Cherry Bakewell Cupcakes – the healthier way!

When Irelands Wedding Journal approached me about creating a healthy wedding cupcake recipe for their health and fitness month, I couldn’t wait to get cracking some eggs and bake those suckers!  Cherry Bakewell is a flavour I have always adored, I’m also one of those weirdo’s that loves marzipan – I know we are few and far between!  So when Clare contacted me I was instantly drawn to creating a cupcake that had all the flavours of cherry bakewell but less of the sugar and fat attached.  I used Keen Nutrition as a full substitute for butter creating a beautiful sticky and nutty, but still light, sponge.  I cut the sugar and used almond milk as a nuttier substitute to milk and abolished sugary and deathly sweet butter icing and instead opted for a light cream cheese topping.  Here is the recipe and a few pics to inspire!  Happy baking 🙂


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Almond Cherry Bakewell Cheesecake Cupcakes 


Makes 20 cupcakes

115g/4oz Keen almond smooth nut butter at room temperature

85g/3oz golden caster sugar

115g/4oz self raising flour, sifted

2 medium eggs

120mls almond milk

½ tsp almond essence

Quick cherry compote filling

1 tin cherries in light syrup, stoned (425g)

2 tbsp maple syrup, honey or Agave sryup

1 tsp lemon juice (jif is fine)

3-4 tbsp water

1 tsp cornflour

Cream cheese icing

500g light cream cheese

4-8 tbsp icing sugar, depending how sweet you like it

swirl of cherry compote

toasted flaked almonds to decorate


Preheat oven to 170°C.  Line your muffin trays with cupcake liners.  Empty the contents of the cherry tin into a heavy based pot and bring to the boil.  Stir the cherries and moosh them up a bit so there are no whole pieces.  Reduce to a simmer and add the lemon juice and syrup and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.  Mix the cornflour with a little water and stir into the cherries, it will start to thicken immediately.  Thin gradually with the water until you get a syrupy consistency, it will set a little thicker as it cools too.  Set aside to cool.  Meanwhile beat the nut butter in a large baking bowl for about 3 minutes until loosened. Beat in the almond essence.  Add the sugar and beat for a further 1 – 2 minutes.  Beat in the eggs one by one.  The mixture will still be quite thick.  Beat in the almond milk and fold in the sifted flour.  Fill the cupcake liners half way and bake for about 20-25 minutes until they spring back when pressed.  The cupcakes will be darker than normal because of the nut butter.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  When cool, scoop out a piece from the center (a melon baller would be great for this, I used a measuring spoon tsp size).  Set the piece of sponge aside, take a little compote and spoon into the cupcake (not too full) then replace the scooped out sponge.  Repeat for the others, this is tedious but worth it!  Leave a little compote for later. For the topping, beat the cream cheese to loosen and add icing sugar until you get desired sweetness.  Swirl in about 3 tbsp of the leftover compote so you get a marbled effect.  You can apply the icing however you like, it’s quite soft to pipe but it helps with the marbling of the cherry compote.  Decorate with toasted flaked almonds (toast in a pan over a medium heat but keep an eye on them!) and place a cherry on top, I used glace but Morello or fresh would work great too.



Almond butter choccy egg bites

Does anyone still dye boiled eggs yellow at Easter with (now this is Mother Duffins name for this so there is a high possibility it’s made up…) ‘whin bush’ petals, then roll them down a big hill and chase after them???   Ahhh, the memories….

Here’s a tastier version, I wouldn’t roll them down a hill though.


Keen Almond butter choc eggs Keen Almond butter chocolate eggs Keen Almond choccy eggs Keen Almond chocolate eggs


Keen Nut Butter Eggs

240g Keen smooth almond, cashew would also work gloriously

125mls maple syrup

1tbsp melted coconut oil

4tbsp ground almonds

dash of vanilla

pinch of salt


Chocolate coating

340g dark chocolate

50g coconut oil


In a big bowl mix together the nut butter, maple syrup and coconut oil.  Add the ground almonds, salt and vanilla.  You can chill the mixture for a bit now if it’s too soft to shape into eggs or if you’re good to go take a teaspoon for small or a tablespoon for large eggs.  Use two spoons to shape and push the mixture of the spoon and onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.  Large will make about 10, small 20.  Chill in the fridge for an hour or two.  When they are firm, melt your chocolate and coconut oil in a bowl over a pan of barely simmering water.  Set aside to cool off.  I found it better if there is no heat in the chocolate before starting to coat your eggs, but it’s still a liquid obvs!  Spoon the chocolate over the eggs, or dip them – whichever works best for you.  Stick them back in the fridge for the chocolate to set.  There you have it, healthy chocolate nut butter eggs to feast upon!  Additions to these moreish mounds can be anything from a hazelnut center, made with Keen hazelnut and dark chocolate (oh I’m trying that!) dried fruit, seeds, rolled in chopped nuts, Keen macadamia and white chocolate and dipped in white chocolate…the possibilities are endless!


NOTella Hazelnut Chocolate Cheesecake

I was reading something online the other day, the sentence started “I don’t like cheesecake…” and I don’t know what happened after that.  I don’t quite trust people who say they don’t like cheesecake…’s weird….what’s not to like?!?  Okay, so everyone can’t like the same things but, but cheesecake?  It’s like saying you don’t like puppies or being happy!  Anyway, if like me you ARE a cheesecake lover and would like to try making your own, here’s one recipe that will leave you a little bit more nuts for the stuff.  It was Nutella day last week, which totally came by surprise to me as I didn’t know there was such a day, most likely invented by Nutella.  Now, I do like Nutella but it’s not the healthiest thing on the planet and to be frank – it’s laden with sugar, very little percentage of nuts and more sugary chocolate.  Step up Keen.  They have made their version of Nutella using 83% hazelnuts and 17% decadent dark chocolate.  Now that’s what I call a nutty spread!  I took a recipe for Nutella cheesecake and replaced yes you guessed it, the Nutella with Keen and my word,  you are gonna love this….

Dark Choc Nutty Cheesecake Nutty choc cheesecake slice


250g digestive biscuits

75g butter or coconut oil (the firm stuff)

450g cream cheese (full fat)

350g Keen hazelnut and extremely dark choc

60g icing sugar

100g chopped toasted hazelnuts



Blitz the digestives in a food processor.  Meanwhile heat the butter and 1 tbsp of nut butter over a medium heat.  Add the blitzed biscuits and a couple of spoonfuls of chopped nuts to the butter mixture.  Mix well until combined and then press into a loose bottomed 8inch tin.  Press the mixture down firmly and up the sides of the tin a little to create a lip and smooth the surface with a spoon.  In a big bowl soften the cream cheese.  I used full fat as it’s what I had at the time but I will try this with a lighter version or maybe Quark in future?  Add the icing sugar and beat together. The mixture should start to stiffen a little at this stage.  Add the rest of the nut butter and beat to combine well.  Give it a few folds with a large spoon to make sure you get everything all in there and then tip onto the base.  Top with the chopped nuts and let it set in the fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight preferably.  Loosen the sides by running a knife round if you need to, remove from tin and enjoy!  Try using half and half different nut butters (or use half Nutella for a little naughtiness) to create different flavours, use pecan nuts and try gingernuts, oreos or hobnobs for the base instead 🙂


Flippin’ heck!

Shrove Tuesday is upon us!  Although really I need no excuse to eat pancakes, especially when they’re healthy and full of yummy nut butter!  Here are my banana oat pancakes made with Keen Almond Vanilla, flax seeds, almond milk and Canadian maple syrup.  Happy times 🙂Banana Oat Pancakes V Banana Oat Pancakes with Keen Almond (V)


1 cup oat flour (I blitzed some porridge oats for this)

1/2 cup wholemeal flour or coconut flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tbsp Maple syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/4 cups of almond milk

1 ripe banana, mashed

1/3 cup of Keen Almond Vanilla nut butter + extra to serve

1 tbsp flax seeds + 2 tbsp water mixed together OR 1 egg

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract



Mix together in a bowl the flours, baking powder and salt.  In a separate bowl mix the almond milk with the mashed banana, nut butter, maple syrup, flax seed mix or egg, coconut oil and vanilla extract.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients to a smooth batter of dropping consistency.  Set a pan on medium heat and melt a little coconut butter, vegetable oil (or I used coconut spray oil).  Ladle dollops of  mixture onto the pan to create however big a pancake you wish, I went for fairly big!  Cook until small bubbles start to appear then flip and cook the other side for 3 – 4 minutes.  The oat flour and the banana make quite a dense pancake so it won’t rise to extraordinary heights, however they are so filling and tasty, especially served with an extra dollop of nut butter and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Happy flipping pancake day!



Lovers Red Velvet Cake

Okay, okay I’m jumping on the Valentines day bandwagon with my ‘lovers’ cake but come on, it’s red and delicious and sweet and moreish – just like the one you love!  I hold no copyright over that statement, use it at will people!  Make this yummy red velvet cake for your sweetheart this Valentine’s day and let the good times roll…you can thank me later 🙂


Red Velvet Cake




225g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing

4 tbsp. water

55g cocoa powder

3 eggs, beaten

250ml buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp red food colouring

280g plain flour

55g cornflour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

280g caster sugar



500g cream cheese

80g unsalted butter, softened

6 tbsp. icing sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract




Preheat oven to 190°C.  Grease and line two 23cn/9inch round sandwich tins.  Place the butter, water and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and heat gently, without boiling and stirring until melted and smooth.  Remove from the heat and leave to cool slightly,  Whisk together the eggs, buttermilk vanilla extract and food colouring in a bowl until frothy.  Whisk in the butter mixture.  Sift together the flour, cornflour and baking powder then stir quickly and evenly into the mixture with the caster sugar.  Divide the mixture between the prepared tins and bake in a preheated oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until risen and firm to the touch.  Leave to cool in the tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool completely.  To make the icing whisk together all the ingredients until smooth.  Use about a third to sandwich the cake together and then cover the rest with the remainder of the icing.  Eat whilst staring into the eyes of your loved one….or sat in your jim jams with a big mug of coffee and Jeremy Kyle 🙂

Irish Potato Boxty

Got some leftover mash from Sunday dinner?  If you’re anything like me and make enough to feed the five thousand when there is only the two of you, then Boxty’s are a great way to spruce up your prootas! NB. If you do not know what prootas are you were  A. Not brought up in, round (roon) or near farming folk or B. You speak English and Ulster Scots is a completely foreign language – any questions ask my Mother, she’s fluent in it.  Anyhoo, here’s the recipe and a few pics to whet your appetite.  Enjoy on its own with soured cream, as a breakfast with scrambled eggs and bacon, or dinner with beef stroganoff or creamy chicken and sweetcorn.  Try replacing white potatoes with sweet and be inventive with additions!

Cheese and Chive Boxty Irish Cheese and Chive Boxty



250g mashed potato or two large potatoes boiled, mashed and cooled

75g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

2 eggs

150-200 mls milk

1 tbsp of chives, or more depending on taste

50g grated cheddar

butter or sunflower oil to cook



Place the cooled mash into a baking bowl.  Sieve the flour and baking powder into the mash and mix through (it will be quite dry).  In a separate bowl whisk the eggs with 150mls of milk and add to the mash mixture.  I aimed for the consistency of drop scone batter (fluffy pancakes) only a little bit thicker, it should drop off the spoon.  Add more milk as needed.  Stir in chopped chives and cheese.  Heat pan to a medium heat, pour in a little oil and once that’s sizzling ladle a dollop of the mixture into the pan.  Make them big, make them small – it’s up to you!  Mine were fairly big so I might choose to cook them a little smaller next time.  Once the pancake starts to bubble a little on top, flip over and cook the other side for a few minutes (I did mine about 3-4 minutes each side) just keep an eye on them as you know what pancakes are like, one minute not done, then next thing OHH I’m done! These are delicious warm from the pan or toasted the next day with a slather of butter 🙂

Sticky Gingerbread Loaf

This is a recipe I’ve used every Christmas for the past 5 years or more, it’s by Nigel Slater and I absolutely love it.  It packs a substantial punch of ginger which you want in a ginger loaf and the plump juicy sultanas give a gorgeous hit of sweet and chewy throughout the bread.  It’s not too sickly sweet either and works great just sliced up with a layer of creamy butter or served warm with simple vanilla icecream or my favourite, a big dollop of fresh custard.  I make this loaf for my Dad every year, I tell him to let it sit for a few days as the flavours intensify but he cant resist a wee slice on Christmas day!

Sticky Ginger loaf


250g self raising flour

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 tbsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of salt

125g dark muscavado sugar

200g golden syrup

4 tbsp ginger syrup from the jar

125g butter

2 eggs

250mls milk

3 lumps of stem ginger, chopped

4 tbsp sultanas

8 x 8 inch deep square baking dish or 2 x 2lb loaf tins



Grease and line your baking tin(s).  Preheat oven to 180.  Sift the flour, bicarb of soda, salt and spices into a large baking bowl.  Meanwhile place the butter and syrups in a pot over a medium heat.  Once melted, add the sugar, sultanas and chopped stem ginger to the mixture.  Let it bubble for a few minutes, stirring frequently and then take off the heat and set aside.  Break the eggs into a jug, add the milk and give it a little whisk to break up the eggs.  Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients in the baking bowl.  Pour in the syrup mixture and fold together with a large metal spoon.  Add the egg and milk mixture and stir to combine leaving no traces of flour.  Pour into cake tin or loaf tins (fill each tin about half way) and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a metal skewer inserted comes out clean.  Once removed from the oven and the bread is still warm, I like to pour a little more ginger syrup over the top to get that stickiness and glossiness.  Scatter a few chopped ginger pieces over there too just to finish it off 🙂


Apple and cheese please doggie biccies

These were so good I’ll admit to eating a few myself…. Made of nothing more than porridge oats, stewed apples and grated cheese, you could pass them around with the tea rightly (just maybe don’t cut them out with a dog bone shaped cookie cutter).  Recipe below, treat your furry friends!


Biscuits on wood Biscuits on white



400g oat flour or finely ground porridge oats

100g porridge oats

150g grated cheddar, mature works well

150g eating apple

2 tbsp vegetable oil



Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.  Peel core and chop the apple and stew in a little water in a small saucepan.  When the apple has softened and broke down, set aside to cool.  Once cooled, mix with all the other ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Add enough water to bind everything together to form a soft dough (about 150ml).  On a floured surface roll out the dough to about 1cm thick (I did this in batches as there is a lot of dough).  Cut out the biscuits into any shape (I used a small bone shaped cutter).  You could use a bigger cookie cutter for bigger dogs.  Lay them out on a lined baking sheet (they wont spread so I didn’t leave that much distance between them) and bake until golden brown.  This will take about 15-25 minutes but keep an eye on them and swap the trays around in the oven from bottom to top to even out the colour.  Leave to cool for a bit in the oven then take them out and leave to coolcompletely and firm up before lifting them from the baking tray.  Store in an airtight container.

Recipe from Marvellous by Kate Bendix.

Healthy Eggnog Smoothie

I know eggnog isn’t something we are overly familiar with here in Norn Iron but I’m sure you have heard of it at some point in your life.  Traditionally it’s made up of eggs, milk, cream, sugar and rum with the addition of a few spices like nutmeg and cinnamon.  It’s a calorific catastrophe if you’re counting them!  More of a USA tradition, they enjoy the tipple from Thanksgiving through to New Year, probably much in the same way we neck the Baileys this festive season.  I stumbled upon this healthier version on my interweb travels lately, it was labelled an Eggnog Smoothie but has neither eggs nor nog involved!  I tweaked the recipe a little and added coconut whipped cream as a twist and actually it was rather delicious!  I slurped my ‘Eggnog’ safe in the knowledge my hips wouldn’t explode out of my jeans anytime soon.  I’ll save that for Christmas day!


Eggnog Smoothie with coconut whipped cream

Healthy Eggnog Smoothie

Eggnog Smoothie with Coconut Whipped Cream and Pomegranate jewels


Serves 2

750mls Almond or Coconut milk

1 banana

2 pitted dates

1 tbsp almond extract

1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon



1 can of full fat coconut milk (chilled upright in fridge)

1 tbsp sweetener or icing sugar

2 tbsp pomegranate seeds

pinch of dessicated coconut



Throw all the ingredients (except the topping ingredients) into a blender and blend for about two minutes or until everything is combined nicely.  Pour into glasses.  Take the can of coconut milk and try not to to shake or tip it.  You want the all the thick cream to have separated from the liquid so you can scoop it out of the can.  Scoop it out into a bowl and whisk with a handheld beater for about 2 – 5 minutes until it has started to thicken (it won’t go as thick a s double cream but if you add icing sugar it helps to stabalise it).  Add icing sugar or sweetener to taste and pour over eggnog.  Finish with pomegranate seeds and dessicated coconut.  Try it with a frozen banana for a different texture or throw in some ice cubes for a slushy!




I believe in miracles…since you came along, you sexy thing!

Yes, you too will believe in miracles after tasting this amazingly rich hot chocolate that is (here’s the miracle) healthy, skinny and good for you!  Grab your jingle balls because it’s that time of year again, Christmas! I love the festive season but it doesn’t half reek havoc with the old diet and healthy eating habits that you’ve worked so hard to establish all year.  Of course it’s fine to indulge once in a while, hell we’re only human but if you want to enjoy the festivities at a more frequent rate it doesn’t do any harm to shave off a few calories here and there if you can.  Whilst trawling the internet for a few healthy hacks on the old favourites, I found this recipe for a skinny hot chocolate and needless to say my attention was most certainly drawn!  Using a combination of skimmed milk, no added sugar cocoa powder and hazelnut spread for extra nuttiness and flavour, this hot chocolate recipe will make you feel naughty but oh so extremely nice 😛 Enjoy!

Hazelnut Hot Choc


Mug close up



Ingredients (serves 2 decent size mugs)

1 liter of skimmed milk

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (Green and Blacks works a treat)

2 tbsp Keen Hazelnut extremely dark chocolate nut butter (Nutella will do but we’re going all out healthy here)

2 tbsp preferred sweetener ( I used Canderel but honey, agave syrup or similar would work perfectly also)



Marshmallows (Sainsbury’s do sugar free ones), hazelnuts, dark choc cocoa nibs and anything else you like on your hot chocolate!



Heat the milk in a saucepan over a medium to high heat until steaming and just starting to bubble.  Add all ingredients apart from the toppings and simmer for a couple of minutes, whisking until everything is combined smoothly.

Take off the heat and pour steaming hot into Christmas mugs (that’s a must), plop in as many marshmallows as you can fit, sprinkle with chopped roasted hazelnuts, cocoa nibs or dust with a little cocoa powder, freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon.  A masterpiece of chocolatey pleasure!