Dark Chocolate & Walnut Afghan Cookies

Treats

Afghan cookies are a New Zealand classic treat. As I’m travelling around New Zealand at the moment, it would be rude not to eat like a local. Traditionally Afghan cookies are made with crumbled corn flakes. As I am not a major fan of corn flakes, I have substituted them for chopped walnuts. I think grated fresh or crystallized ginger would also be great additions to these cookies.

Don’t worry if the cookie mixture becomes quite dry when mixing. Simply mould the dough into a big ball and create cookie portions with your hands.

The cookies will keep fresh in a airtight container or bag for at least 4 days.

Makes 12 cookies.20170619_135409-01

  • 250g butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g walnuts, chopped
  • 200g dessicated coconut
  • 2 tbsp good quality cocoa powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 12 whole walnuts for decorating
  1. Preheat an oven to 180°C and grease a baking tray with a little coconut oil.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric beater.
  3. Add the vanilla essence, chopped walnuts and coconut.
  4. Sift in the cocoa and flour and mix well together.
  5. Place tablespoonfuls of the cookie dough on the prepared baking tray. Flatten each cookie with the back of a spoon and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.
  7. For the cookie icing: melt the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a simmering pan of water. Once melted, stir in the coconut oil until glossy.
  8. Spoon the chocolate over each cookie and add a whole walnut to finish.

 

 

Crunchy Banana & Nut Bites

Snack, Treats

These are my go-to options for keep me fueled whilst travelling to an away match or commuting to a training session – inspired by Derval O’Rourke‘s recipe. Bananas are a great source of essential magnesium and energy sources, whilst the granola provides slow release carbohydrates and the nut butter provides some essential flavour and protein. Prepare these in advance and keep fresh in the fridge or else freeze. They also work great sliced with some berries and yoghurt as a morning treat. For more great healthy snack ideas check out from my Top 5 Healthy Snacks.

  • 1 tbsp nut butter
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp granola
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 banana
  1. Mix together the nut butter and oil in a little bowl.
  2. On a plate, mix together the granola and cinnamon.
  3. Peel the banana and cut width ways in half.
  4. Place the banana on a fork and coat in the nut butter before rolling in the granola.
  5. Repeat with the remaining banana and store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Salted Almond Brownies

Treats

So I was all set to make these delectable Peanut Butter Brownies from Glenisk‘s collaboration with Tang to raise much needed funds for the Unicef Ireland Syrian Appeal. I was assembling all the ingredients when I realised I was short a few so these Salted Almond Brownies were born instead. I used 75% dark chocolate so they were quite rich but just use a lower percentage of chocolate for a lighter treat. The brownies are also gluten-free so handy treats that leave nobody out!

Makes 16.

Salted Almond Brownie

  • 75g almonds
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 100g almond butter
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 150g butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 25g baking powder
  • 200g natural yoghurt
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  1. Preheat an oven to 170°C and line a rectangle baking tray with parchment.
  2. Place a large dry frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot; add the almonds, icing sugar and sea salt. Stir regularly to gently coat the almonds until the icing sugar is fully combined. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.Salted Almond Brownie
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the almond butter and honey until fully combined.Salted Almond Brownie
  4. In a separate heatproof bowl, place the chocolate and butter and melt over a saucepan of simmering water until fully melted.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs before adding to the almond butter and honey. Continue to whisk until plenty of air bubbles have been created.Salted Almond Brownie
  6. Stir through the ground almonds and baking powder, followed by the melted chocolate and butter until well combined. Finally add the yoghurt and vanilla essence.Salted Almond Brownie
  7. Roughly chop 50g of the cooled salted almonds and stir through the brownie batter.Salted Almond Brownie
  8. Pour the batter into the lined tray and scatter over the remaining whole almonds.Salted Almond Brownie
  9. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool in the tray before cutting into squares. Keep fresh in the fridge in an airtight container.Salted Almond Brownie

Caramel Apple Slices

Treats

These slices are a take on a previous recipe of mine but I’ve used my favourite date & banana caramel here. The caramel is a great recipe to have as I use it in lots of recipes like Fruit & Nut Caramel Squares and Salted Peanut & Date Caramel Brownies and it’s really easy to make, plus no refined sugar in sight. It also keeps fresh for at least 2 weeks in an airtight jar in the fridge, so there’s often a bit lurking in the back. The secret to this recipe is not to over cook the apples, you literally just want to gently poach them, leaving a little bite once they have baked in the oven.

Makes 12.

  • 150g ground almonds
  • 140g spelt wholemeal flour
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 125g chilled butter, cubed
  • 150g dates
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 small bananas
  • 8 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tbsp nut butter
  • 5 small apples, peeled & cored
  • 1 tbsp flaked almonds
  1. Preheat an oven to 160C and line a rectangular baking tray with parchment.
  2. Place all the almonds, flour and honey in a large mixing bowl and rub through the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
  3. Transfer to the lined baking tray and flatten evenly with the back of a spoon.
  4. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until the base begins to turn golden.
  5. For the date caramel: place the softened, drained dates in a measuring jug or blender with the bananas and melted coconut oil. Blitz until smooth, add the almond butter & blitz again.
  6. Gently poach the apples by placing in a saucepan with just enough water to cover the bottom. Simmer with the lid on over a low heat for 10 minutes. Keep a close eye on the apples as you don’t want mush.
  7. Remove from the water and slice into wedges.
  8. Spread the caramel over the base followed by the sliced apples. Scatter over the flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 30 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool in the tray. Cut into squares once fully cooled and S tore in an airtight container in the fridge.

Salted Peanut & Date Caramel Brownies

Treats

These little beauties are a twist on my Dark Chocolate & Cashew Bites.The date caramel is a real winner and works great simply drizzled over vanilla ice-cream or to make healthy caramel squares using my recipe for Fruit & Nut Caramel Squares. These brownies are also gluten-free so perfect for a fuss-free dinner party dessert for all served warm with some ice-cream or Greek yoghurt.

  • 150g dates, de-stoned
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 overripe bananas
  • 8 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 3 tbsp almond butter
  • 400g tin butter beans, drained & rinsed
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 75g unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao powder or use 50g melted 70% dark chocolate
  • 40g salted peanuts
  1. Preheat an oven to 170°C. Line a square sandwich tin with parchment paper.
  2. Place the dates & baking soda in a bowl, cover with bowling water & allow to soak for at least 20 mins to soften through.
  3. For the date caramel sauce: place the softened, drained dates in a measuring jug or blender with the bananas and melted coconut oil. Blitz until smooth, add the almond butter & blitz again. Reserve 3 tbsp of the sauce for the topping.
  4. With a food processor or electric hand beater (if using an electric hand beater, I would recommend you mash or blend the beans first), blitz all the remaining ingredients (except the cacao powder/melted chocolate & peanuts) with the date caramel together until smooth. Finally stir through the cacao powder/melted chocolate & 30g of the peanuts.
  5. Pour the brownie mix into the prepared tin, scatter the remaining peanuts and drizzle the caramel sauce over the top.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 30 mins until a skewer comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin, remove and cut into generous squares.

Honey Baked Fruit with Yoghurt

Treats

In need of a little after dinner treat but trying to be good and stay away chocolate and cakes? Then this recipe is the one for you. Any stoned or cored fruit works great. Cinnamon would be a great addition for the winter months to really warm you from the inside out and keep away any colds. They take no length in the oven to bake, so pop them in whilst your cooking your dinner or just after you serve if you want them for a later treat. Pairing them with some yoghurt like the new reduced sugar Bio organic range from Glenisk is great as a light option and a simple way to reduce your sugar intake naturally.

Serves 2.

  • 1 pear
  • 1 plum
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp granola
  • 2 tbsp natural/Greek yoghurt (currently loving Glenisk Bio organic natural yoghurt)
  1. Preheat an oven to 160C.
  2. Halve and de-stone/core the pear and plum.
  3. Place skin side down in a baking tray or ovenproof dish.
  4. Drizzle the honey over the fruits and bake in the oven for 20 mins.
  5. To serve: divide the fruit amongst two plates, place a tbsp of yoghurt into the centre of the pear and sprinkle over the granola.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake

Treats

My favourite desserts include raspberries so since it was my birthday this week they had to feature! The mousse recipe comes courtesy of Eunice Power with a pecan, coconut & cacao base topped with a dark chocolate ganache. The mousse simply on its own would be perfect served in ramekins or jars with a drizzle of the ganache and some fresh berries. So go on, try the recipe and treat yourself & someone special.

  • 100ml water
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 400g fresh/frozen raspberries 
  • Zest & juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 4 leaves gelatine
  • 125g pecan nuts
  • 3 tbsp dessicated coconut 
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 70g coconut oil, melted 
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 150ml cream
  • 150g creme fraiche
  • 2 egg whites
  • 35g icing sugar
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  1. Line a 20cm springform tin with cling film, grease the tin first with a little oil to ensure the it sticks.
  2. Place the caster sugar & water in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer until the sugar is fully dissolved.
  3. Add the raspberries, lemon juice and zest and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and blitz in a food processor or blender. 
  5. Strain through a fine sieve to remove the seeds. 
  6. Cover the gelatine in cold water and allow to soak for 10 minutes.
  7. Blitz the nuts in a food processor, blender or place in a resealable bag and bash with a rolling pin until you get a fine crumble.
  8. Combine the dessicated coconut, cacao, vanilla essence and melted coconut oil with the nuts. Create an even layer in the bottom of the tin. Place in the fridge to set.
  9. Place the raspberry purée in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Squeeze any water from the gelatine and stir through the purée until fully combined. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  10. Whip the cream and creme fraiche together into soft peaks.
  11. Whisk the egg whites together until they begin to form stiff peaks, at this stage gradually add 1 tbsp of icing sugar at a time as you continue to whisk.
  12. Fold the egg whites into the cream and gradually add the raspberry purée, ensure no pockets of the cream mixture is left.
  13. Pour the mousse into the lines tin. Gently tap the bottom of the tin off the countertop to remove any air bubbles.
  14. Place in the fridge for at least 4 hours or ideally overnight. 
  15. Once set, melted the dark chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering pan. Remove from the heat once melted and stir through the coconut oil.
  16. Gently remove the cake from the tin and peel off the cling film. Pour over the dark chocolate topping and top with some fresh raspberries and a sprig of mint.
  17. Store in the fridge.

Chocolate Avocado Mousse Cups with White Chocolate Filled Raspberries

Treats

Chocolate & raspberries are the ultimate dessert combination, add some avocado to create a really light mousse & the perfect fancy pants healthy treat is created! The mousse would also work great on its own topped with some raspberries for a ready in minutes dessert.

Makes 10.

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g white chocolate
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 100g fresh raspberries
  1. For the chocolate cups: Line a tray with parchment. Melt 140g of the dark chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. When it’s fully melted, remove from the heat & add the remaining dark chocolate. Stir until fully combined.
  2. Spoon 1 large tbsp of chocolate into a silicon cupcake case, swirl the chocolate around until fully coated. Place upside on the tray & repeat with the remaining cases.
  3. Place the tray in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
  4. For the mousse: add the avocado, honey & vanilla essence to a food processor & blitz until smooth. Add the cacao powder & 1 tbsp of the fresh raspberries & blitz again until well combined. Place into the fridge until ready to use. 
  5. For the raspberries: melt the white chocolate over a pan of simmering water. Remove from the heat & stir through the Greek yoghurt. Use a spoon or a needleless sterile syringe to fill each raspberry with the chocolate mix. 
  6. To assemble: peel the chocolate cups gently from the cases, fill with the mousse & top with the raspberries. 

Dark Chocolate & Hazelnut Spelt Babka

Treats

A babka is a sweet bread similar to a brioche. It has been on my recipe to-do list for quite some time as I think it just looks and sounds amazing. I thralled the internet for inspiration and tried one or two recipes with not so good results then I stumbled upon Melanie Lionello’s recipe for a spelt version and thought it was worth a try…..I think the picture of the final result says enough! I mixed the filling up a bit with some melted dark chocolate and crushed toasted hazelnuts but keep it simple just with chocolate or whatever takes your fancy.

Makes 1 loaf.

  • 90ml lukewarm milk
  • 125g butter, melted
  • 300g spelt flour
  • 3/4 tsp dried fast-action yeast
  • generous pinch of sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 40g coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Filling:

  • 100g dark chocolate, melted
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp hazelnuts, toasted & crushed
  1. Place all the ingredients for the babka dough into a large mixing bowl and using a dough hook and a kitchen mixer combine for 10-15 minutes until a smooth dough is formed, transfer to a clean surface. If you don’t have a mixer combine by hand in the bowl and then transfer the dough to a clean surface and knead for at least 10-15 minutes by hand until a smooth supple dough is formed.
  2. Once the dough is fully kneaded, leave to sit on your work surface whilst you prepare the filling.  
  3. Once the chocolate is melted, stir through the solid coconut oil to form a shiny, supple liquid.
  4. Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough into a large rectangle shape. Pour over the chocolate mix and evenly spread over the dough. Sprinkle with 3/4 of the crushed hazelnuts.
  5. Now for the fun and messy part, I kind of got too engrossed in the process to take pictures so if you get a bit lost there are tons of how-to videos on Youtube. Evenly roll the dough length ways into a swiss-roll shape. Using a sharp knife, cut it length-ways in half leaving a 5cm gap at the end un-cut. Gently separate the two lengths and braid over each other as if plaiting hair until the dough is fully braided.
  6. Place the dough into a lined loaf tin, sprinkle over the remaining crushed hazelnuts, cover with cling-film and allow to prove in a warm place for about 2 hours. 
  7. When ready to bake, pre-heat an oven to 180°C and bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.

Easter Chocolate Biscuit Bunny

Treats

Happy Easter and what better way to say it than with a chocolate bunny! No need for any messing with added sugars in the form of honey, maple or golden syrup with this simple recipe. Add or remove the orange zest and cranberries as you fancy but I personally think it’s adds a real richness. Biscuit cake is perfect for anytime of year just cut into any shape or number to act as a quick birthday cake or simply just allow to set in a lined loaf tin, slice & enjoy!

  • 35g butter
  • 200ml milk
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 300g broken biscuits (digestive, rich tea, goldgrain)
  • 200g chopped marshmallows
  • 2 tbsp hazelnuts, halved
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • zest of 1/2 an orange
  1. Line a large rectangle baking tray if cutting the biscuit cake into a shape, otherwise use a loaf tin or 20cm square tin.
  2. In a small saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter in the milk.
  3. Once the butter is fully melted, stir through and remove from the heat. Add the dark chocolate and allow to fully melt. 
  4. Place all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, pour over the liquid mix once the chocolate is fully melted. 
  5. Stir well to combine and pour into the lined tin. Place in the fridge for 2 hours or in the freezer for 40-60 mins if in a hurry.
  6. To decorate: I used some leftover coconut cream with desiccated coconut to create the ears and tail. A whole almond acted as the eye with a raw coconut shard for the mouth.