Cute Chocolate Turtles!!

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“Aww they are so cute I have to make them!!” This was my reaction when a few weeks ago I saw a post from the fantastic blog Fork and Beans, if you are looking for vegan candy inspiration then this really is the place to look.

Here is the original post; vegan-chocolate-turtles

They take a little patience, but really are very cute and tasty! I am not sure mine are as good as the ones from Fork and Bean but for a first attempt I was happy 🙂

I also used Hazelnuts for the heads, and Walnuts for the legs since I didn’t have any Pecan nuts in the cupboard.

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Cocktail in a Cupcake

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So last weekend I was visiting my friends for a girly night in with cocktails, more specifically we had Rum… I decided that I wanted to take this theme and make some appropriately festive cupcakes… so here is my cocktail inspired Coconut Cupcake with Pineapple frosting (annoyingly I didn’t actually have any Rum in the house when I was cooking, otherwise these would be Coconut Rum Cupcakes and dont they sound amazing!) However minus the rum these cupcakes were delicious and they really were the perfect cocktail accompaniment!

What you will need:

Dry

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 desiccated coconut
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt

Wet

  • 250ml coconut cream
  • 1/3 cup sunflower oil
  • 1/4 cup soya milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Frosting

  • Icing sugar
  • Fresh or Dried Pineapple
  • Vegan Margarine
  • Rum (I didn’t have this but it would work!)

How to make:

  1. Preheat your oven to 160c and prepare your cupcake tray
  2. In a large mixing bowl combine all the dry ingredients.
  3. In a large jug combine all the wet ingredients, and whisk together.
  4. Slowly add the wet mixture to the dry until fully combined, should be a soft drop consistency.
  5. Spoon mixture into your cupcake tray and bake for around 20mins
  6. Once cooled make the frosting… When I made this I used fresh pineapple, once I had added margarine and icing sugar I didn’t need any additional water, if anything the fresh pineapple made the frosting a little too moist, but delicious. I think next time I will cut up small chunks of dried pineapple, then add a little rum to give this frosting a little more kick!

An there you have the perfect caribbean style cocktail cupcake… I cant wait to have a good excuse to make them again!

Vegan Soda Bread

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So I was brought up making bread, I think I may have been around 7yrs old the first time my mum started me on the bread making, I dont think my family have brought bread in since that time, and it has always been made by hand.

I love going home for proper bread, why I can hear you asking dont I make all my own bread now, and the answer is simple, it is hard to find a place to buy a sack of flour and since I am effectively a lodger living with my partners parents it is hard to find somewhere for that sack of flour to live… plus my mother in law is gluten free, and making fresh bread in her kitchen all the time would just seem cruel!

However there are some days when you just need fresh bread… I stumbled apon this recipe a little while ago on a day when I need bread, but had run out of instant yeast… it could have been a disaster! But here to save the day this super easy very simple and very quick soda bread… it doesn’t even need to be kneaded or left to rise just mix it up and pop it the oven, amazing!!

What you will Need:

  • 500ml Unsweetened Soya Milk
  • 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil

What to do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c and prepare a 2 pound loaf tin or a flat baking tray
  2. Combine the soya milk and cider vinegar and leave to sit for around 5mins
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients
  4. Add the soya milk and olive oil to the dry ingredients and mix together until you have a sticky dough. The dough is going to be much wetter than you expect if you are used to baking normal bread, but so long as it is all combined you should be ok. Add more flour if you think you need it, but you do not want a dry dough!
  5. Tip your dough into your tin or onto the tray. If you want to try and shape the dough a little, for example to make it round on the tray, try covering your hands in olive oil before you touch the dough.
  6. Pop the loaf in the oven for 45-50mins, or until golden brown (you can tell when bread is done, if you tap the bottom of the loaf and it sounds hollow!)

And that is it! No kneading, no trying to find a warm place to leave the bread to rise. This loaf will be warm and out of the oven ready to eat covered in jam, before a normal load has risen enough to be baked!!!

N.B Because there is no yeast in this bread it tastes very strongly of the flour and the soya milk, so be careful that you dont use a sweetened soya milk… unless you want sweet bread!

Gingerbread Men

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So I am not quite sure why most recipes for Gingerbread Men have egg in them, maybe it is habit for some people, I am not sure, but it is definitely not needed as this wonderful recipe shows!

I made these gingerbread men as Christmas presents this year, they really do make a super tasty and fun present, and are fantastic dipped in tea!

They are also really easy and great fun to make with kids, or just young at heart adults!

What you will need:

  •    2 1/4 cups plain flour
  •    1 tablespoon ground ginger
  •    1 teaspoon cinnamon 
  •    3/4 cup brown sugar
  •    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda 
  •    3/4 cup vegan margarine (I use Pure since it has little added flavor)
  •    1/4 cup golden syrup
  •    Icing sugar (for decorating)
What you need to do:
  1. Mix together all your dry ingredients in a large bowl
  2. Melt your margarine in the microwave for a few seconds
  3. Add your golden syrup to the melted margarine
  4. Combine all wet and dry ingredients to make a stiff dough
  5. Now you can either move straight into rolling out the dough and making your gingerbread men now, but I tend to find that if I wrap the dough in clingfilm and leave it in the fridge for half an hour the dough is much more workable.
  6. Preheat your oven to 170c
  7. So wither you went straight ahead or waited, you now need to lightly flour the surface and roll out the dough to make your gingerbread men, once you have covered your tray (make sure none of the men are touching, because they will stick together if they are!) Place in the oven for approx 15mins
  8. They should be a little darker then when they went into the oven, with a slightly hardened top, but they will still be soft, so take them out and leave them to cool for at least 20mins before you start to decorate!
  9. Decorate, have fun 🙂

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Mincepie Cake! (Not just for Christmas!)

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So back in December when I posted “Cheeky Cheaters Mincepies” my sister made a comment about how great mincepie cupcakes were…I took it one better and here is the Mincepie Cake (maybe I just made it bigger, whatever!) This is one of the best cakes I have ever eaten or made, it is now my partners favorite cake and who cares about Christmas this cake is so good it will be made all year round!

Of course the joy of it being just after Christmas jars of mince are now very cheap… I realized I would be making this cake a lot when my partner came home with 8 jars of mince, but at only 10p a jar I couldn’t complain… this cake is just too good!

What you will Need:

(This recipe works best if you have 1 large mixing bowl and 2 other bowls)

Large Mixing bowl:

  • 1 cup vegan margarine (I use Pure Soya because it is basically flavorless)
  • 1 1/4 cups Sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Dry bowl:

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Wet bowl (or jug!):

  • 240ml Soya Milk + 1 tbsp Cider Vinegar (combine and leave for 5mins to turn into buttermilk)
  • 6 tsp egg replacer combined with 8 tbsp warm water (whisk this together before adding to the soya milk.

Other: 2 large tbsp Christmas Mince

What you need to do:

  1. Pre heat your oven to 170c and prepare two 23cm tins (to make one large sandwich  cake, or use two smaller 18cm tins to make two small, but separate cakes, you can always cut these in half if you want to make it a sandwich cake!)
  2. In your main mixing bowl  you will have the margarine, sugar and vanilla extract, combine these until light and fluffy.
  3. You should have two other bowls, one with wet and one with dry ingredients. Add these slowly to your main bowl until all your ingredients are fully combined. (If you missed out the cinnamon you could just go right ahead now and put this in the oven, this is a lovely light Victoria Sponge style cake, soft moist and delicious!)
  4. However the magic touch with this cake is to add the Christmas Mincepie mix now, two large tbsp should be enough, but if you want it extra mincey just add more! You may find that if the jar of mince has got cold it might crystallize a little, 30secs in the microwave should sort this out if your worried about it.
  5. Once the mince is fully combined, split the mixture between your two tins and bake… If you have gone for one large cake in the 23cm tins this should take about 20-25mins if you have gone for the smaller more compact tins it will take 25-30mins. Test with a wooden toothpick, if it comes out clean your baked 🙂
  6. Once cooled you can just lightly dust with icing sugar and serve as is, the cake needs no more, or if your feeling adventurous, a light marmalade makes a great sandwich filling!

Peach Frangipane Tart!

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So your looking for a quick and easy desert that you can make in the morning to be ready for the even meal when you have friends over… difficult friends, friends with difficult dietary requirements, the vegan, the gluten free mother in law… look no futher this is it, this is the easy, but fancy top nosh desert! (And as the vegan with the gluten free mother in law, I know your pain and frustration at finding decent deserts, once you’ve done a fancy fruit salad a few times you need more inspiration!)

What you need (1 large tart)

  • Mrs Crimbles Pastry Mix (honestly I have tried to make g/f pastry from scratch, it was not worth it, this stuff is amazing and it works!) –  http://www.mrscrimbles.com/products/home-bake-mixes/
  • 3.5oz Vegetable Trex (or margarine)
  • 4 tbsp cold water
  • ————————–
  • 120g dairy free spread
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups ground almonds
  • 6 tbsp cornflour
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp Soya Milk
  • 2 peaches, fresh or tinned (or other appropriate soft fruit!)
  • Icing sugar to dust

What you need to do:

  1. First make your pastry (this of course does not have to be gluten free, but if you are going to make it g/f I would strongly recommend using Mrs Crimbles Pastry Mix, I found it in my local sainsburys so think it is readily available! Follow the instructions on the pack…
  2. I use a food processor for pastry, advice I was given from my mum, she is right, it makes much better pastry, something to do with keeping the heat down and not over working the dough. So combine the flour mix with the vegetable fat in your food processor and give it a quick wizz, slowly add the 4 tbsp of cold water, the dough should quickly form up into a ball. Wrap this in clingfilm and put in the fringe until you need it.
  3. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients, then add the margarine, rub it in like you would if you were makings a fine crumble mix.
  4. Add the wet ingredients and mix together to form a soft paste.
  5. Get your pastry from the fringe and roll it out until it is large enough to fill your tart dish(make sure you have greased your tart dish before you put the pastry in!)                                      …… a good tip for rolling pastry, partially g/f pastry…..                           Cover your work surface in clingfilm, place your pastry in the middle of the clingfilm and then place a new piece of clingfilm over the whole surface again. Now roll your pastry, it will spread out under the clingfilm and once you have it to the correct size you can lift off the top sheet of clingfilm, and lift the pastry with bottom clingfilm and pace it pastry down into your tart dish. Now smooth the pastry into place. Once happy, remove the clingfilm and do any additional patching required. I challenge you to try it once, it makes things so much easier!!!
  6. Now your tart dish is lined you do not have to pre-bake the pastry, so fill the tart with your frangipane mix and then cover in sliced peaches.
  7. Put in a pre-heated oven for approx 25mins at 160
  8. Once baked leave it to cool for at least 1 hr and lightly dust with icing sugar before serving.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Truffles

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So Christmas has been a time of baking and enjoying the freedom to make and bake without worrying about the idea of over indulging, because surly that is the point isn’t it?!

These dark chocolate truffles really are the richest, most indulgent tasty easy vegan chocolates you can hope to make, they make fantastic presents and compared to buying vegan truffles they are a fraction of the cost!

What you will need:

  • 300g Dark chocolate broken into pieces, or choc chips. (use 70% min)
  • 2 tbsp Coconut oil
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 230g Coconut milk/cream
  • Coco powder
  • Possible extras: Chocolate for covering truffles, chopped nuts, ground ginger…

What to do:

  1. Put your chocolate, coconut oil and salt into a sized medium bowl.
  2. Heat your coconut milk in a pan and heat until boiling.
  3. Pour the boiling coconut milk into the bowl of chocolate and mix until smooth.
  4. At this point you can leave the mixture in this bowl, cover with clingfilm and place over night in the fringe. When you come to make truffles with this mixture it will be difficult but a lot of fun to try and roll lumps of melting chocolate into almost balls… this is what I did the first time I made it…. However as my sister pointed out, if I poured my bowl of chocolate into a lined tray before refrigerating it, I would then be able to cut my chocolate into appropriate sized truffles, without all the mess!! She was of course quite right, and it was very easy to make the square truffles, though I don’t think they were quite as attractive they were equally tasty!
  5. Once you have the truffles rolled, or cut into shape, coat them in coco powder, and then go wild… I coated one batch in dark chocolate with added rum and chopped Brazil nuts, one batch was left pain and when I cut them into squares I piped melted chocolate on top and then dusted them with coco powder and ground ginger.
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Sam covered in truffle goo while trying to roll truffles into appropriate sizes!

The combinations seem endless and very tasty! They are best eaten at room temperature, and will keep for about a week if kept in an air tight container.