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.

Kieran and I are big fans of real ale and craft beer. We’re lucky enough to live around Manchester city centre, quite close to some amazing micro breweries.

One of these is Marble Brewery, which is our local pub and also happens to produce a beer called ‘Chocolate Marble’ which as well as being my favourite beer of theirs to drink, is also great to bake with. Just a happy coincidence that I chose to make a marble cake!

This cake turned out really well. The trick with bundt cakes is to wait until they are completely cold until you turn them out. I’ve learned the hard way that cakes will crumble to pieces if you try and turn them out too early. Thankfully this one remained in one piece.

This is a good cake to have with a brew in the afternoon, but you could easily turn this into a dessert if you added a little hot chocolate sauce.

Stout & Chocolate Marble Cake

Stout & Chocolate Marble Cake

Recipe from Olive Magazine

Serves 12

PER SERVING 513 kcals, carbs 66g

This was obviously made pre-diabetes diagnosis, but if were to make this again I would reduce the carb count by cutting out the glaze completely and using a mixture of sweetener and sugar.

chocolate cake

  • butter 100g, softened, plus a little for buttering
  • self-raising flour 150g, plus a little for dusting
  • 72% dark chocolate 75g, chopped
  • chocolate stout 150ml
  • light muscovado sugar 250g
  • eggs 2
  • good quality cocoa 25g

vanilla cake

  • butter 125g softened
  • golden caster sugar 180g
  • eggs 2
  • self-raising flour 180g
  • soured cream 150g
  • vanilla extract a few drops

chocolate glaze

  • icing sugar 6 tbsp
  • cocoa 3 tbsp

step 1

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Butter a 2-litre Bundt tin and dust it with flour. Melt the chocolate and stout together. Beat the butter with the sugar then beat in the eggs, followed by the chocolate mix. Beat in the flour and cocoa.

step 2

In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy then beat in the eggs one by one, adding a little flour after each egg. Next, beat in the soured cream, remaining flour and vanilla. Add a spoonful of milk if you need to.

step 3

Spoon alternate blobs of chocolate and vanilla cake into the tin and, when it is full, drag the handle of a wooden spoon through it once. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then turn out onto a rack.

step 4

Mix the icing sugar and cocoa with enough leftover stout to make a smooth, runny glaze. Brush all over the cake while it is still warm.

I often like to take on a ‘challenge bake’ over a weekend, where I can spend a few hours attacking a complex sounding recipe – hopefully producing something delicious at the end. This one has a few processes, so takes a couple of hours, not including chilling time.

I can’t say I’ve nailed the presentation here (do I ever?) as my custard is slightly too runny and my choux buns are a little too big, but I couldn’t complain about the flavours. Crispy choux pastry, with vanilla cream custard and strawberries. There’s not much to wrong with there.

This was made pre my type 1 diabetes diagnosis, so if I made this again, I would remove the sugar from the pastry base, add splenda to the custard in place of the sugar, leave out the sugar drizzle and and use raspberries rather than strawberries in order to cut the carbs.

Strawberry gâteau St Honoré

Strawberry gâteau St Honoré

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Serves 12.

  • Cals per slice: 419
  • Carbs per slice: 38g

For the pastry base

  • 100g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 85g butter
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1 egg, separated

For the choux pastry

  • 50g butter
  • 70g plain flour, sifted into a bowl
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tbsp flaked almonds

For the filling

  • 2 tbsp custard powder
  • 2-3 tbsp caster sugar
  • 300ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 284ml pot double cream

To finish

  • 750g strawberries, hulled and halved if large
  • 100g caster sugar
  • icing sugar, for dusting


  1. Make the pastry for the base: whizz the flour, almonds, butter and sugar in a food processor to fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk (reserve the white for later) and a few drops of water if necessary, then pulse until the dough comes together. Wrap in cling film, then chill for 1 hr.
  2. Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Roll out pastry on a large square of baking parchment, then trim to a 26cm round using a cake tin or plate as a guide. Carefully transfer the pastry still on the paper to a large baking sheet. Bake for 12-15 mins until golden. Cool on the paper, then transfer to a large, flat serving plate. Can be made 2 days ahead.
  3. To make the choux pastry, line a large baking sheet with baking parchment. Heat the butter in a pan with 125ml water until melted, then increase heat until boiling. Remove from the heat, then add the flour in one go, quickly stirring until everything comes together as a thick paste. Leave to cool for 10 mins. Beat the eggs in to the paste, using a wooden spoon, a little at a time, until you have a thick, glossy mixture. Spoon 12 equal-size blobs of choux, a little apart, over the baking sheet. Lightly whisk the reserved egg white, then brush over each blob of pastry. Sprinkle with flaked almonds.
  4. Bake the buns for 25-30 mins until crisp and golden. Remove from the oven, carefully split each bun, then return to the oven for 5 mins more to dry out the insides. Cool on a rack, then scoop out any soft insides. Can be made 2 days ahead – if they go soft, briefly crisp them up in the oven.
  5. To make the filling, mix the custard powder and sugar in a pan, then blend in a little milk to a smooth paste. Add the rest of the milk, then gently bring to the boil, stirring, until you have a thick custard. Remove from the heat, then stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a bowl, then cover the surface with cling film. Cool. Can be made 2 days ahead.

I made this torte as a treat for my father’s birthday, who, like me, is fan of bitter, dark chocolate. Also, like me, he’s Type 1 diabetic so it works out well for us that we both prefer dark chocolate, since eating a good quality cocoa chocolate is far better for us than eating sugary milk chocolate.

When I made this cake (in December), I hadn’t been diagnosed yet, so wasn’t really aware of how to use sweeteners in baking to reduce the carb count per slice. If I made this again now, I’d definitely experiment using a mix of Splenda and Sukrin Gold to replace the sugar. I would also leave out the ginger preserve.

This torte is very decadent and rich – and you do have to be fan of dark chocolate. If you prefer something sweeter, this may not be the bake for you. I would also recommend that you do not refrigerate – or at least remove from the fridge before serving, or it will be far too dense.

I love ginger and it works perfectly with dark chocolate, so I decorated this with crystallised ginger pieces for the extra kick.


Chocolate & Ginger Torte

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Serves: 8

  • Cals per serving: 907
  • Carbs per serving: 73g
  • Sugar per serving: 72g


  • 250g unsalted butter, diced, plus extra for the tin
  • cocoa, for dusting
  • 350g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Stone’s Ginger wine
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tbsp ginger preserve
  1. Heat oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3-4. Butter and line a 23cm round springform tin with a disc of buttered baking parchment. Lightly dust the inside of the tin with cocoa and tip out excess.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter into a medium-size heatproof bowl, add the ginger wine and set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until melted and smooth. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
  3. Tip both the sugars into a large mixing bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer and add the egg yolks. Whisk until pale and light. Pour the melted chocolate and butter into the yolks and stir until smooth. With another large, spotlessly clean bowl and whisk, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they just hold a stiff peak.
  4. Sift the almonds and ginger into the chocolate mixture and fold in using a large metal spoon. Add one-third of the egg whites and stir in to loosen the mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites until combined.
  5. Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and gently spread level using a palette knife. Gently warm the ginger preserve until it’s just spreadable and carefully spoon onto the cake in small dollops. Spoon over the remaining chocolate mixture, spread level and bake just below the middle shelf of the oven for 50 mins-1 hr until a wooden skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with a moist crumb attached. Allow the cake to cool in the tin and don’t be dismayed if the top sinks and cracks.
  6. To make the ganache icing, tip the chocolate into a heatproof bowl. Then add the cream, butter and ginger wine. Set the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and stir until melted and velvety smooth. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  7. Carefully run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it, then put on a serving plate. Spread the ganache over the top, and leave to set before serving.

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