Choco banana cupcakes (gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free)

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I’m not going to complain that summer is finally here, but the super bright mornings mean that my girls are up super early. Anything from 5am is fair game in our house. Fortunately baking always keeps my eldest entertained, and this morning we tried something new. This cupcake recipe is another chuck it all in the blender jobbies, couldn’t be easier. I let her divide the batter into the cases, which took ages but meant this task kept her occupied for a good half hour. Mission accomplished!

Ingredients for 15 cupcakes:
3 ripe bananas
2 eggs
200ml coconut oil
120g dates
80g pecan nuts
20g cocoa powder

Method:
– preheat your oven to 170C fan assisted/180C non-fan/325F/GM3 and line your tray(s) with cupcake cases

– whiz together all the ingredients until you have thick shake consistency – see here if you do not have a powerful blender or food processor

– divide the batter between your cases and bake for 20 mins

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Chilled Apple & Rhubarb Crumble (gluten & dairy free)

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As the apple season is coming to an end and rhubarb is very plentiful at the moment, I thought I’d share my take on a British classic. The humble crumble has always been a firm favourite of mine; in fact I remember making a pineapple version in one of my first ever Home Economics classes. Times have changed for me and these days I like to find ways to keep sugar out my deserts instead of piling it in.

Rhubarb and apple are a match made in stewed fruit heaven. Although rhubarb is rather tart, if you use Jangold or Royal Gala apples, you shouldn’t have to sweeten it too much. I like to cook the fruit, allow it to cool down and add a tablespoonful of local honey during the blending process as you should need to use less of it this way (see here for some of the fab health benefits of the bee nectar). Rather than being served hot with custard, this is a chilled desert and can be made in advance.

Ingredients (for 6):
200g apple – peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
200g rhubarb – top, tailed and cut into small chunks
Tbsp honey (or sweeten to taste)
200g mixed nuts
50g dried apricots, plus two extra
Chilled cream of choice for serving

Method:
– make the stewed fruit first by placing the rhubarb and apple in a saucepan. Turn the heat up high and when you hear sizzling (after 30-60 secs) put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down low

– cook for 5-10 mins until soft, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the honey/sweetener until it is as sweet as you would like, then tip the contents of the pan into your blender or food processor and whiz on high until smooth. Set to one side

– finely chop the nuts and 50g apricots

– slice the two additional apricots into six pieces each

– when you are ready to plate up divide the stewed fruit into six dishes, then top with the nuts and apricots

– finally spoon a dollop of thick cream on the top, and in the centre place two slices of apricot across each other

TIP: any cream will work well, for those avoiding dairy try coconut cream

Apple & rhubarb muffins (gluten & dairy free)

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I had another fab local fruit & veg selection this week including crisp, sweet jangold apples and delicious rhubarb. I make a fruit compote to mix into plain goats yoghurt for my kids, and while making a jars’ worth I had an idea for these muffins.

I’ve used a large variety of fruit and nuts in the sponge which might seem like a lot of ingredients, but the flavour is definitely worth it. I buy dried goods in bulk either from Suma or Natural Choice, as the quality is far superior to what is readily available in the supermarkets, and the price is better too. I’d highly recommend doing the same if you make a lot of these type of recipes as the small packets can be extortionate!

Ingredients (for 10 large muffins, or 18 cupcakes):
2 large free range eggs
200ml olive oil
100ml water
100g dates
100g dried apricots
100g brazil nuts
100g cashew nuts
100g pecans
100g rhubarb (washed, top & tailed and cut into large chunks)
100g apple (peeled, cored and cut into large chunks)
Tbsp honey (optional)

Method:
– make the compote first: place the rhubarb and apple in a saucepan and turn the heat up high. When you hear sizzling a few minutes in put the lid on the pan and turn the heat down low

– allow to cook for 5-10 mins until soft, add the honey if you’re doing so, then tip the contents of the pan into your blender/food processor and whiz on high until smooth. Set to one side

– preheat the oven to 160C fan/170C non-fan/340F/GM3. Line a cupcake or muffin tray with cases

– either whiz together all the muffin ingredients in your blender/food processor until combined to form a thick wet batter

– OR finely chop the fruit and nuts and place in a large bowl, then whisk together the eggs, olive oil and water in another bowl. Pour over the top of the fruit and nuts combining well

– put a tablespoon of batter into your cases, top with a tablespoon of fruit, then top again with another tablespoon of batter

– bake for 35-40 mins until golden brown and cooked through

Birthday Cake/Chocolate Fudge Cake (dairy & gluten free)

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Something I have learnt recently is that especially when it comes to kids, you can’t please everyone and it’s best all round not to bother trying. Between keeping sugar intake to a minimum and the collective food intolerances of my little family, I have to be resourceful when it comes to catering en masse.

I made a lovely fudgey chocolate cake for my littlest’s birthday a few weeks back, and it was only rejected by two children out of a party of 25, complete success in my books! The cake itself is gluten and dairy free, and works well if you’re looking for a dense, fudgey chocolate sponge. With the added delight of sweet buttery icing, it’s a pretty yummy celebration cake. You could go one step further and decorate it too, and also double up the ingredients to make it two-tiered with extra icing in the middle… decisions decisions!

Ingredients:
(cake) 4 free range eggs
150g brazil nuts
150g pecan nuts
150g desiccated coconut
200g dates
60g cocoa powder
400ml coconut milk
Tbsp olive or coconut oil for greasing
(optional icing) 100g softened butter – I use goats
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp good quality honey

Method:
– preheat the oven to 170C fan/180C non-fan/350F/GM4, and grease a large cake tin or silicone mould with the oil

– whiz together all the cake ingredients in your blender or food processor on the highest setting for about thirty seconds, until you have thick shake consistency OR

– finely chop the nuts and dates, then add the cocoa powder. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs for a full minute until nice & fluffy, then gradually add the coconut milk. Combine well with the nuts and dates

– pour the batter into the tin or mould and bake for 40 mins

– when your cake is cooked and completely cool, mix together all the icing ingredients until smooth and spread over the top

Mini coconut & date cookies

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This is a slight adaptation of a previous recipe I did a while ago, a toned down version to suit younger tastes. This very simple recipe takes just a few mins to prep and the little cookies are always well received by the wee ones.

Ingredients for 20 mini cookies:
100g dates
100g pecans
100g cashews
75g desiccated coconut
100ml olive oil
Free range egg

Method:
– preheat the oven to 170C/350F and lightly grease a non stick baking tray with olive oil

– if you have a high powered blender or food processor, add all ingredients and whiz on high until a dough forms

– if you are mixing by hand, finely chop your nuts and dates, then add the coconut. Whisk the egg and oil together briefly then pour over the other ingredients and combine well

– using two teaspoons gather 50p coin sized pieces of dough and flatten into a cookie shape

– bake for 7 mins and leave to cool before serving

 

Olive oil chocolate cake

olive oil choc cake

I really love to support the little guys, and was thrilled to be introduced to an independent supplier who sells small batch olive oil directly from the growers. Fincalink are a fab Spainish company offering amazing priced oil with very reasonable delivery charges to the UK. At just £11.50 for 2.5L and £6.60 delivery per order, you don’t need to spend huge amounts to instantly save on what you’d pay for equivalent products at the supermarket. I ordered 5 litres of their every day use extra virgin and it was less than £30 all up (which works out just under £3 per 500ml).

The look and taste of this stuff compared with a £3 mass produced bottle is phenomenal. Rather than being thin, greenish and bitter tasting (which is all you’re getting for this price) it’s a thick, merky yellow liquid with a subtle peppery taste that’s really smooth. If this is Fincalink’s every day oil, I cannot wait to try out their finer versions.

As I’m dairy intolerant I’ve been using oils in cakes for many years now, and actually prefer them to butter as I think they make the cake moister. Also the beauty of olive oil is that it can withstand high cooking temperatures without losing its health benefits (unlike most seed oils). Have a read of this article for more info. The end result of this desert is a not too sweet fudgey in the middle slice of pure yumminess.

Ingredients:
2 large free range eggs
150g pecan nuts
150g dates
50g cocoa powder
150ml olive oil
50ml freshly brewed espresso coffee

Method:
– preheat the oven to 170C/350F and grease a small cake or loaf tin

– grind up your nuts and dates so they are finely chopped. You can do this in a high powered blender/food processor or by hand with a sharp knife. Set to one side once you’re finished

– if you’re using a blender whiz up your eggs for a full minute until nice and fluffy, then add all the other ingredients. Whiz on high for about thirty seconds until a thick doughy batter forms

– if you’re making this by hand, whisk your eggs for a minute, then add the oil and coffee and give it another good whisk. Stir in the cocoa, nuts and dates and mix thoroughly to combine

– pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 20 mins. Leave to cool, slice up and serve with your fave accompaniment (mine is thick double goats cream, delish!)

 

Kid friendly choccie treats

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Now that my little girl is off egg, making treats for her has been my new challenge. Don’t get me wrong, she doesn’t have chocolate every day, far from it but at the weekend when everyone else is tucking into a delicious cake, it would be unfair for her to not have anything. These little babies are a modified version of this, they’re a bit sweeter and I’ve left out the seeds. We had friends over for lunch and they were given the seal of approval by all the kids – aged 9, 4 & 3.

Ingredients (to fill 12 cupcake cases):
100g desiccated coconut
100g dates
100g pecans
40g 100% cocoa powder
Tbsp honey
100ml olive oil
50ml coconut oil

Method:
– either whiz all the ingredients together in your blender on the highest setting OR;

– grind the pecans and dates (or finely chop by hand), then mix in the coconut. In a separate bowl mix together the oils and cocoa until nice and smooth, then incorporate into the other bowl

– divide into cases and refrigerate for at least four hours