Strawberry White Chocolate Bars

I am absolutely loving the amount of fresh fruit that is in season right now. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries… all sorts of delicious little morsels to snack on. Which is why it’s exciting that this month’s MiniMoFo theme  is fruit. Fruit is something that can sometimes seem a little uninspiring and “healthy”, but it can also sometimes seem exciting and fresh and tasty!

I’ll start off by saying, if you’re looking for a super-healthy fruit recipe… this is not your place. But I imagine most of you know that by now. This recipe is sweet and tasty, stuffed full of lots of strawberries (it’s a great recipe to use any you haven’t got round to eating yet) and topped with a gorgeous white chocolate crumble.

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If you’re in the UK, you can get vegan white chocolate fairly cheaply from Tesco or Sainsbury’s, and the Co-Op do white chocolate buttons in their free-from section too. Or you can splurge and buy the wonderful iChoc white chocolate which is absolutely delicious.

The way I “crumble” the chocolate actually was born out of my laziness. I like to make chocolate chip cookies but sometimes I have difficulty finding vegan chocolate chips, so I often use a bar of chocolate chopped up for chunks. In my laziness, however, this sometimes translates to me bunging the bar of chocolate in the food processor and blending a few seconds to chop it up. Once, I blended a few seconds too long and ended up with crumbled chocolate…and it works perfectly in this recipe.

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The crumbled chocolate gets mixed with flour, (vegan) butter, sugar, and oats to make a crumbly topping for the strawberry bars. You bake the shortbread first, then top with the strawberries, then the crumble, and finally bake again until it’s nice and golden brown.

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The strawberry topping is made by chopping strawberries, mixing with a little vanilla and sugar, and leaving them aside to macerate for half an hour. This allows some of the juices to drain so they’re not too soggy for your bars. Then you drain the juice (keep it – it’s tasty!) and put the strawberries on top of the cooked shortbread.

These bars should be kept in the fridge because of the fresh fruit, and they’re delicious on a warm sunny day, such as the one we’re strangely having right now in the UK!

Strawberry White Chocolate Bars


Ingredients

    For the Shortbread
  • 150g vegan butter
  • 80g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 225g plain flour
  • 35g cornflour (cornstarch in the US)
  • pinch salt
  • For the Strawberry Filling

  • 500g strawberries, roughly chopped
  • 100g sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • For the Crumble

  • 150g vegan white chocolate, blitzed in a food processor to a crumbly texture
  • 50g vegan butter
  • 25g oats
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 100g plain flour

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
  1. First, make the shortbread. Cream together the butter and sugar until well mixed, then mix in the vanilla.
  2. Add the flour, salt, and cornflour to the butter/sugar mix and combine. The mix will be quite dry and crumbly – use your hands to bring it together into a dough.
  3. Press the dough into a baking tin – mine is 9×13 inch – and squash it down to make it level.
  4. Bake the shortbread in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.
  5. While the shortbread is baking, prepare the strawberries. In a large bowl, mix together the chopped strawberries, the sugar, and vanilla. Set aside for 30 minutes, and then drain the liquid off.
  6. Next, make the crumble topping. In a bowl, add all the crumble ingredients and rub together with your fingers until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Keep in the fridge until you are ready to use.
  7. Once the shortbread is baked, spread the drained strawberries on top of it, making sure to cover the biscuit evenly.
  8. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the strawberries, again covering it evenly.
  9. Place back in the oven for a further 30 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.
  10. Cool in the tin, then slice and serve! Store in the fridge.


 

 

Very Chocolatey Chocolate Cake

Mmm, chocolate. One of the great wonders of the world. Many people think that if you go vegan, you can’t have chocolate anymore, but thankfully that is not true at all! If you know me, you’ll certainly know chocolate is not off the cards. Chocolate is one of my favourite foods, and so for this month’s MiniMoFo I’m sharing my favourite recipe for chocolate cake.

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Rich, melt in your mouth cake is generously coated in a smooth, sweet chocolate buttercream, giving you a delicious treat worth remembering. I have made this cake for so many special occasions – it’s great as it is, or served with a scoop of ice cream, but you can also use the base cake recipe and ice it however you fancy! I’ve decorated it with oreos, honeycomb, and even strawberries before.

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The cake is made extra chocolatey by having both cocoa powder and melted vegan dark chocolate in the batter. Lots of dark chocolate is vegan – I get mine from Lidl – but check the ingredients to make sure there’s no sneaky milk in there!

The icing also has melted chocolate in it, which means it’ll set up firmer than regular buttercream, so make sure you spread it once you’ve made it – if you put it in the fridge it’ll harden up and, whilst it’ll be tasty, it won’t spread on your cake.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: Makes a 2-layer 9-inch sponge
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Ingredients

    For the Cake
  • 420g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 60g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 500ml dairy-free milk (I use oat milk)
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 130ml sunflower oil
  • 210g sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150g vegan dark chocolate, melted
  • For the Icing

  • 100g vegan butter
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 15g cocoa powder
  • 100ml dairy-free milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 180g vegan dark chocolate, melted

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 170C/350F
  1. First, make the cake. Sift the flour, baking powder, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda, and salt into a large bowl.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix together the milk and the cider vinegar. Leave for a minute to thicken.
  3. Into the milk mixture, add the oil, sugar, and vanilla extract. Whisk with a fork until well combined.
  4. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry until well mixed through.
  5. Next, add the melted chocolate to the cake batter and stir thoroughly.
  6. Pour the cake batter evenly into 2 lined cake tins, and place in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes, until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool in the tins for ten minutes, then transfer onto a wire rack to cool.
  8. Once the cakes are completely cool, make the icing.
  9. Begin by combining the butter, cocoa, and a third (200g) of the icing sugar in a large bowl. You can use an electric whisk, or just mix it really well by hand.
  10. Add in another third of the icing sugar, mix well again.
  11. Add in the final third, the milk, and vanilla, and beat until completely combined.
  12. Finally, mix through the melted chocolate, beating until the icing is light and fluffy. If it’s too thick for your liking, add a little more milk, if it’s too thin, a little more icing sugar.
  13. Spread icing on the top of one of your cooled cakes, and place the second cake on top of it.
  14. Place a large spoonful of icing on top of the top cake, and spread it around the top and sides of the cake. Repeat until the icing is used up and/or the cake is covered to your liking!

Perfect Roasted Sweet Potatoes

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This month’s MiniMofo is all about favourites. I had to think long and hard about this, because it’s surprisingly difficult to narrow down your favourite food. Eventually I decided on my favourite vegetable: sweet potatoes! And I combined that with my husband’s favourite food: roast potatoes!

Now, if you’re British, no doubt you’ve had roast potatoes a fair bit. Part of Sunday dinner, or Christmas dinner, right? Perfect morsels of deliciousness – crispy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside – yum! Usually, of course, you use white potatoes for roasties, but I wanted to be a bit different…

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These are done in pretty much the same way as regular roasties, but incase you haven’t made those, I put together a little pictorial.

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First, peel your potatoes, and cut them into chunks – about an inch and a half in size. Not too big, but not small either. They don’t have to be super even, that’s part of the fun.

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Next, put them in a large pot of boiling water, and boil for 5 minutes. Then drain them immediately – you don’t want them to cook too long!

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Once they’re drained, pop them back in the saucepan, put the lid on, and give it a good shake. Hold the lid down well, or you’ll get flying potatoes everywhere. You want them to be all roughed up on the edges, this helps them get that nice crispy roasted outer.

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Finally, place them in a roasting dish, toss with salt, pepper, and vegan butter or oil, and put in an oven preheated to 210C/410F for 40-45 minutes. And that’s it – you’re done!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Ingredients

  • 600g sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 2 tbsp vegan butter, melted, or sub oil of choice
  • Salt + Pepper

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 210C/410F
  1. Chop your potatoes into chunks about an inch and a half in size.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Once boiling, carefully add your chopped potatoes.
  3. Place the lid on the pot, and boil covered for 5 minutes, then drain immediately.
  4. Return the drained potatoes to the pot (off the heat), put the lid on, and give it a good shake. You want the potatoes to be roughed up at the edges.
  5. Next, tip your potatoes into a roasting dish, and toss with salt, pepper, and your butter/oil.
  6. Place the roasting dish in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes, until golden and crispy, tossing once halfway through.
  7. Serve however you like!

You can make these into garlic roast potatoes easily – add 5 cloves of garlic (whole) to the roasting dish at step 5 – it’s delicious!

Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake

Once again, I am bending the rules a little bit for this month’s MiniMoFo. The prompt is “in season”, and this post uses lemons, which are never in season in the UK because we don’t grow them here. However, lemons are, to me, fresh and summery and make a great introduction to the spring season. Signalling the departure from warm, spiced, wintery foods, a sharp and sweet lemon cake is perfect to welcome in (hopefully) sunnier weather.

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Lemon drizzle cake is a classic British cake, usually baked in a loaf tin, which gives a big lemony kick by including lemons in the sponge, and a glaze that’s poured on top of the hot cake once removed from the oven. My recipe also has an extra bit of lemon in the icing that tops it!

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The important thing with this cake is to pour the glaze on top whilst the cake is still hot. Take it out of the oven, leave it in the tin, and then pour the glaze on top. It looks like you are pouring a lot of liquid on the cake and you probably think you are drowning it, but it all gets absorbed into the cake, creating a lovely sticky lemon taste. Then, you leave it to cool completely in the tin, before removing and drizzling with the icing.

A few steps – but totally worth it. Slice this cake and serve with a nice cup of tea – or lemonade if you want to go all out with the lemon!

Lemon Drizzle Cake

  • Servings: 1 loaf cake
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Ingredients

    For the Cake
  • Zest of 1 lemon (1 tbsp)
  • Juice of 2 lemons (5 tbsp)
  • 190ml vegan milk (I used almond milk)
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch salt
  • 60g vegan butter, melted
  • 100g sugar
  • For the Glaze

  • Juice of 2 lemons (5 tbsp)
  • 75g sugar
  • For the Icing

  • 75g icing sugar
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • Water if necessary

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 170C/340F
  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb, and salt.
  3. Into the milk mixture, add the melted butter and sugar, and whisk with a fork until well combined.
  4. Gradually pour the wet mixture into the dry, mixing until it’s all thoroughly stirred in.
  5. Pour the cake batter into a lined loaf tin, and bake in the preheated oven for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Towards the end of the baking time, begin making the glaze.
  7. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Place on low-medium heat, and stir until the sugar completely dissolves and the mixture begins to bubble. Keep warm.
  8. Once you have removed the baked cake from the oven, pour the glaze evenly over the cake. It will look like a lot of liquid – but it will sink in!
  9. Leave the glazed cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.
  10. Once cool, make the icing. Mix together the icing sugar with a squeeze of lemon juice, and enough water to make a thick runny icing.
  11. Using a spoon (or a piping bag), drizzle the icing over the cooled cake.
  12. Store in the fridge.

Cheese-Stuffed Spicy Bean Burgers

Back again with another recipe for March’s MiniMoFo – this time a savoury recipe!

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Burgers! While technically I guess a burger is a patty stuffed into a bun, this isn’t actually what the “stuffed” element of this post refers to. These burgers are cheese stuffed!

Vegan cheese, of course. I use Sainsbury’s Caramelised Onion Cheese – also known as Gary – which I like because it’s kinda like having caramelised onions inside your burger and how cool is that? But you could use any vegan cheese you like, that comes in block form, since you’ll need to cut it into little blocks to stuff your burgers with.

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The burgers are fairly simple bean burgers, based off my Spicy Bean Burgers from years ago, and can be adapted to suit your own spice level (just add more or less chilli!). In the burgers in the photos, I used black beans, but kidney beans also work really well in this recipe too.

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To make the burgers, simply split the mixture into eight pieces (in half, then half again, then half again!). Take one piece and make it into a round disc in your hand (see picture above). Place a piece of cheese in the middle of the disc.

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With another piece of mixture, create another disc, just like the first one, and put it on top of the first one with the cheese. Push down the edges to seal it all in. Then you’re done – you can fry the burgers now!

 

Cheese-Stuffed Spicy Bean Burgers


Ingredients

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large chilli, chopped (use more or less, to your taste)
  • 2 medium carrots, grated
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 can black or kidney beans, drained
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 40g oats
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • Vegan cheese, cut into four 2cm x 1cm rectangles
  • Oil for frying
  • Fixings for your burger – cobs, salad, mayo…

Directions

  1. Begin by heating oil in a large frying pan, and frying the onion, chilli, and garlic for 5 minutes, until translucent.
  2. Add in the grated carrot, cumin, paprika, and salt and pepper for seasoning, and fry five more minutes, until the carrot is soft.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, mash the beans until no whole beans are left.
  4. Stir in the tomato puree, soy sauce, and oats.
  5. Once the onion and carrot mixture is done, add it to the bowl with the beans, and mix.
  6. Stir through the breadcrumbs to form a mixture that should hold together when you press it.
  7. Split the mixture into 8 pieces. (For photos, see above)
  8. Take a piece of the mixture, and form it into a round disc. Place a piece of cheese in the middle of the disc.
  9. Take another piece of the mixture, also form it into a disc. Place it on top of the first piece, and press down the edges to seal the cheese inside.
  10. Repeat until you have 4 patties stuffed with cheese.
  11. Heat oil in your frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot, add the burgers.
  12. Fry for roughly 5 minutes on each side, until crispy and golden.
  13. Serve in cobs with salad!


 

Pizza Sausages

Ah, February. Christmas is over, the new year is over, and it’s absolutely freezing cold. Spring is not yet on the radar, so the best thing to do is to sit tight in the warm and try not to shiver ourselves away.

The VeganMoFo challenge for the month is “Red” – to make and eat food all with the theme of red. This meal did not come out quite as red as I had planned, but it is still a bit red and certainly delicious.

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These sausages are adapted from my tomato & basil sausage recipe, but these are flavoured to taste like pizza. Aptly, today is apparently National Pizza Day, which I didn’t actually plan for, but it works! Stuffed full with sun-dried tomatoes, olives, basil, and nutritional yeast, these sausages have a definite pizza flavour to them and smell and taste wonderful!

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As with the other sausages on my blog, these are made with vital wheat gluten (you can buy it from health-food or vegan shops) and first steamed, then fried to get a lovely crust. Sausages made with gluten hold their shape very well, making them also ideal if you fancy barbecuing them!

Pizza Sausages

  • Servings: 8 sausages
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Ingredients

  • 60g sundried tomatoes (the kind that come in oil), finely chopped
  • 50g black olives, finely chopped
  • 30g fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 can white kidney beans/cannelini beans
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 225g vital wheat gluten
  • 225ml cold water

Directions

  1. Begin by mashing the white beans in a large bowl until thoroughly mashed.
  2. Stir through the remaining ingredients to make a dough.
  3. Knead the dough for just a minute until it all comes together and forms a cohesive mixture.
  4. Divide the dough into 8 pieces, and roll each one into a rough sausage shape. Don’t worry too much about the shape – they’ll expand as they steam.
  5. Wrap each sausage in tin-foil, like a Christmas cracker shape.
  6. Place the sausages in your steamer (you may have to do two batches if your steamer is not large enough).
  7. Steam for 40 minutes.
  8. Once the sausages are steamed, remove them from the steamer, allow to cool slightly, then unwrap the foil.
  9. To fry, pour a little oil into a hot pan and fry the sausages for a minute or two on each side, until golden in colour.
  10. The sausages freeze well if you have too many!

Coffee Cupcakes with Caramel Drizzle

Confession: I’m not much of a coffee drinker. I know, in this world full of Starbucks and Costas that’s pretty shocking, right? The thing is, I can’t do caffeine, and getting decaf and vegan options at a coffee shop is always a little risk for me. So, I don’t really drink much coffee. This doesn’t mean I think coffee tastes bad though. One thing I really love is coffee cake.

Coffee cake is something that I believe means different things in different places. I have learnt that in America, coffee cake is cake that you eat with coffee. Like a biscuit for your tea. In the UK, however, coffee cake is cake that tastes like coffee. Coffee flavoured cake. I think our way makes more sense, because if you have a chocolate cake, it is a chocolate flavoured cake, right, not a cake you eat with chocolate? Anyway, these cakes are coffee flavoured. The buttercream is also coffee flavoured! And they’re all topped with a caramel drizzle – because caramel and coffee go very well together.

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When using coffee in things like cakes, the easiest way is to use instant coffee. You don’t need to worry about posh tasting coffee because in a cake, you can’t really tell, and instant coffee gives you the ability to just dissolve some in water to get the amount you need. You can make a really concentrated coffee that flavours your cake well without adding too much extra liquid. However, if you don’t have access to instant coffee, you could make up a really really strong cup of coffee and use a similar amount, liquid wise.

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To make the caramel sauce, I boil together some vegan butter, sugar, and golden syrup in a saucepan for five minutes, then add a little milk (I used almond milk) and beat it until it thickened up. I used an electric whisk for this because it makes it easier, if you want to do it by hand, use a wooden spoon and beat for a while until it is thickened and opaque.

 

Coffee Cupcakes with Caramel Drizzle

  • Servings: 12 cupcakes
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Ingredients

    For the Cakes
  • 300ml milk of choice (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 300g plain flour
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 100ml oil
  • 160g sugar
  • 2 heaped tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • For the Buttercream

  • 75g vegan butter (I used vitalite)
  • 600g icing sugar
  • 2 tsp instant coffee
  • 1 tbsp boiling water
  • For the Caramel Drizzle

  • 50g vegan butter
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 25g white sugar
  • 50ml milk (I used almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Directions

    Preheat the oven to 175C/350F
  1. First, make the cakes. Begin by combining the milk and the cider vinegar in a medium sized bowl, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, bicarb, and baking powder.
  3. Mix together the instant coffee and boiling water until the coffee dissolves. Add this to the milk mixture.
  4. Into this, add the oil and sugar, and whisk with a fork until all well combined.
  5. Gradually pour the liquid mixture into the flour mixture, stirring, until well mixed with no lumps.
  6. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases, and place into your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until a knife inserted into a cake comes out clean.
  7. Let the cupcakes completely cool before you make the icing.
  8. Once the cupcakes are cool, begin the buttercream. Start by mixing together the instant coffee and boiling water in a cup, and setting aside.
  9. Next, in a large bowl, add the butter and a third of the icing sugar. Mix well.
  10. Add another third of the icing sugar and mix again until well combined. Stir in the coffee.
  11. Then, add the remaining icing sugar and mix until light and fluffy. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe the icing on top of your cupcakes.
  12. Finally, make the caramel drizzle. In a small saucepan, add the butter, sugars, and golden syrup, and bring to a simmer.
  13. Simmer for five minutes on a low-medium heat, then remove from the heat and add the salt and milk.
  14. Mix, either with an electric mixer or a wooden spoon, continuously until the caramel thickens and starts to go opaque.
  15. Drizzle the caramel on top of the iced cupcakes.
  16. Store in the fridge!