chocolate.

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

This time of year is just wrong without Hot Cross Buns. I eagerly await the criss crossed beauties appearing in the shops, and very year there’s a new variety to tempt and inspire. These days I wouldn’t buy a Hot Cross bun as I’ve not found any safe ones (I know vegan versions exist but they’re generally not free-from enough for us) and so come March I make batch after batch of buns. I’d really recommend giving it a go, they’re not hard to make and the satisfaction of a house filled with a spicy aroma and perfect buns appearing from the oven is second to none!

I’ve made many friendly hot cross buns and they’ve become a firm favourite, so much so that Little S has them for breakfast if she gets the chance. For some reason my children have an aversion to dried fruit, so I concocted this variation that appeals more to them.

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. The added bonus is that they freeze beautifully. Simply defrost and then warm in an oven or toaster, and enjoy perfect hot cross buns anytime 🙂

Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

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

 

makes 9-12

500g strong bread flour

1 tbsp dried yeast

3 tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 or 2 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

500ml warm dairy-free milk

2 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

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 dairy-free milk and dairy-free margarine, 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. Leave to rise again for 10-20 minutes
  6. Mix together the water and flour to make a paste and pipe onto the top of the buns in crosses
  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.

 

Marshmallow Filled Chocolate Cookies

Cookies are a perennial favourite in this household, and for the majority chocolate wins every everytime. So as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time thinking up new exciting cookie ideas. I can think of a lots worse ways to spend my time!

So picture a deep, intense freshly baked chocolate cookie, with crisp edges and a soft and slightly chewy interior? Sounds good? Well, let me make it even better….. Now picture a deeply chocolatey freshly baked cookie, with crisp edges and a soft and slightly chewy interior, wrapped around a sweet vanilla melted marshmallow with has remained gooey even once it has set. That does sound better doesn’t it!

These mallow stuffed cookies are a revelation, they’ve quickly become a firm favourite. Little S took one into school in her packed lunch and her friends all asked for a nibble and then asked where to buy them. High praise indeed 🙂

Marshmallow Filled Chocolate Cookies

(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan [if using vegan mallows])

makes about 9

200g (1 cup) soft brown sugar

115g (1/2 cup) dairy-free spread

2 tbsps golden syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla

30g (1/4 cup) cocoa powder

150g (1and1/4 cups) plain flour

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp salt

For the filling:

standard size marshmallows

  1.  Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 4
  2. Cream together the spread, sugar, syrup and vanilla. Sift in the flour, cocoa, bicarb and salt and mix to a stiff dough.
  3. Take tablespoon or two sized amounts of the chocolate dough and pat out to a small round. Place a marshmallow in the middle of each and bring the sides up and around to form a chocolate ball with no gaps.
  4. Place on a lined cookie sheet and slightly press down with the fronts of a fork.
  5. Bake for 10 minutes. Cool for a couple more minutes before transferring to a wire rack.
  6. These cookies keep well for a few days in a sealed container, and are lovely warmed for 20 seconds in a microwave before eating.

 

Jamaican Spiced Banana Bread

This time of  year is perfect for a culinary road trip, a way to pretend you’re in sunnier climes that the cold grey of February. Although to be fair it’s been pretty sunny this week, but not as sunny as the Caribbean where I’m taking you today (without leaving home).

We used to visit a small local farmers’ market when we lived in South London at which there was a family-run stall selling only home-made Jamaican loaves and breads. They were fabulous. I seem to remember one banana loaf being the perfect food after giving birth to my eldest. And they were vegan too – it was my first introduction to vegan cakes and how wonderful they can be. I’ve since searched and searched for a suitable recipe but not found one. The family in question stopped selling at this market, and we moved away from the area anyway. So here’s my take on a spiced banana bread… It’s really wholesome and tasty, with warm spices and tons of banana flavour, but still not quite like the one I remember. If you were that family who sold those spiced loaves at Abbeville Road farmer’ market, Clapham or know who they are, do get in touch. I’d happily travel to get hold of more!

The spicing in this recipe is quite mild so if you’re a spice fan I’d recommend doubling the spices for extra oomph! I particularly like the half banana on the top of the loaf, it certainly says what is in the tin, and a little crunchy sugar gives a nice contrast in texture, but both are totally optional and won’t alter the inherent spiced banana nature of the loaf.

Jamaican Spiced Banana Bread

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

 

makes 1 loaf

225g plain flour

2 heaped tsps baking powder

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

100g muscovado sugar

3 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

pinch of salt

1 tbsp rum or oat milk

1 tbsp Demerara sugar

A banana sliced lengthwise for decoration (optional)

Pearl or Demerara sugar for extra crunch

  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Centigrade/Gas mark 5. Line a loaf tin and set aside.
  2. Whisk together the mashed banana, sugar, oil and vanilla.
  3. Sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, spices and salt.
  4. Mix to a dough, adding the rum/oat milk if it looks a bit dry.
  5. Pour into the loaf tin and sprinkle the top with the halved banana and some Demerara or pearl sugar
  6. Bake for 40-50 minutes until golden on top and a knife comes out clean.
  7. Cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack.
  8. To freeze, wrap well and freeze whole. Defrost at room temperature before unwrapping.

 

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

Imagine a cinnamon bun, but better? Difficult? Yes. Impossible? NO way, not when you’ve tasted these stunning salted caramel sticky buns.

These salted caramel sticky bun made out of cinnamon swirl buns so you get all the benefits of a deliciously spicy swirl bun which is then cooked in a lake of salted caramel, you can’t get much more exciting than that! Not only are these buns the epitome of luxury and comfort at the same time, they also reheat wonderfully to give the perfect winter pudding or snack. Honestly, you must try them, you’re life will not be complete until you have 🙃

Salted Caramel Sticky Buns

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

makes 14

250-300ml dairy-free milk, I used Oatly

3 tbsp dairy-free margarine, such as Pure

400g plain flour

2 tsp dried yeast

50g or 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

2 tbsp cornflour

For the filling:

1/2 cup soft brown sugar

1 tbsp cinnamon

2 tbsp dairy-free margarine

For the salted caramel:

1/2 cup dairy-free margarine

1 cup soft dark brown sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

  1. Melt the margarine and milk together – you want it to be warm and melted but not hot
  2. In a bowl mix together the flour, yeast, sugar, cinnamon, cornflour and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk mix
  3. Bring together to a soft dough and knead until its smooth and bounces back when poked
  4. Cover and let double in size
  5. While waiting for the dough to prove, make the caramel. Melt together the sugar, margarine and salt until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Grease two cake tins, pour the caramel into each tin so the bottom is entire covered.
  7. Knock back the dough and roll out to a large rectangle
  8. Smear on the dairy-free margarine. Sprinkle over the sugar and cinnamon, then roll up tightly into a long sausage
  9. Cut into 14 even slices. Place 7 in each caramel lined cake tin, 6 in a circle and 1 in the middle.
  10. Cover and leave to rise again for another half an hour
  11. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Centigrade/Gas Mark 4/375 degrees F
  12. Bake for 20-30 minutes until risen, golden and cooked through. They’ll look like traditional cinnamon swirls at this stage
  13. Now comes the magic! Invert onto a plate, being careful not to get caramel on yourself. Serve warm.
  14. To reheat: place in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes or microwave for 1 minute

 

Krispie Kreme Doughnuts – no dairy or eggs here.

Where do you stand with Krispie Kreme doughnuts? Most people can’t seem to get enough of them, in fact at our workplaces and schools they seem to be the luxurious treat of choice. I find them a bit too sickly and sweet!

Since my girls can’t have them and they see their friends excitedly tucking in, I decided that I had to make a home made variation. It’s good to know what everything is like isn’t it? I chose to make mini ones which was actually a good plan as it avoided the sweet overload whilst still getting the Krispie Kreme effect.

I personally think these are even better than Krispie Kremes- the dough is light and airy and the glaze give a pleasing sugary shell which shatters nicely when you bite in, and also serves to keep them fresh until the next day – genius!

Enjoy 🙂

Krispie Kreme Doughnuts

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

makes about 18-20 mini doughnuts

2 tbsp caster sugar

1/2 cup water

1 tsp dried yeast

1 tbsps melted dairy-free margarine

1 and 1/2 cups plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

for the glaze:

2 cups icing sugar

2 tbsp dairy-free milk

1 tbsp golden or maple syrup

  1. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the caster sugar. Add the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt to the other.
  2. Pour in the melted margarine and water
  3. Bring together to form a dough, knead until smooth.
  4. Cover the bowl and let rise for an hour or two
  5. Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick and cut out circles or rings with cutters.
  6. Place on a floured baking sheet. Cover and leave to prove for an extra 15 minutes
  7. Bring a pan of flavourless oil up to heat (360 degrees Centigrade – it’s the right temperature when a piece of bread bubbles on contact)
  8. Deep fry 2-3 doughnuts at a time until well browned all over. this will take a minute or two on each side.
  9. Drain on paper towels
  10. Make the glaze by heating all the ingredients in the microwave for 30 seconds, then whisking until smooth.
  11. Roll the warm doughnuts in the glaze until fully covered, then place on a wire rack to set.
  12. Eat as soon as possible!