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Tag Archives: dessert

Dairy-free one-ingredient strawberry ice cream

Since discovering how easy it is to make banana ice cream by simply blending frozen banana until it becomes creamy, I’ve wanted to try other fruit flavours. However, living in the UK doesn’t usually lend itself to eating much summery food. But this glorious summer, yes!

Banana is the perfect fruit to use in a one-ingredient ice cream because it’s naturally creamy and high in sugar. Strawberries on the other hand have a high water content (that’s why frozen strawberries become mushy after defrosting) so can easily produce an icy consistency when blended. But I thought I’d give strawberry ice cream a go seeing as it’s Nicholas’ favourite ice cream flavour.

sugar-free strawberry ice cream

The frozen strawberries blend at a very similar speed to frozen banana and you need to regularly scrape down the sides of the bowl. The result using strawberries was definitely less creamy with a texture of ice cream verging on icy sorbetto. It was sweet enough for both Nicholas and me, but hubby (being Italian and therefore believing strawberries are never sweet enough on their own!) wasn’t so sure. If you’re not sure either, you could add a little honey, agave nectar or icing sugar while you’re blending.

I’ve since read adding a handful of frozen banana slices to the frozen strawberries adds creaminess and sweetness without taking away from the berry flavour. That’s definitely something I’ll try next time.

Like the banana version, it’s easier to blend the pieces of frozen fruit if they’ve been left to defrost for a couple of minutes. If the resulting ‘soft serve’ texture is too soft for you, put the blended mix into the freezer for 15 minutes or so for it to firm up.

If there’s any leftover ice cream, put it into a freezer-safe container for another day (letting it defrost for a couple of minutes and then reblending it before eating, or mush it up with the back of a spoon if you’re lazy like me). I’ve also poured leftovers into ice lolly moulds (sometimes also adding a layer of plain yogurt).

There are lots of other fruit I want to try this with. Jamie Oliver does a similar thing with mango in his 30-Minute Meals although he also adds yogurt, honey and lime juice.

DAIRY-FREE ONE-INGREDIENT STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM

Preparation time is cutting up the strawberries, waiting for them to freeze and then blending them.
A 300-400g punnet of strawberries makes about 4 adult servings.

Cut your strawberries into quarters (or halves if they’re small) and lay them on a tray covered with baking paper. Put in the freezer for a few hours until frozen. If you’re not going to use them immediately, put them in a bag after they’re frozen and keep in the freezer.

Put your frozen strawberry pieces into a food processor. Blend and blend, scraping down the sides, until it becomes creamy (about 5 mins). Don’t worry if you think it’s not going to get creamy, just be patient and keep blending.

Variations:

  • add a handful of sliced frozen banana for a creamier texture
  • freeze a variety of berries, not just strawberries
  • add a little honey, agave nectar or icing sugar for extra sweetness
  • add a little rose water as you’re blending

Other uses:

  • pour leftovers into ice lolly moulds, alternating with layers of plain yogurt

What fruits would you love to try making into healthier ice cream?

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Dairy-free lime cupcakes

At the weekend I became a godmother! And I couldn’t be prouder of my gorgeous (and incredibly cheeky) godson, Lorenzo.

Before he was born, Lorenzo’s parents decided on a colour for his nursery, his pram, etc – lovely lime green. His mum even later incorporated the colour into her wedding dress (which was stunning, by the way). So when I was deciding what I could make for his christening party, I knew I had to include his colour somehow. Voila – lime cupcakes!

dairy-free lime cupcakes

Lorenzo’s papa is lactose-intolerant so I made them completely dairy-free. Even the frosting is dairy-free, topped with some green ‘Ls’ I cut out of ready to roll icing (you need to make these in advance so they can dry and harden).

I was aiming for a lovely marbled green and cream effect as you bit into each cupcake, but in my haste to make them, the green hue was more like a splodge in the centre! I’m sure you can have more success than me swirling the coloured batter through. Or let your kids have fun with different colours.

dairy-free lime cupcakes

This recipe is an adaption of my dairy-free chocolate cupcakes, which I’d adapted from Nigella Lawson’s chocolate olive oil cake. Using healthier olive oil is a great way to eliminate dairy from cakes, and the unanimous decision from the people who’ve tried my chocolate and lime dairy-free cupcakes is that they taste just like ‘normal’ cupcakes!

I used this recipe as the basis for my dairy-free icing, but it’s basically dairy-free spread beaten up with icing sugar to which you then add your choice of flavouring (and colouring if you want). The quantities below make a large amount of icing which is perfect if you want lovely big mountains of piped icing on top. If you just want to spread it on like me (I must learn how to properly pipe!), reduce the quantities. Using a dairy-free spread instead of butter also means the icing will be quite runny after you’ve beaten it; pop it into the fridge for a while to cool before icing your cupcakes.

DAIRY-FREE LIME CUPCAKES

Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Uniced cupcakes can be frozen

200g caster sugar
150ml olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
3 eggs
2 limes, zested and juiced
1 tsp vanilla extract
140g self-raising flour

For the icing:
2/3 cup dairy-free spread
2 1/2 cups icing sugar
2 limes, zested and juiced
green food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

Cream the sugar, olive oil and eggs quite vigorously (about 3 minutes) until you have a pale creamy texture. Turn the speed of your beater or mixer down a little. Add the vanilla extract, lime zest and juice, beating until combined.

Slowly add the flour and gently mix until combined.

Put about 1/4 cup of the mixture into a small bowl and mix through a little food colouring.

Divide the rest of your uncoloured mixture evenly between the paper cases. Add a spoonful of your green mixture to each and swirl through using a skewer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.

Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack while you make the icing. Briefly cream the dairy-free spread using a hand-held beater or mixer then slowly add the icing sugar a bit at a time, beating until light and fluffy. Add in half of the zest and juice, and taste. Keep adding a little more zest and juice, tasting as you go, until you’re happy with the flavour. Mix through the food colouring if using.

Have fun decorating your cakes.

Variations:

  • for dairy-free lemon cupcakes, replace the zest and juice of the 2 limes with the zest and juice of 1 lemon;
  • for an indulgent gluten-free squidgy dessert, substitute the flour with the same amount of ground almonds and instead of the icing, drizzle with a lime sugar syrup.

Dairy-free chocolate cupcakes

Here in the UK the weather is glorious (and what a difference that makes to everyone’s mood!). Although I’ve lived here for (hang on while I count…) almost eight years (EIGHT YEARS – where did that time go?!) and I’m half-British, I find it really difficult to do the very British thing of stripping down to summer clothes the instant the sun drags itself out. My head just needs time to adjust (and often by that time, ‘summer’ is over!).

But, what my friends and I are very good at is having barbecues to make the most of our limited sun exposure. Thankfully Nicholas, growing up in the UK, isn’t missing out on seeing the men folk standing around a sizzling barbecue, stubby in hand (how many of you are going to have to look that one up?!), tending the flames, while the women folk do pretty much everything else (and I wouldn’t have it any other way!).

diary-free chocolate cupcakes

I made these cupcakes last weekend for our friends’ barbecue. I’ve been wanting to try Nigella’s Chocolate Olive Oil Cake for a while, especially as the barbecue-tending half of our dearest friends is lactose intolerant. The original recipe makes a dense and squidgy flourless cake (well it’s Nigella after all!) which I’m sure is amazing, but for a sunny day, after eating loads of meat, I wanted to make something a bit lighter. I also thought by the time we’d want dessert we’d be lazily enjoying the sun, not wanting to move, therefore ‘pop-in-the-mouth-without-effort’ cupcakes would be better than a whole cake 🙂

If you followed Nigella’s original recipe, using all ground almonds and no flour, these would make fabulous gooey individual puddings. They’re also easy enough, with lots of measuring and mixing, to get your little ones to help you make them.

diary-free chocolate cupcakes

DAIRY-FREE CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 15-20 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Freezable

150ml olive oil (not extra virgin olive oil)
50g good quality cocoa powder, sifted
125ml boiling water
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
75g ground almonds
65g plain flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
200g caster sugar
3 eggs

Preheat the oven to 170C and line your cupcake tray with paper cases.

In a small bowl or jug, whisk the sifted cocoa powder with the boiling water until you have a smooth paste. Whisk in the vanilla and leave to cool.

Cream the sugar, olive oil and eggs quite vigorously (about 3 minutes) until you have a pale creamy texture. Turn the speed of your beater or mixer down a little and pour in the cocoa paste, beating until combined.

Slowly add the flour, ground almonds, bicarbonate of soda and salt, and gently mix until combined.

Divide your mixture evenly between the paper cases and bake for 15-20 minutes (when you stick a skewer in to test, it should come out mainly clean possibly with some chocolate cake crumbs attached).

Eat warm or cold, dusted with icing sugar or not.

Variations:

  • for a gluton-free squidgy cupcake, substitute the flour with more ground almonds (140g in total).

Dairy-free banana bread

I didn’t realise how much I used bananas in cooking until I started writing this blog! There’s banana muffinsbanana 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.  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.

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.

Chocolate cheesecake slice

To celebrate National Chocolate Week (there’s a week or day for everything, isn’t there?) I’m sharing one of my favourite and oldest baking recipes on Mindful Mum. It’s also anticipating National Baking Week next week (I kid you not!). This slice never fails to please, and combines the richness of brownies with the tanginess of cheesecake (what more could you ask for?!).

Head over to Mindful Mum for the recipe.

Gingerbread cupcakes with cream cheese icing

National Cupcake Week is drawing to an end, but I didn’t think I could let it pass by without trying to make some gingerbread cupcakes. While they’re probably more appropriate for Christmas (at least I’m getting ahead!), their warm spiciness and dark sugariness are perfect as the weather gets colder.

You could easily ice these with normal icing or vanilla buttercream icing; I just love the flavour combination of gingerbread and cream cheese. I also didn’t want to make a very firm icing because then the sugary flavour would overpower the cream cheese flavour, but if you want an icing you can pipe high on top of the cupcakes, then just add some more icing sugar to the mixture.

GINGERBREAD CUPCAKES WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING

Prep time: 20-25 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Makes 12 cupcakes
Uniced cupcakes can be frozen for up to a month

Gingerbread cupcakes

125g self-raising flour
½ tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground ginger
125g butter, softened
125g dark muscovado sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp golden syrup

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

Sift the flour, baking powder and ground ginger together.

Sprinkle the muscovado sugar over the butter, breaking any lumps up as much as you can. Beat the butter and sugar with a handheld mixer, or in a food processor, until creamy.

At a slower speed, add the eggs (one at a time) and golden syrup.

Carefully fold in the flour mixture, being careful not to overmix it.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 12-15 mins until cooked through when tested with a skewer. Cool on a wire rack.

Cream cheese icing

90g butter, softened
150g cream cheese, softened
400g icing sugar, sifted
A sprinkling of cinnamon to serve

Beat the butter until creamy and pale in colour.

Add the cream cheese and lightly beat together.

Mix in the icing sugar, lightly beating until creamy.

Once the cupcakes are cool, spread or pipe the icing on top. Sprinkle lightly with cinnamon.

Tip: the cream cheese icing is quite soft; if you want a firmer icing that holds its shape better for piping higher, add more icing sugar to the mixture.