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

Apricot Whisky Honey Cheesecake – A Flash in the Pan

Apricot, whisky & honey cheesecake - deconstructed.

Fancy making a glorious summer dessert that’s full of interesting flavours and doesn’t require too much effort? This deconstructed apricot, whisky and honey cheesecake fits the bill beautifully. It’s a perfect pudding for entertaining and will wow everyone who tastes it. Although, it’s probably one for the adults rather than the kids. The recipe comes from A Flash in the Pan by John Whaite. Read on for my review as well as the recipe. Plus there’s a chance to win a copy of the book.


Roasted Beetroot Galette, a Review of Higgidy The Cookbook & Giveaway

Roasted Beetroot Galette

Beetroot is like marmite, you either love it or hate it. Are you a beetroot lover or hater? We’ve got one of each in our household. This easy roasted beetroot galette taken from the new edition of Higgidy: The Cookbook is a bit of a miracle. It was so delicious even beetroot hating CT liked it. Read on for the recipe, a review and an opportunity to win a copy of the book. Hang on, make that two.


Fig, White Chocolate and Mascarpone Tarts

Tarts, Pies & Pastries | 11th September 2013 | By

September is a month of abundance, or at least it is in my mother’s garden this year. We went foraging there a few days ago to see what we could find. As well as gathering lots of windfall apples, a big bowl of blackberries, some plums and a few blueberries, we came home with four ripe figs.


Chocolate & Rose Summer Fruit Tiramisu / Trifle

Chocolate Tiramisu

Dessert | 6th August 2012 | By

Is it a trifle? It doesn’t have jelly or custard. Is it tiramisu? It doesn’t have coffee.  However, I had a pudding to make for a 40th birthday party and after seeing Chris’s strawberry-rhubarb tiramisu over at Cooking Around The World, I felt inspired to create my own chocolate version using the redcurrants we’d picked from a friend’s garden.


Wild Blueberry Cupcakes

Cupcakes | 26th April 2012 | By

On a recent trip to St Austell, I was quite excited to discover Nature Kitchen, a shop dedicated to spices and herbs. One of the purchases I made that day was a pot of bilberry powder (ground dried bilberries). Bilberries are the UKs native blueberry and grow wild around these parts. They are incredibly good for you, but the season is short and they are often difficult to find. They are also much smaller than the commercial blueberry that most people are familiar with. Buying the powder, I reasoned, would not only enable me to give a blueish colour to cake icings, but would imbue me with super powers too!!!

Eager to try this out as a flavouring and colouring, I decided to make some wild blueberry cupcakes at the first opportunity. I had a pot of wild blueberry spread I could also use (jam really, but because it’s made with apple juice rather than sugar, EU regulations prevent it being called jam). I based the cake part of the recipe on the one given for raspberry cupcakes in Cupcakes from the Primrose Bakery, substituting the blueberry spread for the stated raspberry jam. I also used half wholemeal flour as I usually do and made a couple of other tweaks. The icing I made up.

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 110g unsalted butter with 180g cardamom (caster) sugar until well beaten and fluffy.
  • Beat in 2 duck eggs, one by one.
  • Sifted 125g self-raising wholemeal flour, 120g plain white flour and 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda.
  • Measured out 125ml milk and added 1 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Stirred in 1/3 of the flour, followed by 1/3 of the milk.
  • Repeated this process twice more until all flour and milk incorporated.
  • Roughly stirred in 3 tbsp blueberry spread, so that the mixture was streaky rather than  all one colour.
  • Spooned into 12 of my favourite blue cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • Left to cool a little then turned out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Melted 50g white chocolate (Green&Black’s) in a bowl over hot water, then left to cool a little.
  • Beat 125g mascarpone cheese in a bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  • Added, rather cautiously at first, a bit of the bilberry powder and stirred it in. Then proceeded to add larger and larger quantities as the colour was not as powerful as I thought it might be. I probably used a rounded teaspoonful in the end.
  • Beat in the white chocolate.
  • Spread over the top of the cakes with a palate knife.
  • Used some of the sugar alphabet letters from my recent cake decorating wins to write Wild, Blue, Berry, Cup, & Cakes on the top (this was rather time consuming and I’m not sure I’d be so exacting again).

The cakes were delicious, well risen, moist and surprisingly light. The icing was also good and set the cakes off nicely, I thought. I loved the colour, but was a little disappointed that I couldn’t taste anything in the least bit fruity. CT, however, as a seasoned bilberry forager was adamant he could taste the bilberries. My palate obviously requires radical cleansing.

As B is the letter chosen by Ros in this month’s AlphaBakes, I’m submitting my Blueberry cupcakes to this monthly challenge hosted alternately by The more than occasional baker and Caroline Bakes.

I’m also adding this to Made With Love Mondays, a blogging event created by Javelin Warrior which I keep meaning to enter but never seem to manage. The aim is to encourage people to make everything from scratch rather than using ready made items.

Mascarpone & Apple Curd Tarts – We Should Cocoa 20

Not being especially thrilled by my chocolate and cheddar biscuits (cheecolates), I thought I’d have another attempt at a chocolate and cheese combination for this month’s We Should Cocoa. This time, I took a slightly safer route by going for a tart with a mascarpone and fruit curd filling. The curd in question was some apple and lemon curd I’d recently made to which I’ve become rather addicted – it is so delicious. The bit that was slightly risky was making pastry with an egg white. I’ve never done this before and nor had anyone else according to google. But I had an egg white lurking in the fridge from making the biscuits and I didn’t want it lurking there anymore. The chocolate addition, I took from my surprise cheesecake and made these three layered tarts.

This is what I did:

  • Rubbed 40g unsalted butter into 100g flour (half wholemeal, half white) and 20g cardamom sugar (caster) until the mixture resembled bread crumbs.
  • Added the egg white and a splash of water and mixed with a knife.
  • Bought the mixture together to form a dough.
  • Being too impatient to hang around (to my cost), rolled the dough out thinly and cut circles just big enough to fill a 9 cm tart case. 
  • Pressed the pastry circles into 4 buttered tart tins & trimmed the tops with a knife.
  • Reformed the remaining pastry into a ball and rolled into a circle.
  • Shaped into a freeform pastry case & placed on a baking tray with the other tarts.
  • Pricked the bottoms in several places with a fork.
  • Baked for 10 minutes at 180C then left to cool. Oh dear the pastry had shrunk hugely – my own fault for not putting it into the fridge before rolling probably.
  • Removed the pastry from the tins.
  • Melted 50g milk chocolate (Green&Blacks 37%) in a glass bowl over a pan of not quite simmering water.
  • Left to cool a little.
  • Spread a couple of teaspoons or so of chocolate around the bases of the tart cases.
  • Mixed 125g mascarpone cheese with 3 tbsp of lemon and apple curd.
  • Divided this mixture between the 5 tarts.
  • Sprinkled the tops with grated dark chocolate (Green&Blacks 70%).

The pastry, I was pleased to find, worked well – apart from the shrinkage). It was easy to roll, which always gets lots of points in my book and being rather plain, offset the richness of the filling nicely. I now have another use for left over egg whites. CT pronounced these delicious, but I was disappointed by the pastry shrinkage and didn’t think the pastry worked as well as the shortbread I’d used for the lime curd mascarpone tarts I made last year. Nor did they look as striking. However, I was quite happy to polish off my share of the tarts and they didn’t last long. The chocolate layer gave a pleasant surprise snap to the experience as our teeth sank in.

Chocolate Marzipan Cheesecake – Random Recipes 14

Dessert | 25th March 2012 | By

When Dom of Belleau Kitchen asked me to pick a number for his always exciting Random Recipes challenge, I was away from home and unable to follow his exact instructions – that’s my excuse anyway. So instead of counting my books, I picked my lucky number 17 instead. It seems that any blame for what you get sits on my shoulders this month – nice one Dom!

As Dom had honoured me by getting to pick the special number, I thought I really ought to try and do this challenge without cheating. NOT, I hasten to add, that I normally cheat; I’ve just interpreted the challenge to refer to my chocolate cook books only. But not this time, I was going to be intrepid and include all of my many cookbooks scattered around the house, open a page randomly and then take the first chocolate recipe that followed from the page I landed on. If, I reasoned, I got a book that had, god forbid, no chocolate recipes, I would move on to the next book.

Hoist by my own petard. No. 17 for me was Low-Carb Vegetarian by Celia Brooks Brown. Being a bit of a carb junkie, this book has been languishing on my shelves for many years largely unused. And what I got was something that sounded really quite strange – chocolate marzipan cheesecake. It doesn’t seem like an obvious match made in heaven, but I love marzipan, I love cheesecake, so why not?

CT also loves cheesecake and as he is going through a particularly tough time of it, I was hoping that this would be a welcome treat for him.

Reading through the recipe, I was rather dubious about a couple of things, both revolving around a loose-based cake tin. As some of you know, I’m a big fan of silcone moulds which has really made baking life sooooo much easier. I used to be put off by having to line tins, it just seemed one step too far. Now I don’t even think about it – not very often anyway. Cheesecake I felt really couldn’t be done in a silicone mould so I’d have to chance it using the stated tin. Firstly it didn’t say anything about greasing or lining the tin, so I hoped that only greasing it would be OK. Secondly, I was worried that the butter would just melt and leak out all over the oven. I did prepare for this eventuality by putting the tin on a baking tray just in case.

This is how I made my first ever baked cheesecake:

  • Melted 50g unsalted butter in a medium sized pan.
  • Added 100g ground almonds, 2 tbsp Rapadura (my chosen sweetener), a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and a couple of drops of almond extract.
  • Mixed together than pressed down into a buttered 20″ round loose-based cake tin.
  • Placed in the fridge to set.
  • Melted 150g Green&Black’s dark 72% cooks’ chocolate in a bowl over hot water and left to cool a little.
  • Threw 250g mascarpone, 250g cream cheese, 2 duck eggs and 6 level tbsp of Rapadura (my chosen sweetener) into a bowl and beat with electric beaters until all combined.
  • Beat in the melted chocolate.
  • Spooned the mixture over the marzipan and levelled the top.
  • Baked at 150C for 50 minutes.

I was quite right, the butter leaked out all over the baking sheet. The top also cracked, not nice delicate cracks, but great fissures that really didn’t look very attractive. But it did come out of the tin without sticking too much and it was really quite delicious, in fact very delicious. The filling was smooth, creamy and comfortingly chocolatey. The base was chewy, slightly almondy and really rather nice. The two made for quite a delightful contrast and certainly didn’t detract from each other’s flavours. CT was very well pleased with it and it kept him going for some time.

Having heard so many horror stories about baked cheesecakes, I am really thrilled how well this turned out – what are a few fissures between friends anyway?


And as this is the month of mad March baking and contains Marzipan and Mascarpone as main ingredients I am also submitting this to the second ever Alpha Bakes where the letter is M. This is hosted by Caroline Makes this month, but alternates with Ros of The more than occasional baker.

Dan’s Coconut Milk Layer Cake

This was one of the cakes that leapt out at me when first perusing Dan Lepard’s Short & Sweet and I was keen to make it as soon as possible – which I did back in October and have left it so long that Dom has beaten me to it. AND his looks brilliant!!! I’ve not come across cakes made with coconut milk very often and found it quite intriguing. I was hoping to include it as one of the Open House cakes, but in the end it just wasn’t feasible, either the original or a cupcake version I had been toying with. So, having bought the necessary ingredients, I made a version of it the following weekend for us anyway. It’s not strictly a chocolate cake, but I was planning to incorporate chocolate somehow as well as use up some odds and sods left over from the big bake.

This is what I did:

  • Placed 50g desiccated coconut in a small bowl.
  • Warmed 160ml coconut milk up in a pan.
  • Poured this over the coconut.
  • Added 1 tsp vanilla extract and 50ml white rum, then covered the bowl and left for a couple of hours.
  • Creamed 250g unsalted butter with 300g cardamom sugar (caster) until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in 4 smallish hens eggs, alternating with a little of the flour.
  • Added 275g twice sifted flour (100g wholemeal, 175g white), 2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp bicarb of soda alternately with the coconut mixture.
  • Divided between two 22 cm round cake moulds and baked for 30 mins at 180C.
  • Squeezed half an orange over the two cakes whilst hot (it was meant to be lime and rum, but I didn’t have any lime and forgot the rum).
  • Left to cool for 10 minutes then turned out onto racks to cool completely.
  • Found a small dish of buttercream icing lurking in the fridge.
  • Beat this up with 150g mascarpone and one of my jars of apple & lemon curd.
  • I’d also meant to add 100g melted white chocolate, but I forgot!
  • Sandwiched the cakes together with the apple/lemon mascarpone then spread the rest over the top and around the sides.
  • Topped with 40g white chocolate shavings.

Despite some of the ingredients I forgot, they couldn’t have been essential, because this turned out to be a really lovely cake. When asked his thoughts, CT helpfully stated “it tastes like a homemade cake”. What he actually meant by that, was it tasted like a real cake made by a real person and was utterly delicious. It was not overpoweringly coconutty, but the rum came through clearly and pleasantly. It was moist and had a good firm chewy texture. The apple cream, mascarpone filling and icing complemented it well and was delicious in its own right. For some reason, it reminded me of a really good banana cake – but without the banana!

Strawberry and Chocolate Hearts

Three weeks late in the posting this one!

I had strawberries, I had mascarpone, I had two little heart shaped cake moulds to use and I was in the mood for pink. It was also going to be my initial stab at We Should Cocoa and given that I wasn’t very happy with my Fairy Cakes, I might be naughty and put this one in too. For the cake I used the recipe from Baked & Delicious that came with these moulds. For the Strawberry Cream, I threw a few delicious ingredients together which I thought would work well – and they did.

This is what I did:

  • Creamed 50g unsalted butter with 50g molasses sugar until pale.
  • Beat in 1 small duck egg and 1/4 tsp vanilla extract.
  • Sifted in 100g wholemeal spelt, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1.5 tbsp of cocoa.
  • Mixed this in with 2 tbsp milk.
  • Divided the mixture between 2 xxxx heart shaped moulds and baked at 180C for 12 mins.
  • Turned out onto a wire rack to cool.
  • Blitzed some strawberries with a little caster sugar until I had a smooth red sauce.
  • Whisked a bit of double cream until soft peaks formed, then whisked in some of the strawberry sauce.
  • Beat some mascarpone with some of the strawberry sauce until well incorporated and slightly runny.
  • Whisked this into the double cream until it was firm enough to spread over the cakes and stay put.
  • Spread strawberry cream over one cake, laid the other one on top and covered with some more of the strawberry cream. Quartered two strawberries and placed these on top of the cake – hoping this might look a little more elegant than the Fol-de-rol (I haven’t forgotten that comment Dom).
  • Tried not to polish off the rest of the cream – there was quite a bit left over!

In retrospect I would have used a little more mixture to make for a taller cake, so 75g of butter, sugar and flour and a large egg, but otherwise I was very happy with this. CT was happier still as he wasn’t expecting such a show of affection. The strawberry mascarpone cream was sooooo delicious – it was surprisingly light as well as creamy and tasted a bit like Angel Delight, only not as artificial and not as sweet. A sure fire winner I will be making again.

Not So Jammy Dodgers and a Win

Biscuits | 2nd June 2011 | By

An embarrassingly long time ago now, I was delighted to find I’d won four copies of Baked and Delicious (#2-#5) along with accompanying silicone bakeware from Baking Addict’s blog The More Than Occasional Baker. Thank you Baking Addict and I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to post about it. As I’ve said on more than one occasion, silicone has revolutionised my baking life. No more wasted paper and no more faffing around trying to line tins with little patience and lots of frustration. So, I was very happy to welcome a few additions to my small, but growing collection: a loaf pan, a quiche case, two small heart shape moulds and a spatula. Not to sound too greedy, a ring mould is next on my wish list, although I’d quite like some Madeleine moulds too 😉

Times must be hard for the food publishing industry; along with issue #5 was a note saying that this was to be the last Baked & Delicious issue for the time being. Read into that what you will. Rather sad for those who were keen to build up a collection though. Confusingly, their website seems to suggest otherwise.

For an alternative take on Baked and Delicious, see Maison Cupcake’s review. You may also want to check out Kitchen Butterfly’s guide to silicone bakeware.

There are several things I’m keen to bake from Baked and Delicious, but the first picture to catch my eye was a lovely Jammy Dodger, otherwise known as Anglesey Cakes. For those not in the know, these are shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with jam – raspberry jam in this case with a little window in the top to view the shiny red stuff. On Anglesey, apparently, the children used to sing their way around the local houses giving new year good wishes and would be rewarded (if they were lucky) with these biscuits. I so wanted to make these, but where was the chocolate? Well of course it wasn’t that difficult to get some chocolate in there. My first thought was to use nutella, but I generally find this rather too sweet. Ha, no problem, with my new found enthusiasm for mascarpone, I would mix the two together to make a yummy chocolatey, hazelnutty creamy filling. So this is what I did:

  • Creamed 8oz unsalted butter with 4oz caster sugar until light and creamy.
  • Beat in 1/4 tsp rock salt.
  • Worked in 12oz plain flour – later realised this should have been self-raising, but I didn’t notice that at the time.
  • Brought the dough together with my hands to form a ball.
  • Rolled this out on a floured surface to thickness of about 1/4 cm.
  • Cut out circles with a 5cm pastry cutter.
  • Cut a circle in the middle of half of them using a small ring cutter.
  • Re-rolled the offcuts and continued until there was no pastry left – I made about 38 circles, (although the recipe stated about 48).
  • Placed on two tins lined with baking paper and baked for 10 mins at 180C
  • Mixed a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella with a couple of spoonfuls of mascarpone and beat until well combined.
  • Spread some of the whole biscuits with strawberry jam ( I didn’t have any raspberry) and some with the Nutella mixture, leaving a small gap around the edges so the filling wouldn’t spill out.
  • Sandwiched the window biscuits on top and pressed down gently.
  • The instructions were to sprinkle icing sugar on top, but I didn’t do this as I wanted the window kept clear.

As you may have noticed, I did make a few jammy ones to give to a friend who I thought might appreciate them and very nice they were too. If truth be told, I think I preferred the jammy dodgers to the non jammy ones, but they were both delicious. I don’t know what these would have been like with a raising agent, but I don’t think they needed it. The nutella mascarpone spread was delicious, though still rather sweet and I very much enjoyed finishing off the leftovers 😉