It’s January. It’s bloody freezing. I’ve hit a new level of pale, the Christmas tree has gone to festive heaven and everyone appears to be chasing a dry January (with varying levels of success) or hitting the gym. With these bleak facts in mind, I’m not going to share a protein-5cal-superfood recipe (that would be off brand anyway); instead, here’s a delicious way to use up any old dried fruit and nuts you have lying around after Christmas. It’s not an energy ball but it’s not the worst thing you could be eating. Enjoy!
- 200g 70% dark chocolate
- 50g coconut oil
- 100g tahini
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- generous pinch sea salt
- zest 1 orange
- 150g mixed nuts (I used pistachios, almonds and pecans), roughly chopped
- 120g dried figs, roughly chopped (I love figs with orange and tahini, but you could use any dried fruit)
- 2tbsp sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- Place the chocolate, coconut oil, tahini, maple syrup, seas salt and orange zest in a large heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl) and melt gently, stirring occasionally.
- Once the contents of the bowl have melted, mix briefly to form a smooth, glossy liquid. Set aside to cool a little.
- Once the chocolate mix has cooled, stir through the mixed nuts, dried figs and most of the sesame seeds. Tip into a lined tin/mould (mine was roughly 20x12cm) and level out with the back of a spoon. Sprinkle over the remaining sesame seeds, then leave in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
- Once set, slice up and serve (keep refrigerated).
Looking at the photographs of this cake, you could be fooled into thinking it’s mid Autumn and the trees are turning. They’re not, but given the weather here in the UK (it’s pretty miserable; grey skies and that fluffy rain which get’s you far more wet than you’d think) it might as well be. With this in mind I thought I’d bake something spiced, nutty, simple and comforting to combat the bad weather blues: enter this moist carrot and apple loaf cake laced with cinnamon, ginger and walnuts topped with maple cream cheese frosting…
- 225ml vegetable oil
- 225g soft light brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 125g grated carrot
- 125g grated apple
- 225g self raising flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 2tsp ginger
- 2tsp cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 100g chopped walnuts
- zest 1 lemon
For the icing;
- 5tbsp maple syrup
- 2 heaped tbsp icing sugar
- 250g cream cheese (full fat)
- 100ml double cream
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a large loaf tin with baking paper.
- Place the oil, sugar and eggs in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and, using electric beaters, beat together until voluminous and well combined. Now add the grated carrot and apple and briefly beat again to evenly distribute.
- Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt over the wet ingredients and beat in until just combined. Lastly, fold in the walnuts and lemon zest. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Cool in the tin.
- While the cake is cooling, make the maple cream cheese icing. Simply whisk together all the ingredients until thick and spreadable.
- Once the cake is completely cool, top with the cream cheese icing and some walnuts, edible flowers or apple crisps, if you’re feeling fancy.
Over the past couple of weeks the weather here in UK has regressed to it’s favourite state; dark, cold and foggy. While this sadly means we must mourn the loss of that unseasonably mild Autumn, it also means we have legit excuses to eat some pretty amazing food; think pies, tarts, puddings and roasts. Yes, that miserable UK weather is sounding a lot better now isn’t it?
With this in mind, I found myself thinking about lot’s of toffee based bakes on my commute the other day (I know, calm down), and decided I would try out transforming the classic pecan pie into a cheesecake. It turned out really well so here is the recipe!
For the base: 150g digestive biscuits, 150g pecan nuts, 100g melted butter, 1tsp cinnamon, 2tsp caster sugar
For the filling: 700g cream cheese, 100g icing sugar, 1tsp vanilla paste, 300ml double cream, 200ml Carnation caramel, large pinch salt
For the topping: 50ml maple syrup, 50g dark brown soft sugar, 50g butter, 50ml double cream, 100g toasted pecans, pinch sea salt
- Grease and line a spring form cake tin.
- For the base of the cheesecake, blitz the biscuits down to a crumb in a food processor. Add the pecans, sugar and cinnamon then blitz again. Once you have a course sandy texture add the melted butter and blitz once more until well combined. Pour into the tin and press down with the back of a spoon. Chill while you make the filling.
- For the filling, whisk together the cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar until smooth. In a separate bowl whisk together the double cream and salted caramel sauce until medium peaks form.
- Fold the caramel cream into the cream cheese mixture. Once well combined, pile onto the biscuit base and smooth out. Chill for 2 hours (minimum) to set.
- While your cheesecake is setting, prepare the topping. Simply place the maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and salt in a saucepan and melt together. Once melted, bring to the boil and remove from the heat then add the double cream and mix. Set aside to cool.
- Once the cheesecake is set, arrange the pecans all over the surface (as with a traditional pecan pie). Pour the maple sauce all over the top of the pecans then sprinkle with a final flourish of sea salt. Chill for one hour then slice up and serve.