Sweet Ruse: Dessert with Hemsley + Hemsley

We make no secret of our sweet tooth—let’s just call it an Achilles heel. Sure, we indulge it a little in the winter but as bikinis and beaches move up the priority list, so too does finding a slightly healthier alternative.

Here, Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley (authors of healthy-lifestyle tome Good + Simple), share two sweet treats, sans gluten, grain and refined sugar, for guilt-free indulgences that taste just as good as their calorific counterparts. Think chocolate avocado frosting, cannellini-laced sponge and date fudge.

Hemsley + Hemsley Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avo Frosting

Cannellini Vanilla Sponge Cake with Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Serves 25–30

What you’ll need 
For the cake
  • 125g butter or coconut oil, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 9 medium eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 220ml maple syrup
  • 5 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • 90g coconut flour
  • 2½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 150g punnet of fresh raspberries, to decorate

For the chocolate avocado frosting

  • 4 medium ripe avocados
  • 75g coconut oil, melted
  • 8 tablespoons raw honey (to taste)
  • 10 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon orange extract (not essence)
  • A pinch of sea salt

How it’s made

  1. Preheat the oven to fan 180°C/356 °F/Gas Mark 6, then line the bases of two 25cm-diameter cake tins with baking parchment and grease the sides with butter or coconut oil.
  2. Blend all the ingredients for the frosting together in a food processor until smooth, adding a dash of cold water if needed. Adjust the quantity of honey to preferred sweetness, then transfer to a bowl and set aside in the fridge.
  3. For the cake, add the cannellini beans to the cleaned food processor bowl with the eggs, vanilla extract and maple syrup and blend until smooth. Add the remaining cake ingredients, except the raspberries, and blend to combine.
  4. Divide the cake batter between the prepared cake tins, spreading out evenly, smoothing the surface. Bake in the oven for 35 minutes until well risen and lightly golden on top. Check the cakes after 25 minutes and swap the tins between shelves, if necessary, as they will cook at different rates. Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely in the tins before turning out.
  5. While the cakes are cooling, gently wash the raspberries and dry them carefully using kitchen paper or leave to air dry. They must be thoroughly dry before adding to the cake.
  6. Spread half the frosting on one of the cooled sponges, top with the other sponge and spread over the rest of the frosting. Store in the fridge and bring to room temperature to serve. Decorate with the fresh raspberries just before serving.


Hemsley + Hemsley Tahini Fudge

Tahini Date Fridge Fudge

Makes 18

What you’ll need

  • 85g of pitted dates (chewy dried dates rather than larger soft ones)
  • 110g light tahini (make sure it doesn’t contain emulsifiers)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil, at room temperature
  • Sea salt flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of white sesame seeds or desiccated coconut to decorate (optional)

Hemsley + Hemsley Tip: You can upgrade to the more nutritious dark tahini which has more of a bitter flavour-this keeps well in the fridge or freezer, so make double!

How it’s made:

  1. Line a small baking tin–about 11cm x 17cm–or similar-sized container (a glass lunchbox will suit) with baking parchment.
  2. Slice one of the dates finely and set aside to decorate the top of the fudge. Place the rest of the dates in a food processor with the tahini, coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil, and  1/8 teaspoon of salt flakes and blend to a smooth, thick paste. Add more salt if desired.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and use a spatula to press the mixture down evenly.
  4. Decorate the top with the date slices and a sprinkle of sesame seeds or desiccated coconut (if using), pour over any leftover oil from the food processor and press down gently.
  5. Freeze or chill in the fridge until firm – about 15 minutes in the freezer and 30 minutes in the fridge. Slice into squares, ether refrigerator and eat chilled/frozen straight from the fridge/freezer

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