18/12/2007

Dairy-free Chocolate Fudge

½ cup soya milk
1¼ cups sugar
60g dairy-free margarine
½ cup plain chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put the soya milk and sugar in a large pan over a medium heat, stirring constantly to prevent curdling. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 7 minutes. Keep an eye on the pan at all times and stir frequently.

Remove from the heat; immediately add the margarine, chocolate, and vanilla. Stir until the margarine and chocolate chips have melted, then beat for a couple of minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Pour into an oiled 20cm x 20cm dish (or a a smaller dish for thicker pieces). Refrigerate overnight, then cut into squares.

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I would never have believed that fudge could be dairy free - I thought it had to use real butter in order to set properly. I also thought that all the ingredients had to be taken to very high temperature in order for the chemistry to work. In this, it's only the soya milk and sugar which are boiled to high temperature - but of course it's the sugar which is significant, as its structure changes when heated in this way.

My (adult) son is mostly dairy-free, since he gets glue ear if he has any cow's milk products, and he loves fudge. So I tried this recipe, not expecting very much. I was impressed that it did set to give the consistency of fudge, and it's delicious! Next time we will add the grated rind of an orange, to make chocolate-orange dairy-free fudge.

Note: as someone mentioned in the comments, it's important to check ingredients in anything you buy. If you are allergic to dairy products (as opposed to simply cutting down) then obviously it's important to make sure there is no trace of dairy in the margarine and the chocolate chips. Using plain (semi-sweet) chips should be all right, but apparently some brands do contain some milk products. If so, perhaps carob chips would work instead; I haven't tried them but many people use them regularly as substitutes for chocolate.

Incidentally, the measurements in the ingredients are a slightly odd mixture. The cups are American cups (8 fluid ounces). But I can't measure margarine in cups; it's too messy. So I translated the original - which was probably 2 ounces, or half a stick - to 60g, as that's what my kitchen scales measure. However I left everything else in cups as it's simple to do and I have a full set of American measuring cups.

(I found this recipe online, when searching for dairy-free recipes. I made a note of it so I could try it - but, alas, have lost the reference. If it's your recipe, please let me know in the comments, and I'll link to the site where I found it)

12/12/2007

Courgette (zucchini) and tomato soup


serves 4-5

1 tblsp butter or oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
350g/12oz courgettes (zucchini), grated
1 400g/14oz can chopped tomatoes
600ml/2 1/2 cups chicken or veg stock
1 tblsp tomato ketchup or puree
1 tblsp dried basil

Cook the onion in the fat until soft. Add the garlic and grated courgette, cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add rest of ingredients, bring to boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Cool slightly, then blend in a liquidizer, a little at a time, until smooth. Return to the pan, reheat gently, adding salt and pepper if wished.

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This is very quick and easy; even someone who doesn't normally like courgettes (which are called zucchini in America) will probably enjoy this soup. It looks like canned tomato soup when it's smoothly blended, but of course the taste of home-made soup is always vastly superior to that in cans!

Serve with freshly-baked bread for a filling and nutritious lunch. If you make it with vegetable stock, it's suitable for vegetarians.