Sweet Potato Brownies (makes 8)

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

My friend Jen, is a doula (who is, in her words, a person who “provides physical, emotional and informational support to families helping them to reduce fear, pain and uncertainty during their birth experience“). Jen runs her own doula business, Your Birth Scotland, and she recently asked me if I’d develop a few recipes that were quick to cook and healthy for women who are either pregnant or have recently given birth and I accepted her challenge.

These sweet potato brownies were created because I was looking to create a recipe for a snack that would contain a decent amount of nutrients and fibre for mums who had recently given birth. Now I’m not going to lie, they didn’t turn out quite as healthy as I’d envisioned because they have quite a bit of sugar in them. However, on the plus side, they ended up being literally the best brownies I’ve ever eaten in my entire life.

Sweet potatoes are a really healthy vegetable and, unlike normal white potatoes, they count towards our five-a-day quota because they have lower starch levels than other carbohydrates. They also contain four main micronutrients: vitamin C, which keeps our immune system healthy and aids iron absorption within the body (very important for both pregnant women and women who have recently given birth); thiamin, an essential B-vitamin which supports the nervous system and ensures good heart health; potassium, which normalises blood pressure and along with thiamin takes care of the nervous system; and manganese, which ensures healthy bones and general cell health. I think it’s fairly clear that they’re nutritional powerhouses within the vegetable world!

These sweet potato brownies also contain other ingredients which are high in nutritional density, such as walnuts which are an excellent source of antioxidants as well as omega-3 fat, an anti-inflammatory fatty acid that the body and mind needs to function properly. The brownies also contain chia seeds, a high protein seed which along with providing the body with fibre, also contains omega-3s and a whole host of micronutrients, such as calcium and magnesium, all of which support overall health. The brownies have also got coconut oil in them, a source of healthy fat which helps to remove bad fat from the blood and lower cholesterol and therefore, promotes heart health and lowers the risk of heart disease.

Lastly, the brownies have a healthy whack of antioxidant-rich cocoa and dark chocolate in them, which contain minerals like potassium, iron, zinc and selenium, and has been found in a Finnish study to lower stress in pregnant women while also producing babies who smiled more in comparison with babies born to non-chocolate eating mothers. Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical which encourages the release of feel-good endorphins.

After I baked the brownies and let them cool slightly I started to take my photographs and once that was done I figured it was time to have a taste. And wow! Without overly blowing my own trumpet (but I will because they were outstanding) I was blown away by how good they were. I’m not a fan of most brownies because I hate that undercooked texture of the cake mix that so many of them have, but these didn’t have that. They retained the fudgy element of a brownie that you’d expect, but weren’t thick and claggy. Quite surprising considering they contain sweet potato!

Another bonus to these sweet potato brownies is that they are vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free and you cannot tell at all. The cake base is light, but fudgy, and is speckled with little chunks of walnut and their overall chocolate quota is further enhanced by the addition of dark chocolate chips lying atop the brownies. Sigh… They’re just out of this world!

I’d recently treated myself to a little pack of mini loaf baking boxes and they were perfect for baking the brownies in because they helped them to retain their shape and worked perfectly as individual bakes (as opposed to having to cut them out of a tray). This also meant that they were ideal for slotting into my packed lunch box to take to work.

This sweet potato brownie recipe has most definitely become my new go-to brownie recipe and although they may not be the healthiest pregnancy or postpartum snack, doesn’t every new Mum deserve a little treat once in a while for all her hard work? I certainly know that Jen the doula would think so.

Ingredients:

420g peeled raw sweet potato cut into small cubes (or around 250g cooked weight)

140g sugar

100g self-raising flour (or gluten-free self-raising flour)

50g cocoa powder

100g walnuts (keep 16 walnut halves aside to decorate the brownies)

100g dark chocolate chips

2 chia eggs made from 2 tbsps. of chia seeds mixed with 6 tbsps. of cold water and left for half an hour before using (or 2 eggs, if non-vegan)

1 tsp. baking powder

100g melted coconut oil (or butter)

1 tsp vanilla extract

7 tbsps. of alt-milk (or standard milk, if non-vegan)

Method:

Make the chia seed eggs, if using.

Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/375F/Gas mark 5.

Lay out your mini loaf baking boxes on a baking tray.

Peel your sweet potato and cut into small cubes (about 2cm square). Place in a bowl and cook on high in the microwave (stirring a couple of times) until the sweet potato is soft.

Keeping the decorative walnut halves and dark chocolate chips aside, put all of the ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Once the mixture is fully combined, spoon into the mini loaf baking boxes (making sure there’s an equal amount in each) and then top with the walnut halves and sprinkle with dark chocolate chips.

Bake in the oven for 30 mins (or a little less if you prefer your brownies to be gooier).

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before eating.

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

Sweet Potato Brownies by The Fat Foodie

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Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes (aka Grinch Cakes)

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Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

These spiced persimmon cupcakes (aka Grinch Cakes) came about by accident because I’d initially intended to bake quite a simple spiced cake without any decorations, but thankfully, after tasting them I would describe them as a happy accident.

At Christmastime I love making cakes that are flavoured with warm spices, such as mixed spice, cinnamon and ginger. I’d bought a persimmon (also known as a sharon fruit) last week and it was getting pretty ripe so I decided to try using it in spiced persimmon cupcakes. Persimmons are really sweet, they’re probably the sweetest fruit I’ve ever tasted, so I used a little less sugar in my cake mixture to lessen the sugar-load.

The sweet earthiness of the persimmon really complemented the mixed spices in the cakes and added to their overall Christmassy taste. The cupcakes sank in my oven because I’d impatiently opened the door to see if they were cooked yet, so I took them out of their cupcake wrappers, turned them upside down, and coated them in a thin layer of icing. This concealed their sunken middles and prevented a deep pool of icing forming in the centre of the cakes.

However, I added a bit too much green food colouring gel and ended up with an icing that was decidedly Grinch coloured, but I soldiered on, added some nice decorations and renamed them Grinch Cakes! The spiced persimmon cupcakes are destined to be taken in to work and I’m really hoping that my colleagues won’t notice their concave bottoms, but I bet they get munched very quickly regardless.

Ingredients:

For the spiced persimmon cupcakes:

1 ripe persimmon (very finely chopped or minced in a food processor)

180g sugar

200g butter

3 eggs

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground mixed spice

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

Decoration:

Icing sugar

Green food colouring

A little water

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/Gas mark 4.

Arrange your cupcake cases in your cupcake tins or on a flat baking tray.

Prepare your persimmon as directed and then measure and mix all of your ingredients together in a large mixing bowl.

Spoon enough cake mix into your cupcake cases to fill them to just over halfway.

Bake for around 25 to 30 mins. Unless you want a concave bottom, please be patient and resist the urge to open the oven door too soon.

After the allocated baking time, test they’re cooked by pricking a couple of the cupcakes in the middle with a skewer. If it comes out clean then they’re fully cooked.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Mix your icing sugar with a dash of green food colouring and a tiny trickle of water, a bit at a time. Your icing should end up as a liquid, but thick, consistency. If you’ve added too much water just add some more icing sugar.

Once the cupcakes are cold, take them out of their wrappers and place them upside down on the cooling rack. Drizzle the icing sugar over the cakes until the top and sides are coated and then add your decorations.

I think I'll rename these Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes 'Grinch Cakes'. :D

I think I’ll rename these Spiced Persimmon Cupcakes ‘Grinch Cakes’.

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Ever since I’ve been cooking with coconut oil I’ve wondered what it would be like used in a cake instead of butter. I feared that it would make the sponge heavy, but it actually works really well and gives the cake a light texture while retaining its moisture. Coconut oil tastes quite strongly of coconut though, so I knew it’d have to be a cake which used coconut as one of its main flavour profiles. I figured incorporating lemon zest would work well with it and it does, creating feather-light, fruity, fluffy coconut and lemon cupcakes.

This cake is one of those brilliant ‘chuck all of the ingredients into a big bowl and whisk’ mixes, taking next to no time at all to prepare and with the aid of an electric whisk it’s easy to whip up a light and tasty buttercream with which to top the cakes. The real difficulty lies in stopping yourself from eating more than one at a time. Well, maybe two…

Ingredients:

140g coconut oil (melted, but not hot)

200g sugar

2 tbsps lemon juice

2 eggs

a pinch of salt

120ml milk

4 tbsps dessicated coconut

the grated zest of 1 lemon

1 tsp coconut essence

200g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

For the buttercream icing:

70g soft butter

1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract

180g icing sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsps of dessicated coconut (for decoration)

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4.

Place your empty cupcake cases in a cupcake tray or, if you don’t have one, just on a flat tray.

With the exception of the flour and baking powder, put all of your ingredients into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.

Add the flour and baking powder and whisk.

Spoon the cake mix into the cupcake cases, but don’t overfill them. (I normally fill them to roughly halfway.)

Bake them in the oven for 12-15 mins until they’re golden brown. You can tell they’re cooked when a skewer pushed into the centre comes out completely clean. Leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Put all of the buttercream icing ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until the icing is pale and fluffy.

When the cakes are cool top each one with a dollop of the buttercream icing and sprinkle with dessicated coconut.

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Coconut and Lemon Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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Cherry Cupcakes (makes 12)

Cherry Cupcakes

Cherry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

The other evening I was perusing the Twittersphere and I came across a link to BBC GoodFood’s 28 Classic Cake Recipes, a selection which purported to be ‘timeless’ ‘old favourites and traditional bakes’. (If you’re interested the link can be found here.)

After assessing the list I was struck by the absence of cherry cake. There’s something quintessentially British about a light, buttery sponge (which we do so well) encasing morsels of fat, sugar-plumped glace cherry. In my opinion, this is by far the tastiest way to consume these cherries as opposed to plonking them in cocktails or, if it’s Christmas in my household, in a homemade Snowball.

I had a tub of glace cherries in the cupboard so I decided to make some cakes to take into work for my colleagues. I always think it’s nice to know that there’s something tasty awaiting you when you go for your morning teabreak, or when you fancy a nibble of something sweet after your lunch, or if you need a sugary pick-me-up to go with a revitalising coffee in the afternoon. I think what I’m saying here is that it’s acceptable to eat cake at any time of the day. I’ve not named myself The Fat Foodie for nothing, guys.

All in all, these cupcakes take no time at all to make and are the perfect accompaniment to any break time.

Ingredients:

100g butter

100g sugar

2 eggs

100g self-raising flour (and a little extra to dust the chopped cherries)

1 tsp vanilla extract or flavouring

100g chopped cherries

6 halved cherries

Icing sugar

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas 4.

Put 12 cupcake cases in a bun tray or on a baking sheet.

Chop your cherries into small pieces and mix them with a tablespoon of flour in a bowl so that the cherries are coated in the flour. (This keeps them suspended in the cake mix and stops them from sinking to the bottom of the cakes as they bake.)

Measure your butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and cream together.

Add the 2 eggs and vanilla and mix.

Add the flour and mix.

Gently fold the chopped cherries into the mix until they are evenly distributed.

Divide the mix evenly between the 12 cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 12-15 mins.

You’ll know they’re cooked when a skewer poked into the middle of one of the cakes comes out completely clean.

Allow them to cool. When they’re cold, top them with a little bit of icing and a halved cherry.

Cherry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

Cherry Cupcakes by The Fat Foodie

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The best (and easiest) carrot cake in the world

The Best (and Easiest) Carrot Cake in the World by The Fat Foodie

The Best (and Easiest) Carrot Cake in the World by The Fat Foodie

This is an incredible recipe which creates, what is in my opinion, the best carrot cake I have ever tasted. It’s really light, is well spiced, and can be adapted according to individual tastes.

I like to add more nutmeg when I bake it. A while ago I received a present of a box of whole nutmeg and a little grater from my stepdaughter. I didn’t use it for ages, thinking that there was no difference between it and ready grated nutmeg. How wrong I was! Freshly grating nutmeg releases all of the natural oils found in the seed, imbuing the dish with a heady, exotic spiciness that complements all of the other ingredients in the cake. Please give it a try if you haven’t used it before. It’s well worth it. It’s a really cheap spice nowadays and you can just use a standard kitchen grater to grate the seed. It’s fragrance is nothing short of magical!

I like to soak the sultanas in hot tea before I use them because it plumps the dried fruit up, making for a moister mouthful of cake. I sometimes also add walnuts into the cake batter itself, but the basic recipe is delicious as it is. And you could easily bake this cake as individual cupcakes if you’d prefer too. The cake is lovely without icing, with orange icing or with cream cheese frosting (use 1 tub of Philadelphia and as much icing sugar as you need to your own taste). Enjoy!

Ingredients:

175g sugar

175ml sunflower or vegetable oil

3 eggs

140g grated carrots

100g sultanas

2 teabags and boiling water

The zest of 1 orange

175g self-raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground nutmeg

Walnuts (to decorate)

For the icing (optional):

175g icing sugar

2 tbsp orange juice

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F/gas mark 4.

Boil your kettle. Put the sultanas and teabags in a deep heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave to soak for at least 15 mins. Overnight would be ideal, but it’ll still plump them up if you only soak them for a short while.

Line a large rectangular baking tray with greaseproof paper/baking parchment.

Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl, adding the bicarbonate of soda last.

Drain the sultanas over a sieve, picking out and discarding the teabags, and then add the sultanas to the cake mix.

Use an electric whisk to mix until combined.

Pour into the baking tray and put it into the middle of the oven.

I don’t have a cooking time as such, but my cake took roughly 30-35 mins. I know it’s cooked when I pierce the middle of the cake with a skewer and it comes out clean.

Leave it to cool. Add icing sugar to your orange juice to make your orange icing.

Once the cake is completely cool, top it with the icing and decorate with the walnuts.

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The Best (and Easiest) Carrot Cake in the World by The Fat Foodie

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