Picnic Slice

Picnic Slice basically lives up to its name, a perfectly portable treat to slip into your picnic basket for days out. Naturally gluten-free by eschewing all flour and focusing on its coconut macaroon-like tendencies, these are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

When the weather is good, the inclination to picnic is ever so tempting. I have romantic notions of a tartan rug strewn politely across lush grass, an iced bucket housing a chilling fizz, bountiful strawberries, an array of carefully curated salads fresh with herbs and leaves. Perhaps a roasted chicken takes centre stage, with carefully carved slices fanned out on delicate china. I might have been influenced by a little too much Merchant Ivory.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

The reality of picnics of course, especially in the UK, is laughably different. First off, if you are not dissuaded by the ominous clouds which will no doubt appear as soon as the magic words of picnic are uttered then really you’ve won half the battle. But there are also other little reminders of reality that can dispel your dreamy idyll.

• The rug is always forgotten, meaning a damp bum is inevitable.
• Picnic tables are a much better bet but if you find a free one on a particularly sunny day then it’s probably because it’s covered in bird poo.
• Cutlery always seems an afterthought, I usually end up eating my picnic with Cole’s plastic spoons having been unable to cobble together anything more civilised for the adults.
• There are no highchairs so toddlers are fully able to leap down off picnic benches without eating anything more than a chocolate biscuit and run off to chase the nearest squirrel.
• Or if you’re on the ground the same toddler will happily launch themselves across the rug towards the crisps, splattering houmous everywhere and squashing the sausage rolls.
• Plus on a slightly more personal bugbear picnics are just a little more of a bother if you’re gluten-free since you can’t just throw together an acceptable ham sandwich or do an M&S sweep of mini samosas and pork pies. Usually more time in the kitchen is in order which really puts the kibosh on impromptu picnic experiences.
• And if you really want to quibble with these lazy hazy summer days then fizz in the sun is the surest way to serve up hangovers to accompany the journey home.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

Still we soldier on as visiting National Trust properties or a day trip to the zoo just isn’t the same without a picnic break. With our picnics I usually keep it simple with my standard Coronation Chicken Salad and of course a generous helping of cake.

I love a portable cake, something you can wrap in foil, tuck into a coolbag and it still look the business when you unwrap it a couple of hours later.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

I found this recipe for Picnic Slice in an absolute gem of a cookbook called The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes. It was given to me as a secret santa gift a million years ago and it has an absolute treasure trove of quick, easy homestyle bakes that can be slammed together in no time. When leafing through it the other day for something fun and easy to make that Cole could get involved with this Picnic Slice caught my eye. I loved the name and was thrilled when I saw that the recipe contained no flour whatsoever so is the perfect naturally gluten-free bake. Although as I write this I can see my fatal error as I didn’t actually cut the cake into slices but bars instead. I’m sure no one will notice.

The finished result was a little bit like a glorified coconut macaroon but with more nuts and dried fruit going on. I added pistachios to the original recipe which was definitely a good idea. It is also pretty excellent for showing off your Homemade Glacé Cherries should you be so inclined. Usually Cole can get a little bored by baking with mummy but the thrill of plucking the odd pistachio and glace cherry out of the bowl kept him entertained the whole time.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

It was an odd recipe though, requiring you to pour the melted chocolate into the bottom of the cake tin, then dollop the coconut batter on top before baking it in the oven. Usually I wouldn’t put my melted chocolate back in the oven as it messes around with the temper of the chocolate too much and would lead to white streaks across a dull surface. This did kind of happen, especially after I chilled it in the fridge afterwards which I would definitely recommend so they retain a better structure. Plus they are pretty yummy cold.

I debated over changing the method slightly so the melted chocolate is drizzled over after the coconut layer has been baked but I did love the way that the chocolate wraps around and sort of soaks into the coconut layer beneath in the original recipe. Plus if you scatter across enough accoutrements over the surface of the Picnic Slice then the slightly streaky chocolate beneath isn’t a problem.

Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.

So here’s to the next picnic, of which our tried and tested Picnic Slice will definitely be a part of. Now we just have to hope for clear skies, a free clean table and a compliant toddler. At least the Picnic Slice doesn’t require cutlery.

Print Recipe
Picnic Slice
Naturally gluten-free, these treats are light, packed with fruit and nuts and covered in plenty of chocolate.
Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings
12 slices
Ingredients
  • 225 g dark chocolate
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 100 g unsalted butter room temperature
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 100 g desiccated coconut + 1 tablespoon for decoration
  • 75 g pistachios roughly chopped (+ a few roughly chopped for decoration)
  • 75 g sultanas
  • 75 g glace cherries roughly chopped (+ a few roughly for decoration)
Picnic Slice - gluten-free and packed with coconut, pistachios, and glace cherries covered with melted chocolate.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150°C and line and grease an 8 inch square cake tin.
  2. Melt the chocolate with the salt in a bain marie or a glass bowl sitting over simmering water then pour into the bottom of the cake tin. Leave to rest whilst you prepare the batter.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined.
  5. Then tip in the coconut, pistachios, sultanas, cherries and again beat until the batter has come together.
  6. Pour the batter evenly over the chocolate.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Leave the Picnic Slice in the tin for 10 minutes to set a little then carefully remove, turn upside down so the chocolate is on the top and set onto a wire rack.
  9. Scatter the extra pistachios, coconut and cherries over the top then leave to cool to room temperature.
  10. Store the Picnic Slice in the for at least 4 hours to completely chill before cutting into bars.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from The Classic 1000 Cake and Bake Recipes, by Wendy Hobson

I see they still stock Wendy Hobson’s Classic 1000 Cake & Bake Recipes book on Amazon which I would really recommend, there are few pictures but lots of little recipes that are so perfect to whip up for bake sales, take to pot lucks or school fetes.

I have had this Master Class Non-Stick Deep Square Cake Tin for years and it’s always served me really well. It has a loose base so ideal for removing more delicate bakes from the tin like this Picnic Slice which doesn’t really properly set until cool. I also use it for all my brownies for the same reason.

The images above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these link to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. It’s just a way for me to fund my shopping list so if you do click through then many thanks!!

Coconut Lime Energy Balls

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

Billy Buddy is on strict bed rest for two months. We’ve been through this before a couple of years ago when he tore his cruciate ligament on his left leg and it was hard enough then. Looking back though I was being a complete drama queen about it. It couldn’t have been a better time to care for a sick dog, I was in the late stages of pregnancy so had all the time in the world to sit on the sofa with my poorly dog, encourage him to eat, drink, go to the loo, take his medication and watch re-runs of Jamie’s Fifteen Minute Meals with me.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

This time round, having torn his right cruciate this time, both Billy Buddy and I don’t have the same luxury of leisure. Since I’m keeping a main eye on a danger driven toddler I can’t afford to worry about Billy as well so he’s been resting in his crate most of the time, which to be honest is where the vet says he should be. Cole doesn’t quite appreciate our furry patient’s predicament though and keeps trying to shake the crate to smoke his best friend out or stick his little toy wooden bus through the bars for Billy Buddy to play with, dropping it unceremoniously on his head. Yesterday when we were getting our coats and scarfs on for our afternoon walk Cole dutifully fetched Billy’s lead and brought it to his crate. All three of us were very sad that the lead was put back. Not all of us threw a heaving tantrum though and had to be pulled out of the house kicking and screaming. Sorry Cole, I’ll behave better next time.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar at all, refined, fruit or fake.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar at all, refined, fruit or fake.

Strict bed rest means Billy Buddy is not allowed to run, jump or be left alone with any type of furniture where this might be an option. Basically he’s not allowed to be a dog which is causing a bit of an identity crisis. We tried for years to convince him he wasn’t a cat and now we’re trying to tell him to be more like his lazy feline housemates who love nothing better to be left alone to snooze all day.

Billy Buddy

But the real kicker is that Billy has to wear the cone of gloom, when all he really wants to do is itch and scratch the stitches in his leg. Earlier today it took him a good few attempts before he worked out how to pick up one of his toys with this monstrosity around his neck. He proceeded to throw Stick Man up in the air with glee, only to lose his balance, land on his bad leg, have his toy taken away and was then relegated back to his crate. Albeit with a bit of tripe, although only a small bit as since he’s not getting any exercise Billy is also not allowed to eat very much. I know, it gets worse. Well, we’re one week down, only seven more to go. How many is that in dog weeks?

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

So what with my Florence Nightingale routine, vet appointments, hourly toddler life saving and my cake stall having resumed my meals are not as regular as I keep promising myself they will be. Organised food is such a bother. So I’ve turned to snacking.

Now, I could quite happily snack on cake all day long. Believe me there is enough hanging around the house all the time since recipe testing is my favourite pasttime. However, I’m struggling with all the sugar crashes, let alone the extra few pounds. So I wanted to create a snack that could be incorporated as part of my Sunday meal prep, would last all week, had loads of protein and no sugar. Not even dates, coconut sugar, honey or brown rice syrup.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

So these Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the end result and they are brilliant. I based them on Bounce Balls, which I love but are nearly £2 per ball. My balls are so much cheaper to make, about 30p per ball if my maths is right, which it never is I am dreadful at sums.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

There is sweetness here though, despite the lack of sugar. Coconut is naturally sweet and there is a hint of vanilla here to amp it up a bit. The combination of coconut and lime is ever glorious and the vitality of the citrus saves these balls from being too heavy what with the protein richness of all the cashews and hemp.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.I am really loving these balls and not to brag but they are also vegan, gluten-free and paleo. They are giving me bags of much needed energy and I’m just trying not to eat too many of them in front of Billy who just looks at me balefully through his prison walls longing for treats. Only seven weeks to go my friend. Here, watch me eat another ball.

These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

Print Recipe
Coconut Lime Energy Balls {vegan, gluten-free, paleo, sugar-free}
The perfect snack for when you need an energy boost. There is no sugar at all, refined, fruit or fake.
These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
15 balls
Ingredients
  • 150 g cashew nuts
  • 150 g unsweetened desiccated coconut + 50g extra for rolling
  • 50 g sesame seeds
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Prep Time 15 minutes
Servings
15 balls
Ingredients
  • 150 g cashew nuts
  • 150 g unsweetened desiccated coconut + 50g extra for rolling
  • 50 g sesame seeds
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons hemp protein powder
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.
Instructions
  1. First scatter the cashew nuts on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 10 minutes at 170°C.
  2. Then place the roasted cashews in a food processor with the desiccated coconut and sesame seeds and blitz for about 10 minutes or until nice and runny.
  3. Pour into a large mixing bowl and stir in the lime zest and juice, the hemp protein powder, vanilla extract and sea salt until the mixture thickens.
  4. Leave to stand for at least ten minutes then roll into 15 x 30g balls, then roll in the extra desiccated coconut to coat.
  5. They can be eaten immediately or stored in the fridge for about a week.
These Coconut Lime Energy Balls are the perfect snack when you need a boost. There is no sugar in them at all, refined, fruit or fake but instead loads of plant protein and of course plenty of yumminess.

Energy Boosting Snack Ideas – FREE PDF!

If you need more inspiration of energy boosting snacks to get your through your in between meal slumps then you can download my free PDF with 9 more ideas featuring exclusive content and also my favourite energy boosting recipes from the website. To access this amazing PDF you just need to click the link below!!

Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp {gluten-free}

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

If you think you are experiencing a bit of deja-vu, then you may be right. To go hand in hand with my blog re-design I am also doing a bit of an audit, revisiting old recipes and seeing how they have fared over the years and what I might do to encourage the wee stragglers. I first posted this recipe in October 2014 with some pretty dreadful photos attached. I remembered how delicious it was so I made it again and agreed that yes I was right the first time, this was really delicious and by gum I need the world to know.

I didn’t want to just get rid of my old post entirely though, so what follows below is the original post, just with much better photos.

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

These past two Sundays since I begun my market stall have diverted us from our traditional lazy Sunday lunches due to the utter pandemonium of cake carrying boxes and cake stands and plates to be washed up on our return. We have eaten on the hoof, our giant roasts of meat which would always do us through Monday and Tuesday have recently been foregone for quick suppers before we succumb to the sofa.This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

Sunday nights have always been pudding nights in our house, for me they don’t seem right on any other evening. When I was a child I remember sitting down to the Darling Buds of May on a Sunday evening with a bowl of sticky jam sponge and hot custard so thick the spoon could stand upright in the bowl. There is something about Sunday night television which calls for the comfort of the old fashioned Pud. As the opening piano music for Downton Abbey is starting I am often spooning a steaming sponge into our glass dessert bowls, yelling into the other room for the TV to be paused so I don’t miss a moment.

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

This hot pud was perfect then for our new busy Sundays, it had to be a quick throw together dessert which didn’t feel like an effort and could be done whilst I was waiting for our burgers to grill (I know, a bit of a comedown from roast beef and yorkshires). Like any good idea, the inspiration came all at once as I knew precisely that it had to be a combination of blueberries, coconut and oats. Something hot but that felt full of light goodness; despite the change in the weather I am not quite ready for a treacly syrup sponges just yet. The fact that I had ricotta in the fridge was an absolute boon and brought the rest of the ingredients together in sweet harmony. The best thing about this pudding is that it takes no more than 10 minutes from all your ingredients being in the larder or the fridge to them being assembled and tucked into the oven for a 30 minute bake. It isn’t the grand affair pudding that you would necessarily present to guests, it doesn’t have the sophistication for that. However, it’s exactly the sort of pudding that brings your family together at the end of a weekend, squished up on the sofa, slippers on, a pot of tea on the go and Downton Abbey pride of place.

This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.

These photos were taken in collaboration with Tara at Fork and Dram. She has been a huge inspiration to me lately, assisting in the direction of my blog, cake stall and photography and has been marvellous to work with.

Print Recipe
Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp {gluten-free}
This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.
This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
6-8 people
Ingredients
  • 100 g porridge oats
  • 40 g coconut flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 25 g coconut flakes
  • 300 g blueberries
  • 300 g ricotta
  • 225 g soft light brown sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
6-8 people
Ingredients
  • 100 g porridge oats
  • 40 g coconut flour
  • 100 g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 25 g coconut flakes
  • 300 g blueberries
  • 300 g ricotta
  • 225 g soft light brown sugar
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
This Blueberry Ricotta Coconut Crisp is a quick gluten-free dessert to throw in the oven. Layered with plump juicy blueberries, creamy ricotta then topped with crunchy clusters of coconutty oats.
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.
  2. First make the coconut crisp by mixing together the oats, coconut flour and 75g of the sugar. Rub the butter into the dry mixture, using your fingertips until little oaty coconut clumps have formed and there are no big lumps of butter left. Mix in the coconut flakes then set aside for a moment.
  3. Take a medium sized baking dish (the one I used was 7”x10”) and grease the inside. Then pour the blueberries into the bottom so they are in an even layer.
  4. In a separate bowl beat together the ricotta, the rest of the sugar and the lemon zest for a few moments until fully combined and then pour on top of the blueberries.
  5. Scatter the coconut crisp on top of the ricotta.
  6. Place in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes when the coconut crisp has toasted and the blueberries are bubbling up from within.
  7. Serve warm with ice cream.

Raspberry Coconut Jam

This Raspberry Coconut Jam is the best thing that’s going to come out of your kitchen this summer.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

Of all the jams surely raspberry jam is the most superior? Well it’s certainly the jam that the Women’s Institute deem the only appropriate jam for an approved WI Victoria Sandwich cake so that certainly tells us something. Here I’ve amped up a very easy raspberry jam by marrying it with coconut, a love story for our times and it’s no exaggeration to say that this Raspberry and Coconut Jam is taking over my life at the moment.

Last month we travelled up to Scotland for a wedding and made a mini-holiday of it. It’s a bit on an effort to go anywhere with a baby so we got quite cosy in Fife, staying at the gorgeous Cairnie Fruit Farm which not only has a maize maze (!!!) but they also bottle their own jam with fruit freshly plucked from the vine. On our arrival they left us a delicious pot of their raspberry jam with fresh scones. It was like I suddenly discovered raspberry jam again, I had forgotten just how utterly vibrant and exciting this most superior of jams is.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

The secret to an easy raspberry jam is to use equal parts fruit and jam sugar. To be honest once you have that little bit of info in your back pocket you can pretty much make any jam. Raspberries don’t have much natural pectin, the special stuff present in most fruit which helps a jam achieve its setting point. You could pair the raspberries with another fruit like apples which are high in pectin, also a good method of making your raspberry jam go further, but if you are after a clean raspberry taste then jam sugar is your best friend as it has pectin built in. I also included the juice of a lemon not only for more pectin to ensure an easy set but also to encourage the piquancy of our raspberry flavour.

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

Now this wouldn’t be much of a love story without a leading man and for that part I have cast the superstar coconut. He is everything a raspberry could wish for, this jam is truly a romance for the ages. The two flavours are just meant to be together and that’s that.

My favourite way to incorporate a certain flavour into anything is to include two different dimensions of the same ingredient, so here I don’t just use coconut cream or desiccated coconut but a combination of both. The desiccated coconut is steeped in the heated coconut cream to soften it up and then this coconut flavourbomb is added at the beginning of the jam process. It couldn’t be easier.

If you don’t like coconut then you can simply use the method outlined below for the raspberry jam and omit the coconut but why would you??? It’s true love!

Raspberry and Coconut Jam

This jam is most excellent as the cake filling of a Victoria Sandwich (just don’t tell the WI there’s coconut in it) so to celebrate this epic Raspberry Coconut Jam I’ll be posting my best recipe for the best Victoria Sandwich in an upcoming post (hint: raspberry and coconut jam might be involved).

Print Recipe
Raspberry Coconut Jam
A classic raspberry jam, made all the better with lashings of coconut.
Raspberry and Coconut Jam
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
6x 200ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 kg raspberries
  • 1 kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Passive Time 2 hours
Servings
6x 200ml jars
Ingredients
  • 1 kg raspberries
  • 1 kg jam sugar
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 50 g desiccated coconut
Raspberry and Coconut Jam
Instructions
  1. Place your raspberries, jam sugar and lemon juice in a large bowl and stir well. Leave to macerate together for at least a couple of hours.
  2. Pour the coconut cream into a saucepan and stir in the desiccated coconut. Bring to the boil then turn off the heat and let stand for a couple of hours.
  3. Stir the raspberries, sugar, lemon juice and coconut mixture together in a large preserving pan then bring to a rolling boil.
  4. Boil the mixture hard for about 5 minutes or until the jam has reached setting point (about 104.5°C).
  5. Decant the jam into sterilised jars and leave to cool. The jam can be stored in a cool dark place for about 12 months.
Recipe Notes
  • If you can’t find coconut cream you can extract the cream from a tin of coconut milk. Place a 400g tin of coconut milk in the fridge for a day or so, whereupon the coconut cream will harden and separate itself from the coconut water. When you open the tin you should be able to just scoop out the cream leaving the water behind. There should be about 200g of cream in a 400g tin.
  • I often do steps 1 and 2 last thing in the evening and place both the macerating raspberries and the steeping coconut in the fridge (in separate containers) and then begin my jam first thing the next day.

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
If there is one plaintive cry that is often heard in this house, it’s ‘Why do you never make cookies?’

It’s true that cookies are usually superseded by a sudden whim to make a cake or a brownie so they usually fall down the pecking order. Plus cookies are remarkably easy to eat aren’t they? What is it about them that makes you believe it’s okay to have two or three when you would normally only have once slice of cake. It’s probably because you have to eat one straight from the oven when the chocolate is oozing from within and they are still pretty dough like. Later on it would be churlish not to partake in a cooler cookie with your tea, letting your cup catch the crumbs so you can slurp them up later.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

My husband is also a bit of a dried fruit fanatic, there are usually odds and ends of trail mix or some exotic papaya strips that never seem remotely appealing to me. However, these candied pineapple chunks have been winking at me for weeks begging to be used in a recipe. I am not normally a pineapple junkie but I have found myself craving their sweet juicy acidity so whilst a few months ago I would have shuddered at including them in a bake, this time round they were the first ingredient on my list when preparing to make my cookies.

I think it’s rude not to include chocolate in a cookie don’t you? That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the odd oat and raisin number in my time but I usually think a bit of a chocolate addition would liven up the proceedings immensely. This time round I poured in a few handfuls of white chocolate chips, which are the type of chocolate oft neglected from my bakes, but here they seemed so right.

The desiccated coconut was added just because I cannot bear to bake or cook anything without coconut at the moment. I thought I would be bored by now after my endless forays of coconut oil, coconut flour, coconut flakes and coconut milk but it’s just so damn versatile in all its different formats and there is usually a place for it in whatever I am cooking.

Pineapple White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies

Now these cookies are huge, so make sure you space them apart a good distance in your baking tray. They are chewy but also a little crisp on the corners for the variety of texture which is so important in your daily cookie. The true test was whether they would pass the husband test and they did with flying colours. The only problem is that now he sees no excuse why there can’t be cookies every day.

Pineapple, White Chocolate and Coconut Cookies
Makes 12 large cookies

175g unsalted butter
175g soft light brown sugar
125g caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
¼ teaspoon salt
150g jumbo rolled oats
75g desiccated coconut
125g white chocolate chips
125g dried pineapple chunks

  1. Pre-heat oven to 170°C.
  2. Cream the butter and sugars together until very light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time then the vanilla until completely combined.
  4. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt, oats and coconut.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the rest of the batter and mix until combined.
  6. Finally mix in the chocolate chips and pineapple chunks until evenly dispersed.
  7. Portion out the cookies by weighing out each one out to 100g then rolling into a ball.
  8. Place each ball on large baking trays about 2 inches apart from each other and flatten each ball slightly with the palm of your hand.
  9. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until just turning golden brown.
  10. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 5 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack to finish cooling. Or, eat straightaway so the cookie is warm and the chocolate is still melting.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Fructose-Free Coconut Brownies

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Fructose-Free Coconut Brownies

We had an utterly inspiring talk at our Women’s Institute meeting last night by one of our members, Alison Graham, about how to get the best out of your sugar. I have to confess I am an absolute sugar junkie and anything to help me curb the cravings but not obliterate cake and chocolate from my life is worth looking into.

Quitting sugar is one of the latest fads that diet gurus seem to be peddling which is all well and good but is it really practical? I’m sure most of us simply want to understand our bodies better from an informed perspective and enjoy the odd treat without being slaves to our 4pm sugar crashes. These days we are becoming more aware of what we eat, what triggers our eating habits and the science behind it. There seems to be new information to guide us all the time as nutritionists and scientists learn about how our bodies react to natural substances like gluten and processed substances like everyday cane sugar. All we can do is take the information on board and decide how it can work for us so that our food is giving us energy and not taking it away.

keep calm and no sugar

The ordinary cane sugar we buy for baking or using in our tea and coffee is made up of half glucose and half fructose. Glucose is in all foods and is the good sugar which our body needs to make and store energy. It’s glucose we crave when we need a sugar fix and our bodies recognise it and use up every calorie of it. Fructose is the interloper. That’s not to say all fructose is bad and if you eat it in the form of a piece of fruit then you’ll be fine, thanks to the fibre in the fruit which helps your body digest the fructose. It’s when fructose is not in its natural state though that you will have a problem. Even if you do a simple thing like blitzing your banana to make a smoothie or juicing your apple, then you are breaking down the fibre before you eat it. Without its fibre bond, your body cannot recognise the fructose so it doesn’t provide an insulin response, it moves to your liver unaided to form fatty acids which swim around your body until they are deposited as body fat.

Not only that but because your body hasn’t recognised the fructose you might as well have not eaten it in the first place, your body will still crave the glucose it wanted in the first place and will insist you try and get yourself more. So instead of having just the one glass of apple juice or one chocolate bar, you will crave another then another. If you stick to just the glucose in the first place you are giving your body what it needs and you should feel fully satiated.

So basically fructose, when not found in whole fruit, is not a good thing to be eating. It was surprising to me though that many of the sugars we consider as natural and healthy like honey or maple syrup are also just fructose so has the same effect within our body. This is also not to mention the obvious fake sugars out there like sweeteners and corn syrup which again are just fructose. There is a whole bunch more reading that I need to do on this subject as I’ve only had a taster and I have found it fascinating. Alison recommends reading Sweet Poison by David Gillespie for more information and I’ve already bought it for my Kindle.

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In the meantime to celebrate this fascinating talk and enthused by this new way of looking at sugar I wanted to bake something using pure glucose which is the good sugar our bodies need for energy. I saw these amazing looking Extra-Fudgy Coconut Oil Brownies from Pinch of Yum last week and knew this would be the recipe I would use as a base as I’ve been desperate to make them.

Lindsay had already done the hard work and made them dairy free since she uses Coconut Oil instead of butter in her brownies. However, I adapted it a bit by substituting the sugar in the form of rice malt syrup, which is a blend of glucose and maltose. Then to really get on board the health wagon I made it gluten free by adding coconut flour which also amped up the coconutty taste and added cocoa to boost the intense chocolateness. I couldn’t just leave it there though and topped the brownies with a rich ganache made from dark chocolate and a smidgen of coconut milk to thicken it. The coconut milk I use, as I’ve advocated before, is from Pride and is very thick with almost no liquid. The thinner your coconut milk the thinner your ganache will be so it might not be so easy to spread. I then sprinkled a liberal amount of unsweetened desiccated coconut on top to finish them off. The end result wasn’t overwhelming coconutty but definitely had a delicious hint and I have to say these are one of the best brownies I have ever made. They are dense and fudgy but also light without making you feel all stodgy inside after you have eaten them. They feel like a decadent treat but also wholesome like you are doing your body a favour by eating them.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Fructose-Free Coconut Brownies

Although I’m not sure I could tear myself away from all different types of sugar entirely, I love baking and cooking too much to restrict myself, I have certainly come away from these brownies and Alison’s talk by knowing that this way of living would be completely achievable if you still want to indulge in your treasured treats. The brownies were nice on day one, delicious on day two and then days three and four the brownies were absolutely sublime. These started off being just an experiment but they have ended up being firm favourites of mine.

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Fructose-Free Coconut Brownies

125g 70% dark chocolate
160g coconut oil
200g rice malt syrup
3 eggs, lightly beaten
100g coconut flour
25g cocoa
½ teaspoon salt

For the ganache:
100g 70% chocolate
1 tablespoon coconut milk
3 tablespoons unsweetened desiccated coconut

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and line and grease a 9 inch square baking tin.
  2. Place the chocolate and coconut oil in a bain-marie and melt together.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and pour in the rice malt syrup, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  4. Sift the flour, cocoa and salt together in a separate bowl then stir into the chocolate mixture and pour into your baking tin.
  5. Bake the brownies for 20 minutes then remove from the oven.
  6. Leave the brownies to cool in the tin for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight to set before removing from the tin and topping with the ganache.
  7. To make the ganache melt the chocolate and coconut milk together in a bain-marie.
  8. Once the chocolate has melted and the mixture has thickened you can immediately use it to adorn the top of your brownies.
  9. For the final touch sprinkle on some unsweetened desiccated coconut then cut into squares.