Posts Tagged With: vegan

Othello Biscuits

Sadly, my grandad’s recently been moved into a care home and my parents are in the process of clearing out his house. Among the vast array of things unearthed, they found two big cardboard boxes full of recipe clippings from ancient magazines belonging to my late gran, who passed away in 2008.

Looking through these little relics of cooking times past has been an interesting and touching experience. It might sound silly but rifling through them made me feel closer to her and remembering the way she hoarded anything and everything to stop it from going to waste made me smile. Although hanging on to gargantuan stacks of old envelopes and keeping used individual butter wrappers to use to grease cake tins is a little extreme, I admire the way that she and her frugal generation in general were so much more scrupulous about waste than we are nowadays. As a recycling enthusiast who hates to throw things away unnecessarily, it’s quite inspiring.

Anyway, to get on track to the main point of this post: among Granny Emily’s varied collection of magazine snippets was a recipe from the 1970s for so-called ‘Othello’ biscuits which caught my eye. They’re mostly just oats, butter, sugar and cocoa powder but I love oaty things and thought they sounded tasty so I was keen to give them a go.

The unusual name added to their allure until I then twigged that it is of course a racist nod to the titular character of the Shakespeare play of the same name due to their dark colour – this certainly wouldn’t be an acceptable name for cookies nowadays but things were a lot less politically correct back then! Anyhow, despite their dodgy nomenclature, I’m pleased to say that they’re scrumptious…and quite addictive.

However, considering we are not even halfway through January, I don’t want to ignore the talk in my previous post about trying out healthier recipes. While eating one of these biscuits hardly carries the same calorific consequences as a giant doorstop of cake, I still wanted to have a go at removing, or at least cutting down, the amount of fat and refined sugar used. Therefore, I tweaked the original recipe and came up with a lighter version that contains no refined sugar and only a small amount of fat. Admittedly, they are very slightly drier than their full fat counterparts but the cheeky drizzle of chocolate on the top compensates for this and gives them a delicious edge without adding too much in the way of naughtiness. I also threw in a bit of spice which I think really complements the flavour. They make an ideal snack as they’re quite filling; even I stopped after nomming just one and that’s usually unheard of for me!

This version can easily be made vegan and/or dairy free with a few simple substitutions, which I’ve suggested below.

20160110_162610Original batch pictured on the left and healthier version on the right 🙂

ORIGINAL OTHELLO BISCUITS (this is the original 1970s recipe but I’m unable to give credit as I don’t know which magazine it’s from, sorry!)

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 10 biscuits

  • 4 oz porridge oats
  • 2 oz margarine
  • 3 oz brown sugar
  • 0.5 oz cocoa powder
  • 0.5 oz plain flour
  • 0.25 tsp baking powder
  • 1 dessertspoon cold water

METHOD

  1. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder into a bowl, stir in the oats.
  2. Add the margarine and, using the fingertips only, rub it in until the fat is evenly distributed.
  3. Stir in the sugar then add the water and knead the ingredients to a firm dough.
  4. Here, the original recipe tells you to roll out the dough with a rolling pin and stamp out circles but to be honest it’s far too sticky to do this so I’d suggest pulling off ping pong sized balls of it and flattening them with wet palms before placing them on a rectangular baking tray lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake the biscuits on the centre shelf of a fairly cool oven, gas mark 3 or 325 degrees F (160 degrees C), for about 15 minutes until they are firm to touch.
  6. Transfer them to a wire tray to cool and become crisp.

LOW FAT & REFINED SUGAR FREE OTHELLO BISCUITS

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 20 biscuits

  • 225g/8 oz porridge oats
  • 2 tbsp almond (or peanut) butter
  • 2 tbsp olive spread (or soya spread to make them vegan/dairy free), softened
  • 5 tbsp honey (or maple/agave syrup to make them vegan)
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 0.5 tsp ginger
  • 30g/1 oz cocoa powder
  • 30g/1 oz plain flour
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 100g/3.5 oz dark chocolate (the higher the cocoa content, the better), chopped

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees C (or 150 fan) and line a large rectangular baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Place all the ingredients apart from the chocolate into a large mixing bowl and mix together with a wooden spoon and then your fingers until a sticky dough forms. If it’s too dry, add a little more water and if it’s too sticky, add a bit more flour.
  3. Pull off ping pong sized balls of dough and flatten them with wet hands, then place onto the baking tray.
  4. Pop in the oven and bake for around 10-15 minutes or until they feel slightly firm to the touch (they’ll crisp up as they cool) and then leave too cool on a wire rack.
  5. When the biscuits have cooled, place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and microwave on a medium heat in blasts of 1 minute until completely melted, then drizzle over the biscuits using a teaspoon.
  6. Allow to set before scoffing, preferably with a cuppa.
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Categories: Biscuits/Cookies, Chocolate, Healthier, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Virtuous Fruity Porridge Bars & Sinful Nutella Porridge Bars

Okay, let’s start with the healthy version. I’m often guilty of running late for work in the morning but I really don’t like to rely on sugary and unsatisfying cereal bars for a super quick breakfast.  As cereal or toast isn’t exactly the most practical thing to try and make at my desk, I wanted to try and make some homemade alternatives that are a bit more wholesome and virtuous than store bought on-the-go snacks.

These fruity bars contain no refined sugar and are adapted from a recipe I came across for blueberry porridge squares as part of a guest post on Deliciously Ella’s website. I decided to incorporate apples and raisins as these are two things I currently have in abundance at home (thanks, in part, to the final glut from my scrumping adventures as mentioned in my previous two posts!), but you could use pretty much any fruit you like, dried or otherwise. Dried cranberries also work well and I can imagine dried apricots, either straight out the packet or rehydrated, would be delicious too. You could also add chopped nuts to add a bit of a crunch.

These bars are a revelation in that they really do taste like porridge, despite the lack of conventional bowl and spoon! They’re not crispy and chewy like a flapjack but rather divinely squidgy and filling – perfect to keep you going until lunchtime (or at least elevenses…)

And now to mention their dark and sinful counterpart. My other half has been very poorly recently and he mentioned that he loves porridge with a cheeky dollop of Nutella in it so this was the perfect opportunity to adapt the recipe further and transform it into a no-holds-barred sugary, chocolatey, indulgent treat. This version certainly does not share its fruity cousin’s status as a healthy option but it’s so, so good and dangerously moreish! I’ve included both recipes below for you to choose depending on how virtuous or decadent you’re feeling.

The fruity bars can easily be made vegan friendly and/or dairy free with a few minor adjustments, which I’ve suggested below.

20151123_190618I added some mixed nuts to this batch of fruity ones 🙂

20160325_151756.jpgI made the original batch of Nutella ones in a round cake tin as I was at my other half’s and he doesn’t have the recommended rectangular tray!

INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 12 bars

For the fruity porridge bars:

  • 300g oats
  • 225g eating apples
  • 100g raisins
  • 100ml honey (or maple/agave syrup to make it vegan)
  • 225ml milk (or oat/soya/almond milk to make it vegan/dairy free)
  • 3 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp water

For the Nutella porridge bars:

  • 300g oats
  • 2 heaped tbsp Nutella or other chocolate & hazelnut spread
  • 100g dark chocolate chips
  • 100ml golden syrup
  • 225ml milk
  • 2 tsp vanillla extract

METHOD

For the fruity porridge bars:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C (or 160 fan) and line a rectangular cake tin with baking parchment.
  2. Peel and core the apples and chop roughly into chunks no bigger than a 50p piece.
  3. Place them in a saucepan along with the lemon juice, water and 2 teaspoons of cinnamon and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for around 5-7 minutes, or until the apple pieces are soft and squashable. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Pour the oats into a large mixing bowl, then add the apple mixture, raisins, honey, milk, vanilla extract and the final teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir until combined.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake tin then pop in the oven and bake for around 20 minutes, or until the mixture feels fairly firm to the touch.
  6. Allow to cool and slice into bars with a sharp knife.

For the Nutella porridge bars:

Follow the recipe as above but omit steps 2 and 3 and add the Nutella, syrup and chocolate chips in place of the fruit, honey and cinnamon in step 4.

20160325_151627Oozing patches of Nutella – what could be better?!

Categories: Healthier, Other Treats, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Healthy No-Bake Choco-Date Bars

I went to the Foodies Festival at Alexandra Palace the other week with my other half as an early birthday present for him and we had a wonderful day, despite the blazing heat (made even better by the fact that we got the tickets half price through Groupon!) We saw some fantastic cooking demonstrations, ate lots of free samples and bought lots of goodies! A definite highlight for me was the ‘Embrace the Cake’ stall where I had the most incredible raw, vegan, no-bake pecan pie. It was so delicious that I couldn’t believe it was free from refined sugar and made from only healthy, natural ingredients – mostly ground nuts, dates and coconut oil if I remember correctly. The other sin-free treats on offer looked similarly mouth-watering, including apricot crumble, coconut balls, lemon slices, ‘rawreos’ (raw Oreo cookies) and gingerbread balls.

I’m also a huge fan of Nakd bars, which are similarly raw and vegan friendly with no refined sugar (unlike most cereal bars which claim to be healthy but are in fact teeth-rottingly sweet!), and I have been eating an obscene amount of them recently, especially the cocoa ones. Feeling inspired, I decided to have a go at making some healthy no-bake treats myself and the results are these absolutely scrumptious, gooey and chocolatey-tasting date bars 🙂 This recipe was also the perfect excuse to try out the Beloved date nectar that I bought from the festival, which is a gorgeously sweet alternative to sugar, made from nothing but smooshed dates. If you don’t have this, simply replace it with a second tablespoon of honey, or use maple or agave syrup instead.

I used honey and milk in my recipe here but I realise these aren’t vegan ingredients, so I’ve given suggestions for replacements below if you want to make the bars completely free from animal products.

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INGREDIENTS – makes approx. 16 bars

  • 250g unsalted cashew nuts
  • 220g dried dates
  • 1 tbsp date nectar
  • 1 tbsp honey (or maple/agave syrup to make it vegan)
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 tbsp skimmed milk (or almond/soya milk to make it vegan/dairy free)
  • Handful of flaked almonds, to decorate
  • Handful of raisins, to decorate

METHOD

  1. Line a rectangular baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Finely chop the cashew nuts or blitz them with a food processor depending on how fine you want them and place in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Roughly chop the dates then add them to the bowl along with the date nectar, honey, cocoa powder, oats, vanilla extract and milk.
  4. Blend the mixture together using a stick blender or food processor until it has a smooth, mushy consistency.
  5. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking tin and press down with your fingers or a rubber spatula, then top with the flaked almonds and raisins.
  6. Leave to set in the fridge for at least 4 hours then cut into bars with a sharp knife.
Categories: Healthier, No-Bake, Raw/Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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