Category Archives: Sweet Dishes

Beetroot Muffins

muffin 002With all the baking thats going on in the UK at the moment it seems like a good time to get on board with healthier options. Carrot cake gets all the press when it comes to cake baking, here we use beetroot maximising the earthy flavour and awesome colour that it gives out. The individual muffins help me in the restraint department. When we make a big cake I just keep carving ‘carpachio’ slivers off until the cake has disappeared. Individual cakes helps me display a modicum of inner strength, convinicing myself that one is enough. If you don’t have muffin cases then use baking paper New York deli style. Suitable for gluten free.

Ingredients (makes 8 muffins)

200g ground almonds
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder (gluten free baking powder if you want to keep the recipe gluten free)
100g caster sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
60ml oil
2 medium eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
75g beetroot (once peeled and grated)
Zest of one orange

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Lightly oil the muffin tin and put a paper case in. If you have a silicone muffin tin, there is no need to use cases.

Take a mixing bowl and mix all of the dry ingredients. In a seperate bowl whisk together the eggs, oil and vanilla. Fold the two together. Stir in the grated beetroot and the zested orange.

Spoon into the prepared muffin tin and pile nice and high, so that the muffins will rise above the line. Put into the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until a nice golden colour on top and an inserted wooden skewer into the centre of the muffin comes out clean. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Festive Cookies

CookiesThis recipe will give you a seriously good cookie. The combination of chestnut flour, allspice, orange and fig resonates with the festive season. I just cross referenced a normal cookie recipe from the internet and all of them were in the region of 100g of butter and 225g of sugar. This recipe uses no butter, 60g of sugar and has the added bonus that it is gluten free and tastes as moorish as a normal cookie. Most health food shops will stock chestnut flour. You can use a different flour if you are not bothered with gluten free eg; spelt.

Ingredients (makes 10 to 12)

100ml oil
100g chestnut flour
60g demerara sugar (or Xylitol)
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 1/2 tsps ground allspice (or nutmeg)
1 egg
50g hazelnuts
100g dried figs
Zest and juice of half a large orange
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the hazelnuts into a pyrex dish and roast them for around 10 minutes or until they have a slight golden colour. Remove and leave to cool down. Turn the oven down to 160.

With an electric whisk (or by hand if you don’t have one), whisk together the egg, sugar and vanilla. Sift in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and allspice and lightly mix together with a spoon or spatula. Roughly chop the hazelnuts or crush them with the back of a frying pan. Cut the figs into small squares, add the orange zest and juice and give a good mix together.

Cookie2Your mix will yield 12 cookies so use that as a guide to size. Spoon onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray – you will probably need two, approximately two inches apart as they will spread a little when baking. Lightly press them down with the spoon. Place into the oven. After 8 minutes or so, remove from the oven and press them down with your hand. The total cooking time will be 15 to 20 minutes – you could turn them over for the last couple of minutes, to ensure they are totally cooked underneath.

Leave to cool completely, as they firm up even more in the cooling process. If they last longer than one hour store in a tupperware or biscuit tin.

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cake

Its that time of year where we have time to indulge in such luxuries as cake making.  Smells filling the house, warming it up rather than over heating it (we live in Spain). This is a Nikki recipe. We are experimenting with different no gluten flours that are not heavily processed like some of the branded gluten free flour on the shelves.

Pumpkin is really popular with cakes and desserts in the America. In Europe we tend to go for different roots like carrot or beetroot. This cake is dense and will last forever getting better day by day. It would of been called ‘hippy cake’ where I am from, not that thats a bad thing. Its the chestnut flour that gives it that texture. I really like it for its longevity and it can also double up as a winter dessert.  Serve it with yoghurt and honey or yoghurt agave or vanilla ice cream. Failing that it works really just with a cup of tea.

If you find this cake a little dense or you cannot find chestnut flour, you can use ground almonds instead.

Ingredients

225g pumpkin (once peeled and grated)
200g chestnut flour
4 large eggs
175g brown sugar (or half xylitol) if you have it, all sugar is fine
225ml oil
1 tsp gluten free baking powder
2 tsps ground ginger
75g raisins
50g hazelnuts (roughly chopped)

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees and grease, line and flour (with the chestnut flour) a 23cm (9 inch) springform cake tin.

Sieve the flour, ginger and baking powder into a large bowl. Whisk together the eggs, oil and sugar in a seperate bowl until mixed well. Fold the egg mixture into the dry mix and add the carrots, raisins and hazelnuts.

Pour into the prepared cake tin and cook for 50 to 55 minutes. If you insert a wooden skewer into the middle of the cake it should come out completely clean, and feel firm to the touch in the middle.

Leave to cool in the tin for at least half an hour before transferring to a plate.

In the photo it has been served with Quark and a drizzle of agave.

Cinnamon and Honey Cake

This is a tasty tea time cake with lots of cinnamon, which has strong resonances of a Moroccan kitchen.

Ingredients

250g ground almonds
1/4 tsp Maldon sea salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g walnuts roughly chopped
65g dried raisins
60ml  organic sunflower oil
6oml good quality organic honey
2 large eggs

For the top;

2 tbsps ground cinnamon
2 tbsps oil
60ml honey
50g flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  Mix together the ground almonds, salt, bicarbonate of soda, walnuts and currants together.  In a seperate bowl whisk together the oil, agave and the eggs.  Fold in the egg mix to the almond mix.  Pour this into a lined and greased 20cm springform cake tin.  To keep the recipe gluten free, I tend to use cornflour.

Now you want to prepare the topping for the cake.  Mix together the cinnamon, oil, agave and almonds.  Evenly distribute over the top of the cake and then put into the oven for 30 to 235 minutes.

Leave to cool in the tin for at least 40 minutes before removing.

Raw Brownie

This is a real success story.  It´s  a  5/10 in terms of how easy it is to make with superb results.  The first time we made this recipe we  used all cocoa powder.  As we are always trying get more health into our healthy desserts we were trying carob, which hasn’t got great press, unfairly so.  This recipe uses  50g carob powder and 25g cocoa.

Nothing was lost in the taste but a little gained in the originality of using  a fairly unknown ingredient.  I would see no problem in replacing the cocoa for the carob gram for gram.  This is an effective and tasty snack to pack up if you are training to get through to the next part of the day or just in your lunch box as a healthy sweet thing.  Raw Brownie has unlimited shelf life within reason.

Ingredients

300g dried figs
250g peeled almonds or 150g almonds and 100g walnuts
65g hazelnuts
75g cocoa or carob powder
50g dessicated coconut
2 tsps vanilla essence
3 tbsps orange blossom water (if you cannot get this then use either rosewater or fresh orange juice)
50g dried cranberries

Method 

Soak the figs in water for an hour.  Thoroughly drain the water and blend until nice and smooth in a food processor.  Roughly chop the almonds (and walnuts if you are using them), and add to the processor.  Pulse the nuts with the figs.  It is okay if there are a few chunks in the mix.  Chop the hazelnuts and add to the mix along with the cocoa powder, coconut and vanilla essence.  Pulse a few times.  The mix should be starting to come together now.

Remove from the food processor with a silicone spatula and place into a bowl.  Chop the cranberries with a large knife and stir into the mix.

At this point we want to add the orange blossom water.  Do this one tablespoonful at a time, making sure the cranberries are evenly distributed.  Once all the water has been added the mix should be smooth and pliable.

Take a disposable aluminum tray or tupperware container approximately 30cm long and 18cm wide, if you don´t have exactly these measurements that is okay, it will just affect the thickness of the brownie.  The desired thickness is 1cm thick.

With a spatula, evenly press the brownie into the container.  Once this is done, lay greaseproof paper over the top.  Place a heavy weight over the top and leave for an hour.  This is to ensure the brownie is nice and compact.

Place in the fridge for one hour to set, before cutting into pieces.  It is upto you what size pieces to cut the brownie, but they do not need to be big.

Keep in a tupperware container in the fridge.

Gluten Free Ginger Loaf

Today you can find many different options for gluten free baking.  Brown rice flour, cornflour, corn starch, polenta all with  varying degree of success.  Some of the gluten free flour mixes for baking work well but can leave  a chalky aftertaste in the mouth, I am guessing this comes from the cornstarch.  This recipe uses  almond powder resulting in a  lovely rich  texture which retains moisture over time.

Ingredients

250g ground almonds
2 tsps ground cinnamon
5 tsps ground ginger
1 1/2 tsps ground nutmeg
125g raisins
1/2 tsp salt
125ml of olive oil
3 eggs
125ml maple or agave syrup (or mix of both)

Method

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees centigrade.  Grease a 26cm loaf tin with olive oil, and lightly dust the sides with cornflour (I am using cornflour here to keep the cake completely gluten free.  If you don´t have this use any of the above flours, or just oil well.  The cake may stick a little if you don´t use any flour, just loosen from the sides before removing from the tin.

Mix together the almond powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and raisins.  In a seperate whisk together the oil, eggs and syrup.  Blend the two mixes together and evenly pour into the tin.

Bake for approximately 55 minutes.  The top may brown before the cake is completely cooked, this is not a problem, just cover the loaf tin with foil.  When tested to see if the cake is cooked, insert a wooden skewer into the centre and if it comes out clean it is ready.

Beetroot and Cranberry Cake

Ingredients

140g spelt flour
110g ground almonds
2 tsps baking powder
100g soft brown sugar
175ml olive or sunflower oil
200g peeled and grated raw beetroot (this should be the weight once grated)
100g dried cranberries
2 large eggs
Zest and juice of a small orange
30-35 whole peeled almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°.  Grease and line the bottom of an 8in (20cm) round spring-form cake tine.  Grate the beetroots into a large bowl, roughly chop the cranberries and add to the beetroot.  Sift in the flour and the baking powder.  Mix in the almond powder and blend the mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl beat the eggs and whisk in the oil.  Add this to the beetroot mix, stir well and add the zest and the juice.  Pour the batter evenly into the cake tin and then carefully lay the almonds onto the batter.

Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Cashew and Ginger Spelt Cookies

There is nothing better than having a biscuit tin full of fresh cookies. Normally this is out of bounds if you are keeping to a healthy regime because they are full of butter and sugar.  Here we have lost the butter and replaced the sugar with agave syrup (which is lower on the glycemic index), and also retaining the chewiness which is what we all love about a cookie through the use of almond paste or tahini.  The crystallised ginger makes up for the loss of chocolate chips.

Ingredients (makes 12 medium size cookies)

125g spelt flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
50g cashews
65g crystallised ginger
65g agave syrup
75g almond paste or tahini
65g light olive oil or good sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/4 tsp salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees.  In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix in the sugar and the salt.  In a separate bowl whisk the oil with the agave, almond paste (or tahini) and vanilla essence.

Fold together the above ingredients always remembering to be gentle generally when working with pastries.  Add the roughly chopped nuts and ginger, and mix gently until evenly distributed.

Spoon 12 rounds of the mix onto a large lined baking tray (you could do these in two batches if you dont have a large baking tray) leaving 3cm in-between each cookie as they will spread a little in the oven.  Bake for 10 minutes.

The cookies will still be fairly soft when they come out of the oven, but this is fine as they firm when cooling.  Should be light golden in colour.

Banana & Almond Bars

This is an alternative recipe to flapjacks. We found all flapjack recipes contained butter and sugar.  We tried a few flapjack recipes substituting the butter for oil but they did not hold together.

In this version the natural sweetness comes from the bananas and the dates. The bananas bind it all together.

Ingredients

2 large, ripe bananas
125g dates (buy dates without the stone)
60g walnuts
60g blended linseeds or pumpkin seeds (you can buy this already done in health food shops, there is a good brand called Linwoods)
225g small oats
125g flaked almonds

Method

Heat the oven to 200 degrees centigrade.  Place the flaked almonds into the oven and toast until golden brown.  Take out, leave to cool and reduce the oven temperature to 180 degrees.

Mash the bananas until very soft.  Chop the dates into small pieces (size is not so important, but they need to be fairly small).  Roughly chop the walnuts, and mix together all of the ingredients except for the flaked almonds.

To bake these bars you need a 22x22cm (9x9in) glass or ceramic baking dish. Lightly grease the dish with olive oil.

Evenly spread the flaked almonds onto the bottom of the dish, and then press the oat mix over the top.  Press down firmly with your hands as you need the almonds to stick and to ensure a compact biscuit.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins.

Leave to cool completely, before cutting into squares.  If you have used a metal baking tray, then you will need to turn out onto a board, to prevent scratching the tray with your knife.