Less is more: Cranberry and Orange Christmas Cake

Cranberry and Orange Cake

Citrus and I don’t normally get on. I love lemons, however I once had an incident involving orange slices and breakfast tea (don’t ask) that didn’t turn out too well, so anything orange has turned my stomach for a long time…However the other day I bought a huge box of cranberries because they looked so red and shiny and christmassy and because I guess in my mind I could just already taste their sweet tartness and supposed that they would make a healthy + juicy + tasty after-dinner treat while the bestie was over that night… But as you can probably tell I have never dealt with fresh cranberries before.

One over-dramatic spit-take later I set them aside and contemplated home-making a bowl of cranberry sauce for the first time. However mum announced that she had already stock-piled enough cranberry sauce to get us through the next ten festive seasons, which was actually fine with me bc I always feel like fresh, shiny fruit is somewhat wasted on jams/sauces etc when it could potentially produce something cake-y instead… So anyway a few brain waves later I suddenly became SO ready to bake something cranberry-and-orange; because CHRISTMAS VIBES!! <3 <3

Cranberry and Orange Cake

This cake was actually pretty spontaneous and I’m so happy with how it turned out! It is deliciously simple. That’s why I called it ‘less is more’ – because I initially wanted to cube it up into petit-four style blocks and coat it in white chocolate, but I’m so glad I didn’t; it needs to be enjoyed in it’s own right. The cake is very light – probably because there is barely any butter/oil in  it. The orange flavour is ever-so-subtle and the cake over all has the perfect light, firm and spongy crumb. I enjoyed my first square drowned in custard… you totally should too!

Recipe: (makes an 8 x 8 tray)

  • 3/4 C sugar
  • 1/6 C vegetable oil
  • 1.5 x T butter
  • 2 x T orange zest
  • 1 + 3/4 C Flour
  • 1 x T baking powder
  • 1/4 C orange juice
  • 1/4 C milk
  • 1 large egg, separated
  • 1 C fresh cranberries

Cream the sugar + butter + oil, add the orange zest and juice|Whip in one egg white to this wet mix| In a separate bowl mix the flour + baking powder|Combine the sugar + oil + butter mix with the flour| |Add the egg yolk|Add the cranberries|Add the milk and stir in| Bake on greaseproof paper at 175 C for 37 minutes and leave to cool for 10 mins inside the oven before removing.

And gah… IT’S CHRISTMAS EVE! I had the nicest cheddar + cranberry croissant for breakfast which was an UH-MAZING idea that I thought I’d mention here ;). A perfectly satisfying breakfast just works a treat for setting you up with that feel-good feeling for the rest of the day B-) We also made a huge pot of curried parsnip soup tonight as well as tomorrow’s cauliflower cheese, and roasted our turkey early in advance today too. Everything here basically SMELLS and seriously LOOKS like Christmas already, only the clock hasn’t caught up with these roast-y wafts yet, and none of us can wait to get our hands on all of the chocolate coated goodies (- think honey-nut clusters and choccie apples + an abundance of fudge chunks) that we’ve spent the whole day prepping!:

Chocolate Apples Chocolate nut clusters

The weather in London is somehow still really balmy and I’ve been able to take some super therapeutic walks these past few days in the sunshine (soulfood), which have totally helped me to stay sane and chug through the yucky workloads. But right now it’s time for a break: if you don’t spend your next two nights-in just binge watching old movies/tv-series and celebrating the atmosphere with much feasting + chocolate + caramel + mince pies in total excess, then you’re doing it all wrong! It has been a whirlwind of a year and the last few weeks especially have totally flown by, and it seems that everybody is saying that each year comes and goes faster than the last, it’s just crazy. At this stage I really can’t wait for a fresh start, but until 2016 – these are the last two proper days we have left for  christmass-ing. For me, this means we have hit the final season in which I can hoard bags of marshmallows and hideaway more chocolate than those marshmallows should ever even need. So ima savour it. Sit back with something hot in your favourite mug, and simply lap up the festive air of 2015 because it’s never going to visit again. This is it. Merry Christmas everyone xox

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

You know what?

Earlier in 2015, I was adamant that these sweet potato brownies were the most insane things I had ever created. But looking back, I was slightly wrong…

And unenlightened.

Now I’ve definitely made my fair share of epic cakes, ungodly desserts and immense cookies… but now, I look back on these sweet potato and chickpea fudge blondies and I feel like,*if* I were one day forced to choose a favourite recipe of mine… I might actually be able to do so – now...

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

I don’t know if it is because the thought of these blondies reminds me of a particularly bleak and misty 6am morning I spent hanging around at Victoria Station waiting for a train up north; with these chunky foil-wrapped squares the only things keeping me company… or if it is because they are this deadly simple combination of my hands-down-favourite foods ever ( – peanut butter and chocolate, snm), thrown together to form a wickedly exciting, genius, wholesome pillow that I (and you, too) might all-too-easily devour for breakfast, yet technically not need to feel naughty about… or lastly, if it’s because their inception was just so dang spontaneous; (as in like, one day I literally just decided to ‘see what happened’ if I blitzed a mound of oats with hot veggies and peanut butter)… As I say, I really don’t know what it is about these specifically, but…

All I do know, is that these are everything. Truly.

Imagine if you were to cross a huge fluffy muffin with a rich, dense peanut butter cookie? Then imagine that that resultant product bred with a brownie, and then you spread extra peanut butter over it and THEN proceeded to stuff it with heaps of chocolate chunks for good measure? That’s what these would be. They are heavy, crumby, blocks of swirly peanut butter.  They are hardcore. They are breakfast, they are lunch. They are afternoon tea and the snack between all three. They are also the midnight snack of your dreams, the crumble over your porridge, the nutty brownie to your ice cream (or the cake under your custard)… and most of all: they are sure as hell the perfect dippage to your tea.

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

Oats, sweet potatoes and chickpeas are the ultimate health-hack. While a lot of people might want to sub syrup/honey/banana or whatever for the sugar, (to which I say go ahead…), bear in mind that they won’t be anywhere near the way I’ve described them to be. Although this might contradict the healthy-ness I’ve just reiterated: the amazing-ness of these blondies comes from the sugar itself… as in, you simply cannot get that sheer density and decadence from anything except sugar. So given how healthy + protein filled the rest of these treats are… I really think we deserve to go all-out on the real stuff. It’s good for the soul; and doesn’t give you that weird back-of-the-eyes headache that excess volumes of maple syrup and/or honey does.

I can’t even explain how super dense, crumby and perfectly fluffy these divine creations are. The fact that they have no flour or butter is legitimately unbelievable; they are unbelievably fudgy. One bite and you will be sceptic. But what can I say? Other than to take a long hard look; let your mouth water and notice how the book-thick cross-sections of these bricky squares heaving with chocolate chips speak for themselves… It’s not their fault they look so guilty.

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

Ingredients

    Makes an 8x8 inch tray - double the recipe for a 9 x 13 tray
  • 3/4 can chickpeas
  • 3/4 C ground oats, blitzed in a food processor
  • 1 x medium cooked sweet potato
  • 3/4 C crunchy peanut butter (or 50: 50 with cashew)
  • 1/2 C apple sauce
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/4 C white sugar
  • 1 x T vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 150g mixed white + milk chocolate chunks.
  • Optional glaze - I didn't end up using it because the blondies were SO good by themselves...
  • 1/2 C icing sugar
  • 1 x T milk
  • 1 x t cinnamon
  1. Line an 8x8 baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  2. Put the ingredients in a food processor + pulse/process on med-high speed in this order:
  3. Begin with the oats
  4. Followed by the chickpeas, sweet potato and vanilla
  5. Then with the sugars and peanut butter...
  6. Followed by the apple sauce.
  7. Stir in the egg manually + add the chocolate chunks...
  8. Bake at 180 (fan oven) for 30 mins - at which point, check for doneness + be prepared to put them back in for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Let cool for 10 mins, then let loose!
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Insane [Flourless] Sweet Potato & Chickpea Fudge Blondies

Just to clarify, these are WAY WAY better than the recipe I put up in 2014; they are SO MUCH MORE – that is, more EVERYTHING <3 These older ones were smaller, flatter, made with banana (less sugar) and were basically just far less extravagant. They also didn’t use sweet potato, which is where this recipe get’s its oomph and volume from. Make this recipe. :-)

Baby Victoria Sponge Cakes

Tea: “It is home. It is like building a fire when lost in the woods – you put the kettle on, and there you are” 

I freaked out when I made these sponge-cake babies! For a few reasons:

1st Reason: Because I split the batter between 2 pans that were way too big for the recipe and the cake came out too flat for my liking. LIKE OH MY GOD FREAKOUT BC MY CAKE AMBITIONS ARE RUINED AND LIKE OMG I’VE JUST WASTED SO. MUCH. FRICKING. BUTTER.

2nd Reason: BECAUSE THEN I PANIC-IMPROVISED THEN PRESSED THEM WITH COOKIE CUTTERS AND TA-DA OUT CAME THE MOST ADORABLE BABY CAKES TO EVER HAVE EXISTED EVER. Like ever.

Miniature Victoria Sponge Cakes - British Afternoon Tea

3rd Reason: Because every time I whip up buttercream I realize how amazing it tastes by itself = freak out at self for compulsively eating a weeks worth of calories off a spoon before le baby cakes have even been constructed (Buttercream feels so much naughtier when you’ve made it yourself and seen how much butter/sugar actually goes in there *insert tears-pouring-out-of-eyes-emoji*.

4th Reason: Because then I got to enjoy them with ma bestie out in the garden on what turned out to be one of the last beautiful late summer afternoons of 2015. Obviously with bottomless tea, which tasted even better in huge pastel-coloured mugs. Freakout because: perfection. (The grass also really was that mystic shade of green – nice work, Dad!).

Great British Afternoon tea garden party

I used the BBC recipe for the cake. Which I’m now jumping up and down at in thanks, since it means I don’t have to write out the instructions myself (food blogger fail). But Victoria sponge recipes are all pretty similar, since the key is in the ratios and the ingredients themselves are generally super simple and unchanging, so I don’t think they’d vary much between sources anyway. And although I’m 95% all about using American measurements i.e. cups, which are great for lazy people like me who prefer the yolo approach to estimating measuring things out – when it comes to real British recipes such as proper shortbread and cakes like these – the scales and grams are the only trustworthy ways forward IMO.

While my brother (who’s actually becoming an ACE baker and seriously needs his own blog!!) is a fan of using vanilla whipped cream for the filling – which is proper delicious, I can just never snub buttercream. So thumbs up to the BBC for favouring #teambuttercream here :) (Y) Although I disagree on their choice of strawbs jam; IT’S RASPBERRY CONSERVE OR GO HOME.

Afternoon tea, anyone? <3

PS here is the article I got the top quote from x

Miniature Victoria Sponge Cakes - British Afternoon Tea

Upside down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Ginger Cake

“Life is defined by time and seasons…” — Lailah Gifty Akita

Almond. Plum. Ginger.

Upside Down Plum and Almond Cake

How does that sound?!

If I’m being honest with you on this – I can’t believe that I’ve actually found three things that go together even better than peanut-butter-caramel. (!!!) And that is one massive revelation, I assure you.

As soon as this Greek yoghurt infused circle of splendour emerged out of that hot oven… I was so, so ready to surrender to those spicy sweet, nutty fall wafts

Upside down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Ginger Cake

Close your eyes; this is what late summer-slash-the-week-before-the-week-before-the-week-before-fall, smells like. It’s very essence is summer crumb-distilled, flavoured with autumn leaves. It’s irresistible.

Nothing beats the smell of delicate, sugary sweet almonds baking away over a lair of fluffy sponge and fruit. I just adore baking with ground almonds. They’re so ridiculously rich, but at the same time they maintain this unwavered delicacy to them? You can’t go OTT with ground almonds. If they were a colour they would be cream; there is no classier way to add yet more depth to a recipe. From almond croissants to frangipane, to this upside down almond and plum cake, – nothing beats almonds incorporated into butter and flour. The result will always be divine and unbeatable.

Actual. Slice. Of. Heaven.

Upside down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Ginger Cake

And so, – so, ridiculously moist.

The amount of satisfaction you will get when you flip it over and that initial syrupy, juicy, deep purple jumble of an arrangement actually turns into an utter work of art. You will be seriously proud of yourself. I guarantee it. So how about you brew yourself something hot before sitting down somewhere with the sun in your face, and letting yourself melt into some still-warm, fresh plum cake to celebrate the last of these late summer days?

Upside down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Ginger Cake

Upside-Down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Cake

Upside-Down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Cake

Ingredients

    For the plum top:
  • 6 plums, sliced.
  • 3 x T salted butter
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 4 T apricot jam
  • For the cake:
  • 1 + 1/4C flour
  • 2 x T baking powder
  • 1 x t ground ginger (or better yet, the fresh equivalent)
  • 1/2 C ground almonds
  • 2/3 C sugar + 1 x T
  • 1/2 C salted butter
  • 1/4 C vegetable oil (the combo of both butter and oil is the secret to the moistest, most heavenly cakes in the world)
  • 1 x T almond extract
  • 1/2 C milk
  • 2 x T yoghurt (if you don't have yoghurt just use 3/4 milk instead of the 1/2 C suggested above)
  • 3 eggs (mine were small-medium)
  • Extra pinch of salt if desired.
  • Optional: chopped pistachio nuts
    Upside-Down Topping:
  1. Lay the Plums into the bottom of a 20cm cake tin
  2. Melt the butter, and mix with the sugar and jam; pour mixture over plums
  3. Cake
  4. Cream the butter and oil with the sugar and almonds, add the almond extract and egg whites - yolks set aside.
  5. In a separate bowl combine the dry ingredients
  6. Mix the dry ingredient mix with the wet mix (butter, sugar, oil, almonds etc) that you've just prepared - to this, add the milk, yoghurt and yolks.
  7. Add pistachios if desired
  8. Incorporate thoroughly and pour over the plums already laid in the tin.
  9. Bake on 175 (fan oven) for about an hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Super sorry to be so vague on the cooking times - our fan oven NEVER complies to those times described by other recipes, so just bake it intuitively for as long as you would any other small cake.
  10. Let it cool on a wire rack before slicing up and enjoying!
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Upside down Plum, Pistachio and Almond Ginger Cake

Cashew Butter Carrot Cake and Coconut Oat Cookies

“If you’re doing your best and you make a mess of things; if you got big dreams but you got big doubts…well, you’re doing it right.”Rodney Atkins. 

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

Don’t you just love grated carrot?

Huge, seemingly bottomless fluorescent orange bags of glow in the dark, pre-prepared goodness. You can cook it, you can juice it; you canbananacinnamonvanillaandhoney smoothie it orrrr, my forever favourite… you can always carrot cake it! Mmm.

Okay well that’s misleading. You can’t always carrot cake it. Cause sometimes after a week of much indulgence, something might just be telling you that that’s probably not gonna the smartest way to get your veggies in…

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

Another twist in this whole dilemma is that carrot cake has got to be frosted (unwritten law of the universe, yes), which unfortunately cancels out the vegetable dose you thought you had to defend yourself with…

Anyway I, got sick of this. I had this threatening bag of bottomless grated carrot. I had that indulgent week. I had those cravings for carrot cake. Anddddd I had coconut…

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter! So, if you find yourself in similar shoes… then please: just MAKE THESE CASHEW CARROT CAKE COCONUT OAT COOKIES ALREADY! They will be the best thing you eat all week, I promise.

Actually, just forget about all of the reasoning above. Carrot cake cookies don’t need to explain themselves…

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter! Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter! Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

…So just do yourself a favour and make them anyway 😉

Ingredients: Makes appx 7-10 generous cookies

  • 1/2 C Flour
  • 3/4 C Rolled oats
  • 1/4 C Coconut
  • 1/2 C grated carrots
  • 1.5 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 x medium sized banana, ripened + mashed (you don’t need to use banana. If you’d prefer to leave out, then you probably only need to use 1/2 C oats instead of the 3/4C oats listed since the cookie dough won’t be as wet)
  • 1/3 C + 1 T  Nut butter of your choice (I chose to use a mix of peanut butter and natural cashew butter – though I’d warn you to stay away from natural butters because they will make flatter + runnier cookies, though these seemed okay because they rose)
  • 1/4 C + 1 T honey
  • 2 x Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 x T brown sugar
  • 1 x tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger – also 1/4 tsp of each clove + nutmeg (or just use 1 x tsp all spice powder)
  • 1 x T Vanilla extract
  • A handful of chopped walnuts
  • 1 x egg
  • 100g white chocolate for drizzling.

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

  1. In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter and banana (if using) with the sugar and honey
  2. In a food processor, briefly pulse the grated carrots, coconut + walnuts with the spices until sufficiently blitzed to chunky grains. (If you have grated carrot, you can skip this step, but it is nice to have smaller pieces, since they reduce the prominence of carrot in the finished cookies).
  3. Add the oats to the peanut butter, banana + sugar mix. Add in the flour, baking soda + baking powder second.
  4. Follow on by adding the carrots, coconut, walnuts + spices to the combined mix.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and egg. Combine, but don’t over beat.
  6. Try and freeze the bowl of cookie dough for at least 1 hour before spooning onto cookie sheets and baking at 175 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until risen + browned. You can skip this step, but they might be unpredictably flat.
  7. After baking, remove and leave to cool a little before drizzling melted white chocolate over them.
  8. Stop lusting after that carrot cake and enjoy guilt-free!
  9. They also make a great smashed-all-up base for no bake, cheesecakes in glasses. Just saying. 😉

So there you have it! – These fabulous little cookies are actually healthy…Like actually healthy, guys. I know I say that a lot about sooo many different things I try to justify (sorry not sorry) – but seriouslyyyy…The above list of ingredients is seamlessly wholesome and everything about the little treats are so. damn. good. for you. Okay wait – so there is flour in them – but whatever. Just replace it with extra oats if you must.

But there you go – you can finally have carrot cake for breakfast! (if you weren’t already accustomed to the act, that is…)

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

Enjoy your nutritious little rounds of carrot cake!

Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter! Carrot cake and Coconut Oat Cookies - Made with Cashew butter!

You’re shining your light

You ain’t losing your mind

You’re dropping the ball, but you’re picking it up.

You’re stumbling and falling and falling in love… 

You’re prayin’ each night 

…You’re doin’ it right 

— Rodney Atkins, Doin’ it right.

Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies – Flourless!

“I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of lives for which we should be particularly grateful… just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.”  — Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

Quite often I find myself craving to just bake something. And more often than not, that *something* of impulse bakes generally turns out to be something peanut butter, chocolate, banana or loaf/cookie based – they’re just so easy.

Surely enough, the majority of these cravings can usually be explained by a longing for a hulk-sized spoonful of peanut butter or chocolate or idk, a slab of cheesecake – call it hunger or whatever. But when I really trace these cravings back to the little coves in my mind where they came from… I realize that this craving to *bake* something with these usually-at-hand ingredients stems more from a need to occupy my mind with something therapeutic, than it does wanting to actually eat the finished product. The joy of creaming whippy mounds of peanut butter into the sandiness of brown sugar, or folding chocolate chips into a floury-sweet mixture of melted butter and fragrant vanilla beans is an art that is quite deeply engrained in my neuro-pathways. It’s relaxing. I know these ingredients – I can totally predict the way they’ll behave when combined with this or that and how they need to be handled when folded into each other or spooned out onto cookie trays. I feel them, I tell ya! Better yet, I know how much I’ll be looking forward to these bakes for breakfast every day for the rest of that week, because they are made with the favourite things I always come back to. How inviting are they?!

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

It’s no surprise then that I tend reach for the jar of peanut butter or start melting blocks of chocolate whenever I notice we have an awful lot of bananas turning brown. These things are comforts in their own right, but not just because they make you want to sink into them when you have a taste because as I say – it’s not just about deriving pleasure from eating the finished goods… But because instead, when life goes crazy, they are an excuse for me to hide away and take a moment to focus on perfecting something I already have a grip on.

Having some time away from the pressures of your schedule, to just stand in the kitchen folding these ingredients into something to bake signifies endurance – it’s the opportunity for a breather. It is the comfort of setting out to create something, and have it turn out just the way you want it. All the while enjoying the sensation of bringing them to life with your own hands. That’s what waking up to make these of simple, comforting peanut butter cookies is all about.

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

 

Now obviously dressing them up in caramel is optional…but also highly recommended 😉

Ingredients (makes about 8 biiig cookies): 

  • 1.5 C Oats
  • 1C Crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 C Brown sugar
  • 2 x Small bananas
  • 1 x Egg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 100g Dark chocolate chips
  • Extra 100g chocolate for melty-drizzling <3
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mash the bananas. Add the peanut butter to them, then add the brown sugar, vanilla and baking soda.
  2. Add in the oats to this mix. Fold in the egg, then add the chocolate chips. You should have a pretty dense, ‘scoop-able’ cookie dough.
  3. Put the mix in the fridge for 1 hour (or in the freezer for 30 mins) so that it can thicken. You may skip this step but your cookies will spread out really easily and thin while baking, if you do.
  4. Spoon onto a cookie sheet and bake for 8-12 minutes or until cookies are browned, leave to cool in the oven for 5-10 minutes before removing and cooling on wire racks (Lol am I the only one who never does this?)
  5. When cooled a little (but not so much that you don’t get to eat them hot!) –  melt the dark chocolate in the microwave and drizzle over the cookies. Make a mess! Add extra gratings of chocolate if you wish <3

IMG_9060

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

Flour-less Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies

 

 

[No Bake] Peanut Butter & Lemon Chocolate Cheesecake Pot

Peanut Butter & Lemon Chocolate Cheesecake Glass

If you are crazy for peanut butter, and a sucker for anything even remotely lemon-y or, well – I’m not even gonna bother asking if you’re a fan of chocolate because… Yeah.

But if the first two apply. Then THESE. ARE. FOR. YOU. Like, hear me: they are life changingly, for yooouuuuu.

In a packet of sweets I will always reach the yellow wrapped one. And in any universe I will always reach for the peanut butter without any special occasion needed. Meanwhile on most at-home afternoons I’ll usually be reaching for some type of chocolate, so its no surprise that these three flavour worlds finally got to meet on afternoon day last week. I’ve also recently started to put lemon curd on absolutely everythingggggg, so it only seems fitting that these little cheesecake pots can justify my new favourite addiction…

But have you ever put this combination together before? I had never thought about it until, um… so basically I was eating chocolate caramel popcorn granola with yogurt. I topped it with peanut butter (as you do)… Anddddd there was just this beckoningly yellow jar of lemon curd still sitting out from the morning. And bam, there you have it. A perfectly decent explanation.

Fast forward, we go on to replace the yoghurt with a low fat cream cheese (you can get away with it so…), we whip that batter up and vooooillla here we have the perfect, citrusy-nut masterpiece to then top with a thousand grated chocolate sprinkles! Cheesecake cheat/win. You’re welcome.

Peanut Butter & Lemon Chocolate Cheesecake Glass Using low fat cream cheese means you can eat this glass of yum after dinner on an almost full stomach. It also means you can call them healthy/fat free or whatever (I dunno about you, but peanut butter is healthy so I never question the fat content muaha). I meant to add 2-3 T of heavy cream to this recipe so that the pb cheesecake would get all huge and whippy and basically double in size… but we didn’t have any in and it was raining sooo… I made it without and had (what looks like, but definitely isn’t) a tiny layer of pb cheesecake as a result – but if you add the cream you will get the kind of creamy silky whippiness that takes up 3/4 of your glass!*

The lemon is really refreshing and the chocolate ratio is jusssst right. Using full fat cream cheese would be pretty sickly I’d imagine, since the peanut butter is so heavy on its own… But it’s still something that I for one would definitely still be in favour of 😉

I love these so much because they are the kind of things you can quickly fix together, and just throw them in the freezer for 20 mins before devouring them straight away! Because I designed these as a kind of flavour ‘trial’, they are also really easy to make in individual servings, or just for say 2 people.

Oh and did I mention that the base = a buttery mound of gingersnap biscuits? Lemon and ginger. (plus peanut butter and chocolate). Match made in heaven, I tell ya.

Say helloooooo to your new favourite way to eat lemon curd:

Makes 2 cheesecake glasses: 

  • 2 x T Salted butter, melted.
  • 6 x Ginger nut/ginger snap biscuits, crushed. Make it 8 biscuits and 3 x T butter if you like a thicker butter base at the bottom of your glass.
  • 6 x heaped T Low fat cream cheese
  • 3.5 heaped T White sugar (You can add more if you want, but the topping is quite sweet so it might get too sickly if you do)
  • Sprinkling of icing sugar (Don’t worry about this if you haven’t got it on hand, but it smoothens the cheesecake layer that bit more)
  • 1 x tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 x T heavy cream (optional, read above*)
  • 2.5 x heaped T Smooth peanut butter
  • 3 x heaped T Lemon Curd, microwaved for about 35 seconds until ‘melted’.
  • 40g ++ of chocolate chunks, chips or gratings (or all 3!!)
  • Optional: Mini lemon meringues.
  1. Combine the crushed ginger nuts with the 2 x T melted butter. Divide the crushed + buttered biscuits between two clear serving glasses, sprinkling a few chocolate chips over the biscuits in each glass
  2. In a bowl, whip the cream cheese with the sugar will combined. Add the peanut butter and vanilla.
  3. Add the heavy cream, whipping and whipping it until the pb cheesecake batter grows a little in size. Dollop the cheesecake layers over the biscuit bases, dividing the mix evenly between the two glasses.
  4. Melt the lemon curd in the microwave, before pouring over the cheesecakes.
  5. Throw on the rest of the chocolate chunks/gratings + add the mini meringues if using.
  6. Freeze for 20 minutes if you’re impatient, or put in the fridge for an hour and a half before enjoying :-)

Brb just gonna rescue take-two from the freezer…

Peanut Butter & Lemon Chocolate Cheesecake Glass

Nectarine, Avocado and Goats Cheese Sourdough Crostini

It’s no secret that I have this deep thinnnnnnggg for nectarines.

Peach, Avocado and Goats Cheese Sourdough Crostini

I will put them on everything.

Like, it’s still summer (sorta, England…) and I cannot. get. enough. of them. Another reason why I love summer probably has to be because supermarkets sell them so cheap at this time of year. Thinking about nectarines also takes me back to last summer; when us girls were inter-railing through Italy, stopping at all the supermarkets we could and stocking up on nectarines for our air b&b fridge and second breakfasts along the canals in Venice.

We’ve had a bag of nectarines on the floor of the kitchen for weeks now. It won’t go down. Not that I’m complaining or anything. I mean, it’s me who keeps buying more.

So far I’ve put them in salads with spinach and lemon-y olive oil dressing and handfuls of feta. They are made even more amazing by the addition of sweet potatoes and (yup you guessed it) – even more feta and a drizzle of honey. And omg did I even mention what a sprinkling of walnuts or hazelnuts can do to a nectarine salad? I put ’em on chicken pizza. I put ’em in banana and coconut porridge. I made meringue trifles out of them. I made smoothies, juices and desserts out of them. I spent weeks on end eating them sliced up with nothing but mango-vanilla yoghurt for breakfast, before I finally switched it up and used them toppings for my plum jam & cashew buttered toast (the bestttttttttt).

And man coming to think about it, I really wish I had made that nectarine custard tart already… because HOW GREAT WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN WITH ICE CREAM?! It’s a full blown love affair.

One thing I hadn’t done is tried them with avocado. Or goats cheese… together…

Peach, Avocado and Goats Cheese Sourdough Crostini

Now I’m not Italian; I don’t really think this would pass as authentic crostini… but the classification fits it pretty well. either way. And I needed a summery, Mediterranean name to do justice for the deliciousness happening here.

So basically, you’re either gonna love this or hate this. If you’re not an avo person, close this window and find another way to heart nectarines – because this one won’t be for you. If you are all for it, then please step further into this new chapter of the summer-time nectarine chronicles…

What you need (serves 1): 

  • Toasted + buttered sourdough (you know it’s better buttered).
  • 2 x T tomato puree, basil, parsley, salt + pepper for the buttered sourdough.
  • 1/2 smashed avocado, salted + peppered to your liking and then spread over the tomato-pasted sourdough.
  • 1 large ripe and juicy nectarine, sliced + used to top the toast.
  • A handful of goats cheese sprinkled over everything.
  • A generous splashing of extra virgin olive oil to finish it all off.
  • Chives for topping.

Try to enjoy it when its still hot!

I think it would be really nice to try this same thing with the addition of sweet potato/red pepper hummus, as well as some roasted Mediterranean veg. Don’t you?

What’s been your favourite way to eat nectarines this summer?

Peach, Avocado and Goats Cheese Sourdough Crostini  Peach, Avocado and Goats Cheese Sourdough Crostini

Life is better than death, I believe, if only because it is less boring, and because it has fresh peaches in it.”
― Alice Walker, Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology

Chocolate Fudge Marbled Banana Bread (And it’s good for you!)

Chocolate Fudge Marbled Banana Bread (And it's good for you!)

In my post for Soft Peanut Butter & Banana Caramel Oat Cookies, I spend a good 3 para’s or so justifying why peanut butter and banana and chocolate etc etc are the BEST. INGREDIENTS. EVER. That explanation pretty much justifies this loaf cake too, so I won’t go all emotional about peanut butter on you again.

Except… with alllllll of that said… This cake doesn’t even actually involve peanut butter… *gasp*. I mean, it was supposed to… but then I realized that if I put peanut butter into it, then one of my brothers (the peanut-phobic and therefore uncool one) – wouldn’t be able to enjoy any, so the rest of us had to enjoy it while lusting over what could have been. Even so it still tasted fully aaaah-mazing. It’s the healthy type of loaf cake that you totally can let yourself eat for breakfast, but only two bites in you start to question whether or not you’ve served yourself a slice of the wrong cake. Why? Bc it tastes wickedly indulgent. The banana part is moist and fluffy with a pretty damn decent crumb, while the chocolate fudge layer tastes too stupidly rich to be anything that really isn’t a block of pure butter-fudge…

Now I don’t count calories, but one slice of this involves waaaay less everything than a slice of the full blown bake. You just would never realize it – it’s that good. Sure, there’s a generous amount of dark chocolate inside it, but c’mon… that stuff truly is good for the heart. There is enough apple [sauce] in there to keep the doctor away for a good while. So there – don’t let anything stop you spreading extra nut/choc hazlenut butter over it at breakfast, also 😉

ps. MAKE IT.

Marbled banana bread:

Dry mix:

  • 2 C Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking soda
  • 1 T Powder

Wet mix:

  • 2/3 C sugar
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¼ C Vegetable oil
  • ½ C Apple sauce
  • 1 tbsp Greek yog
  • 1 T Vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon (optional)
  • Splash of milk

Marbling:

  • 1.5 T Cocoa powder
  • 100g Dark chocolate, melted.

To make the banana bread:

  1. Combine dry mix in a large bowl
  2. Combine everything from the wet mix in a separate bowl – except the milk + eggs.
  3. Combine dry + wet ingredients together. When folded together add the eggs one at a time.
  4. Add the splash of milk, you want to keep your batter thick but add enough milk to bind everything together so that it may be poured into the loaf tin. Use your eye for this, you may need more/less.
  5. Remove 1 C of the banana bread mix and set aside – you will need this for the marble.
  6. Tip the banana bread mixture into a prepared loaf pan, and then get started on the marble layer.

To make the marble:

  1. Remove 1C of the cake mix and add 1 tbsp cocoa powder + 1 x 100g of melted dark chocolate. Stir and combine.
  2. Drizzle the marble gently over the banana bread mixture in the loaf tin – swirling with a fork to combine like marbling.
  3. Bake the loaf cake for 30-35 minutes at 175 degrees/until the centre has set. Cool in oven for appx 10 minutes before removing to cool.

Chocolate Fudge Marbled Banana Bread (And it's good for you!)

Almond and Lemon Cranberry Cookies

Almond and Lemon Cranberry Cookies

These cookies were a hit! I made them waaaay back in April – to bring to the birthday picnic of Katie and Maddy (Taurus twinnies!!) on Primrose Hill. I chose them because it was exam season and they were so quick to make. Also because sometimes, only a rich dose white chocolate coated sweet almonds will do 😉 They were added to the heap of yummy bakes, cakes and cheeses that everyone else had brought alone to celebrate with, under the sundown and London skyline. It feels so strange, reflecting back on it now…on nearly the very last day of August. How does time vanish so quickly?

I usually make big soft and chewy cookies (personal favourite) but everyone in the house tends to prefer the crunchy kind that you can dunk into tea without risking a melted chocolate chip cookie massacre at the bottom of your mug. So, whenever I do make a batch of these they go pretty fast.

Almond and Lemon Cranberry Cookies

If I had to admit one regret that I have about these cookies, it would be that I didn’t make more. I mean, you probably don’t want to double that amount of butter just to make a second batch, but given another shot I’d probably freeze the cookie dough for longer (impatience is my own worst enemy, too), before cutting it into smaller rounds so that there’s technically ‘more’ cookies to go round, meaning we can all have two or three but technically still only be eating one…of the old ones 😉

Ingredients: 

  • 1C Salted butter
  • 2/3 C Sugar
  • 1 x Tbsp Almond essence
  • 3/4 C Flour
  • ¾ c Ground almonds
  • 1/2 C Cranberries (optional)

What to do: 

  1. Cream the  butter and sugar and add the almond essence.
  2. Fold in the flour, almonds + cranberries if using.
  3. Roll dough out, and using a cookie presser cut out the rounds you’d want.
  4. Put the rounds in the freezer for 20 mins or in the fridge for 1 hour (this stops them spreading when baking – a step I probably should have actually taken…see how much the shapes changed before/after baking!)

+ 100g don’t forget that melted white chocolate for drizzling really is the perfect icing on top!

Almond and Lemon Cranberry Cookies

So do you have a favourite shortbread recipe? I’m looking for a new, plain + basic go-to recipe that I can keep on hand to use as a base for all such things.

Hope you enjoy! Xx