I haven’t been baking much recently and I miss it. This latest invention is loosely based on my granola bars, but I fancied something a bit more Christmassy and when I bought some dairy free orange-flavoured dark chocolate from Tesco’s the other day, it gave me an idea for a flapjack recipe.
The flapjacks are bound with the melted chocolate as well as coconut oil, so this recipe is a much healthier version than the syrup and butter-laden varieties you might find in the shops. Also, the only sugar added comes from what is already in the chocolate, plus some raisins.
I decided to put the flapjack mixture in cupcake cases, just for a change, but I think this worked out rather nicely. They remind me a little of the chocolate cornflake cakes we always used to get at parties and with this recipe being no-bake, they are really quite similar. They are as easy to make too.
As my kitchen is so warm now the underfloor heating has kicked in, I had to keep these flapjacks in the fridge, as the temperature of the room was enough to soften the coconut oil and make them go crumbly. I actually think they were nicer cold anyway.
The chocolate orange, combined with the mixed spice and the crunch of the added pecans – what can I say? If you love all these flavours and they too, speak to you of Christmas and all that it entails, then I’m sure you will enjoy these flajacks. Chocolate orange happens to be one of my favourite things in the world, so this is like comfort food to me!
Few things are more comforting in life than the smell of freshly baked cookies (fresh baked bread and ground coffee are up there too). It’s home, it’s childhood memories and a great big hug all wrapped into one.
‘Free From’ cookies don’t have to be tasteless, dry or gritty and just because you have to avoid gluten and dairy, doesn’t mean you can’t experience that same home-baked, fresh cookie experience.
The ideal mix of crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, this cookie recipe is gluten, dairy and egg free, but is so tasty, I’d put money on no one telling the difference, or even caring for that matter.
This recipe includes chopped pecans, but if you want to make it nut free, just change this part of the recipe for something else, such as raisins or chocolate chips. The combinations are endless, really. You can take out the cinnamon and add ginger, substitute the vanilla for almond essence or for a citrus flavour, add orange or lemon juice.
These are so easy to make, my 10 year old made a batch all on her own. She used dark chocolate chips, instead of nuts or raisins and kept the cinnamon. It was a lovely combination.
These chocolate truffles were so easy to make and took next to no time to prepare. I made them with my daughter and whilst she made a batch and added vanilla extract, I added Frangelico liqueur to make mine boozy!
Have you tried Frangelico? If not, what are you waiting for? It’s the hazelnut equivalent of Amaretto and in my opinion, far superior. I’ve never been a fan of Amaretto anyway, finding the almond taste too overpowering. Frangelico, on the other hand, combines sweetness, with the nuttiness of the hazelnuts in order to complement the warmth of the alcohol. It’s delicious and I’ve been wanting to try it out in something like this for ages.
Don’t you just love Christmas? It gives you the excuse to go over the top and indulge. Love it!
I managed to get 9 truffles from my batch, whilst my daughter made 14! Hers were very small though, but as we used dark chocolate, they are quite bitter, so you don’t need much to make an impact. They would be ideal to offer with after dinner coffee, to clear the pallet after a big meal. If you want to make them sweeter, use milk chocolate.
We made this using dairy free cream – a coconut cream to be precise, so they are both gluten and dairy free. As you can see, we rolled some in cocoa powder and others in dessicated coconut.
The preparation to make these took no more than five minutes, but once the ingredients are melted together and mixed, they must be cooled before you can work with them. The tricky side to making the truffles is in the working of the cooled mixture. You have to work fast so they don’t melt.
It’s an ideal recipe to get the kids involved with though, especially those who don’t mind getting their hands dirty.
Break up the chocolate and add it to a mixing bowl with the butter and cream
Sit the bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir until melted, then add the Frangelico or vanilla
Leave until the bowl is cool to the touch before transferring to the fridge. Return at five minute intervals to stir. In the meantime, set out a plate with cocoa powder and another with the coconut and lay out your truffle cases
Once the mixture has hardened to the consistency of fondant icing, remove from the fridge and roll teaspoonsful into balls
Roll each ball in either the cocoa powder or coconut and put into truffle cases. Store in a refrigerator
Day three of my make ahead Christmas recipes is for Christmas spiced cookies.
There will be ten of us around the table on Christmas day and I like to make it look extra special for the big occasion.
This year, I’m trying something different to the usual place name holders by making them edible! These Christmas spiced cookies were fun to make because I let the children decorate them (yes you read that right, I relinquished the control on this one). With our collection of angel, snowman, Christmas tree and star cookie cutters, we were able to make some lovely little place names that the guests can eat if they feel that way inclined (or can fit anything else in).
These are wheat free, as I made them with spelt flour. They are also dairy free.
A variation of gingerbread, I used mixed spice instead of just ginger, to give the lovely blend of spices that remind us of Christmas and I’m hoping they’ll make an interesting addition to the table. That is, if you can see them amongst the crackers, selfie masks, napkins and little stocking cutlery holders. Perhaps it’s over the top, but who cares? It’s Christmas.
My second make ahead Christmas recipe this week is for cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing balls. If you didn’t catch yesterday’s recipe for Duchess sweet potatoes, you can find it here.
Made with gluten free sausage meat and the crumbed crusts from one of my gluten free loaves, this stuffing recipe is also suitable for those following a dairy free diet.
I decided to make these as stuffing balls, to serve as an alternative to the pigs in blankets I usually offer. You can, of course, use this recipe to stuff the cavity of the turkey, or bake it in an oven proof dish. The citrus burst of the orange zest, complements the sweetness of the cranberries and apples, with just a hint of the nutty chestnuts coming through. I think you could eat these on their own, they’re that good. Cooked as I did, they are the equivalent of meatballs and could quite easily go alongside some salad and other leftovers from your Christmas lunch.
The next recipe I’ll be sharing is for Christmas spiced name place cookies.
Make ahead Christmas recipes - Cranberry, orange and chestnut stuffing
Gluten and dairy free stuffing with full fruit flavours to give an ideal accompaniment to your Christmas meal
It’s the countdown to Christmas and time to start prepping for the big day. One way to get organised and give yourself less to worry about, is to make ahead as much as possible. This week, I’m excited to be sharing with you some Christmas recipes you can make in advance, so on the day itself you can wow your guests with your creative handiwork. All the recipes are gluten, dairy and nightshade free.
First up today is a recipe I’m resurrecting from the 1980’s – Duchess potatoes.
These were a childhood favourite of mine and something we only ever had on Christmas day, so it was always something to look forward to. I remember mum making them in advance and freezing them, so all she needed to do was defrost and warm through on the day. Mum always made them with white potatoes to go alongside the roasties, but as I don’t eat white potatoes, I thought I’d try something different and make them with sweet potatoes instead.
It does take a little preparation to make these, but don’t be put off. My piping skills are non-existent, but I managed to produce something that looks as though I actually knew what I was doing. They are a show-stopping side dish that will add that something extra to your Christmas meal and the colour of these is just so vibrant and gorgeous, they are going to look amazing alongside the purple of the red cabbage and the bright green of the sprouts.
Tomorrow I will be making stuffing balls, with cranberry, orange and chestnuts.
Duchess Sweet Potatoes
A nightshade free alternative to the classic 80's side dish, Duchess Potatoes
It was my birthday yesterday, so naturally this calls for cake.
Deciding on carrot cake muffins with ‘cream cheese’ topping, I set about converting a recipe. I’m not a fan of overly sweet things, really I’m not. Not since I’ve been doing yearly sugar detoxes anyway. Whilst I enjoy the occasional sweet treat, I find when I bake myself, I can reduce the sugar considerably and still produce a treat that satisfies.
I’m also a fan of wholesome cakes – my chocolate courgette cake being a family favourite. The sweetness of the carrots, combined with juicy raisins and the crunch of chopped walnuts, just fits the bill.
As you can see, I went a little overboard and made 24 muffins, which is a lot of cake, but I wanted to make plenty to share the birthday love!
The muffins came out a lovely golden brown. They held well and the result was a delicious, moist cake.
If you would like to try them for yourself, you can find the recipe below.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 5.
Line 2 muffin trays with paper cases.
Beat together the oil, sugar and eggs
In a separate bowl, mix together the tapioca, sorghum and quinoa flours with the baking powder, bicarb, salt, cinnamon and ginger.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and beat together until fully incorporated.
Grate the carrots and finely chop the walnuts. Add these, along with the raisins the the mix and stir in.
Divide the mixture evenly between the muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes.
To make the cream cheese frosting:
Sift the icing sugar and cream with the margarine.
Add the vanilla extract and cream cheese, then beat together until smooth.
Once the cakes are cooled, spread the cream cheese frosting on to each muffin, then refrigerate until set.
We sometimes make strawberry cheesecake for a special occasion, but my daughter and I couldn’t resist trying out the same recipe with a new combination of flavours – rhubarb and ginger – just for the sake of it.
And why not? You always need a bit of cheesecake in your life.
I know rhubarb is normally cooked with a lot of sugar to sweeten it, but we wanted to use as little added sugar in this recipe as we could get away with, so we baked it in the oven and added some orange juice, along with some chopped stem ginger in syrup (shop bought).
We used gluten and dairy free ginger biscuits, so there’s already sugar in these and we added just a tablespoon of icing sugar to the cream cheese topping, to help marry all the ingredients together.
As you can see from the photos, we like to put the fruit in the middle of the biscuit base and cream cheese toppings, which works really well in this case. The tartness of the rhubarb ‘jam’, sits well with the ginger biscuit base and the combination of flavours is complemented nicely with the cool creamy topping.
Rhubarb and ginger cheesecake - dairy and gluten free
A lovely combination of flavours, with the tart rhubarb, baked with ginger and orange juice and a cool, creamy topping - all gluten and dairy free
Put the ginger biscuits into a large clear sandwich bag, re-seal and bash with a rolling pin until formed into crumbs
Melt the dairy free spread and add the ginger biscuit crumbs to the melted butter, stirring until fully coated. Pour into a 9 inch round, greased cake tin and press down with the back of a wooden spoon. Put in the fridge to set.
Cut the rhubarb in to 2 inch pieces and add to an oven proof dish. Add the orange juice and stem ginger in syrup, stir to coat and cover with tin foil. Bake in the oven on a medium heat for 30-45 mins until soft. Leave to cool.
Whisk the coconut cream, cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla together until smooth.
Spread the cooled rhubarb over the biscuit base and pour the cream cheese mixture over the top. Put back in the fridge for at least 1 hour, until set.