TV chef Phil Vickery shares some delicious and tempting recipes

Phil Vickery appreciates the need to eat healthier, but as a chef he always wants to create dishes that look and taste amazing…

Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery said: “In the recipes, I’ve looked at ways to reduce sugar and/or saturated fats, but not at the cost of taste. You’ll still find butter or margarine in some of them, because I felt replacing it produced an inferior product, and what’s the point of making a super-healthy dessert if you then don’t eat it because you don’t like the taste!

“In others, cream has been replaced with fromage frais, full fat milk has become skimmed and even butter swapped for ricotta. I’ve also used a natural sugar alternative called xylitol to replace sugar as it has lower calories than sugar and doesn’t have such a dramatic effect on blood sugar levels.”

Poppy Seed Lime Drizzle Cake

This simply delicious cake takes two family favourites, moulds them together and removes the added sugar to create a healthier version that’s sure to be a hit.

Preparation time: 20 minute | Cooking time: 35 minutes plus cooling time


For the cake:

  1. 125g plain flour
  2. 1 level tsp baking powder
  3. 175g butter, soft
  4. 175g Total Sweet xylitol
  5. 3 medium eggs
  6. Zest of 3 large limes, (or 3 lemons if you prefer) finely grated
  7. 50g ground almonds
  8. 25g poppy seeds
  9. Approx. 50ml skimmed milk

For the syrup:

  • Squeeze about 100ml juice from
  • 3 large limes (or 3 lemons), and
  • half the zest from above
  • 30g Total Sweet xylitol


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, fan 160°C, gas mark 4. Line the sides and base of a 20cm square cake tin, with baking parchment
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder, mixing together evenly.
  3. Using an electric mixer and a separate bowl, beat the butter and the xylitol together until light and fluffy (around 3 minutes).
  4. Whisk in the eggs gradually, adding a little flour with each one, and half the zest of the limes or lemons. Keep the juice for later.
  5. Fold the remaining flour into the cake mixture and stir in the almonds and poppy seeds, adding enough milk to make a soft consistency, so that the mixture is just dropping off the spoon.
  6. Spread the cake mixture into the prepared tin, smooth the top and bake for about 35 minutes, until firm and springy in the centre. Test with a skewer, if it comes out clean or a few crumbs clinging, it’s done.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly.
  8. While the cake is still warm, make the syrup for the drizzle: mix the juice of the limes, or lemons, the remaining zest and the xylitol.
  9. Poke a few little holes all over the top and spoon the syrup over slowly, to leave a satisfying, moist and crunchy topping.
  10. The almonds in the mixture lend a soft and fluffy texture to this sponge that is just right for soaking with the drizzle. You can of course leave the nuts out: in which case substitute 50g extra flour instead. For me though, without ground almonds the texture is a little light and airy to hold a decent amount of syrup. Although this recipe makes a traybake to cut into bars or squares, you can also make it as a loaf cake to slice.
  11. Oil and line a small loaf tin and increase the baking time to up to 50 minutes

Read more: bonfire night recipes 

Raspberry Finger Diggles

These were a favourite of mine growing up, so I thought I’d have a go at creating a no added sugar version. I’ve come up with a recipe that I think matches the original for taste and hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Preparation time: 15 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 225g wholemeal flour/white
  • self raising flour
  • 90g margarine (block)
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 1 level tsp baking powder
  • 1 level tsp bicarb
  • 90g Total Sweet xylitol
  • 16 frozen raspberries
  • xylitol to sprinkle over


  1. Pre heat the oven to 200C, 180°C fan, gas 6.
  2. Rub the margarine into the flour then add the bicarb and baking powder.
  3. Next add the egg and xylitol and mix well.
  4. Form into 8 balls roughly the size of a large walnut
  5. Place onto a silicone paper baking tray leaving a good gap in between and press down slightly.
  6. Make 2 small indentations in the top, then push in the frozen raspberries, then reform the edges, raising them slightly. Sprinkle over a little xylitol.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, they will spread slightly.
  8. Remove and cool completely, before attempting to lift off the sheet.

Read more: Recipe – fluffy apple pancakes

Rich Chocolate Orange Tart (with Raspberry Sauce)

This incredible tart looks like one of the most indulgent desserts going. But with double cream being replaced by fromage frais and sugar with the natural alternative xylitol, along with some other healthy twists, appearances and taste can be deceiving!

Preparation time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 30 minutes


For the tart:

  • 350g shortcrust pastry, ready rolled
  • 700ml skimmed milk
  • 80g cocoa powder, sieved
  • 100g Total Sweet xylitol
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • 50g high cacao chocolate, with a
  • lower sugar content (try Lindt Noir, 90%)
  • 4 medium egg yolks
  • 15g xylitol
  • 15g custard powder
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • Finely grated zest of 2 large oranges
  • 4 sheets (7g) leaf gelatine
  • Cold water
  • 250g fromage frais
  • Xylitol to taste
  • 10g high cacao chocolate

For the sauce:

  • 225g fresh raspberries or good quality frozen
  • 100g Total Sweet Xylitol this is an approximate as some raspberries are sweeter than others
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • A little cold water if needed


  1. Roll out the pastry and line a 23cm, 9 inch loose bottomed tin, then chill for 30 minutes.
  2. Bake pastry at 200C, 180C fan, gas 6 for approx. 25 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Brush with beaten egg and return to the oven to set for 5 minutes, remove and cool.
  4. Warm the milk and just before boiling, whisk in the cocoa powder, xylitol, vanilla and chopped chocolate.
  5. Whisk the egg yolks and custard powder in a small bowl for 2 minutes.
  6. Pour over the chocolate milk mixture and whisk well, it will thicken quite quickly.
  7. Whisk in the soaked gelatine until dissolved and finally the orange and lemon zests.
  8. Pour into the cooked pastry base, allow to cool slightly and chill for 2 hours, best overnight.
  9. Lightly beat the fromage frais and add the xylitol to taste, then spoon on top of the tart.
  10. Cut into wedges and serve with raspberry sauce see below.
  11. For the sauce: Place the raspberries in a liquidizer along with the Total Sweet and lemon juice. Blitz until smooth, you may need to add a touch of cold water to let the sauce down if it’s too thick.
  12. Pass through a fine sieve and chill well.

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