Category Archives: Dessert

Mango Chilli Sorbet

Mango Chilli Sorbet

I recently had the pleasure of going to the latest supper club at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. The theme: Indian Thali, hosted and prepared by the VCS’s awesome chef divas, Rachel Demuth, Jo Ingleby and Helen Lawrence.

It’s been ages since I’ve been out for Indian, and this was some of the tastiest, freshest and most interesting Indian food I’ve had in a long time: masala dosa, sambar, chutney, homemade paneer, peshwari naan and some new discoveries such as masala vada and khadi. (Rachel Demuth’s blog has a full recap of the evening with some amazing recipes).

One of the meal’s highlights came at the very end, and made me feel super glad I saved room to enjoy dessert: mango chilli sorbet. Tart, refreshing and with just a touch of heat from the chilli, this type of dessert is my favourite way to end a meal.

Beautiful Dessert


I’ve tried making mango sorbet at home but have never managed to make it taste like the mango sorbets and ice creams you get in Indian restaurants. So I picked Helen’s brain after the supper club, and she told me her secret: Kesar mangos! This yellowish variety of mango is popular in India and is what gives the mango-sorbet-of-my-dreams its characteristic flavour.

Fresh Kesar mangos are not easy to find in the UK, but tinned Kesar mangos are. And so, Helen’s parting gift to me was a big ol’ tin of pureed Kesar Mangos, offered on the condition that I make mango sorbet at home and write about it. So here I am.

Kesar Mango Pulp

The tinned Kesar mangos did not disappoint. They’re already sweetened (ingredients: mango, sugar, citric acid – nothing scary), so all I needed to do was blitz it in the Vitamix with some lime juice and ginger juice, mix in a finely diced red chilli, then churn in the ice cream maker. Pretty awesome.

The result was everything I hoped for. Arguably, I could have chopped my chillies a tad finer as they were detectable as “bits” in the sorbet, but this effect sort of grew on me – I liked the texture, and the sensation, like little pockets of heat encased in frozen mango awesomeness.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

5.0 from 2 reviews

Mango Chilli Sorbet
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8

A refreshing sorbet, recipe courtesy of Helen Lawrence from The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. Kesar mangoes are the best in this, but if you can’t find fresh ones, use tinned (omit the honey and sugar if the tinned mangoes are sweetened). To make ginger juice, grate fresh ginger and then use your hands to squeeze squeeze out the juice.
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled & stoned (or 1 850g tin of sweetened Kesar Mangos)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger juice
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 100ml limejuice
  • 50ml honey

  1. Place the mangoes, ginger juice, chilli, lime juice and honey into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) and puree until absolutely smooth. Add the sugar and buzz again until mixed.
  2. Transfer the puree into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions. Freeze.
  3. When ready to eat, take the sorbet out of the freezer about ten minutes or so before you’re ready to eat it – this will make it much easier to scoop!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 85g Calories: 111 Fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 29.1 Sugar: 25.5 Fiber: 1.3 Protein: 0.5 Cholesterol: 0


I am submitting this recipe to the dairy-free Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge hosted by Kavey Eats.

Bourbon and Spiced Pecan Ice Cream

Spiced Pecan and Bourbon Ice Cream

There are four parts to this recipe, each of which stand on their own as beautiful things, but together totally become one of those instances of a sum being more than the parts. The four parts are:

  1. Spiced Pecans
  2. Vanilla custard
  3. Bourbon
  4. Homemade Waffle Cones

Making ice cream cones with @thelaundry

The ice cream was inspired by a few things:

  1. A house guest who wanted to learn to make ice cream.
  2. The holidays, where pecan pie is a family tradition that has long eluded me – I’m just not a big fan of pecan pie. Too rich. Too sweet. But I love pecans. And I love ice cream.
  3. Gloria Nicol, who taught me how to make ice cream cones a few weeks ago using the recipe in Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home and Gloria’s cool ice cream cone making contraption.
  4. My dad’s love for butter pecan ice cream. I didn’t go home for Christmas this year, so I’ve been looking for all kinds of excuses to make things that remind me of my Chicago home.
  5. David Lebovitz’s book, A Perfect Scoop.
  6. I love Bourbon.

The spiced pecans in this totally rock my world and I’ve since made them again to use for other purposes – they’re great on salads, or just to eat as their own.

Bourbon and Spiced Pecan Ice Cream

This recipe explains how to make custard on a stove top, but if you have a high-powered blender like a Vitamix or Froothie, you can also make custard in a blender.

  • 1 cup (250ml) whole milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp (45ml) bourbon (I like Makers Mark)
  • 1 batch of Spiced Pecans (recipe below).

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. During the last minute or so of churning, add the bourbon pecans to the machine (reserve a few pecans for garnish if you’d like).

Spiced Pecans

  • 2 Tbsp egg whites
  • 1/4 cup (60g) packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • a few grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground chile
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (200g) pecans


  1. Preheat the oven 300F / 150C. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Whisk the egg whites in a medium bowl. Stir on the sugar, spices, vanilla and pecans. Spread the coated nuts evenly on the baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring twice during baking, until the coating has hardened onto the pecans and they are nice and dry. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
  4. For ice cream, chop them coarsely before mixing into the custard.

Oh look, I made a picture with some text on it!

Bourbon and Spiced Pecan Ice Cream

This is my submission to Kavey’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream, inspired by ice cream showstoppers!

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie with Oatmeal Crust

Pumpkin Pie with Oatmeal Crust

One of my all time favorite family recipes is mom’s pumpkin pie. She’s been bringing this dessert to Thanksgiving and Christmas parties for as long as I can remember. My version of the pumpkin pie with oatmeal crust is just a slight tweak on the original, because you really shouldn’t mess around too much with a good thing.

Mom’s method follows a pretty classic pumpkin pie recipe, with all the usual ingredients you’d expect: cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, eggs, evaporated milk and if you want to be super American about it, Libby’s tinned pumpkin puree.

Pumpkin Pie with Oatmeal Crust

Of course, you can make your own pumpkin puree, but there is something special about Libby’s – they use a strain of Dickinson Pumpkins, with especially creamy flesh, that the company developed themselves. This variety is actually closer to a butternut squash than the pumpkins we’re used to, so if you are going for DIY pumpkin puree, you could just as easily use butternut squash.

I’ve riffed on the family recipe with the pastry, where I’ve used a pretty standard shortcrust amped up with some rolled oats for amazing texture that works really well with the custardy pumpkin pie innards.

Oatmeal Pie Crust

I’ve also been playing around with drink pairings for pumpkin pie. Sweet oloroso sherry and sweet reisling are amongst the recommended pairings, but I maintain that pumpkin pie, already quite sweet, needs to be balanced by something with a bit more oomph. For this reason, Maker’s Mark bourbon is ideal – the bourbon mellows the pumpkin pie, while the pie brings out the caramel flavours of the bourbon. It’s astounding, and about as American as it gets.

Maker's Mark: Perfect with Pumpkin Pie

Mom’s Pumpkin Pie


  • 16oz pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 eggs
  • 13oz evaporated milk
  • 1 oatmeal pie pastry (see recipe below) or plain pastry
  • whipping cream
  • icing sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 400F / 200C.
  2. In a large bowl, combine pumpkin, brown sugar, salt and spices. Blend in eggs and evaporated milk.
  3. Pour the mixture into the pie crust. Bake for 45 minutes or until knife inserted into the middle of the pie comes out clean. Let cool.
  4. Just before serving, whip the cream (add a little icing sugar for a touch of sweetness). Slice the pie and serve each slice with a big dollop of whipped cream.

Oatmeal Pie Pastry Crust

Makes 1 crust.


  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons plain flour
  • 1/2 cup jumbo rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary


  1. Combine the flour, oats and salt in a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter and turn on the machine; process for about 10 seconds, until the butter and flour are blended and the mixture looks like cornmeal.
  2. Put the mixture in a bowl and add the ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or two of ice water if necessary. Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle a clean countertop with flour, put the dough on it, and sprinkle the top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure from the center out. If the dough is hard, let it rest for a few minutes. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour. Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed.
  4. When the diameter of the dough is about 2 inches greater than that of your pie plate, drape the dough over the rolling pin to transfer it into the pie plate. Press the dough firmly into the plate all over.
  5. Trim the excess dough to about 1/2 inch all around, then tuck it under itself around the edge of the pie plate. Decorate the edges with a fork or your fingers. Freeze the dough for 10 minutes (or refrigerate it for 30 minutes) until you are ready to bake.

Pumpkin Pie with Oatmeal Crust

No Churn Zabaglione Ice Cream

Zabaglione Ice Cream

This recipe emerged after a stint of tiramisu making while I was visiting my family for Christmas in 2012. We made the entire tiramisu from scratch, including the ladyfingers, and it was a bit of a mission. The adventure left us with a lot of leftover marsala wine and whipped cream, which led me to this ice cream creation.

Zabaglione Ice Cream

Zabaglione is an Italian custard whose core ingredients are egg yolks, sugar and a sweet wine (usually Marsala). Effort-wise, this ice cream version of Zabaglione is the complete opposite of tiramisu. There are only four ingredients and you don’t need an ice cream maker to achieve a scoopable, almost fluffy ice cream (you can thank the whipping cream for that). Sure, there’s some double boiler action going on and a little cream whipping, but trust me, you can do this!

Zabaglione ice cream in progress. #bsfic

I made this at least twice while I was visiting home, largely because my mom was kind of obsessed with it. So there you have it folks, a mom-approved ice cream that’s easy to make and just as good as tiramisu (stick a lady finger in it and enjoy it with a hot espresso if you don’t believe me!).

Zabaglione Ice Cream


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 115g caster sugar
  • 150ml dry Marsala
  • 150ml whipping cream
  • crushed amaretti biscuits (optional)


  1. Put the egg yolks into a large bowl that will fit over a saucepan. Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture is pale and thick and leaves a trail when the beaters are lifted.
  2. Whisk in the Marsala, then put the bowl over (not in) a pan of simmering water and continue whisking until the mixture has thickened and coats the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from the heat, stand the bowl in cold water and whisk until cool (or put it in the fridge for a few hours).
  4. Whip the cream until it just holds its shape. Add to the cold zabaglione and whisk together.
  5. Pour into a container and freeze for about 1½-2 hours or until firm. Serve in small glasses or bowls, garnished with crushed amaretti biscuits if you’d like.

Zabaglione Ice Cream in progress

Zabaglione Ice Cream
I am submitting this to Kavey’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream challenge. Trust me, you will totally scream for this one!

Plum Upside Down Cake

Plum upside down cake

I have recently been the grateful recipient of a large quantity of Damson Plums thanks to the generosity of nature and my friend Gloria Nicol. Some of these plums have been turned into Damson Vodka, others were made into Gloria’s recipe for Dumpsideary Jam from her book 100 Jams, Jellies, Preserves and Pickles. But the first thing I did was turn some of these plums – super soft, ripe and sweet – into a cake.

Plum upside down cake

I was inspired by my friend (and pastry chef) Kathy (aka stresscake) to go for an upside down cake. She did something very similar with her plums last August and aptly pointed out that a recipe like this will help you get through a pound and a half or so of plums in an extremely delicious way (very handy if you have a lot of plums to get through).

Damson Plums

Upside down cakes are really easy to make, but usually the reserve for pineapples (and if you’re going that route, Kathy’s got a classic Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe, too). Plums offer a nice twist on this, with a hint of spice in the cake complimenting the autumnal plums. If you don’t have a cake pan that is large enough to fit all of the batter called for in this recipe, you can make smaller mini upside down cakes in ramekins which are really fun.

Plum upside down cake

I really love this plum upside down cake served with creme fraiche or Greek yogurt, but vanilla ice cream or whipped cream would go equally well.

Plum Upside Down Cake

For the plum layer

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
  • 12-15 damsons (or other plum), halved and pitted
  • Blackberries or blueberries (optional)

For the cake

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup milk

To serve

  • Whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C / 350°F. Put 4 Tbsp of butter in a 9-inch-diameter skillet or cake pan. Put the pan in the oven and leave it until the butter has melted. Remove the pan and swirl the butter around so its distributed evenly. Sprinkle over 3/4 cup of brown sugar. Lay the plums on top of the sugar in a single, tightly-packed layer, skin-side up. If you’d like, fill in any gaps with blackberries or blueberries.
  2. Now make the batter. Mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat the remaining 6 Tbsp butter in large bowl with an electric mixer until light. Add sugar and beat until creamy. Add eggs and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in vanilla and almond extract.
  3. Add the milk and the dry ingredients to the mixture and mix with a spatula just until blended. Spoon batter evenly over plums. Bake  until golden and a toothpick or knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean (this will take about 50-60 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack; cool in the pan for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Using a knife, cut around the pan sides to loosen the cake. Place a plate on top of the cake pan then invert the cake. Let it stand with the pan still on for 5 minutes, then gently lift off the pan. Serve cake warm with whipped cream, creme fraiche or ice cream.

Plum upside down cake

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies

Raw Vegan Brownies

Here is a brownie that ticks all the right boxes – raw, vegan, gluten-free, paleo… – and they taste delicious too. The classic raw brownie is made by blitzing dates, nuts and cocoa in a food processor and mushing the mix together into a ball or bar. Though tasty, those raw brownies are also very dense and usually very sweet because it takes a lot of dates to hold the mixture together. These raw brownies are a slightly different breed. Made with coconut flour, ground almonds and apple puree, they have a texture that’s much more like a traditional brownie.

I was inspired to make these by Emma Potts of Coconut & Berries who posted a recipe for Raw Berry Cream Brownies which totally got my attention. I used a similar method for the brownie base, but instead of a berry cream topping, I went for chocolate ganache – it was a double chocolate kind of day.

This recipe uses cacao powder, which you can readily buy at health food shops or online. I make my own cacao powder from Naturya Cacao Nibs which I blitz to a powder in my blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 which has a jug specially made for grinding dry ingredients). You could do the same to make almond flour, too.

Raw Vegan Brownies

Alternatively, if you’re not fussed about the raw aspect, you can use regular cocoa powder (cocoa powder is made by roasting cacao at high temperatures, which destroys some of the enzymes, and makes it no longer raw – snap!).

Another bonus to these brownies is they give me an opportunity to use my retro vintage nut grinder! Perfect for sprinkling walnuts on top of the brownies! (Of course, you could just use a knife and a cutting board instead.)

Raw Vegan Brownies

Raw Double Chocolate Brownies 

Makes 6 brownies.

For the brownies:

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-4 Tbsp maple syrup or agave (add more or less depending on how sweet you like your brownies)
  • 1/3 cup apple puree or mashed banana
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder if you aren’t worried about the raw thing)
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup ground almonds or almond flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil ( is a good source for quality virgin organic coconut oil that doesn’t cost a fortune)
  • 1/2 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (or other liquid sweetener of choice)
  • small pinch salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Line a small baking tin or container with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all of the brownie ingredients together with your hands or in a food processor. You should get a very thick mixture.
  3. Spread the mixture into the prepared container and smooth out the top. Refrigerate or freeze.
  4. For the ganache, melt the coconut oil over low heat in a medium pot. Remove from heat and whisk in the cacao powder, agave, salt, and vanilla until combined and smooth.
  5. Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread out evenly. If you’d like, dust the top with cacao powder and/or chopped walnuts. Put back into the refrigerator to chill.
  6. Remove from the refrigerator, slice and enjoy!

Raw Vegan Brownies

There are lots more people out there grinding their own flours and powders to make awesome snacks. Check out Nazima’s Fig and Blackberry Crumble using her own quinoa flour, and Emma’s Flatbread made with almond and oat flour.

Also seen on Great British Chefs.


Coffee Ice Cream

Coffee Ice Cream

This coffee ice cream is cool because unlike most coffee ice cream recipes, this one uses whole bean coffee (rather than instant). And when you use good coffee, freshly roasted, the resulting ice cream flavour is rich, complex and infinitely variable. Different beans have different characteristics – fruity, acidic, chocolatey, citrusy and so on – and the resulting ice cream takes on these flavours and releases them in perfect deliciously cold creamy mouthfuls.

In this particular instance I used Ethiopian Yirgacheffe beans from Rave Coffee. As a coffee, these beans produce subtle notes of damson and plums, which the careful taster may be able to pick up in their ice cream, as well. Best served with complimentary flavours – poached plums comes to mind, or how about plum crumble?

Another benefit to this recipe is it makes it easy to make decaffeinated coffee ice cream, simply by using decaf beans. The result may be less nuanced than with a fancy single estate bean, but honestly, who would mind?

Coffee Ice Cream


  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) whole milk
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) sugar
  • 1.5 cups (125 g) coffee beans
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 cups (375 ml) double cream
  • 5 egg yolks


  1. Heat the milk, sugar, coffee beans, salt and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of cream in a saucepan. Once warm (but not boiling), remove from heat, cover and let it steep for 1 hour or so.
  2. In one bowl, pour the remaining 1 cup (250ml) cream and set a strainer on top of it. In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks.
  3. Warm up the coffee-infused milk mixture and slowly pour it (beans and all) into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the mixture back into the saucepan.
  4. Warm the saucepan over median heat, stirring constantly with a spatula, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula (you’ve just made custard!). Pour this custard through the strainer into the bowl with the cream and stir.
  5. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (I do this overnight) then freeze it in an ice cream maker (or use David Lebovitz’s technique for making ice cream without an ice cream maker).


This is my submittions into Kavey’s Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream, Inspired by Hot Drinks edition!

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Chicago has a few raw food restaurants dotting the city and suburbs and one of the most highly-rated and longest-standing is Borrowed Earth Cafe, which happens to be just a short walk from my parent’s house in Downers Grove. Raw food may not be the most obvious choice for lunch on a sub-zero, snow-laden Chicago winter afternoon, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity for a raw food fix while I was visiting last January. And I had the best company: my mom and my friend, Jim, both veggies and who I knew would appreciate an elaborate lunch of raw recreations of some of our favourite foods such as lasagne, pierogi, gyros and tortilla soup. Each dish was a work of art in itself and given all of the sprouting, dehydrating, chopping, blending and juicing that went into out meal, we were looking at hours and days of work behind each and every dish.

Borrowed Earth Cafe Lunch

At some point during our meal, I commented that if anyone was going to go 100% raw, and really do it like they mean it (as Borrowed Earth owners Kathy and Danny do), then they might as well open a cafe because there’s no sense in putting that much time into a dish that’s only going to serve one or two people. So kudos to Kathy and Danny for bringing raw food to the masses, especially those super elaborate dishes that require tools that most of us mere mortals don’t have (dehydrator, sprouter, Vitamix, copious amounts of time and patience, etc).

Raw Food Lunch at Borrowed Earch Cafe

Fortunately, as Kathy and Danny teach on their raw food workshops, not all raw delights require fancy tools and excessive amounts of time. Raw desserts are particularly “easy”. During that aforementioned lunch, we finished with a raw raspberry “cheesecake” that put conventional dairy-based cheesecakes to shame. Raw or not, this was an amazing desert, and I’m very grateful to Kathy for sharing the recipe with me today. You will need a blender and a food processor, and a cheesecake pan, but all of the ingredients are readily available and the result make it totally the worth the effort. This is a wow-and-amaze-your-guests sort of dessert, so be prepared to share and don’t expect any leftovers (but if you do have leftovers, it keeps nicely in the fridge for about a week, and it freezes well, too).

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake

Raw Raspberry Cheesecake


  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts
  • 1/2 cup Medjool Dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup dried coconut flakes


  • 3 cups cashews that have been soaked in water at least 3 hours.
  • 3/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 3/4 cup agave nectar, coconut nectar or honey
  • 3/4 cup of coconut oil ( is a good source for quality virgin organic coconut oil that doesn’t cost a fortune)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries


  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen raspberries
  • 3/4 cup Medjool Dates, pitted


  • 8″ or 9″ springform cheesecake pan
  • food processor
  • blender


  1. First make the crust: Place the walnuts in your food processor and, using the S-blade, grind or pulse until the nuts are ground down to a medium texture. Add Medjool Dates and the coconut flakes and process again until a dough-like texture forms. Place the “dough” into your cheesecake pan and and spread out on the bottom of the pan. Press firmly and use a small offset spatula to get an even surface.
  2. Make the filling: Put all of the above filling ingredients into your high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy. If you are not using a Vitamix or Blentec or other high speed blender, you might want to divide the filling in half and do half at a time so your blender can handle the consistency.
  3. Pour the filling into your cheesecake pan. (If you have some extra raspberries you can stir those into the cheesecake and place the cheesecake in the freezer for several hours until firm or overnight.)
  4. Make the topping: when the cheesecake is frozen, remove from the freezer and springform pan and place on cake plate.
  5. Put topping ingredients into your food processor and process until well blended. “Frost” the top of your cheesecake with the filling. You can top extra raspberries or coconut flakes on top if you like.

BONUS: Check it out, the “crust” recipe can also be used to make cookies. Just use the same recipe and roll quickly between the palms of your hands to make 1/2 golf ball-sized balls (or, go crazy, the size of the WHOLE golf ball). You can leave them round or press them flat and chill and serve.

You should get 8 slices out of the cheescake and it will keep for about a week in the refrigerator, or you can put it back in the freezer for longer life.

Tiramisu Jelly

Tiramisu Jello

I’ve recently been a little obsessed with gelatinising things, that is, with making edible liquids (juice, coffee, et cetera) gelatinous or jelly-like. But first, a cultural lesson to help bridge the US / UK divide that separates me and many of my readers:

In the USA, the category of edible gelatinised substances typically falls under the name “jello” (see JELL-O, lo the power of branding), whereas the word “jelly” is reserved for clear, fruity preserves meant for spreading on toast. In the UK, “jelly” also describes such toast-friendly substances, but it can also mean a set liquid, what we Americans call “jello”. This caused me great confusion when I first moved to the UK, searching hopelessly for UK “jello” recipes. But when I discovered this incredible double meaning of the world “jelly”, my whole world opened up to me.

(FYI: I will not get into “spermicidal jelly” in this post).

The jelly obsession has emerged over the last couple years as I’ve continuously failed to transplant my family Thanksgiving recipe for “Auntie Jo’s Cranberry Jello Mold” to the UK. The recipe relies heavily on “red” JELL-O, not readily available in this country. I tried making something up using gelatine, which I didn’t feel good about knowing that gelatine is not vegetarian. (In the process, which involves a can of crushed pineapple, I also learned that fresh pineapple will undo the effects of gelatine – blasted bromelain!).

Tiramisu Jelly

So what started as a quest for my family’s cranberry “jelly”, has evolved into a mission for vegetarian gelatinising agents, and also “jellied” creations that are free of crap (like JELL-O).

I have been experimenting and have so far had my greatest success with agar agar, a substance made from algae, discovered in 1658 by Minora Tanzaemon in Japan, and hence very popular in Japanese and Vietnamese cuisine. Agar agar is great because it sets very quickly and doesn’t need to be refrigerated to do so. Plus, it’s all natural and totally vegan. I think we have a winner!

My favourite agar agar creation so far is this Tiramisu Jelly, which I made three times (!!!) while in Chicago over the holidays. It was that good, and surprisingly easy. I used the agar agar to set coffee which had been poured over ladyfinger biscuits, then topped with a cream cheese frosting spiked with brandy (the “proper” way is with marscapone and Italian marsala wine, but this is much more frugal).

This was much easier than making traditional tiramisu (which I did last year over Christmas, a process which seemed to take days to complete, but man it was good). And I really enjoyed the mouthfeel of jellied biscuits – I suppose you Brits may call this a tiramisu trifle! The tiramisu jelly also slices up nicely for fun little party poppers, which we enjoyed on New Years Eve, topped with pop rocks!

Tiramisu Jello

Consequentially, I’m posting this today because I’m currently in Cambridge for a weekend of hunkering and geeking with friends (sort of a Thanksgeeking redux) and the question of “what are you going to gelatinise this weekend?” came up. I haven’t answered that question yet, but having mastered the tiramisu, the pesky pineapple – my nemesis – comes to mind. Stay tuned!

5.0 from 2 reviews

Tiramisu Jelly
Recipe type: Dessert

You can use whatever you want to set the jelly in, preferably a small square or rectangular pan. Even a bread pan would work. The bigger the pan, the shallower the jelly will be. I tend to err for a smaller pan and add as much liquid as needed to cover the biscuits, then set any leftover liquid in a cup for a little jelly bonus snack for the chef!
  • 2 cups strong coffee (I made this with instant espresso)
  • 2.5 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp agar agar
  • ladyfingers (the number you need depends on the size of your pan, but one standard package should give you plenty and leave you with more to spare)
  • 500ml whipping cream (whipped to soft peaks)
  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 75ml brandy
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • cocoa powder for dusting
  • popping candy (optional)

  1. Arrange the ladyfingers in a “small” square or rectangular pan.
  2. Combine the coffee, sugar and agar agar in a pan and simmer for a few minutes until the agar agar and sugar are dissolved.
  3. Pour the liquid over the ladyfingers, adding enough to cover the lady fingers – you may need to push the ladyfingers down into the liquid to get them to absorb and settle. I usually add enough liquid so that there’s a few millimetres of liquid above the biscuits, but you can add more liquid if you’d like a thicker jelly layer.
  4. While the jelly sets (which won’t take long – agar agar sets wonderfully quickly and it doesn’t need to be refrigerated).
  5. Meanwhile, mix the whipped cream with the cream cheese, brandy and sugar.
  6. When the jelly is set, smear the whipped cream over the top and top with a dusting of cocoa powder
  7. Serve the jelly in slices, sprinkled with popping candy if you’d like for a fun surprise effect.


Quinoa Flour Cookies with Ginger & Molasses (Gluten Free)

#glutenfree ginger biscuits made with quinoa flour courtesy of @shiptonmill & @quinoaqueens recipe.

Sometimes I think my friend Sam knows me better than I do. For my birthday last summer, she gave me a gift to satisfy both my baker self and my quinoa-loving self: a generous stash of Shipton Mill‘s new quinoa flour along with a copy of Quinoa: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming.

I’d never cooked with quinoa flour, or even knew it existed. But lo and behold, it does (my US friends can find it from Bob’s Red Mill).

Quinoa flour is naturally gluten free and, being quinoa, is high in protein, calcium and iron. You’ll find that most quinoa flour recipes use half regular wheat flour and half quinoa flour. This is for two reasons: quinoa flour isn’t going to give you the same rise as wheat flour. Also, quinoa flour has a nutty flavour that can be a bit overpowering in most recipes.

But there are exceptions.

Gluten Free Quinoa and Spelt Flour Ginger Biscuits

This recipe for quinoa flour cookies from the quinoa cookbook called to me because it is made with 100% quinoa flour and is entirely gluten free. I decided to make them for my gluten-avoiding mom and friends a few weeks ago and alerted them that the cookies were a total experiment and I had no idea how they would be. But I think the results surprised all of us. I can’t say there was any hooting and hollering, but we scarfed almost half the batch in one session.

First of all, the cookies, despite being gluten free, rose well in the oven and came out beautifully cracked and delicious looking. And the flavour was just as good. Here, the nuttiness of the quinoa flour works well with the spicy ginger and rich molasses.

Colour me a fan of quinoa flour – after making these cookies, quinoa flour became a hallmark of my mom’s visit and I’ve done some more experimenting since (expect a post on quinoa flour soda bread coming soon).

And colour me a fan of this cookbook. I look forward to trying more of the recipes – there are some great looking salads, casseroles and even smoothies, all using quinoa in various shapes and guises (whole, sprouted, flour, etc).

The authors of the cookbook generously gave me permission to post their recipe on my website. They’re nice ladies. Check out their website and give them a follow on Twitter and Facebook.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Quinoa Ginger Molasses Cookies
Recipe type: Cookie

I have a hard tome finding molasses in the UK so use dark treacle instead which works just as well. I also think some chopped stem ginger would do well in these cookies. If you try it, let me know!
  • ½ cup organic butter or coconut oil
  • ¾ cup organic brown sugar or sucanat
  • 1 large organic egg
  • ¼ cup unsulfured molasses (or dark treacle)
  • 2 cups quinoa flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. ground cloves
  • ¼ cup organic cane sugar (for rolling)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cream butter and brown sugar in large bowl. Beat in molasses and egg.
  3. In another smaller bowl, mix dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves).
  4. Mix flour mixture into butter mixture until combined into a dough.
  5. Roll dough into 1 inch balls. Place the cane sugar in a shallow bowl and roll to coat the balls. Place two inches apart on a baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes. When they puff up and are lightly browned they’re ready! Let them cool slightly before removing them to cool completely on a rack.