Sesame, Miso and Chocolate Tart (Vegan)

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This tart (using ‘tart’ as a loose term for this- there’s no pastry or baking involved) is so easy to put together but makes for a really delicious plant based dessert. The crunchy base is laced with tahini and sesame seeds so the earthy flavour really comes through, and the filling has a savoury note thanks to miso paste, and is super smooth and creamy courtesy of my favourite plant based brand- Oatly.

Ingredients

Base

  • 100g dark chocolate
  • 75g tahini
  • 1tbsp maple syrup
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 100g sesame seeds
  • 50g finely chopped mixed nuts (I used cashews and pistachios)

Filling

  • 225g dark chocolate
  • 30g vegan butter (I used Stork)
  • 300ml Oatly cream alternative
  • 3tbsp maple syrup
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 3tbsp white miso paste

Sesame shards

  • 75g sesame seeds
  • 100g caster sugar

Method

  1. Grease and line an 8 inch cake tin. For the base, place the chocolate, tahini, maple and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don’t allow the base of the bowl to touch the water or the chocolate may burn). Gently melt all the ingredients together then stir through the sesame seeds and chopped nuts. Scrape this mixture into the lined cake tin and spread out into one even layer. Place this in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes.
  2. For the filling, roughly chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl along with the vegan butter. Set aside. Put the Oatly cream, maple, salt and miso paste in a saucepan and, stirring often, heat to just below boiling point. Pour this mixture over the chocolate and butter and allow it to sit for a moment before stirring together to form a smooth glossy ganache. Let this cool then pour it over the chilled base. Transfer to the fridge again and chill for another hour or until set.
  3. While the tart is chilling, make the sesame shards. Before you start, place a piece of greaseproof paper on a large baking tray. Now put the sugar in a small saucepan. Allow the sugar to melt, swirling the pan occasionally, then, once the caramel is golden take off the heat, stir in the sesame seeds and spread into an even layer on the greaseproof paper. Leave to cool and harden, then break into shards.
  4. Slice up the tart and serve with shards of sesame caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.

Chocolate Fudge Cake (Vegan)

Chocolate

Although I enjoy experimenting with different flavour combinations and ingredients, a wedge of proper classic chocolate fudge cake is always a winner. With that in mind and in the spirit of hashtag Veganuary I thought I should probably develop a plant based alternative. The resulting cake is made up of moist well risen sponges (with espresso and salt used to bring out the chocolate flavour), salted bitter chocolate ganache and sweet cocoa buttercream. I defy anyone to do anything but ask for another slice.

Ingredients

  • 120ml aquafaba (the starchy water from a can of chickpeas- one 400g tin supplies around 120ml)
  • 375g plain flour
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 85g cocoa powder
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • large pinch sea salt, plus extra for the top
  • 40g ground flaxseed mixed with 60ml water
  • 325ml oat milk
  • 175ml vegetable oil
  • 3 heaped tsp instant coffee dissolved into 300ml boiled water
  • 100g dark chocolate, melted and cooled

For the ganache

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 200ml vegan cream (I used Oatly)
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • pinch sea salt

For the buttercream

  • 200g vegan butter (I used STORK)
  • 300g icing sugar
  • 4 heaped tbsp cocoa powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • 3-4tbsp oat milk

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins.
  2. You’ll need two bowls and some electric beaters (or, even better, a stand mixer with whisk attachment). Place the aquafaba in one bowl (or the bowl of the stand mixer) and whisk until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes). In the other bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
  3. Once the aquafaba has reached stiff peaks, whisk in the soaked flaxseed. Make a well in the dry ingredients bowl and add the oat milk and vegetable oil. Mix together using a balloon whisk until just combined, then very slowly mix in the boiling water and coffee, followed by the melted chocolate. The mix will look very loose but that’s fine.
  4. Finally, fold in the aquafaba mixture. Distribute the batter between the two prepared tins and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. Leave the cakes to cool completely in the tins.
  5. While the sponges are cooling, roughly chop the dark chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan along with the salt and caster sugar and heat to scalding point to dissolve the sugar. Pour the cream over the dark chocolate and leave to sit for a couple of minutes before stirring together to form a smooth glossy ganache. Set aside to cool completely.
  6. For the buttercream, simply place the vegan butter in a large bowl (or bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment) and beat until fluffy. Add the icing sugar, cocoa powder and salt and cover the bowl with a clean tea towel, then beat until well combined (this will avoid a sugar cloud- if you’re using electric beaters, just mix in most of the icing sugar with a wooden spoon before whisking at a high speed to avoid a face full of icing sugar!). Add in the milk and beat again until very light and fluffy.
  7. Once all the components are cool, slice the sponges in half horizontally, leaving you with four even layers. Top the first layer with 1/3 of the buttercream, followed by the next sponge. Repeat until you’ve used up the sponges, then cover the whole cake in the ganache (which will have thickened as it cooled). Finish with sea salt or nut brittle, if you like.

Banana, Rum & Raisin Cake with Coconut Icing (Vegan/ DF)

Cakes

This is my first successful foray into the vegan cake world. It’s a space I’ve steered clear of for quite some time, half because I’m not vegan and have had a bit of an ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ attitude to baking, and half because I’ve tasted some very cardboard-esque vegan bakes in the past that have put me off.

This cake, however, contains aquafaba (that starchy water you get in a tin of chickpeas) and it’s a real game changer; just whisk it up in a stand mixer and it thickens like egg whites, bringing a great lightness to sponges. It’s worked particularly well in conjunction with banana in this recipe and the resulting sponge is moist, light and delicious- helped along with a few rum soaked raisins and a generous swirl of coconut icing for good measure. As a complete experiment this has worked really well and I hope some of you try it out over the next few weeks, vegan or not.

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 150g mixed raisins and sultanas
  • 4tbsp dark rum
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • 2tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp mixed spice
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 75g pecans, roughly chopped
  • 125ml aquafaba (i.e. the drained starchy water from a can of chickpeas)
  • 250ml olive oil
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed with a fork

For the icing

  • 3-4 tins coconut cream (I used 160ml tins but if you are buying different sizes just make sure you’ve got roughly 600ml overall)
  • 2-3tbsp icing sugar
  • juice 1/2 lemon

Method

  1. Grease and line two 8 inch cake tins. Preheat the oven to 180c. Put the raisins, sultanas and rum in a bowl and let them soak for 10 minutes (stir occasionally to make sure they’re all plump and well flavoured).
  2. In a large mixing bowl stir together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, mixed spice, both sugars and chopped pecans. Tip the aquafaba into the clean bowl of a stand mixer (alternatively use a handheld electric whisk) and whisk until frothy (about 5-10 minutes). Set aside.
  3. In a large jug mix together the olive oil and mashed banana then add in the thickened aquafaba. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add in the wet. Carefully fold the ingredients together until you have a batter free of flour lumps then stir in the soaked raisins and sultanas along with the rum.
  4. Split the batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins and bake for 30-40 minutes until a skewer comes out clean when inserted. At this point pop the coconut cream tins in the freezer (trust me, it makes the cream much easier to separate from the water and makes for a thicker icing).
  5. Once the cakes are baked leave them to cool completely in the tins and move onto the icing. Retrieve the coconut tins from the freezer and scoop out the hardened cream from the tops. Place this in a stand mixer along with 3tbsp coconut liquid (from the bottom of the tin). Whisk with the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth, thick and lump free (add another tbsp of liquid to loosen if necessary but you shouldn’t need it) then place in the fridge to firm up a little.
  6. Once the cakes are completely cool and the coconut cream has firmed up slightly you’re ready to assemble. To do this just even off the cakes if necessary then spread a generous layer of icing over the first, sandwich on the second and repeat, creating a swirl design on top, if you like.
  7. Garnish with pumpkin seeds, pecans, banana chips and cinnamon.