Chocolate Ganache

For a delicious (and very easy!) way to decorate a chocolate cake, this ganache-style covering is hard to beat. The quantities will vary, depending on the size of the cake, but the texture is the key…so, you have to taste it as you make it. Oh, such hardship!!

Recipe: Chocolate Ganache


  • 2 bars Kinnerton’s chocolate
  • ½ – 1 box Alpro soya cream


  1. Pour about ½ a box of soya cream into a glass bowl and either zap it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time until it just comes to the boil, or heat over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water or your chocolate will go hard and nasty when you add it.
  2. Smash up the chocolate BEFORE unwrapping the bars and drop the bits into the hot cream. Stir until it is all even and smooth.
  3. Force yourself to taste it! (Hard, I know.) You need a densely velvety texture on the tongue. If it’s very thin, bash up and add some more chocolate. If it’s stiff on the spoon even when warm, you need to stir in some more cream.
  4. When you’re happy with the feel of it, allow the mixture to cool for about 5 minutes, then put the bowl in the fridge until it is has thickened. That should take about 20-30 minutes. Don’t leave it overnight, or it may well be too hard to be spreadable.
  5. Stir before using, to make sure that you don’t have any unevenness in the ganache.
  6. Have a large mug of boiling water to hand with a flat-bladed knife for spreading. Sit the knife blade in the hot water before using it to spread the ganache over your cake. Ganache is thick enough to coat the side of your cake if you wish.

Quick Notes

If you get distracted and leave your ganache too long, warm it up a little bit to soften it. Don’t overdo it or you’ll be waiting for it to cool again!

Preparation time (duration): 5 minutes

Cooking time (duration): 5 minutes

Diet type: Dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 12+

Meal type: dessert

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Easiest Ever Chocolate Cake

This has become my default cake recipe. It has to be the simplest cake ever to throw together. It is light, fluffy, delicious, easy….an absolute knockout! If you have never felt brave enough to try baking, this is a perfect way to start. You don’t have to do anything fancy and you’ll end up with a delicious and impressive creation.

For this recipe you will need a large mixing bowl, a weighing scales, an electric hand mixer ( or a wooden spoon and plenty of vigour!) and two 8″/20cm round sandwich tins. If you’re using silicone ‘tins’, place them on a metal baking tray with a space between them, BEFORE you fill them with cake mixture and put the whole thing in the oven.

Recipe: Easiest Ever Chocolate Cake


  • 5oz / 150g self-raising flour
  • 1oz / 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 6oz / 175g caster sugar
  • 6oz / 175g Tesco Free From Spread
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract


  1. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 3 / 170°C (150°C for fan ovens)/ 325°F
  2. Line the bottoms of the tins with rounds of silicone paper and grease the sides well.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into the bowl.
  4. Put everything else into the bowl and beat it all together until it is all evenly combined.
  5. To check that the mixture isn’t too thick, drop a spoonful into the bowl by tapping the spoon gently on the edge. The mixture should drop off easily. If not, mix in a little water (at room temperature) a teaspoonful at a time until it does.
  6. Divide the mixture between the two tins and pop them in the oven on the middle shelf.
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes until the sponge just springs back when lightly touched with the fingertips.
  8. Remove the tins/tray from the oven and allow it to cool very slightly for ½ a minute or so.
  9. Run a thin bladed knife round the edge of the cake tins to loosen the cakes, then turn them out carefully onto a cooling rack and peel off the baking paper circles.
  10. Allow the cakes to cool completely, then sandwich them together with vanilla ‘butter’ icing and cover with chocolate ganache.

Quick Notes

This is SO easy that you really MUST try it!!

Preparation time (duration): 15 minutes

Cooking time (duration): 30 minutes

Diet type: Dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 12+

Meal type: dessert

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Pure re-branding and greed

Pure seem to be pricing themselves out of the market. What used to be my spread of choice, is now becoming both hard to find and too expensive for every day use. Some time ago, Pure re-branded their packaging. Whereas it used to be simple to tell which type of spread was which, now the unwary shopper can end up with the wrong one all too easily. All the boxes are the same colour, with slightly different illustrations on the lids. Could it be that too many of us were avoiding the (in my opinion) nasty soya one? Are they trying to make us buy the wrong one by mistake? Well, they’re going to be lucky to get me buying any of them very soon. I’m struggling to get the sunflower one in Morrison’s. They’ve opted for the soya one (goodness knows why!) and the price continues to go up and up. It’s now £1.60 a box round our way and that’s getting too expensive for a regular thing. Tesco have brought out their own brand dairy-free spread (review coming very soon) and it’s 40p a tub cheaper. Now that starts to mount up quite quickly. Sorry, Pure, you’re about to lose out to Tesco!

For other suggestions of dairy-free spreads, see our Review pages.

Eating out in Ledbury

Sometimes you find yourselves in a mixed group of family or friends, some of whom have dietary issues and some of whom don’t. At times like this, a good pub can frequently provide excellent food to suit all the group. In Ledbury, this weekend, we discovered The Prince of Wales pub, which met our needs very well.

This is a very old pub with an extremely attractive, half-timbered exterior. The interior is equally ancient and made up of a series of small rooms. It is cosy, friendly and unpretentious. The menu isn’t esoteric, it’s based on simple pies, fish and sausages. However, the pies are all homemade: even the shortcrust pastry (for those who can eat it). The sausages are from a local, award-winning butcher and got our vote of approval. Everything comes with a choice of mash (obviously not an option for the dairy-free members of the party, but good for the others), chips or rice with salad, peas or other veg. The portions were generous and we didn’t come out hungry!

It’s a real ale pub and we had a selection of very good ales. Some were familiar and some were new to us, but all were well-kept and were a fine accompaniment to some very good grub!

For more suggestions for places to eat out dairy-free, see our Eating Out section.

Lunchtime in Hereford

Thai Gallery, Hereford

48 Broad St, Hereford, County of Herefordshire HR4 9AR

01432 277374

Here is another offering in our periodic series of places to eat dairy-free. Hereford (lovely town, by the way) has a branch of the Thai Gallery which exceeded our expectations on the weekend. This is a business which has a restaurant in Worcester as well. Now, we ate in that branch about a year ago and, while not bad, it wasn’t great. By contrast, the Hereford restaurant produced dishes which tasted distinctly different (unlike the Worcester one) and which were very good. The choice of dishes is wide and there are plenty of things which don’t use coconut milk if you prefer to avoid that in case it’s not safe. We ate well and the service was efficient. We would cheerfully go back.

Tesco Free From: New things for the fridge!

Tesco have finally woken up to the market that’s out there in the dairy-free community. They have massively expanded their range of own-brand dairy-free things in their Free From range. I have tried their own natural soya yoghurt (yes, I prefer to spell it the correct British English way rather than the pervasive American way!) and it’s not bad!

Now that may not sound like a ringing endorsement, but you have put this into context. The Alpro plain Yofu stuff has been frankly horrible for years. I have used it, if I have to, in marinades for curries when you can’t taste the stuff, but I NEVER eat it straight out of the pot, as it just isn’t good. Sojade’s plain yoghurt is good, but hard to get hold of. Tesco’s new kid on the block, by contrast, is pretty good and easily available from larger Tesco stores.

The texture is good on the tongue. It feels like yoghurt and that’s hugely important. One of the things I put most time and effort into when developing new dairy-free recipes is getting the texture right. Dairy produce has a distinctive feel in the mouth and one of the most off-putting thing about many of the early milk, cheese and yoghurt replacements was the texture of them. (Apart from the damp cardboard flavour, that is!) If you can get the “feel” right in the mouth, you are quite a long way towards getting a convincing substitute. Well, whoever is making this stuff for Tesco has got the texture much closer to the real thing. The feel is creamy on the tongue and it doesn’t make the surface of your teeth feel odd afterwards, which a lot of soya foods do.

When it comes to flavour, the initial taste is a big improvement on other things on the market. It is much less flat or sweet than others and it has a slight sharpness which is entirely appropriate for natural yoghurt. There is still a slight residue of damp cardboard, soya’s gloomy shadow, but it isn’t any where as near as strong as anything else I’ve tried.

So, it’s not 100% perfect. But it’s a whole lot better than any other easily available plain yoghurt I’ve found yet. …I’m now wondering who’s making it for Tesco. Maybe I should re-test the Alpro stuff and see whether it’s the same stuff!

As usual, the full details of all of our product reviews can be found on our review pages.

New Unsweetened Almond Milk

Alpro have introduced a new variant on the almond/hazelnut milk theme: an unsweetened almond milk….. and it’s great!

It has only recently appeared in the supermarkets round here. It’s just as good as the original version in terms of flavour and cookability, but it has the added advantage of being unsweetened. This makes it better for use in savoury cooking and less calorific if you’re trying to cut down after Christmas.The reduction of sugar does not spoil the taste. As with the original almond and hazelnut, it comes in both fresh and longlife versions. I’ve tried both and I can’t tell them apart. I now make sure I have a box of longlife tucked away for emergencies.

You need to keep an eye on the chiller cabinet and on the shelf section in your supermarket. If yours is like mine, there will be 3 for £3 offers on for a few weeks at a time. This stuff has really good long dates on it (even the fresh version), so I stock up when it’s going cheap. The boxes store on their sides at the bottom of the fridge until they’re opened and I eke them out until the next offer comes around. After all there’s a big difference between £1 a box and £1.50ish. It all mounts up after a bit.

Not all the family are fans: some don’t like the taste of nuts and are resisiting conversion….but I don’t care, I love it! As usual, if you’re looking for other ideas  and more information on other non-dairy milks, try our review section. All the different milks we’ve ever tried are there!

Un-baked Chocolate Cheesecake

This, I think, even surpasses my tiramisu recipe. It makes a stunning centrepiece for a dinner party, it feeds at least 12, and it’s so low-tech that I’ve even made it while camping. If you tend to be on holiday when a family celebration occurs and most people would go out and buy a cake, this is your solution!!

You will need a 9″/23cm non-stick springform tin, an electric handheld mixer (or a spiral whisk), 2 mixing bowls, 1 large glass bowl and a heatproof measuring jug.

Recipe: Un-baked Chocolate cheesecake


  • 7oz / 200g digestive biscuits, crushed
  • 4½oz / 125g Tomor, melted
  • 1 box Morinu Silken Tofu (soft is easier, but firm will give in eventually!)
  • 1 box Alpro Custard
  • 6½ tbsps icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 packet powdered gelatine or agar
  • 5floz /  150ml very hot, but not quite boiling water
  • 1 box Organic Cremovita
  • 7oz / 200g Kinnerton’s Chocolate


  1. Put the crushed biscuits and the melted Tomor into a mixing bowl and blend the two together thoroughly until you have something which looks like a bowl of damp sand.
  2. Press it into the 9″ / 23cm springform tin to form an even layer across the base. Use the backs of your fingers to press it down and make sure that there are no gaps under the surface.
  3. Put it in the fridge to chill for at least 2 hours (or I tend to leave it overnight).
  4. Beat the tofu very thoroughly with a hand-held electric mixer. Get a teaspoon and test the texture in your mouth. It needs to be as close to completely smooth as you can get it: texture is a huge part of the effect of cheesecake. If you’re making this without electrical gadgets, beat the living daylights out of it with a spiral hand whisk! You’ll need to be persistent, but it will go beyond the grainy stage and when it’s finally smooth, you’re ready to move on.
  5. Add the custard, the icing sugar and the vanilla. Beat it all together thoroughly.
  6. Put the chocolate, broken into bits, into a large glass bowl and set up a bain marie under it to melt the chocolate while you do the next things.
  7. Beat the Cremovita until it is thick and its volume has increased to almost double its size.
  8. Prepare the gelatine/agar according to the instructions on your pack. I use the sort that needs a little very hot water. Do not boil it as that can affect the texture of your final dessert, making it gritty. I boil the kettle and pour the boiling water into a pyrex jug to measure it out, then mix up the gelatine/agar in it. This cools the water just enough, but not too much.
  9. This next bit can get messy as you do have to stir quite hard and move quickly. Pour the prepared gelatine into the chocolate, stirring vigorously as you do it. Keep stirring to smooth it out.
  10. Before everything cools down and sets, fold in the tofu mixture, keeping everything moving.
  11. Finally, add the Cremovita and fold that in too.
  12. Scoop it all into the tin on top of the chilled base and level it out.
  13. Chill overnight (or for at least 5 – 6 hours).
  14. To serve, run a palette knife round the side of the tin to release the cheesecake from the surface.
  15. Release the clip on the tin and remove the ring.
  16. Now for the really challenging bit: very carefully, slide the cheesecake off the base onto a flat serving plate. I slide a palette knife under the base to release it, then wiggle it a bit and hope!

Quick Notes

This looks spectacular covered in chocolate curls or decorated with artistically arranged raspberries. (Or with chocolate curls AND raspberries!) If you’re feeling ambitious, you can line the tin with chocolate cigarillos (or sponge fingers if you’re feeling retro!), then fill in with the mixture. It’s fiddly, but for a special do it makes the end result look extra special.

Cooking time (duration): Base 15mins + 2hrs chilling time, then 20 minutes + at least 2-4hrs chilling time

Diet type: Dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 12+

Meal type: dessert

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Braised Pheasant

This is one for a cold autumn evening when you’ve been out on the hills. You can throw it in the oven in about 20 minutes and it’ll be ready an hour and a half later…plenty of time for a drink and a chat before dinner! I try to keep some pheasant thighs in the freezer, then it’s an easy option for a change on a Sunday. The leftovers freeze well and are even richer and tastier when re-heated.

Recipe: Braised Pheasant

Summary: An easy treat for a cold evening.


  • 1lb / 454g boned pheasant thighs, chopped into bite-size chunks
  • about ½lb / 225g shallots
  • a good slosh of olive oil
  • 1tbsp dairy-free spread
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • ½lb / 225g mushrooms
  • about ½ a bottle of robust red wine
  • 2 tbsp calvados (brandy will do if you don’t have calvados)
  • (½ a tin of vacuum packed chestnuts, optional)
  • ½ a beef stock cube, crumbled
  • 2 tsps flour stirred into a smooth paste with about 2 tbsps of water.


  1. If your pheasant thighs are frozen, make sure they are completely defrosted first.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 4 / 180°C / 350°F.
  3. Put the shallots in a bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them to sit for about a minute to loosen the skins. This makes them much less tricky to peel.
  4. Melt the spread in a heavy-bottomed flame-proof casserole and add the olive oil.
  5. Peel the shallots and fry them until they are golden brown. Then lift them out with a slotted spoon and put them to one side.
  6. Brown the pheasant thighs in the casserole and then add the mushrooms.
  7. Fry gently for a few minutes until the mushrooms stop looking raw.
  8. Return the shallots to the pan and stir them all together.
  9. Add the wine and stir round to scrape off any tasty brown bits on the pan.
  10. Crumble in the stock cube and stir.
  11. Add the calvados/brandy.
  12. Pop a lid on the casserole and put it in the oven for about an hour and a half or until the thighs are tender and the sauce is rich and dark.
  13. Remove the casserole from the oven about 10 minutes before you want to serve it and put it on the hob.
  14. If the sauce is a bit thin-looking, simmer it gently with the lid off to reduce the liquid.
  15. Add the chestnuts and stir through. From now on, all stirring must be gentle so as not to break up the chestnuts.
  16. Before adding the flour to thicken the sauce, turn off the heat and allow the casserole to cool a little. This will prevent the flour from cooking as it hits the sauce and forming nasty, hard little lumps.
  17. Stir the flour mixture into the sauce and simmer gently for about 5 minutes to cook out the flour.
  18. Serve and enjoy!

Preparation time (duration): 20 minutes

Cooking time (duration): about 1 ½ hours

Diet type:Dairy-free

Number of servings (yield): 6-8

Meal type: dinner

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New Alpro Hazelnut and Almond Milks

Now, I’m not usually one to sing the praises of large companies who tend to dominate the market. Elsewhere among my posts, I’ve moaned about the lack of choice in the soya yoghurt department. Alpro have not always been high on my list of favoured companies. However, they have recently introduced both chilled and long life versions of these two “milks” and I love them! I’m now using both in my coffee and it’s infinitely better than putting soya in it. Do you remember the craze a few years ago (OK probably more than a few now I stop to think about it!) for using flavoured syrups in real coffee? Well, these create a very similar effect. I think they’re delicious. I will even drink them neat, straight from a glass with nothing to disguise the taste and I don’t do that very often!! There are no overtones of damp cardboard with which anyone forced to drink soya milk over the years has become far too familiar. Instead, they both have clean, clear nutty tastes which are different from each other (yes, I know they should be…but…be honest, how many times have you hoped for the best only to be disappointed?), but equally good.

In case you haven’t noticed…I’m a fan!!

Hazelnut Milk

This has a smooth silky texture and is pale gold in colour. It also has a distinct and very good flavour of hazelnuts. You do need to remember to shake it every time you use it, as otherwise you’ll be left with quite a lot of sludge at the bottom and since this is the really flavourful bit, it’s much better off distributed through the milk than left to go to waste. I really like it in coffee. It adds a touch of luxury to the taste and feel of a simple instant coffee and it definitely enhances the flavour. There is no nasty starchy backtaste as there always seems to be with soya milks and, so far, I’ve found it to be totally heat-stable.

It works excellently in my Fast and Fabulous Fruit Loaf, adding a nutty background to the flavour without adding “gritty bits” for those who object to that in fruit cakes. (Yes, I have one of those!) The only thing to remember is that you cannot use it for lunchbox cakes if, as so many schools are, yours is nut free. This is an allergenic substance and you can’t use it around nut allergics. However, for the rest of us… it’s delicious!

Almond Milk

This milk is paler than the hazelnut one and has a more delicate flavour. It is also lighter and thinner in texture. It is pale cream to look at and has a smooth feel on the tongue. Again, I will drink this in its undisguised form and it is a faintly sweet, refreshing drink. It makes delicious custard without any hint of curdling/splitting. It is lovely to have a choice of “milks” available which actually taste good! I’ve used this in my Fast and Fabulous Fruit Loaf and it worked well, although the flavour of the milk doesn’t really come through as it is rather too delicate for that. I prefer the effect of the hazelnut one. As with the hazelnut milk, you should avoid using this if you’re taking the end result somewhere that is nut-free. While almonds are strictly speaking seeds rather than true nuts, most nut-free areas will not want almonds taken in.

As usual with these reviews, I am putting this in the review section of our pages for reference. There you can compare these with other things which are on the market.