Chocolate cloud cupcakes

It is fair to say that Alice and I are both chocoholics. I do already have a fairly good diabetic-friendly chocolate cake recipe within my repertoire, but I stumbled across a recipe that was meringue-based, and felt it was intriguing enough to give it a go.

An additional diabetes-friendly-plus with this recipe is that it is flour less; the texture and structure are dependent upon well-whipped egg whites. That being said, I did try lining the muffin tins two different ways; either butter alone, or butter with an almond flour dusting, and it must be said that the cupcakes in the flour-lined tins were indeed much easier to turn out.

The only other ingredients are butter, sugar-substitute, salt and of course, good quality dark chocolate. During baking, the cupcakes rose really well, and then fell back a little bit whilst they were on the side cooling. However, this bakers-sin was easily covered by a fine dusting of powdered sugar substitute. An alternative would be to add a quenelle of cream on the top.

Alice and I decided to call them chocolate cloud cupcakes, due to the delicious texture; just like a meringue they are light, airy and melty in the middle. The unfortunate side of this is that they are easily to accidentally inhale without the cake really touching the sides! Delicious.

Sticky toffee pudding

I decided to have a go at adapting a sticky toffee pudding recipe, as in my humble opinion, sticky toffee pudding is one of the most superior puddings ever invented. I am aware that this may be a contentious statement, and I would be very happy to read your thoughts/comments and receive votes for alternative puddings in the comments section below! However, sticky toffee puddings (herein referred to as STPs) are extremely sugary, so can they be adapted to be sugar-free and diabetic-friendly? I do love a challenge.

I worked with almond flour again, following on from the success of using it in the chocolate chip muffins. My loaf-shaped baking tins were not available, so instead of making one big pudding, I made 6 individual STPs. It transpires that this was actually quite fortuitous, as it proved a convenient method for portion control! The puddings baked and rose well, however they were tricky to turn out despite buttering the tins well prior to adding the batter. Lesson learnt for next time; line the bottom of the tins with a circle of greaseproof-paper.

Whilst the puddings were baking, I made the caramel sauce, using a sinful-amount of butter and cream, the sugar substitute, a dash of salt, vanilla extract and a teaspoon of lemon juice to accentuate the sweetness of the sauce. The sauce actually came out looking surprisingly like a custard, despite having no egg in it. I think I needed to be less cautious when melting and browning the butter in the pan. Despite this, considering that when one thinks of a traditional toffee sauce the first word that springs to mind is sugar, this sugar-free sauce was a rather satisfying substitute.

Interestingly, Alice wasn’t actually a huge fan of the puddings, her reason being that they were too sweet! I’m aware that that sounds almost unbelievable, but I promise you it’s what she said. However, my partner Adam, who perhaps could lay claim to being the world’s biggest STP fan (or perhaps second after me), said that he absolutely loved them.

Thanks for reading, and please do add a comment to let everyone know your favourite pudding; don’t be shy.

Chocolate chip muffins

Alice requested a post-school day bake session yesterday, a request which I was most delighted to oblige! I’ve been meaning to try a nut-flour-based bake for a while, with a view to reducing the glycaemic load of my baked goodies. However, like most of us, I am not immune to feeling a little reluctant to shy away from what I know. Wheat flour gives such a reliable bake, and importantly is also cheap and easy to get hold of in the shop; points not to be sniffed at.

Nevertheless, I decided to take the leap and have a go baking with almond flour rather than traditional wheat flour. As well as substituting for a nut flour, I also swapped cows milk for almond milk, and used a sugar-alcohol as my sugar substitute.

Happily, both Alice and I enjoyed the result. The muffins rose well, came out an attractive golden brown, had a pleasing nutty texture, and a kind of nut-butter flavour which made them rich and creamy. In terms of improvement, for which in life there is always room, there were quite a few choc chips stuck to the inside of the case wrappers. To address this, I think baking directly in a well buttered muffin tine without paper cases would be an option, or perhaps a slight increase in the amount of butter in my recipe.

My take home learning from this bake was that nut flours are definitely worth exploring further in order to reduce glycaemic load, and I intend to make more use of them in the future for my diabetic-friendly baking. Yum!

Chocolate cupcakes

If you, like myself and my daughter, are choc-a-holics, then a chocolate cake is likely your go-to cake of choice. Turning this into cupcake-format means that there is an imposed portion limit, which, at least in my case, is welcome!

And so Alice and I did a collaborative chocolate cupcake bake this morning. The recipe we used was based on the vanilla cupcake recipe which I developed a couple of months ago, but with 10g of the flour substituted for cocoa powder. It turns out that this was perhaps not the best decision, as the batter mix pre-baking had the consistency of a custard; I had to ladle it into the cases rather than spoon it in! Despite this however, the texture after baking was actually quite pleasant. None-the-less, in terms of improvement, of which there is always room for, I would stick to the same volume of flour, and add the cocoa powder as an extra dry ingredient.

We iced our cupcakes with diabetic-friendly vanilla butter cream icing, made with a sugar-substitute. In the interests of aligning my diabetic baking with my cupcakecrush venture of providing self-decoration cupcakes for events, I tried different piping patterns using piping bags with various different scissor cuts in the end of them, rather than using a traditional nozzle. Unfortunately, what I didn’t really realise until I stood back and had a proper look at them, was that the colour of my icing makes it look uncannily like mashed potato (once you see it, you can’t unsee it!). But despite this, we still had fun messing around with it, and I must say, it was rather more tricky to do non-nozzle icing with the diabetic-icing than with the sugar-full icing, as the diabetic-version is rather more sticky; it would rather stick to itself/the outside of the piping bag/a finger than to the cake top!

None-the-less, we had a great time making, baking, and decorating our diabetic-friendly chocolate cupcakes, and then of course, eating them!!

Vanilla cupcakes

Sometimes in life, it is satisfying just to do the simple things well. So this afternoon, Alice and I decided to try baking and decorating a batch of humble vanilla cupcakes, with a diabetic-friendly twist of course! We used my ever-reliable vanilla cupcake recipe, but with a few key changes; we swapped the caster sugar for xylitol sugar-substitute, and increased the volume of milk as I’ve found that the sugar substitutes tend to dry out the batter. Additionally, from experience I know that a slightly lower oven temperature, coupled with a slightly longer baking time, seems to work well, so we reduced the temperature by ten degrees and increased the bake time by five minutes. After baking and cooling, we iced them with diabetic-friendly vanilla buttercream icing, and then our one cheat-treat was to use real sugar hundreds & thousands for decoration. Alice had real fun letting her 3-year-old creative self go wild! The result was a fun afternoon, and a tasty diabetic-friendly tea-time dessert.

Homemade Mozzarella

One of my Christmas presents from my very lovely partner Adam was a Mozzarella cheese making kit, containing sachets of citric acid, Rennet, salt and a thermometer, with a view to producing our own cheese for our weekly Pizza-Sundays. So, on New Years Day, I decided to give it a whirl. To my great surprise, it only took about an hour to convert a pan of milk into a reasonably passable Mozzarella ball!

I started with ~4 pints of semi-skimmed milk in a large saucepan, mixed it with citric acid and heated it up to 32 degrees Celsius, which caused the curds to separate from the whey. Next, I added a vegetarian Rennet, and left the curds to set. After 10 minutes, the curds had solidified and I was able to cut them into rough 1 inch cubes. Next, the mixture is heated up to 41 degrees Celsius, and then I transferred the curds into a colander, allowing the whey to drain away. I pressed the curds together gently by hand, then microwaved the cheese ball for 30 seconds to remove more whey, pressed it together again and then repeated. The final step is to knead in a sprinkling of salt, to taste.

To my delight, and to the credit of the kit, I managed to produce something that both tasted and looked something like Mozzarella, and happily it grated easily and melted nicely when sprinkled over our pizzas. As it only took an hour or so, it could easily be made on the same day as the pizza dough. Incidentally, I reserved some of the whey as I read that it can be used to enrich sauces, and I tried pouring a small amount into a pan of chicken/veg/fajita spices which I chucked together for tea that day, and it did indeed make the fajita sauce more rich and velvety.

Lievito Madre pizza

This is not strictly speaking a post about a diabetic sweet-treat, but I thought it was still worth-while sharing with the world as this is a fully homemade meal and thus is easily carb-counted. Additionally, in our modern world of fast-food outlets and microwave meals, it always feels special and healthy to create something from scratch.

A few months ago, my good friend Valentina gifted me a culture of Lievito Madre; an Italian sour dough which requires continual propagation. Every couple of days it needs passaging by dividing it roughly in half, adding a mixture of water and strong flour, and then culturing it in the fridge. I have been growing and using the culture faithfully for the last two months for our new family-tradition of “Pizza Sundays”, which has been great fun with the kids! On the evening before use, the culture needs feeding with the fresh water/flour mix, and incubating at room temperature overnight. On the following morning, the dough is again fed with a water/flour mix, given a good knead to aid gluten formation and left to rise in a warm place for two hours. After the two hour rise, the dough is split into 4, with as little disruption as possible so as to avoid knocking the dough back, and then left to rise for another ~6 hours. At the end of this time, you have four springy puffed-up dough balls with fantastic elasticity, which can either be rolled out into a rustic shape of your choice, or alternatively wrapped up in clingfilm and frozen for future use. Then it’s time for the kids to take over! We’ve been having them decorate the pizza bases with tomato passata and mozzarella, followed by toppings of their choice; ham, peperoni, cheeses, pickles… mostly dependent upon whatever we have left in the fridge by Sunday evening! We’ve also been experimenting with non-diary mozzarella as one of our boys is allergic to milk, and he is a huge fan of the pizzas that we have been making.

Such a fun, fulfilling (for both the stomach and the soul), family-tradition, which everyone can get involved in and enjoy, diabetic or otherwise!

Minty (Mince) pies

Mince pies, known as Minty pies in our house since Alice’s attempt to pronounce their name at the tender age of 20 months, are one of Alice’s favourite Christmas bakes. I like to make my own sweet shortcrust pastry, using a diabetic-sugar-substitute in place of castor sugar. I didn’t have my rolling pin handy, so had to use a (disappointingly empty) wine bottle to roll out the dough. If baking for adults I like to spike in a tot of brandy to the mince mix, but as I was baking for Alice in this instance I left it out. Brush the pastry with egg wash to make the pies bake into a lovely golden brown colour, and then dust with a powdered-sugar-substitute and serve warm with cream. Merry Christmas!

Carrot cake cupcakes

As promised; I’m back to diabetic-baking! I thought it would be fun to revive a classic to start with; carrot cake is one of my most favourite bakes using normal sugar, and it translates quite nicely into a diabetic-friendly version. It can be baked in several round tins and turned into a tiered cake, but it is also nice as muffins and this has the added bonus of acting as a natural portion control mechanism!

I increased the amount of oil in my recipe compared to the sugar-containing version, and replaced the sugar with a sugar-substitute. Alice and I baked these together, and for added flavour (and virtuousness!) we used carrots we had recently harvested from our back-garden. As with most of my diabetic cakes, the edges came out a little on the crispy side, but the middle was moist and springy, and crunching through the outside to reveal the soft inside was a pleasant textural experience. The icing is cream-cheese-style, and to finish them off we gave them a dusting of cinnamon. Yummy!

Cupcake Crush

Those of you who are keeping up with my blog will have noticed that I haven’t posted anything for a while. There are a few reasons for this, both baking and non-baking-related! And as this is a blog about baking, I will regale you with the baking-related reason; a foray into the world of gift-box baking with my good friend and neighbour Anna-Marie. She is an events organiser, who has recently launched her own business ( and she happens to be acutely aware of how much I enjoy baking as she is often on the receiving end of excess baked goods!

For one of the events she was hosting, she wanted to send out a gift box to each participant, and asked me over the garden hedge whether I would be interested in baking a couple of treats to be included in the boxes. And of course, me being me, I jumped at the chance of an exciting new baking challenge! I had a lot of fun but also learnt a great deal; not only did I need to come up with an interesting array of different baked-goods ideas and flavours that would look good, taste good and survive shipment in a box, but I had to also consider things such as allergens, labelling, packaging, social media presence, leafleting… the list was long! Not being one to do things by halves, I ploughed a lot of time and effort into the idea. I’m very happy to say that the event was a success, and Anna-Marie and I are now considering how we can take this idea further, so watch this space. I have a website for anyone who is interested in finding out more (

All of this does however mean that my diabetic-friendly baking has been on the back-burner for a while, which is something that I very much intend to rectify in the near future.