No-bake chocolate orange torte

This super-easy chocolate torte takes less than an hour to make and is a real winner with vegans and non-vegans! The recipe is based on the one my colleague Alice made for our Viva! vegan bake-off. She said it was the first vegan dessert she made and is now one of her staples at home. I was really impressed with it not just because it tastes so good but because it has a good shine on top too! I adapted it from Oreos to Hobnobs as I prefer the flavour and added orange chocolate just because I like the combination but you could use ginger, raspberry, lemon, mint, or any other flavoured chocolate you like.

Base

  • ¾ pack (200g) Hobnobs
  • 80g vegan butter (I used Flora vegan block)
  • 1tsp vanilla essence

Chocolate ganache

  • 180g vegan dark chocolate
  • 100g vegan orange chocolate (I used Galaxy Smooth orange)
  • 250ml vegan double cream (I used a whole tub of Violife Viocreme)
  • 50g vegan butter
  • A pinch of salt

Method

  1. Pulse the biscuits in a food processor until finely ground, or place in a sandwich bag and bash them with a rolling pin.
  2. Melt the butter over a medium heat then tip in the biscuit crumbs and mix thoroughly.
  3. Press the mixture onto the bottom of a greased 9-inch spring-release cake tin and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  4. Place the chopped dark and milk chocolate in a glass bowl and set aside.
  5. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and vegan butter to a low boil.
  6. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it stand for a couple of minutes then add the salt and whisk until smooth. If you have stubborn lumps of chocolate that won’t melt, put some water in the saucepan and heat and place your bowl over the pan to warm the mixture while continuing to stir.
  7. When you have a glossy, smooth mix, pour the filling mixture over the chilled biscuit base and put it in the fridge until set – for a minimum of four hours or overnight.
  8. It cuts a little easier if you take it out of the fridge an hour before serving.
  9. Serve with fresh fruit (blackberries, raspberries or strawberries) and either ice cream or whipped vegan cream (I like Oatly whipping cream).
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Blackcurrant frangipane with vodka pastry

This is a slightly different recipe to the one I normally use for my frangipanes and I think I like this one more! It’s based on a recipe from the Domestic Gothess who uses vodka in the pastry instead of water. It is a revelation and makes for a light, crumbly but crisp pastry. I used blackcurrants as the taste is so good but you can use redcurrants, blackberries, thinly sliced apple, plum halves, figs… whatever you fancy.

Ingredients

Pastry:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 50g icing sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 150g vegan block butter (I use Naturli Vegan Block or Flora) cold and diced
  • 1-2 tbsp chilled vodka

Frangipane:

  • 70g melted vegan block butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 40g plain flour
  • 10g cornflour
  • 80ml almond or soya milk
  • 175g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp almond extract
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract

To Finish:

  • 8 tsp blackcurrant jam
  • 1 handful fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 large handful flaked almonds

Instructions

  1. To make the pastry, place the dry ingredients (flour, ground almonds, icing sugar and salt) in a food processor and pulse to mix. Add the diced cold butter and blend until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Transfer the mix into a bowl and add just enough vodka (or water), until the pastry comes together into a ball. Don’t overmix it or they will come out like little wooden tarts!
  3. Shape the pastry into a ball, wrap in Clingfilm or place in a plastic bag and put in the fridge for 30 mins.
  4. Divide the chilled pastry into eight even pieces and roll each one into a ball. Roll each ball out thinly on a floured surface so that it is large enough to line a loose-based 8-9cm tart tin.
  5. Press the pastry into the corners and up the sides of each tine then roll over the top with a rolling pin to trim off the excess pastry.  
  6. Repeat with the rest of the balls of pastry. If there is lots of trimmings left over, make some jam tarts.   
  7. Prick the pastry cases all over the base with a fork then place them in the freezer for 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 180°C.
  8. Line each of the frozen pastry cases with a tin foil, pressing it into the corners. Fill each one with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes.
  9. Remove the foil and beans and return the pastry cases to the oven for five minutes then remove and set aside.
  10. To make the frangipane, whisk together the melted vegan butter and sugar then whisk in the flour, cornflour and baking powder followed by the milk. Finally, mix in the ground almonds and almond and vanilla extracts.
  11. Spread a teaspoon of blackcurrant jam over the base of each tart shell then spread a couple of heaped tablespoons of the frangipane over the top, making sure that the jam is covered. The frangipane will puff up a little in the oven so don’t fill them.
  12. Scatter some blackcurrants over each one and gently push them in just a little. Then scatter over some flaked almonds and bake the tarts for about 30 minutes, until nicely browned.
  13. Leave to cool in the tins before turning out. Serve with whipped oat cream or vegan ice cream.
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Seville orange and cardamom upside-down cake

It’s marmalade time again. My fella bought a giant box (28 kilograms) and has been busy filling the house with lovely orangey aromas. However, he is running out of time and the oranges need using so we stuck some peel in a couple of bottles of gin and I adapted my polenta cake recipe to this. He said it’s the best cake he’s ever had! If you have any syrup left over, use it as a cordial with fizzy water – it’s lush!

Ingredients:

For the sticky orange topping:

  • 220g castor sugar
  • 125ml water
  • 1 vanilla pod, split open
  • 4-6 cardamom pods
  • 2 Seville oranges, thinly sliced

For the polenta cake:

  • 125 g polenta
  • 100 g ground almonds
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 130 g caster sugar
  • 120 ml rapeseed oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ cup soya milk
  • ½ cup marmalade
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Place sugar, water, vanilla and cardamom in a pan over a medium heat. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Add the orange slices and simmer until soft, for about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and flour a 9 inch (23cm) springform cake tin.  
  4. Place the polenta, ground almonds, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
  5. Add the lemon zest, sugar, oil, lemon juice, milk, yoghurt and vanilla extract and whisk well until no dry lumps remain.
  6. Arrange the orange slices across the bottom of the cake tin. Try to fill any gaps.
  7. Pour the batter over the oranges and spread it level.
  8. Bake for about 40-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs.
  9. While the cake is baking, reduce the orange syrup to a sticky consistency.
  10. When the cake is done but still warm turn it out onto a plate and drizzle over the orange syrup then allow it to cool a little before serving.
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Snowy-topped mini mince pies

Makes 24 mini pies

For the meringue:

• The water from one can of chick peas (aquafaba)
• ½ a cup of caster sugar
• A small pinch of cream of tartar

For the pastry:

• 220g plain flour
• 110g vegan butter (Naturli vegan block), chilled and chopped into small chunks
• Pinch of salt
• Zest of 1 clementine

For the filling:

• 50g pecans, toasted and chopped
• 50g flame raisins
• 50g sultanas
• 50g dried blueberries
• 1 granny Smith apple, peeled and finely chopped
• 50g vegan suet
• 3 tbsp maple syrup
• 40g muscovado sugar
• 1 tsp mixed spice
• Juice and zest of 1 lemon and 1 clementine
• 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the caramel:

• 3 tbsp orange juice
• ⅓ cup sugar

Instructions:

First make the meringues (unless you have two ovens, you may be better off doing this the day before and storing them in a sealed tub):

1) Drain the chick peas saving the water (aquafaba).
2) Reduce the aquafaba by heating it in a pan until it is ⅓ of a cup in volume.
3) Whisk the aquafaba in a bowl until stiff peaks form – this may take 10 minutes or so!

Stiff peaks!

4) Add the cream of tartar (use sparingly as this can give it a sharp taste).
5) Slowly add the caster sugar, bit by bit, until you have a glossy, stiff meringue.
6) Pipe small swirls of meringue onto a sheet of baking paper on a baking tin. It might help to mark out 24 small circles.
7) Bake in the oven at 100°C for 2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave the door slightly open for 1 hour (they will crack if you take them straight out).
8) While they are cooking, make the pastry by rubbing the vegan butter into the flour to make a fine breadcrumb texture.
9) Add the zest and a pinch of salt.
10) Add 3-4 tbsp of cold water and mix gently, don’t overdo it or you’ll make the pastry tough.
11) Leave the pastry to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
12) While it is resting, make your pie filling. Put all the filling ingredients in a pan and heat gently, simmer for 6-8 minutes until it becomes dark and sticky. Add more lemon/orange juice if it becomes too dry.
13) Heat the oven to 180°C.
14) Roll out the pastry to 3mm thick and using a round cutter, cut out 24 bases and place them into a greased muffin tray.
15) Spoon a large teaspoonful of mincemeat mixture into each and bake for 20-25 mins until the pastry looks golden around the edges.
16) Place the pies on a cooling rack to cool.
17) Make your orange caramel by mixing the orange juice and sugar in a pan until it forms a thick sticky sauce.
18) Spoon a teaspoonful of sauce onto the top of each pie and stick on the meringue.
19) Decorate with edible glitter.

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Christmas faux gras

tofoie gras0Last Christmas I was cooking for a non-vegan French friend and decided to try out my faux gras recipe. It went down a storm! I know some vegans can’t get their heads around recreating a dish produced in such a vile, torturous way. Foie gras (French for fatty liver) is a pâté made of the diseased liver of ducks or geese that have been fattened up by force-feeding with a tube, a process known as gavage. This is torture marketed as a delicacy.

Foie gras is illegal to produce in the UK but it is legal to import it. After sustained pressure from Viva!, Amazon stopped selling it as have many restaurants now including Heston Blumenthal’s. Viva! continue to campaign for its complete removal from shops and restaurants in the UK. If you spot it on a menu in the UK, drop Viva! a line! info@viva.org.uk.

The reason I made this is because I want to show everyone, regardless of diet, that vegans can have it all without death and cruelty on our plates! The advent of aqua faba and the beautiful, light, crunchy meringues you can make without eggs was a milestone. We’ve come such a long way since White Wave soya milk and Tomor margarine!!

Have a very merry, cruelty-free Christmas!

Ingredients for six small pots:tofoie gras2

  • 200g smoked tofu (I used Taifun)
  • 100g cashew pieces, soaked in water for a few hours
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tbsp ground almonds
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • A few drops of liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 tsp cognac (use brandy if you don’t have cognac)
  • Lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½  tbsp vegan butter (I like Naturli)
  • ½ tsp turmeric

Directions:

  1. Blend everything expect the butter and turmeric together until smooth.
  2. Spoon into small pots and smooth the top down.
  3. Melt the butter in a pan then stir in the turmeric until it has dissolved.
  4. Pour a little of the melted butter onto the top of the pâté in each pot then chill in the fridge for at least one hour before serving.
  5. Serve with warm toast.

tofoie gras1

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New York Deli Pastrami sandwich

The classic, considered to be New York’s signature sandwich is made with sliced pastrami topped with spicy brown mustard on rye bread. You can add Swiss cheese, mayo and pickles or sauerkraut. I used Squeaky Bean Vegan Pastrami Style Sandwich Slices with Follow Your Heart Smoked Gouda slices with mustard and mayo on rye. I added some lettuce and tomato too – lush!

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Vegan pigs in blankets

These were the best ones I have made so far! I used Linda McCartney’s Vegetarian Red Onion & Rosemary Sausages and Finnebrogue’s Naked without the Oink vegan bacon. Vegan bacon

Soak 12 cocktail sticks in water overnight and thaw the sausages, also overnight, in the fridge. Cut each sausage in half and roll a tiny bit thinner and mold the ends so that they are smooth and round.

Fry the sausages in olive oil until they are browned then cool them. Cut six strips of bacon in half and wrap each half around the cooked sausage. Place on a baking tray and bake at 180°C for 15-20 mins until the bacon is beginning to brown at the edges.

Serve with a roast dinner or as part of a vegan buffet – great party food!

Pigs in blankets

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Oyster mushrooms in a creamy peppered sauce

Day 24. Oyster pepper

This peppery mix contains black, Voatsiperifery, Cubeb, white and Timur berry pepper with allspice. Rather than putting it on oysters (sea bogeys my fella calls them), I cooked oyster mushrooms in a creamy peppered sauce.

Cook a pack of oyster mushrooms, sliced, in the oven at 180°C for 10-15 mins while  frying two shallots gently in a pan with a couple of teaspoons of vegan butter. Add half the sachet of oyster pepper and flambé with generous splosh of cognac. Reduce the sauce then add 30ml of vegan cream and half a teaspoon of mustard. Mix the oyster mushrooms with the sauce and serve sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley with white rice on a warm plate.

Oyster mushrooms

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Faux gras

Day 23. Foie gras mix…

There’s not much more to say than this… vegans can have it all!!

 

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Vegan steak, chips and peas

Day 22: Steakhouse spice blend:

Vegan steak and peppercorn sauce

This blend contains: onion, Voatsiperifery pepper, Cubeb pepper, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, rosemary, thyme and oregano. Obviously I made a pepper sauce to go on Vivera steaks.

Ingredients

Method

Put the butter in a large, high-sided frying pan, then fry the shallots and peppercorns over a medium heat for 5 mins, until the shallots have softened but not browned. Add the brandy and cook until it has reduced away to almost nothing.

Pour the wine into the pan, turn up the heat and boil rapidly until reduced by half. Add the stock and reduce again, this time by two-thirds, this will take around 5 mins. Stir the cream into the sauce and allow it to thicken slightly. Check the sauce is seasoned to your liking before serving with steak.

Ingredients

• 1 tsp vegan butter
• 1 shallot, finely chopped
• 1 pack steakhouse spice blend
• 1 tbsp brandy
• 50ml red wine
• 100ml good-quality beef stock
• 3 tbsp double cream

1. Fry the shallots in the vegan butter over a medium heat for 5 mins, until the shallots have softened but not browned.
2. Add the steakhouse mix and fry for a further minute then add the brandy and cook until it has reduced away to almost nothing.
3. Add the wine and boil rapidly until reduced by half.
4. Add the stock and reduce by two-thirds, this will take around 5 mins.
5. Stir the cream into the sauce and allow it to thicken slightly.
6. Serve with steak, chips and peas.

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