gluten free

Dark Chocolate and Peanut Butter Brownies (Vegan/Gluten Free)

I’ve tried a lot of vegan brownies which are dry, crumbly or ‘raw’. Sure, there’s a time and a place for healthy alternatives and we can’t just slob around eating sugar-laden baked goods all day, but if I want a brownie and I’m vegan (I’m not I’m just being really selfless…) I want the real thing, not a load of dates and coconut oil. With this not-very-2018 thought in mind, I’ve been attempting to put together a recipe for a completely vegan and gluten free brownie which rivals a conventional dairy/egg based one. The recipe I’ve devised delivers a fudgy core and crisp top, rich flavour and all round delicious result- give it a try, it’s a good place to start with vegan baking.

Ingredients (makes 16 small brownies, or 9 big ones!)

  • 125g smooth peanut butter, plus 50g more for the core and topping
  • 75ml vegetable oil
  • 275g dark chocolate (I used half 60% and half 80%), plus 75g roughly chopped for chocolate chips
  • large pinch salt
  • 100ml aquafaba (the starchy water you get in a can of chickpeas- you will get about 100ml from one can)
  • 1tbsp ground flaxseed mixed with 1tbsp water (this replicates an egg yolk very well!)
  • 100g dark brown soft sugar
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 100g gluten free plain flour (I used Doves Farm)
  • few chopped peanuts, for topping (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20x20cm square brownie tin.
  2. Mix together the flaxseed and water at this stage to give it time to thicken an form an egg-yolk consistency. Put the oil, peanut butter and 275g of the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set it over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Allow the ingredients to melt together, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat to cool to room temperature.
  3. Place the aquafaba in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment) and whisk until soft peaks just form. At this stage add in the flax mixture, sugars and salt (it’s amazing how much this looks like eggs whisked together with sugar!). Whisk again until the sugars are well incorporated then fold in the cooled chocolate mixture with a metal spoon, followed by the flour. Scrape half of the batter into the prepared tin then dot over half of the extra peanut butter and some of the chopped chocolate. Top with the remaining batter and repeat the peanut butter/chocolate stage, then finish with the peanuts (if using).
  4. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until crisp on top but very slightly wobbly in the middle. Leave to cool completely then slice up and serve.

Enjoy!

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Fudgy Chocolate & Beetroot Cake (Gluten Free)

This dense, fudgy cake topped with a generous sweep of thick milk chocolate ganache is best enjoyed on the sofa with a good film, strong coffee and warm blanket (I’m fantasising about this right now as the fluke sunny day we enjoyed last week is a distant memory and it’s currently blowing a gale). Don’t be put off by the beetroot- the earthy flavour mellows through baking and brings moisture and richness to the cake.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 325g dark chocolate (melted)
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 275g grated raw beetroot
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 125g ground almonds
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • pinch salt

For the ganache:

  • 250g milk chocolate
  • 150ml double cream

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  2. Place the melted dark chocolate, egg yolks, grated beetroot, caster sugar, ground almonds, baking powder and cocoa powder in a large mixing bowl. Stir together until combined.
  3. Put the egg whites in another bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer) and whisk, together with the salt, until they have formed stiff (but not dry) peaks. Add a large spoonful of the whites into the beetroot mixture and stir in to loosen.
  4. Add the remaining whites and carefully fold with a large metal spoon, ensuring you keep as much of the air in as possible. Once the mix is combined, carefully tip into the prepared cake tin (not from a height or you will lose some of the air you’ve worked in!).
  5. Level out the mixture then bake for 45-55 minutes, until well risen and a skewer comes out clean when inserted.
  6. Set the cake aside and make the ganache. To do this simply chop up the chocolate and transfer to a bowl, then heat the cream to just below boiling and pour directly onto the chocolate. Leave to melt for a couple of minutes then stir together until smooth and glossy. Leave to cool.
  7. Once everything is cool, cover the cake in the ganache and decorate as desired. I used some purple violas, handmade beetroot crisps, herbs and chocolate shards.

Enjoy!

Blueberry, Squash and Spice Muffins (GF/ R.Sugar Free)

Yep, I’ve jumped on the detox January bandwagon, and here’s the first of my healthier bakes; butternut squash, date, blueberry and cinnamon muffins. A quick scroll through my blog and it won’t come as a shock that I’m a bit clueless when it comes to ‘free from’ baking, but I’ve actually surprised myself with what can be done without the conventional sugars and flours I’m used to. The fruit in these muffins add sweetness and the almonds create a moist and soft texture making them a great (and still tasty) alternative to the sugar packed treats I’m sure we’ve all indulged in over Christmas. Give them a try!

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Ingredients (makes 12):

  • 200g finely grated butternut squash
  • 100g melted butter
  • 100g chopped dates (softened in a little boiling water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 60g ground almonds
  • 175g buckwheat flour (or self raising if you don’t need a GF option)
  • 200g fresh blueberries

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Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a muffin tray with paper cases.
  2. Place the squash in a bowl along with the melted butter, dates, date water and eggs. Mix together thoroughly.
  3. Add the baking powder, spices, ground almonds, flour and blueberries. Stir gently into the wet ingredients until just combined then distribute evenly between the muffin cases.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden brown.

muffin2

Gluten Free Chocolate & Almond Cake

This chocolate cake is rich, moist, easy to make and even gluten free! I’ve used ground almonds where I would usually reach for flour and olive oil instead of butter to create a fudgy texture and it really works. Try it yourself (you could even omit the topping to make it dairy free too!)…

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For this cake you will need: 175ml boiling water, 2tsp instant coffee granules, 80g cocoa powder, 225g ground almonds, 1tsp bicarbonate of soda, 1tsp salt, 300g golden caster sugar, 5 eggs, 225ml olive oil

And for the topping (which is optional- you could just dust with icing sugar or cocoa powder), you will need: 100g dark bittersweet chocolate, 100ml double cream, some white chocolate and a sprinkling of sea salt

Preheat the oven to 180c and grease a 20cm cake tin with butter. Place a disc of baking paper in the bottom and grease over that too.

Combine the almonds,bicarbonate of soda and salt in a small bowl.

Mix together the cocoa, coffee and boiling water in a jug and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and sugar until pale and thick. Add the cocoa mix and continue whisking until you have a fairly liquid cake batter with no streaks.

Add the almond mixture down the side of the bowl and fold in gently.

Pour into the prepped tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached.

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While the cake is baking, make the topping (a simple ganache). Place the cream and chocolate in a bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (ensuring the water doesn’t touch the bowl).

Stir occasionally until the chocolate has melted and remove from the heat. Leave to cool.

When the cake is cooked leave in the tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack. Once cooled, spread the ganache over the top then sprinkle with white chocolate scratchings and sea salt.

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Enjoy!