Vegan (egg-free) meringue

Have you heard about the vegan meringue sensation currently doing the rounds on the internet? They are made from something you would normally throw away. Or, more accurately, drain away…

Any ideas? No? It’s the water from a can of chick peas! The reason this works is the proteins from the chick peas work in the same way as the protein in egg white. I’ll admit I was a little skeptical at first, but also curious enough to give it a go.

Ingredients

Liquid from one can of chick peas (this gave me just under 200ml)
1 cup/250ml volume of sugar (I used 1/3 cup stevia and 2/3 granulated sugar)
1/8 tsp vinegar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Celsius. I used my stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment. Start by putting the chick pea water and vinegar into the bowl and whisking on high speed until you have stiff white peaks. I’ve read that you can’t really over-whisk and that some people have needed to whisk for a long time to get fluffy peaks, so hang in there and don’t stop too soon!

Once you’ve got your stiff peaks then add the sugar, one spoonful at a time whilst still whisking on high speed. Continue mixing until all the sugar has dissolved and the texture in smooth and fluffy, just like a traditional meringue.

Finally add the vanilla extract and whisk until all mixed in.

image

Form into whatever shapes you wish, I think it’s probably even strong enough to pipe. I decided to do one large and several individual size.

image

Place in the centre of your oven for about an hour and a half*. Once the time is up, don’t open the door, instead leave the meringues in the oven until they and the oven have completely cooled, at least 3 hours but longer if you can.

Now you’ll have some delicious vegan meringues to use for whatever fancy puds you desire! I’m thinking pavlova, maybe some Eton mess, who knows! I’m sure there will be recipes using this meringue-y goodness coming your way soon though 🙂

*I think mine actually needed to cook for longer as they were a bit gooey in the centre and the top broke off the bottom when I tried to remove them from the baking paper.

image

However the taste and texture of the top parts was excellent and I will definitely be trying this again. I think for a first attempt these are not too bad, and perfect for just shoving in my face an Eton mess type dessert 😉 Happy baking!

Advertisements

Mostly healthy cake (less) pops! (or date and cashew cookies)

I love the post Christmas clearance bins at the supermarket! You find the strangest things at super cheap prices. For example last year I got an audio ear warmer (you know the type with the built in headphones) for only £2.50! This year I found a set of 3 Mickey Mouse cake pop cold moulds. And it seemed like the kind of thing that would be fun to use with a toddler.

However I would rather know I was feeding him something healthy and not just cake with frosting! Well, this time anyway, as even cake has its place 🙂

This recipe is based on my raw date cookies and would work just as well as cookies for a more grown up finish!

Ingredients:

1 cup unsalted cashews
1 cup dates
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup porridge oats
3 tbsps tahini paste
3 tbsps maple syrup
200g dark chocolate to finish

The mixture is made in a food processor. Start by blitzing the cashews until they’re fairly finely chopped. Then add the dates, raisins, coconut and porridge oats and blitz again until everything is well chopped and combined. Finally add the tahini paste and maple syrup and blend until the mixture sticks together.

Now comes the fun part: shaping! If you’d rather make cookies then simply roll a spoonful of the mixture into a ball, and flatten it into a cookie shape. Lay on a sheet of baking paper and chill in the fridge for an hour.

If you are using moulds, like we did, then fill the two halves of the mould, press together and carefully remove your beautifully shaped “cake” pop. Lay on a sheet of baking paper and chill for at least half an hour.

image

Using a bain marie melt your chocolate and fully coat the pops. If you have lollipop sticks then make sure you insert them before coating with chocolate. There are great videos on YouTube showing how to do it. I couldn’t find any sticks so I used a spoon to place them in the bowl and drizzled over the melted chocolate. When they were coated I placed them back on the baking paper for the chocolate to set.

image

I also used up the extra melted chocolate by coating some slices of banana. Yummy!

These pops have gone down well with everyone, so I’m sure they’ll become a regular in our house! Just chocolatey enough to be a treat, but basically healthy. A perfect combination 🙂

image

Christmas cake day!

It’s funny, even though I’ve been counting down to the end of December for the last 8ish months, I still feel a bit shocked that it’s already time to make the Christmas cake!

But I’ve had the fruit soaking overnight so it was time to get mixing!

image

I used the same Christmas cake recipe as last year, the only difference being I had a little “helper” this time!

It’s such an easy mixture to make, doesn’t need to be made months in advance and the fruit stays beautifully distributed. And now the house smells deliciously of lemon zest, spices and baking cake. Yummy!

Did any of you try this recipe last year? How did it work out for you?

Vegan whipped cream

OK, so I realise I’m a little late to this party and I’m only just discovering something lots of people already know about, but how amazingly delicious is whipped coconut cream?! I don’t really know why I just assumed there wouldn’t be a vegan alternative, but I’m so glad there is. Because it’s amazing!

Basic coconut whipped cream

1 tin of full fat coconut milk
2-3 tbsps icing sugar

Chill the coconut milk in the fridge overnight, this will cause the contents of the tin to separate into the solid cream we’ll be using, which will float on the top, and the water underneath. Open the tin without shaking it first! If you shake it at this point it will mix together and you’ll have to start again!

Carefully spoon out the solid cream into a bowl, trying not to pick up any of the water as this will affect the consistency of your whipped cream. Add the icing sugar, then using an electric mixer whip your cream to the desired texture making sure you don’t leave any lumps.

image

Add to your creation and enjoy! I found that one tin was enough to fill a 10 inch cake, with plenty left over for a posh cream tea in a day or two 🙂 Now, if you’ll excuse me there’s cake calling my name…

Variations

Try flavouring your cream with a little natural extract for an extra hit of flavour, eg vanilla, almond, lemon maybe? Not tried that but it sounds nice so I might give it a try.

I also feel a tiramisu style dessert coming in the near future so watch this space for more coconut-y deliciousness!

Individual bramble crumbles

With nearly a kilo of brambles in the fridge and freezer from our foraging trip on Tuesday it was fairly inevitable that they would start to feature in my cooking!

So yesterday I decided to whip up some individual crumbles for pudding. There’s no reason they have to be made small, I just fancied using my ramekins as they don’t often get an outing.

Ingredients

Enough filling for your dish (perhaps an unhelpful statement but it depends how deep you like your fruit layer to be. I filled mine to about 1cm below the top of the dish). Use brambles, apple, rhubarb, cherries, etc.

For the crumble topping (per ramekin):

2tbsps plain flour
1tbsp caster sugar
1tbsp vegan butter

Start by preheating your oven to 180°c.

Fill your dish with whichever fruit you are using and level off the surface. If you are using fruit that’s quite tart, you may wish to sprinkle sugar over the fruit to help sweeten it. Most of my brambles are nice and sweet, but a couple are quite mouth puckeringly sour, so I used about a teaspoon of sugar and they turned out beautifully, not too sweet and not sour at all.

Add all of your topping ingredients to a bowl and mix together using your fingers until the consistency is similar to sand. Divide evenly between the ramekins and pat down with the back of a spoon.

*Note: to make your topping more interesting try using 1 1/2 tbsps plain flour and 1/2 tbsp porridge oats, keeping the same quantities of sugar and butter.

Bake in the oven for 20-22 mins until golden on top and piping hot in the centre. Delicious on its own, but also great with cream or custard, vegan or otherwise 🙂

image

Easy scones, with several variations

So it’s been just over a year since my Grandma died, and several years since she lived (and cooked) in her own home. Now, my Grandma was definitely not known for her prowess in the kitchen. I’m fairly certain that she started boiling her Christmas vegetables on the 1st of December, and my Mum has told me of the time that Grandma attempted to use a pressure cooker and redecorated the kitchen ceiling.

Despite this, I have fond memories of her scones, one of the only things she made that I remember enjoying! And it seems that her talent has been passed down, as my Mum and I can both make a very tasty batch of scones, if I do say so myself!

This recipe is easy to follow, has very few ingredients, and is very easy to modify to create interesting variations.

Basic Scones

1lb self raising flour or 1lb plain flour and 4 tsps baking powder
A pinch of salt
4 ozs non-dairy butter
4 tbsps sugar
Milk to mix (soya or other)

Start by preheating the oven to 170°c (fan). In a large bowl mix together the flour, salt, butter and sugar, rubbing the mixture between your finger tips until it is a sandy consistency with no large lumps. Add the milk a splash at a time, only adding enough for the mixture to come together completely without feeling wet.

Now the secret to a good scone is to not overwork the mixture, so try to handle it as little as possible, just enough to bring it together in one piece.

Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and gently roll it out to around 1.5 to 2 cm thick using a rolling pin. Using a circle cutter, or another shape if you’re feeling fancy, cut out your scones and place on an greased and floured baking tray. My cutter is about 5cm in diameter and I got 12 whole scones and a little one with the leftover bits. You will need to keep bringing the mixture together and re-rolling it, so just make sure you handle it as little as possible while doing so.

Once the scones are all on the baking tray, you can lightly brush the tops with a little milk if you wish. It will help give the scones a little colour, but it isn’t a necessary step, so if you don’t have a pastry brush then don’t worry.

Place the scones in the centre of the hot oven and bake for about 12 minutes, but the time will depend on the size of your scones and on your own oven. I’d recommend checking them after 10 minutes and taking it a few minutes at a time from there if needed. Allow them to cool completely then enjoy!

Store them in an air tight container and they’ll keep for a couple of days. Exactly how many days I couldn’t tell you as they never last very long in our house!

image

(OK so I said I’d made 13 and there’s only 10 in the picture, but come on, we had to check they were nice!)

Variations

Try adding raisins for a classic fruit scone.

Glacé cherries and coconut is my favourite combination.

Grated apple and cinnamon.

Today I experimented and made cinnamon, date and flaked almond scones which have turned out very nicely.

In other words, don’t be afraid to experiment! If you think of a combination that you think might be nice but you aren’t sure, try splitting the mixture and only making one or two as testers before committing to a whole batch. With my experiment today I did half a batch of plain scones and half the batch as the cinnamon, date and almond.

Toppings

These scones are delicious as is, but they are even better with a little butter. And the plain scones especially go very nicely with strawberry or raspberry jam, amongst others.

Or for a decadent treat try a delicious vegan variation on a cream scone using coconut cream. You can easily get this from a can of coconut milk if you open it without shaking it first as it settles on top of the coconut water in the can.

Making these scones is a wonderful activity to do with young children as they can get stuck in with the mixing, rolling and cutting. My only trouble was stopping young sir from eating the raw mixture!

Happy baking!

Avocado and Chocolate: A Glorious Combination!

It’s always disappointing to find your avocados are just a little over ripe. You know, the point at which they still taste fine but have just started turning that unappealing grey/brown color. So, what to do with them? It’s obvious really: turn them into a chocolatey delight!

image

This recipe is great because depending how you want to eat it, you can use the same mixture in at least 3 different ways, so it’s very versatile! And delicious 🙂 And what’s more, it’s a great one for even picky eaters as you wouldn’t know it has “healthy stuff” in it.

Avocado Chocolate Mousse

2 ripe avocados
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tbsp sweet stuff (maple syrup, honey, molasses, etc or a mixture, I used 2 tbsp maple syrup, 2 tbsp molasses)
1/8 tsp salt
2 tbsp soya milk (or other non dairy milk)

Put all of the ingredients into a food processor and blitz until smooth. At this point I recommend tasting the mixture (note I said tasting, not eating the whole batch!) to see if the quantities are to your liking. Personally I would like it with a bit more cocoa powder, but I know my husband prefers it like this.

Now, if you want to eat it as a mousse then spoon the mixture into serving dishes (this amount will do up to 4 people, 2 who want a real treat, or 1 who is in need of a chocolate feast!) and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours to let the mixture firm up a little. But if you’re desperate for a chocolate hit, it’s still good when freshly made! Try pairing it with some fresh berries for a sophisticated pud.

Avocado Chocolate Mud Pie

You can also use your mixture to make a lovely mud pie type dessert.

Base:

1/3 cup hazelnuts
4 biscuits (digestives, oaties, etc)
1/4 cup porridge oats
65g melted non-dairy butter

Add the hazelnuts to a food processor and blitz until very finely chopped. Then add the biscuits and porridge oats and blend until combined. Finally add the melted butter and mix until it comes together in clumps.

Tip the mixture out into an 18-20″ pie dish and flatten out using the back of a spoon. Once the base is prepared, pop it into the freezer to harden up a little while you make the chocolate avocado mixture. Once the topping is ready remove the base from the freezer and spoon over the chocolatey mixture, flattening it down with either a spatula or the back of a spoon. Chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours to help the mixture form up a little.

Frozen Avocado Chocolate ‘Cheesecake’

By following the exact recipe above for the mud pie, you can create a delightful frozen ‘cheesecake’ which is especially welcome at the end of a hot summer day. Simply put the whole thing in the freezer instead of the fridge, remembering to take it out ahead of time otherwise you won’t be able to cut it. As we all know there’s nothing worse than sitting looking at a frozen treat that you can’t eat yet!

image

So there you go, my easy, versatile and delicious solutions to what to do with very ripe avocados. Enjoy!

PS: given how well the mixture freezes, I suspect it may well make an incredibly decadent chocolate ice cream, but I’ve yet to test my theory! If you come up with any other variations, let me know!