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Strawberry Mousse

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 166

Pureéd strawberries with lots of cream and sugar.

I did try this recipe but used a lot less icing sugar (we found that 50g is sweet enough) and only half the cream. I decided to layer the strawberry pureé with the whipped cream and some ginger biscuits in champagne flutes and to top them with half a fresh strawberry. A beautiful dessert and the taste of early summer!

Vegan: Use a plant-based whipping cream.

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Lemon Meringue Pie

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 162

A lovely pie with a tangy lemon taste and creamy meringue on the top.

Lemon Meringue Pie. Photo by Almut Spaeth

At first I was a bit reluctant to try out this recipe as I have had trouble with gluten-free pastry in the past. Now, with a new recipe, it did actually work well! The pastry case stood the test of blind-baking without sticking to the greaseproof paper I covered it with. It also survived being filled with the lemon custard and was easy to remove from the pie dish when cooled. Relief!

The next tricky bit was the pie filling, which was too rich for my taste. The amount of sugar and eggs used was just more than I was willing to take. A look through the other recipes revealed that there is a very similar recipe in “Home Cooking”: The Coconut Cream Pie (p.158).
This recipe suggests a filling that is less rich and the pie is also topped with meringue. Using the Coconut Cream Pie recipe, I omitted the vanilla essence and dessicated coconut and added the grated rind and juice of two lemons.
It made a lovely filling with a great meringue topping and looked very special. Today, I shared some with a friend over a cup of tea (while sticking to the rules of social distancing because of the corona virus…) and she loved the pie, too.

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Fluffy Lemon Pie

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 160

A meringue base, topped with lemon-flavoured whipped cream. It seems to be light as a dream (no, better not start thinking about calories) and has a refreshing lemon taste.

With this recipe it is easy to take a short-cut and still achieve really good results. First of all, when making meringue you should always make some more. It keeps well and makes a quick dessert anytime.
When making the lemon cream mixture, you could just use some ready-made lemon curd and mix it with whipped cream. A lot quicker but also delicious!

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Tapioca Cream

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 166

A lovely old-fashioned dessert.

Another surprise was finding this recipe in Linda’s book. My grandmother would make tapioca cream, using much more milk to give it a soup-like constistency. She called it “Pünktchensuppe” (“Spotty Soup”) because the tapioca pearls would look like a lot of dots in the soup. We asked her to make this soup for us in the evenings as a light dinner or as a dessert- a memory very closely connected to my Gran.

Linda’s recipe works fine, even though I would prefer omitting the uncooked egg. If you add more milk and keep stirring the tapioca, it will turn more creamy and you do not need any whisked egg whites. For a richer dessert, try whipping some cream and folding it in the cooled tapioca.

This Tapioca Cream is great served warm or cold. While Linda suggests serving it with a dollop of jam (which is great), we had this with some “rote Grütze”, a kind of red fruit sauce typical for northern Germany and also Scandinavia.

Vegan: Use plant-based milk; I find that coconut drink with its sublte coconut flavour is a great addition to this Tapioca Cream. For a more neutral flavour with a hint of vanilla try Alpro Soya Original. Omit the beaten egg whites or use some whipped plant-based cream.

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Syrup Steamed Pudding

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 166

A lovely old-fashioned steamed pudding with golden syrup that is easy to make and will make an impression on any dinner guest 🙂
In comparison with other recipes for steamed pudding, this recipe is lower in both sugar and fat but still tastes great. I even reduced both even more with good results (see below).

After spending the weekend with a friend and finding a 2 pint pudding basin in a shop, there was no way around this recipe. I did try a gluten-free version, which tasted great but was a little delicate and crumbly. I also reduced the golden syrup in the pudding basin’s bottom to just 1 tbsp and used only 40g of caster sugar.
I also replaced the vegetable suet with 90g melted coconut oil, giving the pudding a delicious hint of coconut flavour.

My son, who is a very picky eater, and my daughter, who usually does not like sweet dishes too much, both loved this pudding, as did my husband.

Gluten-Free: I used 80g rice flour, 20g potato flour, 20g corn flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 2 tsp potato fiber instead of the self-raising flour.

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Chocolate Pudding

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 157

A rich, chocolatey pudding that is more like a chocolate mousse than a plain pudding.

My son, who is a very picky eater, decided that a chocolate pudding would be something he would definitely like. So we made this together and he absolutely loved it (as did my husband and daughter).
The pudding is very rich and filling, so serving it in small individual cups seems to be a good idea.

I think with this recipe it is really important that you chose as good a chocolate as you can find or afford- it makes a great difference to use high-quality chocolate here. Personally, I would prefer dark chocolate, as stated in the recipe. My family is definitely more fond of milk chocolate, which also works well. If the chocolate is also organic and fair-trade, all the better 🙂

When using milk-chocolate, you can reduce the amount of sugar to 70g as the chocolate is already quite sweet.

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Christmas Pudding

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 158

This is a traditional vegetarian Christmas Pudding with lots of dried fruit, nuts and spices. As suggested in the book, I prepared our Pudding in autumn and let it mature until Christmas. Even though it takes very long (6 hours!) to steam, the result was definitely worth it. Sadly, not everybody in my family is fond of Christmas Pudding ‒ therefore I only made two small Puddings and gave one to a friend who loved the surprise just in time for Christmas.

Christmas Pudding
Christmas Pudding, Photo by Almut Spaeth

Gluten-Free: I substituted the flour and the breadcrumbs for gluten-free products, which worked well.

Alternatives: The brazil nuts I used seemed not to mature too well in the pudding, giving it a slighly unpleasant note. I think that they must either have been old when I used them (even though they were well before the “best before” date) or that there has been another problem. Next time I would try using more almonds instead of the brazil nuts to give a milder flavour.

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Baked Apples

From: Linda McCartney´s Home Cooking, p. 153

After spending most of the weekend on the sofa trying to get rid of a cold, I felt up to some cooking on Sunday evening. The baked apples are easy to make and a great (and healty!) dessert for the whole family.
I think that using less sugar (3 or 4 teaspoons in total) is still sweet enough. Adding 1/2 tsp cinnamon gives a lovely wintery flavour. Also great when served with custard or vanilla ice cream (dairy or plant-based).

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Apple Brown Betty

From: Linda McCartney´s Home Cooking, p. 152

An interesting alternative to Apple Crumble. Great served hot with some vanilla ice cream or cold custard (use vegan ice cream or custard, if preferred).

Apple Brown Betty, photo by Almut Spaeth

For a gluten-free version, use gluten-free breadcrumbs and cornflakes.

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Heather’s Lemon Pudding Cake

From: Linda McCartney’s Home Cooking, p. 161

A surprisingly fresh and interesting cake, and a creative (and low-fat) version of a traditional cheesecake.

Serve chilled as a desert or at room temperature alongside a cup of tea or coffee.

When baking the cake as in the recipe, it was still very runny at the bottom. Increase the baking time to one hour but reduce the temperature to 180°C to avoid the cake getting too dark on the top.

Gluten-free: Substitute the flour for the same amount gluten-free self-raising flour.