This Easter Andrew is at an age when he has just enough of an attention span to have a go at some simple crafts. Of course if it involves chocolate he’s very keen to help, and his attention span is somewhat increased when it comes to edible molten gooeyness – I wonder why?! But he’s also very into stickers and sticking, so I knew we could also have a go at making some cards that involve sticking.
Chocolate mini (or pinny) eggs
Andrew has been calling mini eggs ‘pinny eggs’ since he first had one a couple of weeks ago when we baked these cupcakes. I’m not quite sure why, given that he can say ‘m’ (as in mummy) and I’ve only ever called them mini eggs, but he’s obviously just got it into his head that they are pinny eggs. The ‘p’ sound is made with the same part of the mouth as the ‘m’ sound – the lips coming together and then opening again – but the ‘m’ also involves air being let out through the nose (it’s a nasal consonant). Anyway, that’s enough of a linguistic digression!
I was given some moulds for making chocolate mini eggs a few years ago. This year we made some white chocolate ones with Green and Black’s lovely vanilla white chocolate, and some dark chocolate ones with Asda Extra Special 75% cocoa dark chocolate with cocoa nibs which give a lovely crunchy texture (we made these as presents but had to sample them of course!) The moulds create half eggs when you pour molten chocolate into them, and then we sandwiched each pair of halves together using some milk chocolate. We left them to set in the fridge overnight between each stage and also before packing them up into presents.
We used cupcake cases to put a few of each type of egg in. Here they are all ready to give to Andrew’s grandparents (who have been told not to read this until tomorrow!)
Egg collage cards
These were really simple to make. First I cut an egg shape out of some yellow card – my tip for getting a nice even and symmetrical shape is to fold a rectangle of card in half lengthways and cut a semi-oval around the opposite side to the folded edge, then unfold it and you have an egg. I then stuck strips of double-sided tape all over the egg and removed the backing to the tape, which left a sticky surface all over the egg. We chose various scraps of paper, tissue paper, felt and mesh from my craft stash, in nice bright and spring-like colours, and I cut them into small squares and rectangles. Andrew then had fun sticking them all over the egg, with a bit of help from me. He found it ‘really funny’ (his words) that his finger tips kept sticking to the egg as he stuck bits on 🙂 When it was all covered, I stuck it onto the front of a pre-folded white A6 card with double-sided tape. It was a simple as that.
You may remember that back in February I introduced a new monthly feature on the blog – Cupcake of the month – inspired by a calendar I was given for Christmas with a different cupcake recipe each month. This month the recipe was for vanilla cupcakes, with a slightly more unusual order for combining the ingredients than I had come across before. It’s not exactly the same recipe as appears on the calendar (I always adapt recipes!), mainly in that I halved all the ingredients, used marg instead of butter, missed out the salt, and doubled the amount of vanilla. I bought vanilla ‘flavouring’ instead of ‘essence’ last time I went shopping for it because they didn’t have any essence, and I knew that flavouring wasn’t as strong, so put twice as much in; disappointingly though, they still don’t taste strongly of vanilla, so I won’t be buying that again!
The decoration suggestion on the calendar was a swirl of buttercream icing with mini eggs on top. Although they look very creative, I thought I’d go one step further and combine these relatively plain cakes with another of my favourite things to make and eat at Easter – chocolate egg nests! You can’t beat a bit of shredded what covered in chocolate and honey, shaped into a nest with a couple of mini eggs in it 🙂 Andrew loved helping me make these too, not least because I let him lick the spoon! He was fascinated by the mini eggs and interested to learn about nests and count the eggs into them – he’s very into numbers and counting.right now. We made some small nests (I would make them bigger if we were eating them on their own) that fitted nicely on the top of the cupcakes, held on with a blob of buttercream (that was the ready-made stuff left over from Andrew’s birthday cake).
If you’d like to have a go at these treats for Easter, here’s the recipe……
Ingredients – makes 10
130g self-raising flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
150 dark chocolate
1 tbsp honey
chocolate mini eggs
buttercream icing (I had some ready-made stuff left over – or you could mix 25g butter/marg with 50g icing sugar)
Put 10 fairy cake cases in a fairy cake tin and 10 cupcake cases in a muffin tin.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
Mix the flour and sugar in a bowl, then add the milk and vanilla and stir until smooth.
Beat in the margarine and egg until well combined and smooth.
Pour the mixture into the cupcake cases until they are about half to two thirds full.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes until golden on top and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Meanwhile, make the nests…. Melt the chocolate slowly in the microwave or over a pan of boiling water.
Stir in the honey.
Crush shredded wheat in your hands over the bowl and keep doing this, stirring it now and then into the chocolate, until the shredded wheat is nicely covered and the mixture is thick enough to spoon into the fairy cake cases.
Spoon a small amount into the bottom of each case, and press two mini eggs into the centre.
Chill in the fridge until set.
Once the cakes are baked and cooled, and the nests are set, assemble by putting a small blob of icing in the centre of each cake and pressing a nest down on top of it.
Store in an airtight container and eat as fresh as possible.
OK, I admit it, these classic sweet eats are not exactly what you call rocket science baking (not really baking at all as no oven is involved), but I can’t resist making these at Easter time. One day, in the not too distant future, Andrew will be able to help me with them too – for now he just watched from a safe distance in Daddy’s arms. By combining some sort of cereal with chocolate, you end up (with a little imagination) with something resembling a bird’s nest, which can then be filled with chocolate mini eggs – in my opinion, mini eggs are one of the best things about Easter (after Jesus of course, the reason why we celebrate it in the first place). This year I made a couple of different varieties of nest: white chocolate with cornflakes, and dark chocolate with shredded wheat. Here are the recipes…
White choc cornflake nests
100g white chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp honey
Dark choc wheat nests
100g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
1 tbsp honey
50g shredded wheat, crushed
The method was the same for both – start with the white chocolate first, and you can use the same bowl for the dark chocolate (the other way round would risk making your white chocolate come out with a brown tinge!)
Melt the chocolate and butter slowly in the microwave (or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water on the hob).
Stir in the honey to the molten mixture.
Stir in the cereals until they are all coated evenly with chocolate.
Spoon dollops of mixture into muffin or fairy cake cases in a muffin tray (so they hold their shape until set).
Press 4 mini eggs into the top of each one, so form a hollow in the mixture, like a nest.
Leave to set in the fridge for a few hours.
Once set, remove from paper cases and eat 🙂 (alternatively store in the fridge for a while, but that’s more boring)
Do you like making this sort of cake? What cereals do you think work best? I think the shredded wheat makes it look more like a nest, but I love the crunch you get from cornflakes or bran flakes.