Eggs and flour have been hard to come by since the UK entered the lockdown zone, so I’ve been working on a few bakes free from both. I thought brownies would be a good place to start and after a few variations, I decided that this caramelised almond version was far superior to any others I’d tried (and actually one of the best brownies I’ve made, regardless of ingredients). If you don’t like almonds this will be a bit of a non-starter as I’ve used almond butter in place of dairy, ground almonds in place of flour and flaked caramelised almonds as a crispy, almost florentine-esque topping, otherwise please do try; they’re moist (sorry) and incredibly moreish.
Ingredients (makes 12-16 brownies in a roughly 9×9 inch tin)
Caramelised almonds (you can omit these if you like, although I think the texture contrast and salt/nutty flavour is delicious!)
- 75g flaked almonds (or any other nuts you like)
- 75g caster sugar
- generous pinch sea salt
- 3tbsp ground flaxseed
- 250g dark chocolate
- 170g almond butter (or your favourite nut butter, or tahini)
- 50g vegan margarine/butter
- 120ml aquafaba (the water from a can of chickpeas)
- 100g light brown soft sugar
- 75g caster sugar
- 100g ground almonds (or blitz up 100g oats into a flour)
- generous pinch sea salt
- An additional 100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped (optional- I like adding chocolate chunks to brownies as I don’t understand the concept of too much chocolate, but you can leave this out if you’d rather)
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Grease and line a 9×9 brownie tin.
- Start by making the almond brittle. To do this place a piece of baking paper on a heatproof work top or baking tray. Put the sugar in a small saucepan and allow it to melt, swirling the pan occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the caramel reaches a golden colour, stir through the flaked almonds and salt, then tip onto the paper and spread out into as thin a layer as you can. Leave to set hard while you make the batter.
- Put the flaxseed in a small bowl with 5tbsp water. Stir and set aside. Put the chocolate, almond butter and vegan butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of gently simmering water (don’t let the base of the bowl touch the water). Let the ingredients melt together, stirring occasionally.
- Meanwhile, place the aquafaba in the bowl of a stand mixer with whisk attachment (or use an electric whisk and large mixing bowl). Whisk the aquafaba until stiff peaks form (about 10-15 minutes). By this point the chocolate mix will be glossy and smooth- set aside to cool.
- Now add the sugars and flax mix to the aquafaba and whisk to create a glossier texture (about 2-3 minutes). Scrape the cooled chocolate mixture into the aquafaba and briefly whisk again until it’s combined, then fold the ground almonds and salt in with a large metal spoon.
- Spoon half the batter into the prepared tin then scatter over half of the roughly chopped chocolate (if using). Now add the remaining batter and level off. Break up the almond brittle into uneven pieces and scatter all over the top of the brownie along with the remaining chocolate. Bake for 35-40 minutes (longer than a regular brownie) or until there is just a slight wobble left in the middle. Once baked, leave to cool completely in the tin before slicing up and serving.
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.
- 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)
- 225g dark chocolate
- 30g vegan butter (I used Stork)
- 300ml Oatly cream alternative
- 3tbsp maple syrup
- large pinch sea salt
- 3tbsp white miso paste
- 75g sesame seeds
- 100g caster sugar
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slice up the tart and serve with shards of sesame caramel and a sprinkling of sea salt.
I’ve been deliberating posting savoury recipes for a few years now but have always held back due to the simple fact that I called this site ‘tassybakes’ and so must, by my own ruling, share only baked goods (yeah, I’m quite neurotic). I’ve decided that’s a pretty stupid ruling especially as I’m a professional chef by day, who cooks savoury dishes the majority of the time.
Anyway you get the picture, I’m going to share savoury recipes with you, starting with this whole roast pumpkin. You part roast it before filling it with rice, wild mushrooms, cavolo nero, a load of spices, stock and pecans, then it’s popped in the oven for 15 minutes and voila, the rice is cooked and the flavours have seeped into the pumpkin flesh- delicious. You can adapt the recipe and use whatever veg or nuts you have lying around so go wild!
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
- 2 small/medium pumpkins or 1 large pumpkin
- 1tbsp rapeseed oil
- 1/2tsp ground cumin
- 1/2tsp mixed spice
- sea salt and black pepper
For the rice
- 250g basmati rice, rinsed thoroughly
- 2tbsp rapeseed oil
- 2 large white onions, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
- 1 green chilli, diced
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 6-8 cardamom pods, cracked
- 1tsp ground turmeric
- 1tsp ground cumin
- 2tsp garam masala
- 2tsp mustard seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 200g fresh wild mushrooms
- large handful cavolo nero or kale
- 100g pecans
- 500ml vegetable stock
- Green chutney, tamarind chutney, yoghurt and pomegranate seeds, to serve (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200c. Slice the top of the pumpkin (or pumpkins) off and hollow out (reserve the seeds and roast them with spices, if you like). Drizzle with oil and rub with spices and seasoning all over, inside and out. Place on a tray (lid included) and roast for 25-35 minutes or until the flesh is very tender.
- Rinse the rice several times in cold water then leave to soak until required.
- Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the sliced onions. Cook out until lightly browned and very soft, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cardamom pods and all other spices and cook, stirring often until aromatic. Now add the mushrooms and a little more oil if required, and cook until caramelised. Don’t stir more often than is necessary or they won’t colour up.
- Drain the rice. Add the pecans, cavolo nero and rice to the saucepan and stir to coat in the oil and spices. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, then carefully transfer to the cooked pumpkin. Turn the heat down to 160c on the oven and pop the lid on top of the pumpkin to seal in the steam.
- Return the now filled pumpkin to the oven for 15 minutes, then remove and leave to stand, lid on, for a further 10 minutes.
- Now you’re ready to serve. Slice the pilaf-filled pumpkin into big wedges and enjoy with green chutney, yoghurt, tamarind chutney and some pomegranate seeds, if you like.
This vegan banana bread is perfect if you’re after maximum taste pay off in exchange for minimal effort; the method calls for just a mixing bowl and hand whisk and you’ll have it in the oven in less than 10 minutes. I add chunks of dark chocolate and a shot of espresso to my banana bread as it adds a great depth of flavour and slight bittersweet finish, but feel free to omit these (if you’re weird and don’t like my two favourite things).
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 100ml dairy free yoghurt (I used Alpro plain)
- 100ml nut milk (I used almond)
- 3 very ripe bananas (roughly mashed) plus 1 extra banana (halved down the middle)
- 2tbsp instant coffee granules dissolved in 2tbsp boiling water
- 75g light brown soft sugar
- 75g caster sugar
- 225g plain flour
- 1tsp baking power
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- generous pinch of salt
- 150g 70% dark chocolate
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Line a large loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
- Place the oil, yoghurt, milk, mashed banana, both sugars and coffee in a bowl and whisk together. Now add in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and whisk again until you have a smooth batter. Roughly chop 100g of the dark chocolate and stir that in, reserving the rest. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the banana halves on top.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes or until well risen, springy and golden. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin, then melt the remaining dark chocolate and drizzle over the top.
In the spirit of Veganuary, I thought I’d keep my recipes plant based this month. I’m not vegan myself, but am completely on board with reducing my consumption of animal products, so should probably reflect this in my baking. This week I tackled a home baking classic: the chocolate chip cookie. I’m pretty smug about the result; you would never guess they contained neither eggs nor dairy as the texture is buttery and chewy and the flavour rich, nutty and indulgent. Definitely give them a try, I’ve had great feedback from my (very willing) testers!
- 150g vegan butter ( I used Naturli’s Vegan Baking Block)
- 150g smooth almond butter
- 75ml almond milk
- 175g light brown soft sugar
- 150g caster sugar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 150g rye flour
- 200g plain flour
- 1tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/2tsp baking powder
- 300g 70% dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 75g almonds, roughly chopped
- Sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 170c. Place the vegan butter, almond butter, almond milk, both sugars and vanilla in a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water (ensuring that the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Heat, stirring occasionally, until all the ingredients have melted to form a smooth mixture. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the rye flour, plain flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Add in the wet ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon until a soft dough has formed. Now evenly distribute 3/4 of the chocolate chunks and all the almonds through the mixture.
- Line 2 or 3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper. Using an ice cream scoop shape even balls of dough and arrange on the trays, allowing space for spreading ( I put up to 6 cookies on each tray). Take a couple of your reserved chocolate chunks and press into the top of each ball of dough, then sprinkle with some sea salt.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then carefully take the trays out and bang them sharply on a worktop. Pop them back in the oven for 3 minutes then bang once more and leave to cool. This technique is favoured by lots of bakers as it stops the cookies from puffing up too much and creates that wrinkly finish (you’ll probably need to bake the cookies in batches as this recipe will make 18-22).
- Leave the cookies to cool on the trays or serve warm. Best enjoyed freshly baked.
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).
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)
- Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a 20x20cm square brownie tin.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.