Butternut Cheesecake

Butternut cheesecake

This recipe was born from one for pumpkin cheesecake given to me a while ago. I’d been wanting to try it for ages and decided that dessert for a Sunday lunch with friends and family was the perfect opportunity.

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Date, Fig and Nut Bites

Date, fig and nut bites

These bites are both delicious and good for you – always a winning combo!

Although I’ve seen many variations of this recipe, after much playing with different combinations and quantities of the ingredients, this one is my favourite. Feel free to change up whatever you like though to suit your own tastes.

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Lemon, Almond and Ricotta Tartlets

Lemon, almond and ricotta tartlets

I’ve been looking for a recipe like this for a long time, after first tasting an Italian Ricotta cake made by Hmmm a few years ago. I found a few recipes which helped, especially this one by Cakelets and Doilies, which it seems she adapted from a Donna Hay recipe.

So basically this concept has been around the block a few times, and when you taste it, you’ll know why it’s so popular. It’s light and almondy, moist and crumbly, with a lemon flavour that can be subtle or quite strong, depending on how you like it. As a bonus, it’s gluten-free and if you wanted to make it sugar-free/paleo too, I imagine it would work very well if you used honey or something like xylitol instead.

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Shortbread Biscuits

Wrapped biscuits

I must admit that I’m not always a fan of shop-bought shortbread, or even some home-made versions, as I often find them too dry. This recipe, the original version of which I seem to remember my Mom cut out of a magazine or newspaper about 30 years ago, is a nice compromise between shortbread and a ‘traditional’ biscuit, being ‘short’ but not dry (unless you bake them too long, of course).

Other virtues of this recipe are that the dough itself isn’t too sweet and you can add just about any flavouring you like to it. My personal favourites are flaked/nibbed almonds and brandy, which are totally delicious together, or lavender, which is what I’m using here. (N.B. You need to chop the lavender flowers and leaves very finely!) Chocolate chips or any kind of dried fruit also work well, although obviously make it a bit sweeter.

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Blueberry Almond Muffins

Blueberry almond muffins

Whatever your personal opinion of the concept of Valentine’s Day, it’s a good excuse to treat yourself or someone special to something yummy! Yes sure, you could turn to chocolate but maybe you’re looking for something a bit different and healthier (unless the chocolate has a cocoa content of at least 70%, of course).

On that note, have you tried some of the new 85% up to 95% chocolate that’s appearing in the shops lately? OMG, if you truly love chocolate and don’t like it to be sugary sweet, go out and get some now! CocoáFair, Honest Chocolate, Gayleen’s, Lindt and Green and Black’s are all brands I can recommend, from a taste and an ethical perspective.

But I digress…

These blueberry almond muffins are delicious, as well as being wheat- and refined sugar-free. With a base of ground almonds, they’re sweetened by fresh blueberries and a touch of honey, and they’re so easy to make.

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Ginger and Rosemary Biscotti

Ginger and rosemary biscotti

In case you think that biscotti are just too complicated and rather uppity for their own good, I can assure you that they’re not – they’re really just fancy rusks that have been cut into thin slices (with apologies to any Italians out there). Biscotti are actually quite easy to make and once you have a good basic recipe, you can vary the flavourings to your heart’s content.

This recipe actually came about rather organically. First my friend Alice gave me some crystallised ginger for Christmas, which got me thinking about how to use it. I’d been craving biscotti so I decided it would be a good opportunity to try making some ginger-flavoured biscotti – but it felt like something was missing…

Then I was browsing Pinterest for a completely different recipe for a main meal and suddenly rosemary, which was one of the ingredients, caught my eye, somehow I made a connection (clearly the biscotti conundrum was sitting somewhere at the back of my mind) and I began to wonder what ginger and rosemary would taste like together. I decided it was worth a try – then I simply added the nuts I had on hand, which happened to be walnuts, and some coarse Himalayan salt for extra taste and crunch. And lo and behold, it worked! 🙂

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