Easter baking is like Christmas baking in our house: I make a list of all the recipes I want to try and make and then start by prioritising what will get made according to available time, my budget and what I think the kids will enjoy most.
Easter nests make an appearance in some variation every year, but as I have been wanting to make meringues with the kids for a while and my dislike of cream prevents me from wanting to make a traditional pavlova, I decided that we would attempt a big chocolate meringue nest which could be decorated with chocolate-coated shredded wheat and a copious amount mini eggs.
I enjoy making meringues and chocolate meringues are even better, but that said mine do always end up cracked – this is generally because like an excited child I seem to lack the capacity to wait until the oven has completely cooled before opening it. That said, a crack here and there doesn’t alter the taste. It just gives it more of a rustic look, a homemade ‘we had a go and made some memories’ look which you can’t get from any shop bought pudding.
I made the meringue with Atticus. He had so much fun not having to share the electric mixer with his older brother! It also provided opportunities to discuss with him what was happening as the egg whites were whisked without Seb answering the question first. It was fabulous to hear him try using the word ‘frothy’ and exclaim in delight as the egg whites expanded in size during whisking. Cooking is definitely a huge support for language as well as maths skills for little mischief makers. It was also lots of fun to dollop the meringue mixture onto the baking parchment and trying to make sure it stayed inside the circle we had drawn around a plate to mark out where it should be.
All the children, yes even Ophelia, helped to make the chocolate shredded wheat to put on top of the meringue. I am not at liberty to divulge how much chocolate (either melted or otherwise) was consumed during this process, but fun was had with very little bickering and my children all remained friends. The latter is of course of the utmost importance and I can happily report that I also managed to complete this activity with adequate levels of patience.
In order to make the big chocolate meringue you will need the following:
- 4 egg whites
- 250g caster sugar
- 2tsp cocoa powder
- 1tsp cornflour
- 1tsp white wine vinegar
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- Heat the oven to 130°c fan.
- Draw around a plate on baking parchment.
- Separate the eggs (I did this for Atticus as we don’t have an egg separator).
- Whisk the eggs until they form stiff peaks, sift in the 2tsp of cocoa powder and mix and then whisk in the sugar one tbsp at a time until the mixture is glossy.
- Whisk in the cornflour, white wine vinegar and vanilla extract.
- Dollop the meringue onto the baking parchment being careful to ensure that it stays inside the circle. Make the outside of the circle taller than the centre.
- Cook in the oven for 1 hour and then turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven until it is completely cool. If you are like me it will be a struggle to resist the temptation to open the oven door when the oven is still hot. But please fight against this urge as you are more likely to be rewarded with an intact meringue which has less of a rustic appearance!
For the topping
- 300g milk chocolate
- 30g margarine
- 2tbsp golden syrup
- 5 or 6 shredded wheat
- Mini eggs
- Melt the chocolate, margarine and golden syrup on the stove top. The boys did have a go at this under supervision.
- Crush the shredded wheat, we tend to do this while they are in the packet as it is less messy. Add the crushed shredded wheat to the melted chocolate mixture (you may not need all 6 shredded wheat). Mix very well.
- Carefully place the chocolate-coated shredded wheat on top of the cooled meringue and then add as many mini eggs as you would like.
This pudding was pretty much entirely decimated in a single sitting by my family of five and my sister-in-law and her family of four. The boys had lots of fun telling their cousins how they made it.
I love bears and Winnie the Pooh is my all time favourite and has been since I was a small girl. My children love bears too, but they will not be influenced by mummy’s preferences: they do seem to like Paddington more than Winnie the Pooh. It might be because they have seen Paddington at the cinema, the marmalade jar has Paddington on it or simply because he is such a mischievous character that appeals to their own mischievous natures. Ophelia has some vests with Paddington on them and she takes great delight at trying to pronounce Paddington. I must admit that the first time she said it, I had to really concentrate to understand what she was saying. A couple of minutes later it occurred to me that she was trying to pronounce Paddington – quite a difficult word for a 18 month old! She was, understandably, very proud of herself.
Behind chocolate spread, marmalade is Seb’s favourite topping for toast and crumpets and we often have a ‘Paddington lunch’ which is essentially a lunch of a marmalade sandwich often reading Paddington stories. To keep my life interesting, I thought we would try something new. Before you ask, yes my life is already quite hectic managing the three kids, but I do love to see their delighted faces when engrossed in an activity – any stress its preparation may have caused immediately vanishes. For pudding one evening, we created Paddington Toast from images we found online. For us, this comprised a slice of orange fruit loaf (the closest flavour to marmalade!) toasted and cut into a circle with a biscuit cutter, covered with chocolate spread marked with a fork to look like fur, a strawberry and jelly bean hat (why do we always run out of one particular colour of jelly beans?!), a couple of blackcurrants for eyes, a Toffifee sweet for the nose and an icing smile. The kids had fun making these and they disappeared pretty sharpish. To make this a healthier snack, you could substitute the fruit toast for a rice cake, use peanut butter and a slice of banana instead of the sweet. The example that I made for the boys to copy is the one at the top.
This in turn got me thinking what would we do if Paddington ever comes to tea? You never know, it may just happen – I bet Sophie and her mum weren’t expecting a tiger to turn up on their doorstep, so in the unlikely event that Paddington ever does come to tea, my kids can impress him with their chocolate chip marmalade scones! Just like Sophie’s mum bought a tin of tiger food, I may be prepared with the ingredients ready to make these yummy scones if the need arises.
The ingredients are in cups to make it easier for children who do not yet recognise their numbers, but are able to scoop out a cup.
- 1/4 of cup of marmalade
- Juice of a clementine or satsuma
- 1/4 cup of milk
- 35g butter or margarine
- 2tbsp caster sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of self raising flour
- 4tbsp chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc fan.
- Place the marmalade in a microwave-safe cup and heat for 20 seconds. Add it to the milk and clementine juice and mix thoroughly. There may still be a few lumps, but that is OK.
- Put the butter, flour and sugar into a bowl and rub them together. Add the marmalade milk mixture to the flour and combine until they form a dough. If the mixture is too dry add more milk and if it is too liquid more flour.
- Add the chocolate chips and knead. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and cut out small scones. This recipe will make 12 mini scones (we used a 5cm diameter cutter).
- Put in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden.
We served these with chocolate spread as you can never really go wrong with chocolate, but marmalade and clotted cream would also work well.
I love chocolate, I love eating it and cooking with it. I even have a hand cream that makes my hands smell of chocolate that sometimes tricks me into believing I have had my chocolate fix for the morning without actually consuming any – this is a bonus as it means that I can eat more chocolate later! So chocolate is always good, but when combined with any sort of cake it becomes better and I seem unable to put my finger on why this is. It is the reason I tend toward homemade edible gifts at Christmas and Easter. This year I have made ‘Easter Scotch Eggs’ for family and friends. I made these for the first time last year and they went down so well that they had to have an encore. I mean the Creme Eggs were practically begging from the pantry to be snuggled in a chocolate-rich mixture to keep them warm in the unseasonably cold weather we have been experiencing recently.
Essentially what they are is a mini Creme Egg or equivalents encased in brownie mixed with buttercream and covered in crushed ginger biscuit or desiccated coconut (or sprinkles if you like). You don’t even have to bake: if you really want to cheat you could buy shop-bought brownie and buttercream. Part of the attraction of these for me though is making the brownie and buttercream. Children could put them together. That said, my oldest is only 5 and I doubt he would be able to resist licking his fingers during the process and as these were destined to be gifts, the kids made Easter cards and received a running commentary of the process. Needless to say, the boys are both desperate to help make some so they are already on our list for next year, but in a smaller batch so they can help.
To make this recipe you will need:
For the brownie
- 300g butter or margarine
- 300g dark chocolate
- 450g caster sugar
- 5 eggs
- 200g plain flour
- 1tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 or 2tsp of ground cinnamon – you could omit this or use another flavouring if you like.
For the buttercream: the below amounts are guidelines as I never measure exactly, it just goes in the mixer. However, the buttercream does need to be quite rigid to hold the crushed brownie together around the Creme Egg.
- 175g butter or margarine
- 350-400g icing sugar
- 2tbsp Cocoa Powder
- 2tsp cinnamon
For the coating
- Crushed ginger biscuits, desiccated coconut, sprinkles or even plain cocoa powder
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc fan and line a baking tin (I used 28cm x20cm) with greaseproof paper.
- Melt the butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over a low heat.
- Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract together until they become thick and creamy.
- Once the chocolate mixture is fully melted, remove it from the heat and beat it into the egg mixture.
- Sift the flour, cinnamon and the salt together, add it to the chocolate, egg mixture and beat until smooth.
- Pour it into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes. The top should have formed a crust and the brownie shouldn’t wobble when it is ready.
- Leave to cool completely while preparing the buttercream.
- Cream the butter/margarine with the icing sugar, cocoa and cinnamon until smooth.
- Crumble the cooled brownie and add it to the buttercream bowl and gently mix it together (I did this by hand). Place the crushed biscuit (or alternative) on a small plate.
- Unwrap the Creme Eggs and cover them in the brownie-buttercream mixture and roll into a ball. Then roll them in your covering of choice.
- Repeat until all the brownie-buttercream mixture is gone – for me it covered 2 large Creme Eggs and 18 mini ones.
For these I do recommend using mini Creme Eggs or Caramel Eggs because the large ones do make a very big scotch egg, especially if you want to cover them in a thick layer of brownie like I do. However, the larges one look good when sliced in half as it is easier to expose the fondant yolk and if you don’t intend to have any other calories that day, why not?!
Last week it was pie day (3.14 – well it was in America) and as Simon is a geek and I love baking, it is a day that I definitely enjoy. This year, to celebrate the day I created a pie which combines one of Simon’s favourite deserts, the crumble, with my beloved flapjacks. I personally love a good flapjack: when eating a flapjack I can almost fool myself that I am eating a healthy snack which means the guilt I feel if (I should say when…) I manage to devour nearly a whole batch of them by myself nearly dissipates. Nearly, I said nearly – please don’t judge me too harshly, there is still a thought in the back of my mind that I shouldn’t do it, but I can dismiss it with promises to myself that the next batch will be destined for sharing. The term is ‘altruistic baking’ and I am a firm believer in spreading the calories around to prevent myself from scoffing the lot!
So back to the pie. It had a chocolate coconut flapjack base, contained stewed cherries (harvested from cherry trees in our neighbourhood last summer) and a coconut crumble topping (before you ask, yes I do like coconut). The more I think about it though, using a brownie as the filling would have made a truly decadent dessert. Don’t get me wrong, the cherries were delightful, and did ensure that the pie sort of contained 1 of your 5 a day, but pudding is always better with chocolate! To finish it was covered in a coconut crumble topping. We ate this pie both warm and cold and it went very well with a serving of ice cream. The mere memory of the pie is starting to make me hungry…
To make this pie you will need the following ingredients:
- 150g butter or margarine
- 5tbsp golden syrup
- 3tbsp brown sugar
- 2tbsp cocoa
- 2tbsp desiccated coconut
- 240g oats
For the filling
- Stewed fruit – you could use cherries or raspberries as they go well with the chocolate flapjack. I think the total volume of stewed fruit I used was around 150 grams.
- 120g plain flour
- 60g butter/margarine
- 60g caster or demerara sugar
- 4tbsp of desiccated coconut
- Preheat your oven to 180ºc fan and grease a pie dish. I used a 23cm loose base fluted non stick pan (gosh what a mouthful). I greased it using frylight, but butter or margarine would work too and then a small amount of flour.
- Melt the butter, golden syrup, sugar and cocoa powder over a low heat until dissolved. Then add the oats and the coconut and mix until fully combined.
- This should be way more than enough flapjack to spread into your pie dish and all up the sides. Gently flatten it being careful not to leave any holes.
- Bake for 20 minutes at 180ºc. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn as being a dark flapjack, it is easy to miss.
- Stew your fruit in 1/4 to 1/2 a cup of water and add sugar to taste. Make sure it isn’t too runny.
- Make the crumble topping by rubbing together the butter, sugar, flour and coconut until you have a breadcrumb texture.
- Remove the flapjack from the oven and place an even layer of the stewed fruit over the flapjack base and then cover with the crumble topping.
- Return to the oven for 20-25 minutes until the crumble topping is golden.
- Enjoy hot or cold or even with ice cream!
Continue reading “Chocolate Cherry Flapjack Crumble Pie”
Children love pizza. I know there are rare exceptions to the rule, but what is not to like?! A yummy doughy base with a rich tomato sauce and an avalanche of melted cheese… Just thinking about it transports me back to the part of my year abroad that I spent in Italy and reminds me of all the delicious pizzas I sampled in the name of improving my Italian to meet my degree requirements. My kids are firmly planted in the we love pizza camp and cheese on toast comes with tomato paste on the toast as standard in our house. I do, however, feel the need to keep my life interesting and the kids do enjoy making what we call pizza scrolls. What they actually are is cheese and tomato croissants but rolled up like a savoury Chelsea bun.
To make this recipe you will need:
⦁ 1 tin of Jus -Roll croissants
⦁ Cream cheese
⦁ Tomato paste
⦁ Grated cheese of choice (we tend to use cheddar or mozzarella)
⦁ Dried mixed herbs or basil
⦁ Butter/margarine for greasing
⦁ 20cm circular springform tin
1. Start by preheating your oven to 180ºc fan and let your child grease the tin. We use a silicone pastry brush and I let the kids ‘paint’ the margarine or butter all over.
2. Put 5 tablespoons of cream cheese in a bowl and mix with a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and add 2tsp of herbs. Mix well. My kids always love commenting on how the cream cheese is no longer white and act terribly surprised when it turns pink.
3. On a lightly floured surface (we tend to use a floured silicone baking mat on our counter) unwrap the croissant tin and unravel the croissants. Very gently squeeze the perforations together to ensure there are no holes in the pastry.
4. With the back of a spoon evenly spread the cream cheese mixture all over the pastry making sure all the corners are covered.
5. Sprinkle grated cheese on top. You will need a couple of adult-sized handfuls for this.
6. Choose an end and role the pastry up into a big scroll. It is important to keep it as tight as possible. Cut it into 6 even slices and place one in the middle of the tin and the others around it. Apply a thin milk glaze and then sprinkle with some grated cheese.
7. Place in the oven for 20 minutes. Check on it at 15 minutes and if it is browning too quickly cover with a foil hat until completely cooked.
8. Remove from the oven and these can be enjoyed warm or cold.
I shouldn’t have been surprised when these came out the oven that Atticus instantly declared that he wanted the middle one. Luckily it is very easy to separate them without any structural issues!
I don’t know about you, but I find I am easily distracted. It could be that having three kids (Sebastian, Atticus and Ophelia) just means I am always being interrupted whether it be while eating, sleeping or even trying to go to the loo. Or maybe I have spent too much time with young children in the past five years that I have assimilated their short attention span and am no longer able to conduct a proper adult discussion without reverting to a child-like manner of reasoning.
Simon has been suggesting I start a blog for at least a couple of years and it has been on my to do list, but has never quite made its way to the top until now. I have now finally got around to it and I am beyond excited to welcome you to Just Add Patience. Those of you who know me well, will be well acquainted with my patience levels: they are not great. Patience is a quality that I am always striving to master and acquire. Some days I have oodles of it and will bestow it upon all of the children and Simon (I know generous right?!). Other days it completely deserts me and I feel like it is an ingredient that I was convinced I had in the pantry, but it turns out I finished the previous day or it is far too past its sell by date to actually work.
I really hope that you enjoy my ramblings about trying to teach my little people how to cook and nurture their developing personalities with as much patience as I can muster!
Please note: while trying to write this post, I drafted a recipe for a toffee popcorn cheesecake as that seemed like an easier task than introducing myself. That post will follow once I have managed to test the recipe with my little mischief makers…
Love Kat x