Having caught the baking bug over the past couple of years, I have found myself not wanting to bake over recent weeks. Everyone seems to be feeling more health conscious now that January is here and to get baking again would mean lots more sugar and calories in our diets.
Then I received a little parcel from Nim's fruit crisps and it gave me an idea. I have to mention that they are absolutely perfect as a snack on their own but they gave just the little spark of inspiration I needed to get back in the kitchen.
I am always trying to find ways of making my baking healthier whether it is by reducing the amount of sugar, lowering the fat content or adding vegetables to cakes. But I am also very aware that baking is a science and that there is only so much tweaking that can be done with the ratios of sugar/fat/eggs/flour etc and I have had many baking failures to prove it.
The kids love adding sprinkles to icing and there is nothing wrong with that. Occasionally. But what if there was a healthier alternative to the sugar-loaded cake sprinkles?
Sometimes I like to sprinkle edible dried rose petals onto my cakes. Sometimes ground pistachio looks pretty by adding a hint of green colour. I love using freeze-dried raspberries too. All healthier alternatives to sugary sprinkles.
So today I decided to use Nim's Fruit crisps in my mix of 'edible confetti'. I left out the raspberries as I wanted to enjoy the amazing fruity flavours of the Nim's crisps.
So here's the little mix I put together in my cute Kilner jars from Silver Mushroom.
Ingredients for Natural Edible Confetti
1 heaped teaspoon of each: Dried edible rose petals, flaked toasted almonds, chopped pistachios, Nim's Pinapple and Mango fruit crisps, Nim's Orange and Melon Fruit crisps, Nim's Pear and Kiwi Fruit crisps.
I made a cream cheese frosting as a healthier alternative to buttercream frosting (I think fresh whipped cream would also work brilliantly but I didn't have any). Frosting has lots of sugar in so although the calorie content of cream cheese is lower than butter, this still needs to be eaten in moderation!
Ingredients for cream cheese frosting:
100g cream cheese
280g icing sugar
Combine well with a mixer.
I even tried to make a healthier alternative to cupcakes. I love polenta cake and I have gradually experimented with reducing the amount of sugar and butter in it to still get a great tasting cake. Today I decided to use Agave nectar in place of sugar and made a variation on my 'Heaven Scent Polenta Cake'.
Ingredients for Polenta cake (makes 9 cupcakes):
130g ground almonds
pinch of saffron infused in 40ml warm milk
100g butter (room temperature)
70g agave nectar
2 large eggs
1 tsp baking poweder
30g ground pistachios
6 cardamom pods
1. Pre-heat the oven to 160C. Either spray some silicone cake cases with a little oil or line a muffin tin with paper cake cases.
2. Mix together the agave nectar and butter. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients.
3. Add in the eggs one at a time, alternating with some of the dry ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
4. Add in the saffron infused milk.
5. Place into the cake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes until cooked.
6. Leave to cool.
Once cooled you can add the cream cheese frosting or whipped cream and then sprinkle with the edible natural confetti.
I was sent some sample packs of Nim's Fruit Crisps to try out and was not asked to write about them. I loved reading the story behind Nim's and think it is fantastic to have brought a new product to market that realizes someones passion and dream. You can read the Nim's story here. The fruit crisps themselves are Air dried and contain nothing other than the fruit itself so there is no oily residue that you can sometimes find on other fruit crisps. They are low calorie and are 1 of your 5 a day. They use the entire fruit so you will see on the kiwi, melon and orange pieces that the skin is still on them but that adds to the flavour and keeps in all that goodness.
The flavours were great - the orange is slightly strong tasting for my taste on its own but worked nicely together in moderation with the other flavours (and the orange pieces just look so pretty too!) The melon is just heavenly tasting and I enjoyed all the other flavours too.
For other healthier baking ideas, you can see my Beetroot and Chocolate cake bakeover which uses yogurt in place of some of the butter content.
My Sunflower inspired Courgette and Sunflower seed cakes include healthy courgettes in them - a sneaky way of getting veggies into the kids! As well as sunflower seeds which have lots of nutritional benefits.
So I'm hoping the baking bug is back and I will be back in the kitchen a lot more enjoying baking once again!