Homemade Easter Eggs

I have wanted to try making my own cream eggs for a while and found a variety of recipes. After a bit of tweaking this is what I came up with. 

I made three versions: cream egg, coffee egg and sweet filled (actually I did a nail varnish filled for my neice too but the container didn’t quite fit). 
Making the shells:

I used a silicon mould which made it very easy to get them out. I found the best method was to pour the chocolate in and then spread it around the mould with a food safe paintbrush. 

I found 3 layers created quite a thin shell and 4 layers quite a thick shell. 

I haven’t learnt to temper chocolate properly especially for small amounts but I did see a demonstration where they said the easiest way was to use seed chocolate to cool it down quickly having a tempering effect. This may be complete nonsense as I’ve not looked into it but it seemed to work fairly well and my chocolate dried fairly hard and shiny.

1. Melt your chocolate on 50% power in the microwave until completely melted (I found bursts of 40, 30, 20, 15 seconds worked about right. 

2. Chop up one square of chocolate into small pieces and pop these in the melted chocolate then stir until it has all melted. 

3. Pour chocolate into each mould and push around the edges with a food safe paintbrush. Run a sharp knife edge across the top to remove excess.

4. Pop in the fridge for ten minutes.

5. If the chocolate has hardened too much, repeat the melting process above, including the chopped chocolate. Pour some more ibto the moulds and repeat as above. 

7. Repeat for 3 or 4 layers as desired and after the last layer leave in the fridge for 30 mins.

The fillings:

Sweets – any you choose – I used Dolly Mixtures.

Cream egg:

The first recipe I saw asked for butter and this was delicious but not particularly cream egg like. I think this batch had too much vanilla too. I really liked the taste but for a more authentic cream egg flavour I found trex with just a little butter worked best and just a touch of vanilla. The picture below shows the butter version.

1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup shortening (trex) or butter

1/4 tsp vanilla

Pinch of salt

Roughly 2 cups sifted icing sugar

1. Soften the butter or shortening as necessary and pop in your mixer and beat on high for a few minutes until very smooth. Add the corn syrup and vanilla and mix on medium until smooth.

2. Add the icing sugar a little at a time on low, stopping when it is still smooth and a bit runny.

3. Keep covered until ready to use as it develops a skin if left without a cover.

Coffee eggs:

Make as above but put 2 tsp instant coffee in an egg cup and add hot water. Stir until dissolved and use about 4-5 teaspoons until it has the coffee strength you like. Add more powdered sugar to thicken back to desired consistency.

Filling the eggs:
1. Push the eggs out of the mould and make sure you have 2 halves that match. Annoyingly my mould has 6 halves so you only get 2 matching halves each time. 

2. Make sure the chocolate is melted and repeat the seed chocolate process as above.

3. Spoon your desired filling into each half. If you are doing cream eggs, then spoon a little of the filling out and mix with yellow or orange food colouring (I found one drop of each looked best). Then spoon a little of the yellow filling on top of the white. 

4. Use the paint brush to brush melted chocolate round each edge then press together making sure it matches well. Use your finger to brush off any excess from the join. Chill in the fridge to set. 

Enjoy!

Sticky Toffee Cake

A delicious moist and sticky toffee cake with caramel buttercream and toffee topping. 

Cake ingredients:

3 1/2 cups of plain (all purpose) flour  with 1 tbsp baking powder OR 3 1/2 cups self raising flour with 2 tsps baking powder.

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda).

1/2 tsp salt.

1/2 tsp mixed spice (allspice).

1/2 cup rapeseed (canola) oil.

1/2 cup melted butter.

1/3 cup honey.

3/4 cup golden syrup.

2 tbsps treacle

3/4 cup dark muscovado sugar.

3 eggs.

1 tsp vanilla.

1 cup cool tea/coffee (I mixed both).

1/4 cup dissarono (amaretto).

3 tsp sour cream.

10 drops of honeycomb flavour (optional).

Treats toffee sauce.

Method:

Preheat oven to 170C (fan)

Top tip: weigh your mixing bowl before you begin to make it easy to weigh equal amounts into each pan. 

1. First mix 1/2 tsp instant coffee with a small amount of water and add a teabag. Top up to 1 cup with cool water and leave to cool. 

2. Sieve the flour, baking powder and bicarb together and mix with the other dry ingredients except the sugar. Whisk together well. 

3. Mix the sugar and all the wet ingredients except the tea/coffee and toffee sauce whisk together will with a fork until smooth. 

4. Pour small amounts in and mix gradually to avoid lumps. Mix in the tea and toffee sauce at the end.

5. Line the bottom of each tin with parchment circles and grease well with margarine or butter. 

6. Weigh the bowl and minus off the weight of the empty bowl. Divide the amount by 4. Weigh this much into each tin. 

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. The cake is ready when the top springs back wheb touched and a knife comes out clean.

8. Leave in the pan for 5 minutes before running a knife around and turning out.

Toffee Buttercream:

600g icing sugar

165g butter

1can carnation caramel

1 tsp vanilla

Treats toffee sauce

Method: 

1. Beat the butter til smooth 2-3 mins on high).

2. Add sieved icing sugar and beat on low until ut starts to clog together.

3. Add 4 tbsps caramel and mix on low. Keep adding tablespoons of caramel until almost at the desired consistency then add 2 tbsp treats toffee sauce. 

4. Beat on high for 5 minutes.

5. Spread between layers of cool cake.

Toffee Topping:

200ml double cream

150g light brown sugar

50g butter

2tbsp golden syrup

Method: 

1. Melt together over a low heat until smooth. 

2. Simmer for 7 minutes.

3. Cool in a bowl placing a circle of parchment or cling film to avoid a skin forming.

4. Mix briskly together with a spoon before spreading. I pushed some bits over the edges to get a drip effect and decorated with chopped up fudge.

Other tips:

The topping works well spread onto a cool cake but I found the fridge dried out the edges of the cake whilst I waited for it to cool. To solve this I mixed a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar with water abd micriwaved for 30 seconds to dissolve and create a syrup. I brushed thus on the edges and top and the returned to being lovely and moist. 

Yum!

Check patterned sponge cake

This cake was fairly simple to make and you could use any flavour. I used sponge and chocolate sponge. You need two layers of each. It works best if they are contrasting colours.

I used a simple sponge recipe by weighing 3 eggs and then using the same amount of flour, butter and sugar. I used half ehite and half light brown sugar in my white sponge. In the chocolate one I used half dark brown sugar and half white. I also used 1/8 cup strong coffee made up and subbed 1/3 of the flour for cocia powder. In both cakes I added 3 tablespoons of 0% greek yogurt for extra moistness (I prefer buttermilk but I didn’t have any and I don’t find the homemade version works as well). 

Cut any domes off the top of each cake.

Then all you have to do is use a large circle cookie cutter (or a paper guide and a knife) and a small cookie cutter and layer them together, alternating each colour. Spread buttercream between each layer. 

I covered mine with buttercream and used it as an excuse to try out some icing effects with limited success! The check pattern turned out well though. 

The only thing I would do differently is place a little thinned buttercream between each circle of cake as it didn’t hold together particularly well when cut. 

Pulled slow cooker chicken in bbq sauce

This sticky, tomatoey pulled chicken is delicious and far healthier than the pork version. I use chicken breast for mine to cut some of the fat but I’m sure thigh or drummers would work well too.

This is so easy. Just chuck all the ingredients below into your slow cooker and stir. Add the chicken and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6-8. I like to cook this on high as it helps it reduce down (sometimes).

These are the ingredients I use but vary it to suit your own taste. I am intollerant to chilli and too much garlic or onion but feel free to add these to yours!

1 can chopped tomatoes

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Squeeze of tomato ketchup

Squeeze of brown sauce

Squeeze of tomato puree

Teaspoon of paprika

Pinch of pepper and salt

Teaspoon of stock

1/4 can of hot water

Teapoon ginger

Teaspoon mustard

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 teaspoons maple syrup

3-4 chicken breasts

After leaving it to cook take each chicken breast out one by one and pull apart with two forks. If it is ready, it will do this easily.

Once each breast is in bits, return it to the slow cooker and get the next until they are all shredded.

Sometimes I find it will reduce down itself but other times it is too watery.To help this I add a teaspoon of arrowroot mixed with some sauce to help it thicken.

If it is still too watery, use a large spoon to syphon off some liquid into a small pan. 

Bring this to a rolling boil on high stirring occasionally but watching to check it doesn’t burn. 

When it has reduced down a lot, return it to the slow cooker and stir. Repeat if necessary.
After this taste to check you are happy. Sometimes I add a teaspoon or two of shop bought bbq sauce to help the flavour.

We serve ours with jacket potatoes or sweet potato jackets and Mediterranean roasted veg. 

Yum!

Healthy(ish) Chocolate cupcakes

These yummy cupcakes contain no refined sugar (except the teeny bit in the chocolate) and are full of ingredients that actually do you good. I measured them out into my fitness pal and they are about 180 cals in small cupcake cases. 
The base for these was this recipe http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2015/06/26/double-chocolate-zucchini-bread/ which us an excellent recipe well worth making but I made a few tweaks to lighten them up.

They are fudgey and moist but don’t have the extreme sweetness of normal cupcakes.

Ingredients:

Dry: 

35g wholemeal flour

40g plain flour

25g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8tsp salt

50g – 85% cocoa (or higher) chocolate chopped into chunks

Wet ingredients:

1 large egg

45g greek yogurt

150g courgette grated finely

1tsp vanilla

30ml rapeseed oil

25ml maple syrup

25ml honey

1/2 tsp instant coffee made with 2 tablespoon of water

Method:

1) First, grate the courgette and spread a kitchen towel on a plate. Sprwad out the courgette on the towel and place another towel on top. Press down and leave until needed to remove some of the moisture.

2) Next, sift dry ingredients into a bowl and whisk together.

3) Then, in a small bowl or jug, whisk the wet ingredients (not the courgette) together well. 

4) After that, pour the wet ingreduents gradually into the dry and mix.

5) Finally, fold in the courgette with a spoon.

6) Spoon into small cupcake cases and bake 177C for 15mins ir until a knife comes out clean.

For the icing:
125g Philadelphia lightest

10g cocoa powder

10ml maple syrup 

5ml sweet freedom syrup

With a hand or stand mixer whip together (I use a paddle attachment) the Philadelphia and cocoa adding the maple and syrup to taste. If it is not thick enough add a little more cocoa. Then spread or pipe onto the cupcakes.

Enjoy!

Paddington marmalade jar cake

Today was my best friends boy’s 1st birthday and she asked me to help with the cake. She wanted a Paddington themed cake for the adults and a lower sugar version for the children so we decided on a marmalade jar and some themed cupcakes. 

For the cupcakes I used  a Sally’s Baking Addiction recipe for chocolate courgette bread and tweaked my nana’s fruit cake to make a marmalade flavoured version. I also made orange flavour buttercream and a low sugar chocolate cream cheese buttercream. I’ll link and post these recipes soon.
I made two fruit cakes and carved them slightly to get the jar shape. I torted each layer and spread marmalade on each layer too. I used thick buttercrean as a dam around each layer and sat in the fridge with a heavy book on top. I find this prevents bulging. I then crumb ciated and left to set in the frudge for 20 mins before doing a thicker neat coat.

I then place it on the covered board and  covered the sides with orange fondant. I did this in two sections, using the rolling pin to hold it as I pressed in on. Then I decorated with dark orange slithers and an edible icing sheet ordered from Love, Print, Eat.

The sandwich and suitcase were made from fondant too. I made these the night before while the cake was baking, along with the hats and boots and covering the board which gave each time to dry a little overnight. 

I finished the cake off by adding colored buttercream to the top to be the marmalade in the open jar and placing a few splodges on the board with left over fondant.

Ice cream style cupcakes 

I found this recipe at my favourite blog and it just seemed the perfect one to dress up as ice cream. 

http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2013/03/03/chocolate-cupcakes-with-mint-chocolate-chip-frosting/
Can you believe I found the baking cups at Poundland? Their baking range is excellent I love their edible glitters too. 
I followed the recipe exactly using the smaller amount of icing sugar, a little more peppermint and a mix of ordinary sized plain and milk Tesco choc chips as I couldn’t find mini ones. I also used a teaspoon of coffee in the cocoa mixture in the cupcakes. I put the icing on with an ice cream scoop.

I think the flake makes it! If only I had some of those mini ice cream spoons too.