2012 in Review (because all the cool kids are doing it)

I’m a bit late on this bandwagon, largely because I went into one of my baking frenzies yesterday, inspired by my recent acquisition of Sugar and Spice, by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra, and my subsequent compulsion to make everything in the book, even though I’m not really in a sweets mood and currently have no scientists to feed things to. Anyway, several hours of baking later, I can tell you that chickpea fudge is actually really gorgeous (and a bit like halva, really), egg candy is slightly, but only slightly, less weird than it sounds, that Scotch Tablet is very sweet, but good with dried figs and glacé ginger stirred into it, and that brownies are still best with dried cherries in them.  And that I want to make Paneer so that I can make Indian Mango Milk Sweets.  Why yes, I will be reviewing this book in the near future.

Anyway.  One advantage of being late off the mark is that one can peruse the blogs of one’s acquaintance, see what they are doing about end of year posts, and then pick something that looks pleasing and not too difficult.  Not surprisingly, Hannah’s formula at Wayfaring Chocolate appeals to me (perhaps it’s the shared fixation with sweets?), so herewith, a month-by-month gallery of my favourite recipes for 2012.

Happy New Year – may your 2013 be as full of sweetness as my kitchen currently is!

January – Pizza Serafina
(Vegan, Nut-Free)

This is my secret favourite recipe of all time, actually, because it’s a childhood treat that I finally figured out how to replicate after many years of unsuccessful attempts – so it has nostalgia points as well as yum points.  Also, everyone looks at me funny when I say ‘Sultana Pizza’, but I am determined to find converts! 


February – Labneh
(Vegetarian, Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Low-GI, Gluten-Free, Low-Fructose)

A very simple recipe that can be used for all sorts of things, sweet or savoury.  And which I have almost entirely stopped making since I found a source for the savoury version just down the end of my street… though I’m now rather craving Labneh cheesecake…


March – Decadent Eggless Strawberry Mousse Tart
(Egg-Free, Nut-Free, Gluten-Free if you use gluten-free biscuits in the base)

This is such a lovely, light, fluffy mousse, though you do need a blender that works if you want to make it without screaming a lot.  Though I still secretly prefer the insane blue-curaçao variation I made for Eurovision

April – Chocolate, Almond and Raspberry Cake

Another month with difficult choices to make between several kinds of chocolate cake!  And this one is totally decadent (as you can tell by the decidedly limited list of areas in which it is allergy-friendly), but so easy and so, so good…

May – Gluten-Free Sponge Cake
(Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Low-Fructose, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, depending what you put in the middle)

This is probably the cake I made in 2012 that I was most proud of.   For one thing, I’ve finally – finally! – figured out how to make sponge cake.  And then I actually managed to make a gluten-free version of it!  I think this marked the real start of my forays into gluten-free baking.


June – Chicken in a Pot with Artichoke and Aioli
(Gluten-Free, Nut-Free, Dairy-Free, Low-GI)

I always feel hesitant posting non-vegetarian recipes here, but the fact is, I am an omnivore, and this has probably been one of my most frequently-used and varied recipes since I got my slow cooker and finally found a reliable source of free-range chickens.  There’s just something about really plain chicken with unctuous aioli and bread and salad that is irresistible when I am tired and stressed.  Except when I have a fight with the aioli, and wind up even more stressed…


July – Raw Hazelnut, Fig and Cacao Truffles
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-GI)

I do love my raw truffles, and I think these are my best to date – they taste so wonderfully chocolatey, while still being good for you.  And they are gluten-free and vegan, too!  What’s not to like?  (The apricot ones on the same page are good, too.)

August – Chocolate-Chilli Cupcakes That Everyone Can Eat
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Fructose, Nut-Free)

OK, I’m going to be up-front here, and say that the recipe you really want is here.  The recipe I published in early August was the prototype, which I then developed further for a wedding cake which was baked in August but didn’t write up until September.  And while there was nothing at all wrong with the original recipe (or I wouldn’t have posted it), the glammed-up version with vegan chipotle-chilli mousse on top and hot chilli ganache in the centre was a whole extra level of gorgeous, as well as having a slightly improved version of the cake itself.  But be warned – these cakes are *spicy*!


September – Fructose-Friendly Fresh Ginger Cakes with Rhubarb and Hibiscus
(Vegetarian, Low Fructose, Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free)

From the same wedding come these gloriously spicy ginger cakes with rhubarb and blood orange filling.  One of my favourites from the whole year, not just September (and there’s a vegan version linked from this recipe, though I wouldn’t recommend trying to make it vegan and gluten-free simultaneously – too fragile).


October – Mildly Courageous Potatoes
(Vegan, Gluten-Free, Nut-Free)

I’ll admit, this is at least 50% about the name.  Because it’s a really good name,  But also, who doesn’t love potatoes?  Also, it’s about time I posted a savoury recipe, don’t you think?


November – Vegan Pasta Primavera
(Vegan, Gluten Free, Low-GI)

This was one of my better ideas the endless procession of ‘it’s November, and I must eat asparagus’ recipes that are an annual feature of my life.  I love the creamy, herby tofu sauce, and all the beautiful spring vegetables.  Especially the asparagus, of course.


December – Pistachio, Raspberry and Rose Cakes
(Vegan, Gluten-Free)

Yes, I know I only posted these a couple of days ago.  But I still love them.  And they are still beautiful.  And, best of all, I still have one left…


This time last year…

Quiet New Year’s Eve?
Further to last night’s post…


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9 comments for “2012 in Review (because all the cool kids are doing it)

  1. Iestyn
    January 2, 2013 at 12:01 am

    I don’t think you stressed enough just how extremely sweet Scottish Tablet is. Even to people that thrive on sweet, this can be way too sweet.

    • Catherine
      January 2, 2013 at 12:08 am

      Ah, so you mean the recipe was correct and it really is supposed to taste like that? Because yeah, it was definitely Hyperglycaemia In A Square.

      (the glacé ginger and dried fig helped a little, but it really was unbelievably sweet)

      Fortunately, the chickpea fudge is hardly sweet at all, so alternating bites helped a lot.

      • Iestyn
        January 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

        I’ve had both home made and commercial Tablet and they are too sweet for me. Anita tried the commercial and that was even too sweet for her (she has a very sweet tooth.

        In other news: enjoying the agars very much. Trying to limit myself to no more than one a day.

        • Catherine
          January 3, 2013 at 7:53 pm

          I’m glad you are enjoying the agars! I actually find them a bit on the sweet side for my tastes, so you can imagine how I felt about Scottish Tablet…

  2. January 3, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    happy new year – sorry I missed seeing you at the blogger picnic – those cupcakes look fantastic – I was happy to see scottish tablet with all sorts of flavour combinations in scotland but wish I had written them down as my brain just hasn’t coped with all the things I meant to remember

    • Catherine
      January 3, 2013 at 10:44 pm

      Next time, hopefully! The cupcakes really worked a treat – I was very pleased with them! And I can give you a recipe for Scottish tablet if you like – it’s pretty straightforward (but terribly, terribly sweet).

  3. Lirion
    January 9, 2013 at 10:28 am

    Ahhh, that’s the recipe I was really wanting. Chickpea fudge. Please to be enlightening me? aka *makes grabby hands* Ahem.

    Also, Happy New Year 🙂

    • Catherine
      January 11, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Yeah, I’ll be writing about that one! It basically involves toasting chickpea flour in butter until golden, then stirring in condensed milk (with a little cardamom) until a fudge forms. I added orange flower water, too. It’s very weird.

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