Vegan Caramel Coconut Ice Cream

Vegan, Gluten Free
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I don’t know if anybody noticed this, but I’m extremely obsessed with ice cream. In the last 28 days, I have eaten ice cream at least once a day. Sometimes twice, and one time three and a half times. (I’m not proud.) When I was little my Mum once called me an Ice Cream Monster and said if I didn’t watch out I’d become obese. That was because I tried to eat an entire ice cream cake in two days, but still…so harsh!

Most of the time, I’ll admit it, I do buy ice cream by the giant tub. Sometimes gourmet tubs of Maggie Beer, most often whatever brand of mango sorbet is available and Blue Ribbon vanilla. I also buy gelato ridiculously often as well, sometimes by myself which I’m sure is some kind of social taboo.

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I do love making ice cream though! As you can see from the countless recipes on this blog. Highlights include banana bread flavoured frozen yogurt, Mango Frozen Yogurt, and the most epic of all vegan birthday ice cream cakes. All delicious and frozen by me, therefore slightly less guilt-inducing. What can I say, some people spend $4.00 on a coffee every day, I spend that on ice cream. And while we’re being 100% honest, I also spend that on coffee. Plus an extra 50c for soy milk 🙂

Recently I’ve been committing to an almost completely vegan diet, save the occasional egg when eating out. Because of this I have been having some MAJOR creamy ice cream withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms include irritation, yelling at passers-by and eating tub upon tub of mango sorbet. It was definitely time to make a coconut ice cream.

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I have major beef with ice cream recipes that don’t make ice cream, but instead make ice cream flavoured blocks. The whole point of an ice cream recipe is that it makes ice cream…which must be scoop-able immediately, not half an hour later after sitting it on the bench. When I want ice cream I don’t want it in half an hour, it’s usually a give-it-to-me now kind of deal. Otherwise call it a popsicle! Ok?!?!?!

But I do get it, it can be really hard to make a somewhat healthier ice cream recipe that doesn’t freeze too much. I usually add alcohol to sorbets (sorry children) to keep them soft. I didn’t want to add alcohol to coconut ice cream though, and my sister accidentally bought “coconut drink” instead of milk, which had way less fat and was in general way less awesome. But waste not want not right?! So I decided to experiment with the controversial ingredient of glucose syrup.

Controversial because it’s 90% glucose, made from refined starch, basically just terrible for you. But it does completely stop ice cream from freezing solid! It’s crazy. This recipe had almost no fat in it at all, just 2 tbsp of syrup. And days later it still scoops fine! The drawbacks are that the syrup is super super sweet, and I didn’t adjust the sugar enough to compensate. For me, who doesn’t have a huge sweet tooth (hah I know) it was almost too sweet to eat. So I’ve given instructions in the recipe for both with and without, you decide. Use the syrup if you want to make low-fat ice cream with light coconut milk, or just use honey if using full-fat and tell me how you go with that scooping. Or just eat it straight after you make it! Never a bad idea 😉 Have a great week guys!

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Caramel Coconut Ice Cream: Inspired by My Darling Lemon Thyme

1 litre full-fat coconut milk (2.2 cans)
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp sea salt
EITHER:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp honey
OR:
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp glucose syrup

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Mix a few tbsp of the coconut milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a slurry. Put all of the other ingredients in a saucepan and heat gently, whisking in the cornstarch mixture. Let the mixture come to the bowl, whisking constantly as it heats. (It’s important to reach this temperature or the floury flavour won’t cook off and it won’t thicken enough). Turn the heat off and pour through a sieve in to a bowl. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then cover the surface in plastic wrap to prevent a skin forming. Chill overnight, then freeze in an ice cream maker following the manual’s instructions. If using glucose syrup, you may get away with not churning it although I haven’t tested this!

Optional: stir in 3/4 cup chocolate chips, berries, caramel drops, chopped dates etc

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Rhubarb and Cinnamon Cashew Cream Cake (raw and vegan!)

Raw, Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free

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Guys, it’s happened. I finally got around to making a raw cashew cream cake! Too long have I ogled at this beautiful creation and this one and tried to eat my screen with little to no success. I finally made the splurge and bought the cashews and coconut butter, and gave my blender a serious pep-talk. Don’t worry, dumpling month is charging on, we’re just having a minor cake break so that I can eat my way through the dumplings in the freezer.

I wanted fancy layers for my cheesecake because layers people. Layers are so much more exciting than non-layers. So the bottom layer is infused with cinnamon (because everything should be infused with cinnamon) and the top layer is mixed with poached rhubarb and vanilla compote. Holy to the yum. The compote itself was so amazing! I deliberately made way more than I needed so that I could eat it all week on my weetbix. I highly recommend this as you don’t need much at all in the actual recipe, but if fruit compote isn’t your thing, make a quarter of the recipe.
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The reason this post took so long to put up was because this whole week I’ve been super sick and just horrendous feeling basically. I went away for a week with my friends to a music festival and while that week was one of the best ever and I wouldn’t change a single thing about it, the following week has been rough. It’s been very rough. It started on the day we packed up and left the camping grounds and I’d completely, 100% lost my voice. I could not make a sound.

That transformed into a bad case of the flu, which today transformed into a stomach bug. I feel so nauseous I haven’t actually been able to try the cake yet….I KNOW! But my whole family and a number of friends have tried and raved, so I am going out on a limb and hoping it tastes as good assembled as it did on the back of a spoon when I was making it 🙂
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My blender honestly did die a bit in the making of this cake, but I have lamented here often that raw desserts can be tricky in my kitchen. Every time I decide it’s finally time to make an upgrade and start researching, there are so many conflicting accounts and opinions I give up and give my blender a hug.

If you don’t have a powerful blender like me, make sure you soak your cashews all night long. It really made the difference! Also give the blender lots of time to rest in between small batches, instead of trying to power through the whole thing in one go. This is definitely a cake to make, regardless of whether your crowd is vegan or raw! It feels so special with the pink layers and it tastes so light and wholesome. So I’ve officially joined the cashew cream cake bandwagon. Look to the future for more!

One Year Ago: Berry and Lychee Vanilla Yogurt Cake
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Recipe inspired by My New Roots and This Rawsome Vegan Life
Raw Cashew Cream Cake with Rhubarb and Cinnamon:

3 cups of cashews, covered in cold filtered water and left to soak overnight

1.5 cups walnuts
1.5 cups dates, chopped roughly
1 tbsp coconut oil

6 long stalks of rhubarb, cut into chunks
100g raw sugar
1/2 a vanilla bean
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup (185ml) coconut oil, melted if hard
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup (170g) raw honey or maple syrup for pure vegan
pinch of sea salt
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Line a 23cm baking tin with baking paper. Blend the walnuts, dates and tablespoon of coconut oil into a dough and press in to the bottom of the tin with your hands. Chill whilst you make the filling.

In a medium saucepan, very gently stew the rhubarb, sugar and vanilla bean (cut and seeds added to the pot) with a few tablespoons of water until completely soft but not straggly.

Drain the cashews well and put in the blender. Add the lemon juice, honey, coconut oil, salt and cinnamon. Blend until mix is as smooth as possible. Pour half into the cake tin and smooth around. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Blend the remaining half with about 1/3 – 1/2 cup of the rhubarb mix, to the desired colour and consistency (don’t add too much liquid – just the rhubarb pieces!) pour this on top of the cake and refrigerate the whole thing overnight. Serve cold, serves 10 – 12!
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Vanilla and Cinnamon Flecked Rhubarb Cake (and a birthday!)

Gluten Free
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 It’s my blog’s birthday! Happy birthday blog 🙂 I’m actually half a week late because I completely forgot what month it was I started, but it’s the thought that counts right? And the cake of course. 

When I started this blog I had no idea what I wanted it to be. I loved baking, and I loved taking photos of what I made. My sister suggested I put up the recipes and photos in a blog, which sounded like a better idea than just hoarding hideous photos on Microsoft. I was so completely intimidated by the beautiful blogs I was reading at the time, I thought my blog would be a clumsy failure full of silly writing and hopeless photos. And guess what, it was! (Example 1: my first post…)

But over time I think (I hope!) I’ve gotten a little better at it. The recipes I put up now reflect the food I love to make and eat, and the photos, although looking nothing like how I dream of being able to photograph one day, are in their own clunky way prettier. It makes me happy knowing that people read what I write and actually try out the recipes. Even though it’s not why I started, and it’s not why I continue to work hard on this space, it’s nice knowing there’s a little audience out there. I’m so thankful that you all exist! All the comments I get and emails bring a smile to my face 🙂

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 I thought for this momentous day I would share a few of the blogs that inspired my to start (most of them you’ve all probably heard of) and also a few of the blogs that inspire me to keep going. Undoubtably the two blogs that sparked a love of photography and baking, and continue to inspire me daily, are Poires au Chocolat and Raspberri Cupcakes. There’s not a doubt in my mind that I wouldn’t have started blogging if not for these two. Even today when people ask me for what blogs I think stand out, with the multitude of professional photographers and chefs setting up their own sites, I first think of these two. 

As my blog has developed it’s own taste and taken a turn for the healthy, 101 Cookbooks, Sprouted Kitchen and of course Smitten Kitchen have become my staple weekly reads, that I check probably more regularly than my university emails, unfortunately. 

And as for the new blogs I’ve discovered, the lovely Josefine at Smoothie Lover, Consuelo’s Honey and Figs, and the beautiful To Her Core, constantly put up amazing recipes that I always, ALWAYS want to eat. Their posts are always so beautiful and healthy I’m so happy to have discovered them. 

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 I had a lot of ideas for what kind of cake to make for this day, but in the end I decided against a big celebratory layer cake or tart. I wanted to make something that represented exactly what my blog would taste like if it was a cake. And I’m pretty sure I got it right! 

This cake is so yummy. It’s so moist and rich. The syrup soaks down and keeps the cake moist for ever, and the topping is crunchy and tangy from the rhubarb and raw sugar. We ate this with ice cream for afternoon tea, but it could work for any special occasion really. And the recipe is inspired by a woman’s weekly recipe, just like that very first plum cake I made on my first post. 

So Happy Birthday Sugar and Cinnamon! And Happy Easter to all of you. If you’re reading this now, just know that if I could I would give you a big slice of cake with a scoop of ice cream on it xxx

One Year Ago: Healthy Date and Walnut Balls

Image Vanilla and Cinnamon Rhubarb Cake Adapted from Women’s Weekly

185g (1.45 cups) butter, softened

150g (2/3 cup) caster sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

1 tbsp orange zest, from about 2 oranges

1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk or yogurt

150g  (1 cup) self-raising flour (or 1 cup almond meal for gluten free- will be slightly denser but still great)

80g (1/2 cup) ground almonds or semolina

1/5 tsp cinnamon

200g (1.8 cups) rhubarb, cut into 3cm pieces

1 tbsp raw sugar

For the Syrup:

1 cup (250ml) orange juice

110g (1/2 cup) caster sugar

125ml (1/2 cup) water

11g (1 cup) rhubarb, cut into pieces

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Preheat the oven to 180C (350F) and line a 20cm (8 inch) cake pan with baking paper. Beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the orange zest, followed by each egg, beating in one at a time slowly so the mix doesn’t split. Once combined, mix in the flours and cinnamon gently, and the buttermilk until just combined. 

Smooth into the cake tin and top with the rhubarb and raw sugar. Bake for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a skewer comes out clean. 

Meanwhile make the syrup. Combine all the ingredients and cook in a small saucepan over a low heat until the rhubarb has dissolved (you can strain it if you want a smoother syrup). Cook for about ten minutes to reduce it, then pour half over the hot cake and reserve the rest for pouring over pieces when you serve it. Eat with ice cream!

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Vanilla Bean and Coconut Scones with Rhubarb Compote

Vegan! Dairy and Egg Free

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 I’m doing the 30 day vegan challenge everybody! I’m quite excited. I’ll admit, this morning when I got up and made breakfast I did spend quite a while just standing in front of the fridge debating if yogurt was really, truly not vegan. I mean, it’s already in the fridge right. The cow doesn’t want it back. But NOT YOUR MUM NOT YOUR MILK am I right?!?!

So I made oatmeal with almond milk and figs. Pretty good start hey? If I do say so myself. For the blog I actually make a lot of vegan stuff. The most popular by a mile being Vegan Banana Bread, which somehow tastes better than normal banana bread and is somehow also sugar free and wholemeal (miracle bread). But in real life I eat lactose-free yogurt basically every day and more eggs than is probably necessary or normal. 

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 I’ve been a vegetarian for four years now (another five previously as well) and I have an embarrassing habit of tearing up at stupid vegetarian things like when people talk about fois gras or veal meatballs. I cried in Marley and Me, I can say it. At the beginning. When he had to say goodbye to his little baby brothers and sisters (so, sooo sad). Animals are friends! Not food, so it’s probably time I take that a little more seriously. (Although I can’t see myself stopping eating honey. Bees probably love it when we take their honey). 

This morning to celebrate the beginning of the challenge I made vegan scones! Scones are kind of the best thing ever, especially with jam and cream. But they’re often made with cream, buttermilk, eggs or both! So at first I didn’t really know how to approach making them. And then inspiration struck!

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 Coconut! I followed a regular scone recipe, subbing in coconut butter and coconut cream for the diary versions. I also added the seeds from a vanilla bean because coconut and vanilla are a match made in heaven. I was pretty nervous while they were baking. Would they turn out really crumbly and weird? Who knows! And I forgot to glaze them so I was expecting them to be super ugly as well. But when I ate one, slathered in sweet and tangy vanilla rhubarb compote. Oh my God. 

They were so good! Crunchy on the outside, fluffy and soft on the inside, warm and coconut scented and vanilla flecked deliciousness. Rhubarb and raw sugar with the seedless vanilla beans made the easiest and tastiest compote I’ve ever tried. The scones didn’t even need extra coconut cream, which I had at the ready. That’s how good they were! 

I can’t even express how happy I was with these scones. I even gave them to my mum’s very sceptical non-vegan friend, and she said they were ‘divine’! Do the 30 day challenge with me! And if you can’t be bothered to go the whole 30 days, at least make these scones. You know you want to. 

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 Vegan Coconut and Vanilla Bean Scones: Adapted from Marian Kayes Saved by Cake

265g (1.6 cups) plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

Seeds of 1 vanilla bean, scraped out

65g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

100g (3.5 ounces) coconut butter, cut into cubes

180ml (3/4 cup) coconut cream, stirred well

Almond milk, for brushing
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Preheat the oven to 220C (428F) and line a large baking tray with baking paper. In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together well. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla seeds. Use a knife to ‘cut’ in the coconut butter to form a sandy, breadcrumb-like texture. Slowly pour in the coconut cream, continuing to cut with the knife until well combined.

Turn onto a floured board and knead very lightly, just enough to combine the ingredients into a dough. Press down to about an inch thick and use a cup or scone cutter to cut into even rounds. Don’t twist the cup to separate the scones, just press straight down or they won’t rise properly. Brush with almond milk and bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden. 

Top with the rhubarb compote: 1 small bunch rhubarb poached in half a cup of water with 100g (1/2 cup) raw sugar and the leftover vanilla bean. Cook on low heat for 10-20 minutes until soft and sticky. Makes 8-12 scones

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Mango and Vanilla Honey Yogurt Tart

Gluten Free, Sugar Free, optional Vegan and Raw Image

 It’s my first official week of summer holidays today! I’m planning on getting my tan awn. As soon as it stops raining. I completed my final exam in style last Saturday, arriving at the wrong venue and having to take my shoes off and sprint the half hour walk to the correct building. By the time I got there, pouring with sweat and with feet covered in road dirt, I didn’t even care what the exam was on. It was kind of a good study method actually because I think the adrenalin made me write in overdrive. In any means I finished early for the first time in my life, with absolutely no memory of what the question even asked….I’m going to take that as a good sign. 

As you can see I continue to ride on the mango train. How long will it last? As long as mango season lasts. Will it be beautiful? Yes it will. Might it get ugly? Possibly. Depending on whether my self control stops me from inhaling every mango in the house in one day. I made this mango tart on a morning that was positively miserable! It was raining, it was dark, and it did not feel like late Spring. I made it because I wanted to make something yellow and summery, and what’s better than mango and creamy yogurt in a delicious fresh tart form? Nothing!

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Hopefully the weather will clear up soon because my birthday is coming up, and I want to go to the beach to celebrate! Plus, spending the rest of summer in Europe is going to leave me so pale I’ll be named upon return the brown-haired albino. I’m so excited! I bought some thermals and a coat the other day! All I need now are socks and about forty more warm items of clothing. I figure this winter in Australia was rather balmy. Does that mean that this years European winter will be balmy? I’m hoping so! (I live in a world of delusion). 

When the weather finally does clear up, this tart is pretty perfect for taking outdoors to picnics and barbecues. It shouldn’t stay out of the fridge too long, but would be fine in a cold esky for a couple hours. It’s so creamy and fresh, and you can pretty well top it with any fruit you like. I chose mango because I love mango and it holds its shape well, but you could use berries, stone fruit, banana, anything really. I was completely inspired to make a tart like this after seeing My Darling Lemon Thyme’s Yogurt and Berry Tart the other day. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before, but this blog is probably in my top five favourite blogs of all time. Every post sounds so fresh and healthy, I just want to climb through the screen and eat it. And the writing is beautiful and so honest as well! It’s so inspiring. 

Image I haven’t made a full-sized tart like this in ages! Maybe not ever on this space. Mini tarts like the lavender and lemon tarts I made for a birthday picnic are great for sharing, but it’s nice to have something substantial to cut and serve around as well. The base is made out of orange-soaked sultanas and walnuts, and the orange imparts the most delicious flavour into the dried fruit. I’m so glad I tried it! The yogurt is sweetened with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon which worked really well with the fresh mango. 

I love fresh fruit desserts in summer like these because they leave you feeling light and satisfied instead of heavy and sleepy. For a vegan version you could substitute whipped coconut cream or even cashew cream. That would also make it completely raw! The ingredients in this tart look more like a breakfast bowl than a dessert, and I definitely recommend making the switch at meal-times! It’s perfect for a simple birthday dinner, or even a mid-week treat. Try whatever combination you like best 🙂

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Mango and Vanilla Yogurt Tart: Inspired from here

1/2 cup sultanas soaked in the juice of 1 orange

1.5 cups walnuts or mixed nutes

450g yogurt, hung (instruction follows)

3 tablespoons runny honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 fresh and ripe mango

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For the yogurt: Place the yogurt in a tea towel draped over a fine sieve. Place the sieve over a bowl and put in the refrigerator to drain for 2-3 hours, until thick. Stir in the cinnamon and honey and set aside. 

Line a 20cm tin with paper or plastic wrap, for easy removal. Soak the sultanas in orange juice for 20 minutes to half an hour before starting. Blend up the walnuts and the drained sultanas until they form a thick paste. Use your fingers to press the paste into the tin and form a tart shell. Put in the freezer until ready to assemble. 

Cut the mango in to slices and spread the yogurt over the tart shell. Arrange the mango before serving time and keep in the fridge until ready to eat. Serves 7-8 people. 

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Banana, Vanilla and Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt

Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free and Low Fat

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Guess what the temperature is. Just guess. It’s 31C! That’s 90F! Not that hot you protest? It’s only ten in the morning! Bluuugh. All I want to do today is join my dog lying down on the cool tiles, occasionally dipping my entire head and feet mournfully into my water bowl. Well I might leave the water bowl to him, but he is making it look so tempting. 

Having a desserts blog and living in Australia can make you feel very out of sync at times, especially at the change of seasons. Every picture in my blog roll is full of pumpkin spice cakes and fruit hand pies and donuts. People! What is with all the donuts! Five minutes ago you couldn’t turn around without being assaulted with a photo of a popsicle stick and now it seems deep-fried sugar encrusted cake is taking over the world? Well when I put it like that, it makes sense. It makes a lot of donutty sense actually. I keep picturing Homer Simpson drooling and saying “Mmmmm dooonuuuts”. 

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 Today was meant to be my first mango recipe of the summer. (My first mango recipe ever!) It was going to be a refreshing sorbet perfect for this stinky weather but…I ate all the mangos. Mangos are just one of those fruits that don’t need to be messed with to taste better. They’re not like apples, which literally transform when you bake them. They’re an entire meal in themselves. I feel bad even adding yogurt to cut up mango at breakfast time if it’s perfectly ripe and juicy. So I ate them all! And I’m sorry. I promise mango will soon adorn these walls very soon.

Instead the banana war continues. I mentioned recently the overload of bananas filling the freezer, numbered at the moment around twenty. That’s right. It’s gone up. Banana makes a great instant sorbet as lots of people know, especially if you add cocoa powder or chocolate chips! But I’ve never tried it in a frozen yogurt recipe before. 

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 To bring out the banana flavour and give some depth to the frozen yogurt I added some cinnamon and vanilla extract, as well as a scoop of honey. I wasn’t expecting much, not even enough to post about. You can’t really bake frozen bananas so I couldn’t caramelise them or anything fancy to ramp up the flavour.

But I was so wrong. One bite of this and I realised I should never underestimate the power of the banana again. It’s so creamy! Please, don’t be tempted to ruin this with super fat reduced yogurt, save that for your smoothies and instant banana froyo!  Low fat yogurt freezes as hard as a rock and tastes bland as well. I’ve talked about it when I made berry and honey frozen yogurt, and also lemon curd frozen yogurt. You can use 2%, just take it out of the freezer before you want to eat it and let it soften. Or eat it within two hours of putting it in the freezer. 

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 The best yogurt to use though is full fat natural yogurt. I really hate the way homemade ice creams and sorbets freeze so much harder than store-bought. I made a chocolate ice cream last week that was so amazingly soft even straight from the freezer because of a rich and silky custard base. But sorbets can be quite tricky!

I did some research this week and discovered that most store-bought ice creams and sorbets contain anti-freeze to keep them soft. Oh my gosh. It’s “green” antifreeze which is apparently ok for animals and humans, but seeing as no research has confirmed that yet…I think I’ll stick to homemade from now on. I did discover something hopeful though! On the back of the best mango sorbet tub ever the ingredients listed were water, sugar, fruit, the usual subjects, and…glucose syrup! None of the other ingredients looked like they might be there as a softener, could glucose syrup be the answer we’ve been looking for?!?!? This summer we will find out.

You can add more or less honey depending on your preferences with this recipe. Use spotty bananas that are fully ripe, but not those blackening bananas that should be saved for breads and muffins. If the bananas are too ripe their flavour will be really overpowering. Similar with the yogurt, try to find one with a medium flavour rather than super strong and tangy. Bananas actually have a tangy note to them if you’ve ever noticed and the yogurt can accentuate it in a strange way. 

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Banana, Vanilla and Cinnamon Frozen Yogurt:

500g (1 pound, 17.5 ounces, 2 cups) natural yogurt

300g (2-3 medium, 1 cup blended) bananas, frozen or fresh

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tablespoon- 3 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

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 Method:

Blend the bananas with the honey, vanilla and cinnamon until completely pureed. Slowly add in the yogurt, blending until smooth. Allow the mixture to cool in the fridge for as long as possible. Overnight is ideal. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to instructions.

For no ice cream maker, never fear! Pour the mixture straight into the tub and put in the freezer. Every 30 minutes or so, take out and stir completely with a fork, breaking up any clumps. Do this until completely frozen. You can also do this by blending it a few times during the freezing process. For instant ice cream love, you can freeze it until just solid and eat it when it’s still creamy. 

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Strawberry and Vanilla Bean Jam

Vegan and Gluten free

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 When I tasted this jam I literally stopped dead in my tracks with surprise. It has the fruitiest, sweetest flavoured strawberry taste of any jam I’ve ever tried. And the fragrance of the whole vanilla bean! Mercy. Sorry to be so blunt but I need you to understand! It’s so. Delicious.  

Before yesterday I was so scared of making strawberry jam. It’s like the macaron of the cookie world. Or the croquembouche tower of the donut world. Basically it’s really hard to get right, because there’s barely any natural pectin in strawberries, and barely any acidity. So to get the jam to set is a tall task indeed. But strawberries are so cheap at the moment and strawberry jam is so damn yummy! I really wanted to try. I wasn’t even going to post about it (hence the very unpleasing photography) but it came out tasting so heavenly I couldn’t not share it. 

I relied on my trusty friends pectin and lemon to get this jam to set. Confession time! The first time around it actually didn’t set at all. There’s nothing sadder than bottling eight jars of jam, and realising not one of them has actually turned into real jam at all. 
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But there is a simple solution for all your wobbly jam woes. It’s a little messy, but it’s sure better than starting again! Unlike when I made Sweet Plum Jam, which barely needed any attention at all to do it’s thing, strawberry jam needs lots of love and attention. It needs to come to a “rolling boil” for at least one minute to set. It needs the right amounts of sugar, acid and pectin to set. It needs to simmer at a low enough heat for long enough to set. If you don’t get it to set the first time, don’t worry. I don’t think any person in the world has got it to set the very first time. 

If you find the jam is still runny once jarred, Pour it through a sieve back in to a pot, reserving the chunks in a bowl so that you can keep the texture. Add another half a lemon and teaspoon of pectin to the jam and repeat the boiling and simmering process again. It might not firm up into a perfect jelly consistency like Orange and Cinnamon Marmalade will, but it will be thick and delicious spread on toast anyway. And the flavour won’t be too affected by the small amount of pectin too. If you want you can try using jam sugar, but I’ve never used it so wouldn’t know how well it works. 

I like to eat this jam on toast for breakfast, but it’s also great with greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream. It would make a great base for chocolate mousse pots or even strawberry tarts, or as the filling for a jam scroll. Or you know, you could just eat it from the jar, which is what I just did.  

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Strawberry and Vanilla Jam: inspired/adapted from Poires au Chocolat and Lebovitz’ Ready for Dessert recipes:
1.25 kilograms (2.75 pounds) strawberries, hulled (about 1.5 kilos or 3.3 pounds unhulled)

750g (3 3/4 cups) white sugar + 3-4g (heaped teaspoon) pectin (or jam sugar with added pectin)

1 whole vanilla bean, split with seeds scraped out

1 whole lemon, juiced

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Hull, wash and cut your strawberries into small chunks. Stir in a large pot with the lemon juice and sugar and leave to macerate for at least an hour with the vanilla bean and seeds mixed in. Once juicy, place over a medium-high heat and bring to a high boil. Allow the jam to boil, stirring occasionally, for at least a minute. Place a small plate in the freezer at this point. Reduce heat to a simmer and continue to cook for at first ten minutes, then take a small scoop and put it on your chilled plate. Return to the freezer for two or three minutes. Take it out and run your finger through it. If the jam wrinkles, it’s ready. Repeat this process until you have the right consistency. Pour the hot jam in your sterilised jars and leave to cool. The jam will last up to six months stored this way. 

To sterilise jars: Wash well in the dishwasher or in hot soapy water. Heat the oven to 100C or 212F and place the jars on an oven sheet. Leave the jars to dry out in the oven before bottling. Hold them in a tea towel because they’ll be super hot.IMG_6750