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Category Archives: dessert

Spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

My most popular recipe on the blog is my sugar-free flapjacks. Obviously lots of people want a healthier version of this popular treat.

I make my sugar-free version fairly regularly and even serve them up to unsuspecting adult guests, even though I initially invented them for littlies.

I’ve also experimented with other flavour combinations but usually forget to write them down. This variation is one I like a lot and can be made more spiced if serving it to big people. More importantly, I’ve managed to write it down!

spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Once again it’s sugar-free, using a little honey and mashed banana instead for sweetness. This time though, extra sweetness comes from soft dried apple and raisins rather than the original recipe’s dates. There’s also the addition of orange zest.

If you’re making this for toddlers, I would first try making the flapjacks with the smaller amounts of spice (1/2 tsp of cinnamon and 1/4 tsp of cloves) while adults will like more warming spice (1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of cloves).

There are lots of ingredients to mix so this is a great recipe to get your children involved.

SPICED APPLE SUGAR-FREE FLAPJACKS

Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 16 squares

100g butter
3 tbsp honey
200g porridge oats
100g soft dried apple, chopped into pieces no bigger than 1cm
30g desiccated coconut
50g raisins
30g golden linseeds (or flaxseeds), plus extra for sprinkling on the top
1/2 – 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
zest of an orange, grated (or 1/2 tsp orange extract)
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 175C and grease a 20cm square baking tin.

Gently melt the butter and honey either in a saucepan or in the microwave. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the oats, chopped dried apple, coconut, raisins, golden linseeds, cinnamon, cloves and orange zest together.

Add the mashed bananas to the melted butter and honey, stir to combine and then pour into the dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Press the mixture firmly into your tin and sprinkle over the extra seeds.

Bake for 15-20 mins until golden on top and it’s coming away from the sides of the tin.

Take out of the oven and, while it’s still warm, use a knife to score where you will cut. Leave in the tin to cool before cutting.

spiced apple sugar-free flapjacks

Variations:

  • Make dairy-free flapjacks by replacing the butter with a dairy-free margarine

Tip: if you have fussy little ones, to avoid them pulling out pieces of dried fruit, chop the apple (maybe also the raisins) into very small pieces for a smoother and more homogeneous mix.

You might also like

The original sugar-free flapjacks (oat bars)

The original sugar-free flapjacks (oat bars)

Coconut and lime macaroons

While Easter is over, although the tempting chocolate eggs linger, I wanted to share one last Easter-inspired recipe. The great thing is you don’t need to wait until next Easter to make them. Shape them into circles or other shapes, colour them or not, and they’re a great dairy-free sweet morsel.

coconut and lime macaroon eggs

This recipe (apart from the food colouring) is an unchanged Jill Dupleix recipe and, following her food philosophy, they are a wonderfully light treat. The non-traditional lime zest and juice add a fresh zing, and contrast perfectly with the chewy coconut interior, making it easier to eat another one, and another one, and another one!

I wanted little bite-sized macaroons so I used a very small round cookie cutter approximately 4cm in diameter. I then shaped the circles into egg shapes by gently pinching the top. Jill uses the rim of a small liqueur glass to make slightly bigger macaroons. Because mine were smaller than the original recipe, they cooked quicker. Do watch them closely as they can colour very quickly at the end (as you can see in my photo!).

Nicholas had great fun helping me squish and squeeze the ingredients together with our hands. He also enjoyed cutting out the circles, but because of the sticky consistency of the mixture he needed help to get them on the baking tray.

making coconut and lime macaroons

Make them plain like the original recipe or add some food colouring for fun. We also made multi-coloured macaroons by pressing stripes of different coloured mixture together. With so few ingredients they’re perfect for your munchkin’s next cooking activity.

COCONUT AND LIME MACAROONS

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 8-12 mins
Makes 30 bite-sized macaroons

2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
160g desiccated coconut
1 tsp grated lime (about 1/2 a lime)
1 tbsp lime juice (about 1/2 a lime)
food colouring of your choice (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Put the egg whites, sugar, coconut, lime zest and juice in a bowl, and use your hands to mix and squeeze until they lightly come together.

If using food colouring, divide you mixture into smaller bowls and add a drop or two of your desired colouring. Mix until evenly coloured.

On a piece of baking paper, press the mixture into a flat shape (about 1cm high) using wet hands.

Use a small round cookie cutter (approx. 4cm in diameter) to cut out small rounds, and place on your prepared baking tray.

Using wet hands, gently pinch the top of each circle to create oval shapes.

Bake for 8-12 minutes in the centre of the oven until just starting to colour.

Cool the macaroons on a wire rack (move them carefully as they’ll still be quite soft while they’re still warm), and store in an airtight jar.

Happy belated Easter from my own little Easter bunny!

Easter Food Inspiration

Easter is almost here. Let your imagination run wild and make something too cute for your munchkins to eat. Need some inspiration? Here are some of my favourites.

Easter Bunny Rolls

Easter Bunny Rolls from Taste of Home
How could you not smile if these little edible bunnies were on your table?

Easter egg popsicles

Easter Egg Popsicles by Kailo Chic
Kara’s use of plastic Easter eggs is brilliant. She uses fruit juice, but you could also
try flavoured yogurt, pureed fruit, lemonade, or pureed banana and Nutella.

Easter Egg Lunch

Easter Egg Lunch by Gluesticks
You don’t need to shape your food into complicated bunnies
or chicks, just put bite-sized morsels into plastic Easter eggs.
I love the simplicity of Brandy’s idea. She’s also gotten her kids
to go on an egg hunt to find their lunch!

Little Chick SandwichLittle Chicken Lunch by Little Bento Blog
I love the simplicity of Yvette’s little chicken with
its ham crest, and carrot legs and beak.
Check out her blog for other fabulous cute ideas for lunches.

Easter Bunny 1Easter Bunny Lunch by Creative Food Blog
I’m an avid reader of Michelle’s blog and love her creativity
(check out the Angry Birds party she’s just done for her daughter).
Her bunny with its banana ears is just the cutest thing on a plate!

baby-chicks-marshmallows1

Baby Chick Marshmallow Treats by Living Locurto
Amy’s chicks are so cute and yet so easy to make, and a nice sweet Easter treat.
All you need are marshmallows, jellybeans, some icing and an edible food pen.
(Leave out the toothpick legs for little mouths).

Marzipan-filled Easter Pastries

Marzipan-filled Easter Pastries by Sweetapolita

Rosie’s Maltese pastries are stunning. Even if you don’t have the time to make
them, you could use them as inspiration for your own decorated bunny cookies.
While Rosie used piped stiff icing for her fluffy bunny tails, I love the idea of
using mini meringues (mini easter eggs would be cute too).

The fluffiest pancakes

Today is pancake day (Shrove Tuesday). It marks the last day before Lent, which traditionally is a period of abstinence, and what better excuse for your family to start the day with something more indulgent than your usual cereal and toast?

Many people like their pancakes thin, similar to crepes. I’ll happily eat those but usually filled with a savoury filling. For me, sweet pancakes have to be thick and fluffy, stacked high and topped with fruit.

My lovely niece Emily made these for us for Christmas breakfast. It’s a fantastic recipe from Exclusively Food that doesn’t need an extra standing time, and produces pancakes that aren’t too sweet and are perfectly fluffy (even the first one you make).

I’ve made no changes to the original recipe – they’re absolute perfection! However, they do suggest using the back of a spoon to spread out the batter, just as you pour it into the pan, to form an 11cm diameter circle. You could do this if you prefer thinner pancakes; I just let the batter spread on its own to keep them thick (and they spread to the same diameter anyway).

The fluffiest pancakes

THE FLUFFIEST PANCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 20-25 mins
Makes about 12 medium pancakes

375ml (1 1/2 cups) full cream milk
2 tsp (10ml) lemon juice
35g (2 tbsp) sugar
225g (1 1/2 cups) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 large egg
30g (1 1/2 tbsp) butter, melted
Extra butter, for greasing pan

Mix the milk, lemon juice and sugar in a medium bowl, then set aside for five minutes. (It might develop a slightly curdled look during this time.)

Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda together into a large bowl.

Break the egg into the milk mixture and add the melted butter. Whisk until the egg has combined with the milk (don’t worry it the butter just floats on the surface).

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture and whisk quickly until almost smooth (the batter should still have a few small lumps). Don’t overmix the batter as this can make the pancakes tough. Leave the batter to rest while the pan is preheating (at least two minutes).

Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan to lightly grease it.

For each pancake, scoop 1/4 cup of the batter into the pan. Cook only two or three at a time, otherwise turning the pancakes will be difficult.

Cook the first side until small bubbles appear and burst on the surface (about 1-2 minutes).

Turn over with a spatula and cook until the second side is lightly browned and the pancakes are cooked through (another 1-2 minutes).

Cover with a clean tea towel to keep warm while you finish making the others. Add a little more butter to grease the pan each time and keep checking the temperature of the pan as it will probably need to be reduced as the pan heats up with use.

Dairy-free banana bread

I didn’t realise how much I used bananas in cooking until I started writing this blog! There’s banana muffins,Β  banana teething biscuits, banana chips, banana icecream, banana pikelets, banana and butternut squash loaf, and they’re also my ‘secret’ sweetener in my sugar-free flapjacks. And these are just the recipes I’ve blogged!

Banana is commonly one of the first solid foods a baby experiences, and I think I probably just tried different things with them as Nicholas always loves them.Β  I also pretty much constantly have some very ripe ones in the freezer waiting to be turned into something yummy.

I’ve tried many banana bread recipes over the years with varying degrees of success. Most of the time I prefer mine to be light and fluffy like a sponge, rather than heavy and moist. And while I adore cream cheese frosting, for me this banana bread is much better without it distracting your taste buds. It also means I feel less guilt when eating it for breakfast.

dairy-free banana bread

Banana bread recipes are quite similar overall with a different tweak here and there. My recipe isn’t anything new, but it’s evolved from combining recipes I’ve come across and experimenting until I was happy.

One thing you might want to experiment with is the texture of the mashed banana. Some cooks puree it with a blender while others leave it quite chunky. Supposedly pureeing it gives a richer banana flavour to the finished product. I mash my bananas with a fork, but mash about half of them until they’re very smooth and the remainder I only mash a little so you find the occasional chunk in the finished bread.

There’s quite a bit of banana in this recipe, but you can easily get away with less; even two smallish bananas would work fine (you want at least 175g of it unpeeled).

DAIRY-FREE BANANA BREAD

Prep time: 10-15 mins
Cook time: 40-45 mins
Freezable

175g self-raising flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
175g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/2 medium bananas, mashed
50g walnuts (or pecans), chopped

Preheat the oven to 160C. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Whisk the sugar, eggs and oil together at a medium speed using a handheld beater or in an electric mixer. Whisk for a few minutes until it’s pale and fluffy.

Sift in the flour and baking powder, add the mashed banana, and mix until combined using a low speed. Gently stir through the walnuts.

Pour into your prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.

Variations:

  • Make individual muffins instead of a loaf (easier to freeze if you’re not going to eat all of it)
  • Dust with icing sugar
  • Top with cream cheese frosting for a more decadent loaf

dairy-free banana breadI’m linking up this recipe to the One Ingredient Challenge hosted by Franglais Kitchen and How to Cook Good Food. Why not enter your own banana recipe and join the linky party? Read the rules here.

Lemon slice

This is an indulgent recipe, perfect to make for the weekend ahead when everyone needs a bit of pampering and food love.

I’m not sure if this is Australian, but I’ve never seen it outside of Oz (please correct me if I’m wrong!). It’s one of the many foodie things I forget about not living there, and my reaction is always ‘I haven’t eaten that in so long! Why did I forget it when it’s so delicious?!?’

This time around it was the mum of my dearest and oldest friend who made it, and I without any embarrassment or shame (surprisingly for me), ate piece after piece after piece (it was better that I didn’t keep count!).

lemom slice

This has to be one of the simplest recipes possible. It involves no cooking, just crushing and mixing the few ingredients in a food processor then pressing into a tin. I let Nicholas push the button on the food processor for his very first time making this slice. He leaned towards the safety of mum during its loud bursts, a bit unsure, but he also loved pushing that button!

If you’re making this with kids, instead of using a food processor, you can get them to crush the biscuits in a secure and clean plastic bag with a rolling pin (lots of fun!), then mix in the rest of the ingredients by hand.

Try it, but I take absolutely no responsibility for how many pieces you’ll be eating πŸ˜‰

LEMON SLICE

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 0 mins πŸ™‚
Makes about 20 slices

250g plain sweet biscuits
1/2 tin (about 200g) condensed milk
125g butter, melted and cooled
1 cup desiccated coconut
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 cup icing sugar

Line a square or rectangular cake or slice tin (mine is 20 x 20cm) with baking paper.

Crush the biscuits in a food processor until there aren’t any big chunks left. Add the condensed milk, melted butter, coconut and lemon zest. Pulse to combine.

Press the mixture into the tin using the back of a spoon to spread it evenly. Put into the fridge to set for at least a couple of hours.

To make the icing, stir 1 tsp of lemon juice into the icing sugar, adding more lemon juice a tiny bit at a time until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Pour over the base and let it set in the fridge for another hour or so.

Cut into squares and devour.

Variations:

  • use orange zest and juice instead of lemon to make a sweeter citrus slice
  • if you’re not a big fan of coconut, you can leave it out in the base
  • if you are a big fan of coconut you can sprinkle some extra over the icing
  • ice with chocolate icing instead
  • use ginger biscuits for a tangy lemon slice

Tip: a lazy way to make the lemon icing is to put the icing sugar and 1 tsp of lemon juice in a saucepan with 1 tbsp butter. Stir over a low heat until it’s smooth. Add more lemon juice if it’s too thick.

Happy 2013 (and how to use up Christmas candy canes)

During our lovely long and sunny holiday on the other side of the world, I enjoyed being relatively technology free. Forgive me if it takes me a little while to get back into the swing of things. Going from hot days at the beach to waking up this morning to a fine layer of snow is difficult!

If, like me, you’re struggling to go back to your routine, why not hold on to some Christmas cheer for just a bit more by making my Christmas candy cane balls. You probably have some candy canes left over and these are a great way to use them up (and they taste yummy too, even if I do say so myself!). There’s no cooking involved, have only three main ingredients (plus some coconut for rolling them in) and kids will love bashing up the candy canes.

Candy cane balls

My recipe is over at Mindful Mum.