Rhubarb, Rose and Halva ‘Cheesecake’ Pots (Vegan)

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These little dessert pots are really easy to throw together and make for a great plant based alternative to a conventional dairy cheesecake. The combination of sweet filling, salty crumble and tart but slightly floral rhubarb is delicious, and I love the contrasting textures too. Give them a try, and don’t hold back on the halva.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)

For the sesame crumble

  • 75g rye flour
  • 25g plain flour
  • 50g coconut oil, chilled
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • large pinch salt
  • 2tbsp white sesame seeds

For the roast rhubarb

  • 250g rhubarb
  • 2-3tbsp caster sugar
  • 1tbsp rose water

For the ‘cheesecake’ mix

  • 250g dairy free cream cheese
  • 100g dairy free yoghurt
  • 2tbsp caster sugar
  • Zest of 1 lemon

Other ingredients

  • 100g plain halva
  • few dried rose petals (optional)

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. To make the crumble rub the coconut oil into the flours until the mix resembles coarse breadcrumbs, then stir through the sugar, salt and sesame seeds. Tip onto the prepared baking tray in one even layer and chill for 20 minutes (chilling will help keep any clumps of crumble together to create more texture once baked).
  3. Once chilled, bake the crumble for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, turning occasionally. Set aside to crisp up while you prepare the other ingredients.
  4. Slice the rhubarb into 2 inch batons and toss in the sugar and rose water. Line a high sided roasting tray with greaseproof paper and arrange the rhubarb pieces over the base in one layer. Roast for 15 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender but still holding its shape. Roughly shred half the rhubarb to form a compote consistency and leave the rest in whole pieces. Set aside to cool.
  5. While the rhubarb is roasting, make the ‘cheesecake’ mix. To do this simply whisk together the dairy free cream cheese, dairy free yoghurt, sugar and lemon zest until smooth (it will be looser in consistency than a classic dairy cheesecake, but the flavour is very similar and it works really well in a pot with the other ingredients). Chill.
  6. When all the elements are cool, you’re ready to assemble. Start off by distributing the shredded rhubarb between the pots to cover the bases. Now fill the pots to 3/4 full with the cheesecake mix. Add a generous spoonful of crumble on top, then a baton or two of rhubarb. Finish with a good sprinkling of crumbled halva and garnish with rose petals, if you like.

 

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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,ย 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.