Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan/Dairy free)

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Wow it’s been a long time since I updated the ‘ole blog. In this time I have managed to complete my nursing degree and become a fully qualified Registered Nurse! So as you can probably gather this takes a bit of energy and time, hence no time to blog. Anyway!

A lovely workmate of mine recently had a birthday, so what better excuse to bake something!! As she is vegan, it inspired me to step out of my usual ingredient list, which was both interesting and exciting. It’s also good to know that since these cupcakes are vegan, this too means they are dairy free, perfect for friends who are lactose-intolerant! 🙂

I don’t live a vegan lifestyle, but is is comforting to know that these are cruelty free. And I am pleasantly surprised that a tofu product could be paired with the words sweets, cupcake, and Oreo! (did you know Oreos are vegan?!) I was very wary of tofu, a bit unsure about it…. but it all worked out okay! Better than okay even!!

My dad (who is definately not very open to vegan food- think 3 meat and veg!!) and brother (who is fussy as anything) thought these were (quote dad) ‘pretty good’, so that is saying something!! To the fussiest of eater, they wouldn’t even know these were vegan/dairy free!

I usually adapt recipes quite a bit to make them my own version, but I was keeping in mind that if i wanted a vegan dessert to work out for me (something of which i was hesitant about) I had to stay a little more true to the tried and tested recipes online.

Credit to the amazing food blog Averie Cooks for the recipe ‘Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting’

*note: I did adapt ever so slightly using elements of the same frosting recipe with another, and normal vinegar in place of apple cider vinegar!

Here they are, chocolately, vanilla tinged, deliciousness.

Cookies and Cream Chocolate Cupcakes (Vegan/Dairy free)

(Adapted from the recipe ‘Chocolate Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting‘ by Averie Cooks and Tofutti frosting recipe found here (sans peppermint!)

CUPCAKES

2 cups dairy free milk (I used unsweetened almond milk, for a non-vegan take you can use a dairy milk)

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 1/2 cups caster sugar

2/3 cup canola or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 cups plain flour

2/3 cup cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

 
VANILLA  ‘FROSTING’
1 tub of imitation cream cheese (I used Tofutti plain flavoured)
250g (one stick) of vegetable shortening (I used Copha)
4 cups of icing sugar
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract

Cupcakes

Preheat oven to 180C, and line two regular muffin trays with muffin cases.

In a medium sized bowl, add the milk and vinegar, stir, and set aside for about 5 minutes to curdle.

In another bowl, place the sugar, oil and vanilla, and whisk until combined (will look grainy but that’s okay!). Add the curdled milk to the this mixture and whisk until combined.

In a third bowl, add the flour, cocoa, bi-carb soda and salt, and combine.

Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Do not over-mix, stirring just until all large lumps have disappeared. (May appear slightly lumpy still, but again this is okay!).

Pour batter into prepared muffin case to about 3/4-full.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with small amounts of cake crumb, and spring back to the touch. Turn out cupcakes onto a wire baking rack, leave to cool.

Frosting

This makes ALOT of frosting. Enough for probably 2 batches I find. However any leftovers (if not eaten by the spoonful) can keep in the fridge in an airtight container for many weeks.

Add vanilla, ‘cream cheese’ and shortening to a large bowl and beat using hand-held beaters or standing mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat until combined. This will look separated/not combining and very worrying (from experience!!) but slowly add the icing sugar until combined and it will begin to resemble frosting. I promise! Beat on low speed until mixed through, then on high for about 5 minutes. Add more icing sugar if slightly soft (it should be quite fluffy though, this is what we want!).

You can buy cake ‘corers’ to create holes in the cupcakes for filling, but  I used an apple corer as a make shift alternative for this effect, with success! It’s nice too as it is only a small hole, allowing for a good cupcake:frosting filling ratio.

So, ‘core’ the cupcakes (eat the ‘holes’- yum!), then pipe frosting into the cupcake (using a piping bag, or if like me, a ‘zip lock’ plastic sandwich bag with the corner cut off-haha), then pipe some more icing on top.

Cut oreos into halves and place decoratively on top. And Voila! Yummy vegan friendly, dairy free friendly cupcakes!

Eat, share and enjoy,
Kirra xo
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Very Vanilla Melting Moments

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Nothing beats a nice cup of tea and a bickie. I love these little buttery goodies, and my version, adapted from the ever so amazing Women’s Weekly “Old Fashioned Favourites” and a few other home grown versions of recipes.

Hope you enjoy these, they are quite easy to make. The vanilla icing is a guess job (just keep adding until a thick, spreadable consistency!!) so I didn’t write down quantities of ingredients, but you could very well google basic biscuit icing recipe.

Now, the icing. This recipe uses a bit of butter and vanilla but you can adapt to include a variety of different flavours, such as adding a little jam to the icing, strawberry or coffee essence even! You could also add in cocoa to the biscuits with a chocolate or peppermint flavoured icing! (Change cornflour amount to 100g and adding in 40g of cocoa. Add cocoa and/or peppermint essence to the icing- Simple!)

My secret (maybe???) ingredient in this recipe is a bit of custard powder… adds that extra touch of vanilla and ‘melt’ to the biscuits!

Note the large quantities of ingredients. This is to allow you have a decent amount of biscuits once joined, and in my family this suits very well considering the amount of baking we go through!!!

Very Vanilla Melting Moments

(Adapted from Australian Women’s Weekly’s ‘Sweet Old Fashioned Favourites’ and other home grown recipes in my cupboard!!)

500g butter

100g icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract
140g cornflour
500g plain flour
1tbsp custard powder
Vanilla Icing (about a tablespoon of butter, vanilla to your liking, gradually add in some icing sugar and combine, adding small amounts (go easy!) of hot/boiling water to combine further. (Mixture should be thick enough to hold it’s own when squished between the biscuits, but soft enough to actually spread and be squished! If you get what I mean here!!- Just ‘wing it’ you’ll be fine!!)
Preheat oven to 160C
Using an electric mixer, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until butter is light and fluffy.
Add in the custard powder and cornflour, beat again until combined. Add in flour and mix again until a smooth dough forms.
Roll dough into small balls on lined baking trays. The dough balls should be a little more than a heaped teaspoon size roughly- depends on how big you’d like your biscuits! Flatten the biscuits with a fork slightly.
These biscuits don’t expand a lot when baked, so you can squeeze more onto the 1 tray than other biscuits can.
Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until firm to touch. You don’t want them too ‘golden’ in colour, as you won’t get as ‘melty’ melting moments! In fact, if you think they need longer they’re probably done! Leave them on the tray to cool and they’ll firm up a little more if you take them out then!
Eat, share and enjoy,
Kirra xo

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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Being in good supply of lemons some time ago (thanks Nana!), I decided to whip up some lemon poppy seed muffins. These, like all my recipes are a breeze to make! You basically just throw it all in together, mix, pour, bake and voila! 🙂 I adapted a recipe to suit my lemon supply, using lemon juice and more lemon rind. These babies can be enjoyed with a good cup of tea, and if you’re feeling creative, dissolve a little sugar, lemon juice and water together to make a lovely lemon syrup to top! (too bad I only thought of this after my photos!!!)

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

(Adapted from the Australian Women’s Weekly’s Muffins, Scones and Breads- a cookbook almost as old as myself, well the original edition anyway!)

Makes about 12

125g butter, softened
Grated rind of 3 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
150g caster sugar
2 cups Self-Raising flour
1/2 cup of milk
2 tbsp poppy seeds
 Preheat oven to 180C
Mix together ingredients except the poppy seeds with an electric mixer until just combined, then beat on medium speed until mixture becomes pale and smooth.
Stir in poppy seeds.
Divide mixture evenly between patty pans in a 12-hole muffin tin.
Bake for approximately 20 minutes.
Done! 🙂 Serve with a lemon syrup if desired.
Eat, share and enjoy,
Kirra xo

Kirra’s Banana Walnut Bread

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Ladies and Gentlemen…. This is my very own made up recipe all on my own for the first time ever!!!! 😀 I was quite scared… I tried to make up a berry and banana loaf once and failed miserably…….BUT! We have success!! It’s kinda healthy too, using wholemeal flour, extra banana and maple syrup to slightly sweeten! So it’s yummy and kind of good for you? That’s what I like to see!! I kind of experimented with an excess of frozen black bananas (the best kind, so overripe and full of flavour) and not so many eggs left, hence the yoghurt in this recipe (if you can’t have yoghurt, you could probably just replace it with another egg or 2). Yoghurt gives it a lovely moist characteristic, and by adding bicarb and baking powder to this, the batter becomes so airy and fluffy- something I can’t describe completely, you’ll have to see for yourself when you try it! Maple syrup has that lovely warm flavour which is why I chose to add it into my version of banana bread. It complements the idea of it I think, warm and toasty sweet banana bread! Adding some cinnamon, crunchy toasty walnuts (a great pairing with banana of course!) and butter to serve- the flavour is absolutely heavenly- especially when you toast the bread! You will need to have a stash of black overripe bananas, don’t go skimping on them now, the ratio is just right! Ahh, I’m so proud! A happy moment for an aspiring self-proclaimed foodie! Eeek! Enjoy it people! Best served with a coffee and breakfast i’d say! 🙂

Kirra’s Banana Walnut Bread

Proud to call this one my own 🙂

Makes 1 loaf Preheat oven to 180C

4 black, overripe bananas
1 cup greek yoghurt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarb soda
1 cup wholemeal plain flour
3/4 cup wholemeal  self-raising flour
Approximately 1 cup of chopped walnuts, leaving some out to sprinkle on top!!
Cinnamon, add as much as you desire!
Mix together bananas, yoghurt, maple syrup and egg with a whisk until combined.
Stir in bicarb soda and baking powder (that’s where the magic happens- so fluffy!!)
Add in chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Bake for about 45 mins or until cooked through and golden.
Serve warm with butter, or toasted/reheated once cool. Can be stored in the freezer if it lasts that long (hehe)
Eat, share and enjoy,
Kirra xo

Anzac biscuits

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Who doesn’t love the good old Anzac Biscuit! For those who don’t know, Anzac biscuits are named after the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and made and sent to the ANZAC soldiers during World War I. Apparently, the biscuits were sent by the wives to soldiers, as the ingredients gave the biscuits a good shelf life and travelled well. Here’s another fun fact: The term ANZAC is lawfully protected, but people can use the term ‘Anzac biscuits’, as long as they remain pretty much true to the original recipe and never called cookies when being sold or referred to!! (That’s kinda impressive!)**

So there you go, a bit of a history/legal lesson about these lovely bickies!

These are so easy and my favourite part is only having one bowl, and not having to get the mixer out! (as much as I love it is a pain to clean afterwards!!). I added a bit more dry ingredients to get the consistency right, and reduced the amount of sugar in my version, I think these are pretty sweet already and no one who tried them even noticed 🙂

Anzac Biscuits

Recipe Adapted from The Australian Women’s Weekly The Country Table and all my other Anzac biscuit recipes in my recipe books at home, it’s is fairly universal!!!
1 cup rolled oats 
1 cup plain flour + 1 tbsp
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup desiccated coconut + 1 tbsp
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Preheat over to 160C.
Place oats, flour, coconut and sugar in a bowl and combine. Next, place the butter, golden syrup and water in a saucepan over low-medium heat and stir occassionally until melted and combined.
Add soda to the melted mixture and stir. Combine wet and dry ingredients in the bowl.
Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and slightly flatten. Bake for about 15-20 mins (15 if you want them a bit chewier!!). Leave on trays to cool, then eat!!!
Makes about 20 (but it just depends, I hate saying how many it makes, it never makes how many a recipe says!!!).

Eat, share and enjoy,

Kirra xo
** Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anzac_biscuit

Banana Pancakes (Paleo) with Vanilla Cashew Cream, Raspberries and Maple

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The other morning we ran out of milk, so instead of going to the shops to get more I decided to make some brekky with stuff we already had in the house. I’ve been trying to be a bit more creative with the healthier options lately, but I had a craving for pancakes, plus we had a fresh bunch of bananas (my favourite fruit) so banana pancakes it was!

Although I don’t follow any special diets, I have made these banana pancakes before and turns out they are Paleo. These are so easy to whip up, with only 2 ingredients…. bananas and eggs! (and a few add-ins to make them tastier and fluffier!). These lovelies remind me of banana fritters but more pancake-y (ha), and while they don’t beat the usual pancakes they are pretty tasty!!

I have only ever made cashew cream once, and that is in my Peppermint Slice (the healthy version), and today I wanted to be a bit healthier and makeover the usual pancake toppings of cream or icecream. And it was pretty good. I was fairly skeptical about it being too bland, but nothing a bit of vanilla and a splash of maple syrup couldn’t fix! To top it off I added a little extra drizzle of maple syrup (the real stuff!!) and some raspberries. (YUM)

Here’s how….

Banana Pancakes (Paleo) with Vanilla Cashew Cream, Raspberries and Maple

Pancake recipe found on Our Best Bites
Cashew Cream adapted from The Healthy Chef

BANANA PANCAKES

1 large banana, mashed well

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp of baking powder
a pinch of cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla extract
Mash all the ingredients together in a bowl. I actually used a hand held stick blender to get the batter fluffy and smooth. Cook in a small frypan with some coconut oil. These pancakes will be a bit fragile so it may take a little bit longer to cook on one side before flipping!

VANILLA CASHEW CREAM

1 cup of cashews, soaked

1 cup of water, plus extra for soaking
Vanilla extract/paste, to your liking
a small drizzle of pure maple syrup, optional (But I find it adds a bit of flavour, not much is needed!)
Place cashews in a saucepan with water (enough to cover the cashews) and boil for 15 minutes- if you want to get this done instantly… otherwise… soak cashews in water for 4 hours or overnight if preparing ahead.
Place all ingredients into a bowl and blend with a stick blender, or place in a food processor until smooth.

ASSEMBLY AND TOPPINGS

Pancake….Cream….Rasberries…Pancake… and so on to create a stack! Or assemble however you wish!
Other toppings that would be lovely are…. banana slices, strawberries, mango, kiwi fruit or blueberries, whole fruit jams, stewed fruit, fruit puree or coulis.
You could also add protein powder (maybe vanilla, chocolate or unflavoured) to add an extra kick and flavour!
Other options are adding different spices or cacao/cocoa to the pancakes, mix in or sprinkle with chia seeds, desiccated/shredded coconut, LSA or buckinis!
Get creative a make up your own combinations!!

Eat, share and enjoy,

Kirra xo

Choc-Peanut Cranberry Fridge Slice

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Oh this slice is so so goood! A simple mix-and-melt slice with just a few ingredients, it is way too moreish to stop at just one piece! Just a note, these beauties will very much melt if not kept in the fridge, hence the name, but the upside is no baking time in the oven!! (p.s. if you’re really impatient, put it in the freezer, it’ll set pretty much right away!!). There are so many variations of this recipe (I think it originated from Pinterest??), so I tweaked a couple of them to make my own version.

Hope you enjoy this one, 🙂

Choc-Peanut Cranberry Fridge Slice

Adapted slightly from Money Saving Mom, I Hear Exercise Will Kill You and Now You Can Pin It and probably so many other sites! This recipe is a hit everywhere by the looks!!

1 cup peanut butter
2/3 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut oil
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 packet of dark chocolate chips (about 230g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Melt the peanut butter, honey, and coconut oil over low heat in a saucepan, stirring until melted and combined.
Remove from heat and add oats, coconut, chocolate chips, cranberries, and vanilla. Stir together until the chocolate is completely melted and all is combined.
Pour into a greased slice/brownie pan and set in the fridge.
Once set, cut into bars and devour (haha). Store in the refrigerator or freezer- it keeps for ages, if it lasts that long!!
Eat, share and enjoy,

Kirra xo