Healthier Baking with SugaVida

I’m using the word healthier in place of healthy in the post title because I’m not sure that the cookies I’m sharing a recipe for would pass as a “health food”- they still contain real butter and white flour after all. I’m definitely not the kind of person to jump on any dietary bandwagons but I’m all for a bit of experimentation so when I was given the opportunity to test out the UK’s new “super sugar” SugaVida I jumped at the chance. Actually this was more for the benefit of my best friend’s Dad who has recently been told his blood sugar is higher than it should be- he’s been really careful with his diet but has been mourning the lack of my baked goods…I decided to put my thinking cap on and come up with a bake that he could enjoy but wouldn’t undo all of his hard work.

Before I get in to the recipe I’ll explain a bit more about SugaVida. It’s essentially an alternative to traditional sugar and also goes by the name of Palmyra Jaggery which is a crystallised, unrefined nectar. Because it has a low GI it is suitable for diabetics and can be used in place of sugar in hot drinks, baking and cooking. It’s also packed with other nutritional benefits- one teaspoon of SugaVida contains 36% of the RDA of vitamin B12 (in fact, SugaVida is the only plant-based source of B12 which is great news for veggies and vegans), 210% of the RDA of vitamin B6 and a whopping 500% of vitamin B1. What’s more, SugaVida is organic, ethically sourced and sustainable for the communities who farm it!

I decided to make cookies as my first experiment, a nutella type cookie in fact, although I used Jim Jams low sugar chocolate hazelnut spread to continue on the virtue front.
Ingredients:

100g Jim Jams chocolate hazelnut spread
100g unsalted butter, softened
175g SugaVida
1 egg
250g Self raising flour

You will need also need a baking tray lined with baking parchment

How To:
Heat the oven to 180c, 160c fan. Gas 4.

Place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter and SugaVida n a mixing bowl and beat well until smooth (an electric whisk helps).

Beat in the egg then beat in the flour to make a stiff dough.

Shape the dough into large walnut sized balls and place on a baking tray spaced a little apart. Flatten with a fork and bake for 15 mins until golden. allow to cool and store in a cake tin- they keep well, if you can resist them!

The SugaVida reminds me very much of a dark, muscavado sugar so adds a real caramel taste to the cookies. This combined with the chocolate hazelnut spread was a real winning combination and already a second lot has been requested. They are so quick and easy to make that I don’t mind and I’m hoping to experiment with some more low sugar bakes in the future so my bestie’s dad no longer needs to miss out!

SugaVida is available at major retailers now with an RRP of £6.49 for 250g. Yep, it’s pricey but if you’re baking for an occasional treat for someone who would otherwise miss out, or are planning on using it just to sweeten hot drinks then it’s not too bad.

Let me know any diabetes friendly baking recipes you may have in the comments, I know they’ll be appreciated!

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Baking with Macabella

It probably hasn’t escaped anyone’s notice that baking is one of my hobbies and one of the only upsides of having been off of work for so long now is that I’ve been able to indulge my love of whipping up cakes and cookies for my friends and family. Over the last few months I’ve tried many a new recipe or ingredient and when Macabella got in touch asking if I’d like to try out their amazing sounding chocolate and macadamia spread and come up with some recipes using it I was ready for the challenge. I’ve actually been itching to try this spread since seeing my good friend Amy’s review of the crunchy variety so there was definitely excitement in the air when my goodies arrived.
Nestled in a swanky gold box were four jars of Macabella spread- two velvet ones and two of the crunch variety. After having a good old think about things I decided on baking two recipes using the products- one cookie and one cake.
For the cookies I used my tried and tested Rolo cookie cup recipe and followed the instructions up until the point where the biscuits came out of the oven. At that point instead of pressing rolos in to the still hot cookies I poked holes (using the end of a clean makeup brush for want of a better tool) and allowed the biscuits to cool slightly. I briefly considered using my thumb to make the indents but quickly dismissed that idea once I realised how stupid it would be to poke my own skin in to a red hot cookie! Whilst still warm I took teaspoons full of Macabella crunch and placed it inside the holes I had created…I found softening the spread for 15 seconds in the microwave made it easier to work with. As you can see, the end result is a lovely soft baked cookie that oozes chocolate-y macadamia goodness when you bite or cut in to it. These proved a massive hit with my Dad and his colleagues and took under an hour from start to finish to make.
For the cake I tried a new to me recipe that I modified by swapping the 100g of nutella for 100g of velvety smooth Macabella. This cake uses the all in one method so is really quick and simple to do and results in a wonderfully light but decadent sponge.

I filled the cake using the rest of a jar of Macabella crunch (make sure you do it whilst the cake is still warm) then topped it with Macabella velvet and a pot of chocolate curls. So simple and yet so effective and the true testament to what a wonderful cake you get when you use Macabella is how fast it disappeared when I dropped it in to work!

Neither of these recipes are complicated, nor do they take a long time to whip up and both were ultimately enhanced by the use of Macabella spreads and there is already demand for more!

Have you tried Macabella spread before? Either as a spread or in baking? What baked goods would you use it for? I strongly suggest you hot foot it to your nearest Sainsburys (the only UK stockist) and get some of this goodness for yourselves and get experimenting. Visit the Macabella website for more about the spread and for more recipe ideas.

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The Bake-Off Effect: Gin and Tonic Cake

Like what appears to be most of the UK (and beyond) population I’m currently swept up in Great British Bake-Off mania. Wednesday evening between 8pm and 9pm is sacred time and I resent anything that gets in my way, even a stag do of sorts. Ever since we viewed the first episode and saw one of contestants make a gin and tonic drizzle cake I’ve been informed by Mum that one just had to be made, being the dutiful daughter that I am I googled away and found this Good Housekeeping recipe and got baking.
I’m no food photographer so the photos really don’t do this justice but I was really pleased with how it turned out. It wasn’t the trickiest of cakes to make but it was time consuming thanks to several elements to the decorating process but it was worth it. This vanished in record time and has already been requested again as a birthday cake. I’ve popped the link to the recipe above but for those who can’t be faffed with clicking (guilty of this) here it is:

Cake Ingredients

200 g (7oz) unsalted butter, softened, plus extra to grease
200 g (7oz) caster sugar
4 medium eggs, beaten
200 g (7oz) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
finely grated zest 1 lime
75 ml (3 fl oz) gin

For the Syrup and Topping

25 g (4oz) caster sugar, plus extra to sprinkle
125 ml (4 fl oz) tonic water
31/2 tbsp gin
2 limes, cut in half through their length and sliced into 3mm (1/8in) half moons
100 g (3 ½oz) icing sugar, sifted

Method

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan) mark 4. Grease and line base and sides of a 900g (2lb) loaf tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar with a handheld electric whisk until light and fluffy – about 5min. Gradually add eggs, beating well after each addition.

Fold in flour, baking powder and lime zest, followed by the gin. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for 55min-1hr or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make sugar syrup: gently heat the caster sugar and tonic water in a small pan, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Turn up heat and boil for 1min. Spoon 2tbsp of the syrup into a small bowl and mix in 2tbsp of the gin (this mixture will be used to soak the loaf later). Set pan of remaining syrup aside.

As soon as the loaf comes out of the oven, poke holes into the top with a skewer and drizzle over the reserved syrup/gin mixture. Cool loaf in tin on a wire rack.

Meanwhile, make the candied lime slices. Reheat the remaining sugar syrup in its pan until boiling, then add the lime slices. Simmer for 10-12min until the slices are translucent. Lift out slices with a slotted spoon on to baking parchment, then sprinkle both sides of the lime slices liberally with caster sugar. Leave to dry.
Make icing by mixing together icing sugar with remaining 1½tbsp gin. Remove cooled loaf from tin, transfer to a board and peel off parchment. Pour over icing and decorate with the dried candied lime slices. Leave the cake to set before serving.

Let me know what you think if you make this…and fellow GBBO obsessives, what have you been inspired to make?

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Rolo Cookie Cups

I’ve found baking to be a great help to me of late. With time on my hands at an abundance getting lost creating in the kitchen has both kept me occupied and helped me to discover delicious new treats to add to my daily diet. Of course it’s also making me incredibly popular with family, friends and colleagues and one of my most recent hits were these Rolo Cookie Cups which really couldn’t be simpler to make but look pretty special.
You’ll need:

115g unsalted butter (softned- I find ten seconds in the microwave does the trick)

115g light brown soft sugar, although caster sugar works fine

1 large egg

225g plain flour

Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

12-16 Rolos depending on what size tin you use

What to do:

Preheat your oven to 170c (make it 160 for a fan oven) and lightly grease either a 16 hole mini muffin tin or 12 hole standard bun tin.

Put the butter and sugar in to a mixing bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Mix in the egg then add the flour and bicarbonate of soda.

Using your hands roll small handfuls of dough in to balls and place a ball in to each of the baking tin holes. If the mixture is too crumbly then a splash of milk helps, it’s too sticky then dusting your hands with a little flour will make things less messy.

Now pop the cake tin in to the oven, leaving the balls as they are. Bake for around 12 minutes until lightly golden. Use the baking time to get your Rolos unwrapped and ready.

Once cooked take the cookie cups out of the oven and straight away push a Rolo in to the top of each one (be careful as they are of course going to be very hot!) Leave the cookies to cool in the tin completely before removing and enjoying!

I’ve made these a few times now and have experimented with different chocolates as well, celebrations worked well as did squares of plain old milk chocolate.

Let me know if you make these, especially if you try out some different toppings. They are so quick and easy to do and an instant crowd pleaser!

What have you been baking lately?

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Nutella Brownie Baked Doughnuts

Wow, another baking post, I’m on fire right? I’ve had quite a bit of free time lately and have spent some of that getting busy in the kitchen fulfilling requests for baked goods. When a demand for brownies came my way I knew instantly I was going to make the 3 ingredient nutella brownies (that I’ve blogged before) as these always go down well. Seeking a way to jazz them up a bit I chose to bake them in a silicone doughnut mould, and as they didn’t look too exciting naked I melted down some dark chocolate and coated them (and the kitchen) in sprinkles.
I’m really pleased with the end result of these and they went down very well with the recipient. Honestly these are just about the easiest thing you can bake- you simply take 175g of nutella, one large egg and 5 tablespoons of flour and mix it all together. Add a splash of milk if the mixture seems on the dry side and then pop in to baking receptacle of your choice- cupcake cases, silicone moulds or a standard cake pan all work well. Bake at 180*c for 10-15 minutes depending on how you like your brownies and jobs a good ‘un!

Let me know if you make these and what you think of them. What are some of your favourite easy bakes?

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