This dessert is usually made with a bucket load of cream and a spade full of sugar, so when I saw this recipe with less fat and sugar I thought I’d give it a try.

A good panna cotta should have plenty of wobbly movement, but retain its structural integrity. No one wants a collapsed blob on a plate. I was surprised at how good this recipe is; and how creamy it tastes considering there is less cream than usual.


Coffee panna cotta

Recipe from BBC Good Food magazine.

Serves 4

  • Cals per portion:270
  • Carbs per portion: 18g


  • 125ml whipping cream
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla pod, slit lengthways
  • 2 small gelatine leaves (12x6cm)
  • 2tsp instant coffee granules
  • 250g full fat greek yoghurt
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • sifted cocoa powder (for dusting)
  1. Put the cream and sugar into a small saucepan. Scrape in the seeds from the vanilla pod and drop the pod into the pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Bring the mix to the boil, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 5 mins.
  3. Meanwhile, lay the gelatine leaves in a shallow dish and cover with cold water. Soak for 4-5 mins.
  4. Remove the gelatine from the water, squeeze out any water and stir into the cream mixture until dissolved. Stir in the coffee granules.
  5. Leave the mixture to cool , stirring occasionally. Make sure that it does not begin to set. You need it to still be runny.
  6. Discard the vanilla pod. Beat the yoghurt and buttermilk together in a bowl and gradually pour in the coffee mixture, beating with each addition.
  7. Transfer to a jug, then pour into 4 small 150ml dariole moulds. Chill for 4-5 hours or overnight.
  8. When ready to serve dip each mould for a few seconds to just below the rim in hot water. Then turn out onto a plate. Serve with a light dusting of cocoa.

I never used to be a fan of nuts when I was younger, so it took me a while to get around to trying baklava, but the combination of the syrup and the texture of the pastry and nuts is an addictive one. I made this baklava for a bake off at work and it went down a treat! It’s very sweet, so one piece is usually enough!

I took the recipe from ‘Persiana’ by Sabrina Ghayour. I can’t recommend this book enough – everything I’ve made from it has been delicious. I also spotted the recipe online here for those of you who don’t have the book.




Cut into pieces

Serves: 8 – 10


300g ground almonds
100g pistachio nut slivers or blanched pistachio nuts
100g caster sugar
finely grated rind of 2 oranges
finely grated rind of 1 lime
seeds from 6 green cardamom pods, ground with a pestle and mortar
pinch of ground cinnamon
150g unsalted butter, melted
2 packets of filo pastry (12 sheets)

For the syrup
200ml water
1 tbsp lemon juice
300g caster sugar


1  Combine the ground almonds, pistachios, caster suger and orange and lime rind in a mixing bowl with ground cardamom seeds and cinnamon. Set aside.

2  Preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C/ gas mark 4.

3 Select a 25-30cm square ovenproof dish and brush the base well with melted butter. Line the base of the dish with 6 sheets of filo pastry. Ensure there is enough of the sheets overhanging the edges of the dish to allow you to fold them over the contents of the dish later, when it comes to sealing the baklava. Brush the exposed base of the pastry generously with melted butter, then add the nut mixture into the base and flatten it gently to lightly compress the mixture. Use 5 of the remaining 6 sheets of filo pastry to top the nut mixture as evenly and neatly as possible, then tuck in the loose flaps from the bottom layers. Add the final sheet of pastry on top to seal the baklava. brush the top layer generously with more melted butter.

4 Using a very sharp knife, carefully cut diagonal lines (or squares, as in the photograph) across the top layers of pastry. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.

5 Meanwhile, make the syrup. Put the water and lemon juice into a saucepan over a low-medium heat and dissolve the sugar in the mixture, stirring occasionally, until the liquid begins to thicken to a syrup consistency. This should take 20-25 minutes.

6 Remove the baklava from the oven and immediately drizzle the syrup over the pastry. Allow it to seep into all the cuts that you made before baking. Allow to cool completely in the tin before cutting.

It’s pumpkin spice time again. At this time of year you literally can’t escape pumpkin spiced lattes, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecakes and any other variety of squash related recipes. Thankfully, I LOVE them.

Here’s my contribution to pumpkin season’s seemlingly endless list of recipes, which is hopefully slightly different than the norm. It’s a strudel, which is a sweet filling wrapped in crispy filo pastry and best served with custard (although cream is also acceptable).

I actually made last year, before my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, so this is a full sugar recipe and comes in at 61g carb per portion. To reduce this, I’d replace sugar with sweetener and replace the breadcrumbs with more ground almonds.

Pumpkin & Pecan Strudel

Pumpkin & Pecan Strudel

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Serves 6

  • 1kg/2lb 4 oz pumpkin or butternut squash (peeled weight- 1 medium pumpkin or 1 large butternut squash), deseeded and cut into large chunks
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 140g soft light brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg, beaten, ½ tbsp reserved for glazing
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • good grating nutmeg
  • 6 sheets filo pastry
  • 85g butter, melted
  • 100g pecans, chopped, 1 tbsp reserved for the top
  • maple syrup, to serve
  • cream or custard, to serve (optional)


  1. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Toss the pumpkin or squash with the oil on a baking tray. Bake for 45 mins until really tender, then leave to cool.
  2. Tip the pumpkin into a food processor, whizz until smooth, then tip into a bowl. Add the sugar, almonds, breadcrumbs, egg and spices, and mix well. This can be done up to 2 days ahead.
  3. Lower oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Layer the pastry sheets on top of each other, brushing some melted butter and a sprinkling of sugar and chopped pecans between each sheet. Spoon the pumpkin filling along one long edge of the pastry in a long log shape, leaving a 2.5cm gap at either end. Turn up the ends, then carefully roll up the strudel and brush the edge with egg to seal.
  4. Transfer to a baking tray, sealed-side down. Brush with the reserved egg, drizzle over any leftover butter and sprinkle with the reserved pecans and extra sugar. Bake for 40 mins until golden and crisp. Leave to stand for 10 mins before slicing, then serve with maple syrup and cream or custard, if you like.

This is another recipe I’ve adapted to make it more low carb and diabetes friendly.

I used a mix of splenda and sukrin gold sweetener in this cake, which is great as it replaces brown sugar weight for weight, so no extra maths. It is however, quite expensive at about £4.50 for 220g.

It doesn’t have a lot of chilli heat – there is just a hint which just adds some depth of flavour with the richness of the espresso.

This cake is DENSE and it does sink in the middle, which is a perfect place to dollop the cream. As usual, my presentation sucks, but it tastes a lot better than I made it look!

Espresso, Chocolate & Chilli Cake

Espresso, Chocolate & Chilli Cake

Makes 10 slices

  • Cals per slice – 518
  • Carbs per slice – 17.5g
  • Carbs per slice (excluding polyols) – 12.1g

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food

  • 3 tbsp plain flour, plus extra for the tin
  • 250g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 250g salted butter, softened and chopped, plus extra for greasing
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  • 2 red bird’s-eye chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 6 medium eggs, separated
  • 4 tbsp sukrin gold
  • 10g splenda
  • ½ tsp cream of tartar
  • 4 tbsp ground almonds
  • cocoa powder, to serve

For the coffee cream

  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp instant espresso powder
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 22cm springform cake tin with soft butter and line the bottom with baking parchment. Shake a little flour around the buttered edges.
  2. Melt the chocolate and butter together over a pan of simmering water, or in a microwave. Once melted, whisk together until smooth and add the espresso powder and chillies and chillipowder, if using. Whisk the egg yolks with the sukrin gold and splenda, either in an electric mixer or with an electric hand whisk, for 5-10 mins until thick and pale. In a separate bowl, using a clean whisk, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft rounded peaks form.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture onto the beaten yolks and sugar, and gently mix until smooth. Add the almonds and flour and mix again. Spoon the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold together. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40-45 mins until the cake is set but with a slight jiggle in the centre. (If the cake is starting to brown too quickly, cover with a piece of baking parchment.)
  4. Leave to cool in the tin – it will sink a little as it cools. Run a knife around the inside of the cake tin to loosen. Remove the baking parchment and place on a cake stand. Whisk the cream and espresso powder until soft peaks form. Serve on the side or spoon on top of the cake dusted with a little cocoa powder.

This is a celebration cake – or a cake to make when you have a weekend free and fancy a project. This is actually a lot easier than it looks, but definitely has the wow factor and tastes delicious.

Queen of Dots Cake

Queen of Dots Cake

This is actually supposed to be a ‘Queen of Hearts’ cake. However, I didn’t have a heart shaped cutter, so just used a circle shaped cutter instead.

This cake was very easy to adapt to make it lower carb, as the filling is mostly cream and fruit, which I just omitted the added sugar from. I also used sugar free strawberry jam for the top. I used sugar in the sponge, since it is quite thin, but you could replace this with sweetener. As a result of the amendments I made the cals count was reduced from 349 kcals to 263 kcals per portion and the all important carb count was reduced from 33g per portion to 21.5g per portion, without compromising on flavour.

This is definitely one of my success stories when trying to reduce carbs in a bake, without it being noticeable.

Recipe adapted from BBC Good Food.

Serves 16

  • Carbs per portion: 21.5g
  • Cals per portion: 263

For the sponges

  • a drizzle of flavourless oil (such as sunflower), for greasing
  • 5 large eggs, separated
  • 175g golden caster sugar
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 85g fine semolina
  • 25g ground almonds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds

For filling and assembling

  • about 650g strawberries, hulled
  • 4 gelatine leaves
  • 750ml whipping cream
  • 3-4 tbsp sugar free strawberry jam
  1. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease and line the bases of 2 x 22-23cm straight- sided, loose-bottomed square tins.
  2. To make the sponges, put the egg yolks and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk until pale. Add the lemon zest and juice, vanilla, semolina, almonds and poppy seeds, then whisk again briefly to mix.
  3. Clean your beaters, and beat the egg whites in a separate bowl to stiff peaks. Add a quarter of the egg whites to the other mixture and stir in well to loosen. Add the remaining egg whites and, using a big metal spoon, gently fold in until no big lumps of egg white remain. Divide the mixture between the tins, spread the top to smooth and bake for 20 mins until springy to touch and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the sponges to cool in the tins.
  4. When the sponges are cool, start to prepare the filling. Put 400g of the strawberries in a food processor or blender and whizz to a really smooth purée. Transfer to a saucepan and gently warm. Meanwhile, soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water.
  5. When the purée is hot but you can still put your fingers in it, squeeze out the excess water from the gelatine, take the purée off the heat and stir in the gelatine to melt. Pour into a bowl and put in the fridge to quickly cool. Whip the cream until it is thick and holding peaks.
  6. Halve the remaining strawberries and trim so they’re the same length – so when they are sitting on the sponges, they don’t come above the top of the tin. Line up the strawberries all the way around the edge of one of the cakes, cut-sides flat against the side of the tin. When the purée is cool, fold through the whipped cream until evenly mixed, then pile into the tin, spreading to fill all the strawberry corners, and smooth the surface.
  7. Remove the remaining sponge from its tin and, using a ruler or skewers and a small heart-shaped cutter, cut 8 hearts from alternating ‘squares’ – as if your sponge is divided into a 4 x 4 grid (see step-by-step). Turn the cake onto the mousse to top, and peel away the paper. Gently press into the mousse to stick and chill for 5 hrs or overnight to set.
  8. Just before serving, sieve the jam to remove any lumps, then use to cover the mousse in each heart hole – a small piping bag is good for this (or just cut dots out and use a teaspoon to spoon the jam in). Serve immediately with cake forks and dainty cups of tea. Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days.

This is one of the first baking recipes I tried after my type1 diabetes diagnosis and it turned out really well.

Sure, it’s not the sweetest dessert in the world, but it really gave me confidence that I could pull off the low sugar dessert thing. Making some minor adjustments to the original recipe means that the carbs  per portion has been reduced from 31g to 18g.

This is for a dark chocolate lover and the espresso really adds to the depth and richness of the flavour.

Chocolate Espresso Tart

Chocolate Espresso Tart

Recipe adapted from Olive Magazine.

Serves 8. Cals: 562 per portion. Carbs: 18g per portion.


  • 140g plain flour
  • 50g ground hazelnuts
  • 100g chilled and diced butter
  • 1 tbsp splenda
  • 1 egg, separated


  • 300ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 200g chopped dark chocolate
  • 50g butter
  1. Put the flour, splenda and hazelnuts in a food processor and whizz in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and pulse until you have a rough dough. Bring together with your hands and knead briefly on a floured surface, then roll out and line a rectangular 35cm x 12cm tart tin (or a round 24cm tin). Leave some pastry sticking over the edge of the tin and chill.
  2. Heat the oven to 190c/fan170c/gas5. Line the pastry with parchment and baking beans and blind bake for 15-20 mins. Take out the foil, brush with the egg white and bake for another 5 mins. Trim off the pastry and cool.
  3. Heat the cream and espresso powder to just below boiling point and then pour over the chopped chocolate and butter, stirring until melted. Pour into the tart and leave to set in the fridge.

Since I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes back in March, I’ve been trying to create sugar free, or low carb desserts by replacing sugar with sweetener.

I’ve had mixed success with this, mainly because I really can’t bear the chemical aftertaste of sweetener. I’d rather have half a portion of the real deal than a spoonful of something that tastes synthetic. At the very least I tend to cut down by half the amount of recommended sweetener. Stevia, in particular, tastes like crap, so I avoid that altogether. Apparently you get used to it, but I’d just rather not.

That leads me to this recipe, which is one of the success stories. Most of the sweetness from this recipe comes from the sponge fingers which are store bought. Therefore there’s no need to add much sweetener and the recipe is still low carb. Win-win. If you prefer a sweeter tasting dessert, then you can always add more sweetener.

I amended a recipe from ‘One More Slice’ by Leila Lindholm, which was featured in an issue of Delicious Magazine.

low Carb Tiramisu Semifreddo

Low Carb Tiramisu Semifreddo

Serves 10

  • Carbs per slice: 6.1g
  • Cals per slice: 273


  • 4 free range eggs
  • 2 tbsp. splenda
  • 250g marscapone
  • 250ml double cream
  • 12 sponge fingers
  • 150ml espresso, cold
  • cocoa powder, to decorate
  1. Separate the egg yolks from the whites (without getting any yolk in the whites).
  2. Whisk the yolks with half the splenda in a bowl until white and fluffy.
  3. Whip the cream until fluffy and fold it into the egg mixture.
  4. Whip the egg whites with the rest of the splenda until white and stiff in a dry and clean bowl. Carefully fold this into the egg mixture.
  5. Whisk the mascarpone and carefully fold it together with the yolk, the whipped cream and the whipped egg whites.
  6. Line a rectangular bread tin with cling film.
  7. Put a little of the ice cream mixture into the bottom and dip one biscuit at a time into the cold espresso. Place a layer of biscuits in the tin and top with some of the ice cream. Repeat the procedure again.
  8. Lightly hit the tin against the table so any air bubbles disappear. Freeze it for 3-4 hours so that it is “half frozen”; it should be a little soft in the middle.
  9. Turn out the tiramisu and remove the cling film. Powder with cocoa.

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