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!



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!









The Salty Dog

A little while back I was asked along to The Salty Dog in Bangor to shoot some of their delicious recipes using the wonderful Keen nut butters.  I almost got too distracted by the task at hand to take in the beautiful surroundings but I made sure to take a minute and soak up the atmosphere of this lush little seaside retreat.  When the food came out for me to shoot, it was all I could do to not allow myself to unceremoniously tuck in!  Of course that’s not why I was there and so I gathered my thoughts, put my tongue back in my mouth and carried on!  Below are the beautiful creations put together by the talented chefs using only the finest local ingredients – if you wish to taste as well as look, get your butts over there 😛


AG8A3921 AG8A3933Keen Almond Butter Hummus

AG8A3946Choux Keen Hazelnut Butter and chocolate bun,

banana sorbet, milk chocolate mousse and nut brittle

AG8A3959Cocktail using Keen Macadamia and White Chocolate butter

AG8A3936Selection of butters available to buy in the restaurant

Almond Nut Butter Protein Bars

All good things come in small packages, right?  Well these little wonderbars (or not so little depending on how generous your portions are!) pack a powerhouse of nutritional yummy goodness that will satisfy any chocoholics craving, in a not so sinful choccy way.  Crammed full of nuts, seeds, yummy almond butter and rich dark velvety chocolate, I have to admit, I really really enjoyed licking the spoon on this occasion!  Not to mention a few sneaky extra spoonfuls of delicious almond butter of course 🙂  Even those who aren’t fans of dark chocolate will find themselves wanting more.  I’ve already been ordered to make another batch by a dark chocolate loather!


Go on, move over to the dark side 😉


protein barsAlmond butter protein bars

Ingredients (Makes 16 pieces)

1 cup mixed chopped nuts

1/2 cup ground almonds

3 scoops protein powder (I used chocolate but vanilla  or banana could work also)

1 cup dried cranberries

2 tbls flaxseeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

2 x 100g bars of 85% cocoa solids dark chocolate

2 heaped tbls any flavour smooth nut butter (I used Keen Almond Smooth Nut Butter)



Melt the chocolate in a heatproof dish over some simmering water (do not let the water touch the bowl).  Once the chocolate has melted. take it off the heat and stir in the nut butter.  Add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.  Line a square 8in x 8in dish with baking parchment.  Pour in the chocolate mixture, push into the corners of the dish and smooth over the top.  Place in the fridge until set and then cut up into equal squares.



It’s Peanut Butter Jelly Time! Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

OK actually it’s almond nut butter jelly time but that’s not quite what Brian sang in Family Guy unfortunately – if only he had heard about Keen!  Whilst dreaming up what to use my fresh jar of nut butter for, I thought I’ll just have a bite of lunch while I gleefully peruse Pinterest for creative solutions.  Low and behold lunch offered up more than just a satisfied belly but rather a perfect photo opportunity and classic usage of the glorious nut spread!  Simple, to the point and utterly delicious – I give you a twist on the the good old PBJ, the almond butter jam sandwich.  I need not post a recipe, you all know what you’re doing here!  Mix it up with different flavoured jams and preserves along with any variety of Keen nut butter, trust me they will all work!

Nut butter and jam sandwichesNut butter and jam sandwich slices

‘Keen’ on some nut butter

Picture it……It’s raining (actually you probably just need to look outside).  It’s cold, the wind is whipping up around the windows and the doors and you’ve got your boxset of Friends all ready to go.  What’s missing….?  Some yummy, scrummy, thick and golden roasted almond nut butter of course!  Indulge in its mouth watering glossiness as it settles onto its new home – a thick slice of cinnamon fruit soda baked fresh and still warm.  At that first bite I take a moment, the warm bread gently melting the butter releasing its sweet nutty aroma. Ahhhhhhh……………. Lets just leave that jar sitting there x

crunchy almond on cinnamon and raisin soda