No-Bake Dark Chocolate Oat + Nut Snack Bars

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There is something comforting about having cake in the house. A peckish craving springs in the mid-afternoon and a slice of cake with coffee is calling your name. Although, sometimes I want something slightly more nutritious waiting for me.

Whenever I’m working I don’t really have time for a proper sit down breakfast. It’s up and out the door in half an hour and having something I can grab on the way out is really useful.

I’ve been trying to make healthy breakfast-type bars for months now. All of my attempts  were either way too sweet or tasted great but didn’t have the soft chewy texture I was after. I’m kind of put off by shop bought oat bars since they’re usually packed full of sugar and expensive.

These are easy, delicious and quick to make. No oven required, so great to make on a hot summers day when the thought of turning on your oven sends visions of burning hell. Peanut butter, oats, dark chocolate and nuts make these a wonderful filling snack.

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Tiramisu

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With a broken oven and a week of epic kitchen fails behind me, I decided it was time to make a Tiramisu. It’s quick, satisfying and one of my favourite desserts. I’m a big coffee drinker and if I can consume even more in a creamy dessert, I’m there.

There are a lot of Tiramisu recipes out there. The last one I made a few months ago was just shy of perfect. It was beautifully soft with a moreish quality but it was too soft for a large Tiramisu. It would’ve been perfect for gooey individual portions.

I wanted to create a Tiramisu that was soft enough that the sponge and mascarpone cream melted into one another, but that was firm enough to cleanly serve and stand proud on its own. So on my second try, I decided to increase the mascarpone and decrease the amount of eggs so that the cream had more body but hopefully didn’t lose its perfect texture.

Delicately whipped with a strong creamy mascarpone flavour, this Tiramisu is wonderful. With every silky bite I just want to eat more. Tiramisu has always been something that I’ve eaten practically as quickly as I made it. This one being no exception.

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Vegan Dark Chocolate, Pecan and Almond Butter Oat Cookies (Gluten free)

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Please don’t be put off by the notion of vegan cookies. Trust me, I was a skeptic too. However, in light of recent events (which you’ll hear more about soon), this recipe testing was needed. Vegan cookies were needed.

I’m 100% sure that if someone gave me one of these cookies and didnt tell me they were vegan, I would think they were just normal butter-laden cookies. But guys, theres no butter in sight here! Its been replaced by those heart healthy friends, coconut oil and almond butter. Now I’m not at all saying these are healthy, seen as they’re still packed with sugar and chocolate. Its progress in the right direction though right?

On the other hand however, these babies are full of oats, almonds and pecans. All good for you and all filling. A few of these are a perfect snack pick me up to get you through to dinner time and if you’re anything like me, your need for a sweet treat throughout the day is covered. These can also be made gluten free with gluten free oats.

They’re basically the jesus of all cookies.

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Vegan Gooey Mocha Brownie Pudding

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When the days are growing darker and the sun seems to be retreating behind the clouds more everyday day, this is what I crave. I know for a lot of you summer is still in full swing. I mean, its August. But here in the UK however, it feels like October most of the days. The rain showers for hours on end although we still have those occasional summery moments but they are few and far between.

Who am I kidding anyway, it could be 30 degrees outside and I’d still want this. Its part of my DNA. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t reach for some chocolate. Lets be real.

So I bring you something that I loved to eat before becoming vegan and as always, anything can be made just as tasty vegan! I went a little crazy and added dark and white chocolate for added indulgence. I also popped in a hit of my favourite organic coffee because coffee always brings out the flavour in chocolate and seems to make it taste richer.

I love that all these ingredients are already in my cupboards and its so quick to make. Perfect when you’re in need of a quick chocolate fix. Just please don’t overbake this loveliness. Keep that centre gooey and a little underbaked. Keep that sponge dense and rich. Keep your belly, mind and taste buds chipper.

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A rich dark and gooey Chocolate Cake for Autumnal nights

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It’s approaching that time of year when the sun retreats into the sky earlier and earlier, leaving us in dusky overcast light before we’ve even sat down for dinner. It’s the time when all you want it to do is hide under your covers every morning and leave the responsibilities shut outside where they can’t get you. Its the time when food becomes more than fuel for your body, it fuels your soul. You yearn for those familiar flavours, smells, comforts that somehow got forgotten over the past summer of raw salads.

I’ve been searching for a cake like this for a long time. A cake that you can throw together without much effort. A cake that has that envious gooey, shiny interior that we all thrive for in a chocolate cake. But most importantly for me, that deep rich dark colour. Nothing makes me ache more for a sweet snack than an intense dark brown crumb.

I can wholeheartedly admit to you that all I want after pounding the harsh concrete pavements of London and slugging through the rain is this. This isn’t a pretty cake. It’s not about that. This loaf cake is about cutting out the manners and getting straight to what you came for.

Although however raw, unrefined or informal a cake like this is; there’s still something ever so charming about it. It’s not a slice of cake that’s ‘too beautiful to eat.’ It practically screams at you to devour it. That said, unashamed, that’s what we shall do.

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Momofuku Milk Bar Banana Cream Pie

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People always say, ‘when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.’ I say, ‘when life gives you black overripe bananas, make Momofuku banana cream pie.’

Who knew that leaving your bananas to practically rot away in your kitchen over Christmas by mistake was a good thing?! Blackened bananas are the key ingredient to this unforgettable pie. They are the starring ingredient here, paying homage to the humble banana. This brilliant idea comes from Christina Tosi, creator of Momofuku Milk Bar.

In Tosi’s recipe, she recommends leaving your bananas to ripen until the skin is practically black. This way they become intensely flavoured, soft and with an unmistakable caramel punch to them. Not the kind of banana you’d like to eat though. Save your sweet yellow eating bananas for the hidden middle layer of sliced banana.

I absolutely love the ideas that emerge from the Milk Bar cookbook. Using humble ingredients, Christina Tosi creates approachable and unique desserts. I’m drawn to her diverse use of everyday foods; ones that you wouldn’t typically use in baking. For example, her compost cookie is packed with chocolate chips, pretzels and crisps! The Momofuku Milk Bar book will definitely be a new addition to my bookshelf.

So before you emerge in the new year a new you, healthier and vowed off sugar for the best part of January; I urge you to try this ingenious creation. Theres always room for more pie in my world.

Fun internet watching: If you want to know more about this and watch Christina herself make this pie, you can watch it in the series “The Mind of a Chef” in the episode ‘Rotten.’ A great quick watch I’d highly recommend. Click Here to watch

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Mocha Birthday Cake: Chocolate Chip Coffee Sponge, Dark Chocolate Ganache and Coffee Mascarpone Icing

IMG_3664I really believe that you should make the most of your birthday. Whether you’re 1 or 101, it should be a real celebration. I no longer do these one day birthdays, I need to eek it out for as long as possible. Preferably spanning a week; book a holiday, plan meals, research the birthday cake you’re going to bake for yourself months in advance…

It’s a day to eat whatever the hell you want, wear whatever the hell you want and say whatever you want because its your birthday.

Besides, you’ll only turn 22 once. This day only comes once a year so why not milk it for all its worth? You’ve waited 365 days for this.

I hope you’ve caught on by now and have realised, it was MY birthday. My celebrations consisted of a takeaway in my pyjamas, a massage, meals, a trip to the cinema and a four-day adventure to Iceland (more about that soon.)

It was only a week ago and I miss this cake already. I miss Iceland already. I spent a really long time debating what kind of route I wanted to take. I was torn between a simple apple cake or a really indulgent five layered chocolate cake. After what felt like days and days on Pinterest, I finally settled on this Mocha inspired number.

By putting chocolate chunks into a coffee sponge, I didn’t need to decide between a chocolate sponge or a vanilla one. I got the best of both worlds. A mascarpone icing is a great alternative to butter icing as it keeps the sweetness down. Layering the sponge with rich, silky, chocolate ganache was a no brainer and just needed to happen.

A voila! A twenty-two year old coffee addicts dream birthday cake.

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Blackberry, Orange and Chocolate Bread Pudding for one

IMG_3340One thing that really bothers me about living on my own, is buying food for one. I hate leftovers and, more than anything, I hate wasting food. I admit that some leftover meals are crazy delicious, like christmas leftover sandwiches or bubble and squeak, and they do have their place when it comes to time-saving. But eating a three-day old soggy lasagne just doesn’t do it for me.

One of my favourite things to buy is a crusty fresh loaf of bread from a local shop. I can’t think of many things more satisfying than the smell of a freshly baked loaf. Accompany some pungent ripe cheese with that and I’m yours. However, 9 times out of 10, I won’t eat all of it before it becomes stale beyond any saving. And this is with me eating it at every opportunity, trying to avoid this. Life seems to get in the way and this happens with a fair amount of food in my house.

I honestly think someone should create a supermarket for singles. Everything should come in single sized portions. I really don’t like eating the same meal over and over again, so buying a pack of six sausages means I have to eat sausages for three days in a row. All of the dishes I bake in on a day-to-day basis are single sized or two portion maximum, for this reason exactly.

So here I am, saving all you fellow single gals and guys out there from leftovers and throwing away old food; because you really can’t face the thought of another lacklustre pasta dish hanging around your fridge for days again.

Bread pudding uses up leftover milk, berries, croissants and anything else you feel like throwing in there. Make this what you want. It’s all about taking out what I’ve put in and changing it for what tickles your fancy. Nothing screams Autumn like a steaming dish of hot, creamy bread pudding just for you.

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