Vegetarian food blog featuring delicious and nutritious whole food recipes, creative baking and luscious chocolate.

Red Gooseberry Cakes – A Tart Taste of Summer

Little Red Gooseberry Cakes

Small Cakes, Summer | 9th July 2014 | By

These light and fluffy little red gooseberry cakes hold a tart surprise inside for those not in the know. They’re simple to make and have no fussy icing, which makes them easily portable. Perfect treats for summer parties and picnics.


Mini Chocolate & Rhubarb Pavlovas

Dessert, Preserves | 6th June 2013 | By

Rhubarb Chocolate Pavlova
Chocolate Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Rhubarb Curd

Last weekend my mother turned up with a lovely bunch of rhubarb from her garden. Rhubarb used to flourish on our allotment and we had a big glut every year. Since moving down to our plot on the field, however, rhubarb has persistently refused to grow and I really miss it. One of the things I used to make was rhubarb curd and I had a sudden yearning to make some again. However, as this was back in pre-blog days, I couldn’t remember exactly how I made it or what recipe I used, so I cobbled something together with a little help from Belleau Kitchen. My yearning was partially stimulated by a desire to make chocolate meringues and top them with rhubarb curd in a grand vision I had for chocolate and rhubarb pavlovas. For the chocolate meringues, I again did my own thing using the Riverford Farm Cook Book as my initial inspiration.

This is what I did to make:

Chocolate Meringues

Chocolate Meringues
Chocolate Meringues
  • Separated 3 large duck eggs and whisked the whites in a large clean bowl until foamy, reserving the yolks for the curd.
  • Added a pinch of cream of tarter and whisked until soft peaks had formed.
  • Added 200g vanilla sugar (golden caster) a spoonful at a time, whisking in between each one.
  • Sieved in 3 teaspoons of arrowroot (I generally use this instead of cornflour as it has similar properties and is said to be beneficial).
  • Sieved in 4 teaspoons of cocoa powder and whisked until stiff peaks had formed.
  • Spooned the mixture onto lined baking trays to form eight circles, leaving plenty of space in between each one (just as well I did as the meringues virtually doubled in size).
  • Formed into nest shapes. leaving a large indentation in the middle.
  • Sprinkled a little cocoa powder over each one.
  • Baked at 150C for 10 minutes, then at 125C for a further hour. Switched off the oven and left the meringues inside until cold.

Meanwhile I made:

Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd

Rhubarb and Elderflower Curd
Rhubarb & Elderflower Curd
  • Chopped 400g of already trimmed rhubarb stalks into chunks.
  • Put them in a pan with 2 tbsp elderflower cordial and simmered until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Used a stick blender to puree.
  • Mixed the 3 egg yolks in a bowl with 100g vanilla sugar (golden caster).
  • Placed over a pan of simmering water and stirred – I didn’t want it so hot that I got scrambled eggs.
  • Added the hot rhubarb puree and continued to stir.
  • After about 10 minutes of regular (but not continuous) stirring, added 50g unsalted butter.
  • Stirred for another 5 minutes or so, until the mixture had thickened.
  • Poured into sterilised jars & sealed.
Next step was to make:

Roasted Rhubarb

Roasted Rhubarb
Rhubarb Roasted with Elderflower Cordial
  • Cut 200g of already trimmed rhubarb sticks into finger sized lengths. 
  • Cut this into batons lengthways.
  • Placed in an ovenproof dish together with 1 tbsp elderflower cordial.
  • Sprinkled with 1 tbsp of vanilla sugar (golden caster).
  • Roasted at 200C for about 10 minutes, until the rhubarb was soft but still held its shape.
Assembled to make:

Mini Chocolate and Rhubarb Pavlovas

  • Spooned a tbsp of rhubarb curd onto a meringue.
  • Topped with a teaspoon of clotted cream.
  • Decorated with fingers of roasted rhubarb in what was meant to be an arty, chefy sort of way.
Chocolate and Roasted Rhubarb Pavlova with Rhubarb Curd
Chocolate & Rhubarb Pavlova

Mini Pavlovas is something of a misnomer; they actually ended up being rather large. The grand vision I had didn’t exactly come to pass, but goodness gracious, the pavlovas were scrummy. The combination of zingy rhubarb curd with chocolate meringues complemented each other perfectly. The contrasting textures of smooth and crunchy added to the overall enjoyment. The rhubarb curd was delicious in it’s own right and I was really pleased with the lovely orange colour it turned into; I was thinking it might just come out as a rather unlovely muddy brown.

I am sending this off to Javelin Warrior’s Made with Love Mondays where anything submitted must be made entirely from scratch.

As rhubarb is still in season, I am also entering this into Simple and in Season with Ren Behan.

The rhubarb was home grown, making this summery dessert inexpensive, so fitting nicely into the Credit Crunch Munch remit with Fab Food 4 All and Fuss Free Flavours. This month’s event is hosted by Anneli of Delicieux.


The inclusion of elderflower cordial, made with my own fair hands, using foraged elderflowers means I am also entering these to Herbs on Saturday with Karen over at Lavender and Lovage.

These mini Pavlovas are perfect for al fresco eating in the lovely weather we are currently experiencing. I am thus submitting these to a new monthly blogging challenge from Delicieux and Chez Foti, Four Seasons Food. This month’s theme is Picnic food and Outdoor Nibbles.

Calendar Cakes is all about jam this month. Luckily, fruit curds are included, so this is winging it’s way to DollyBakes. This challenge is co-hosted by Laura Loves Cakes.

I forgot to check what the letter is for Alpha Bakes this month, but have just done so and fortuitously it is R. So I am entering my R for Rhubarb to The More Than Occasional Baker who is hosting this month. Caroline Makes hosts alternately. 

Elderflower and White Chocolate Cupcakes

When I saw Linzi’s Elderflower challenge over at Lancashire Food I didn’t think I’d have a chance to participate, even though I wanted to. I just haven’t managed to gather any elderflowers this year, even though they are plentiful and beautiful as ever. I’m hoping I haven’t left it too late and I might still be in with a chance to make my annual batch of elderflower cordial. However, scrabbling around at the back of the cupboard, I came across a bottle of last year’s cordial which is still in fine fettle – excellent, I can play along after all!

I’ve recently been sent a jar of Truvia to review by. Truvia is a sweetener derived from the Stevia plant. The compounds it contains are very sweet but are not sugar and have no calorific value. It also contains a bulking agent, erythritol, another non calorific sweetener – presumably to make it more practical to use. We’ve grown stevia for many years and use it to sweeten stewed fruit, tomato sauce and so on. Our plant was unfortunately killed in the hard winter of a couple of years ago, but we still have some dried leaf left. I was interested, therefore to try a commercial product which dispenses with all the green leaf material leaving just the active ingredients in a white caster sugar like form.

This challenge seemed like a good opportunity to try the product out. The advice is to use some sugar when baking cakes as Truvia has different properties to sugar. Due to the sugar present in both the white chocolate and in the elderflower cordial, however, I decided I’d try using Truvia without any additional sugar. Truvia is meant to be far sweeter than sugar and only 1/3 of the amount is needed. So instead of 150g of sugar I used 50g of Truvia. For more exacting bakers than I, the Truvia website has a handy conversion chart. It also has more information about the product and a number of recipes to try.

This is what I did:

  • Melted 125g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 50 white chocolate (G&B).
  • Sifted 100g flour (half spelt, half white), 50g ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl.
  • Stirred in 50g Truvia
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the melted chocolate.
  • Mixed together then beat in 2 duck eggs, one at a time.
  • Stirred in 1 tbsp Greek Yogurt (2% fat) and 4 tbsp elderflower cordial.
  • Spooned into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Left to cool
  • Melted 100ml whipping cream in the butter pan I’d used earlier over low heat with 50g white chocolate (G&B).
  • Stirred until smooth.
  • Poured into a large bowl and left to cool.
  • Added 2 tbsp elderflower cordial and stirred.
  • Sifted in 80g icing sugar.
  • Added 200ml mascarpone and whisked until smooth and stiff enough to ice the cupcakes.
  • Used a palate knife to spread over the cupcakes, then decorated with some yellow sugar strands to tie in with the yellow cupcake cases.

The icing was delicious and turned out to be the exact colour of elderflowers which pleased me. I found it a little too sweet, so would reduce the icing sugar next time to about 50g. The flavour of elderflower was delicately present, but was later overpowered by the Truvia. Stevia has a distinctive taste, which to be honest, is an acquired one. It takes a while for the flavour to come through, but when it does it hangs around for a long time. So although this is a really useful way of cutting down sugar consumption, I would advise cautious use until familiar with its properties. The sponge tasted good, but was rather dense. I’m not sure if this was because of the lack of sugar or because of the method I used to mix the ingredients.

NB – I managed to raid my mother’s garden this very evening and now have elderflower cordial brewing – hooray!