Chocolate Easter nests

Chocolate Easter nests

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Chocolate nests are a staple recipe for Easter time, and something I’m sure everyone can remember making (or eating!) when they were little. I remember first making chocolate nests when I was about six, with my mum and sister, and trying my best to eat all the mini eggs before they could make it as far as the actual nests! So when I was thinking about what Easter presents I could make for my friends this year, I decided to go for a new take on this classic, and make giant chocolate nests, with lots of eggs inside, and a little sparkle of glitter.

You can use whatever chocolate you want for these nests, I went for a mix of milk and dark, but anything would work, even chocolate orange. Make sure you crush your shredded wheat quite finely, as you want it to all get evenly coated in the chocolate mixture. They make perfect presents, simply wrap in tissue paper or cellophane and tie with an Eastery ribbon and you’re done!

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Blackberry and almond brownies

Blackberry and almond brownies

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These brownies are literally the best brownies I have ever eaten. They are dense, chocolatey and squidgy, but with a sharp hit from the blackberry layer and a crunch from the almonds. They are a perfect dessert brownie: ideal served warm with a scoop of icecream and some fresh blackberries, but would not survive so well in a lunchbox…! The only slightly annoying thing about these brownies is that you have to wait at least, AT LEAST 30 minutes before cutting them up and diving in, otherwise they really don’t hold their shape. But that is the only annoying thing… apart from that they are absolute heaven!

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Blackberry and almond brownies

For the brownies:

  • 4 eggs
  • 240g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 240g salted butter
  • 320g caster sugar
  • 70g cocoa powder
  • 100g self-raising flour
  • 60g plain flour
  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 50g toasted almonds, chopped

For the blackberry layer:

  • 150g blackberries
  • 30g caster sugar

30 x 20cm brownie tin

  • Heat your oven to 180°C
  1. Make the blackberry layer by putting the blackberries and sugar into a heavy bottomed pan and heating until the sugar is dissolved, the cook until the blackberries are soft, but not mushy.
  2. For the brownies, first brown the butter by melting it in a saucepan, and then continuing to heat it until it bubbles and turns a golden brown colour, with a nutty smell.
  3. Put the sugar and chocolate in a large bowl and pour the butter over, then stir until everything has melted.
  4. Beat in the eggs, then sift over the flours and cocoa powder and stir together.
  5. Stir in the almonds and chopped chocolate until they are well dispersed.
  6. Spoon half the mixture into the tin and spread out evenly. Spoon over the blackberry mixture, then top with the rest of the brownie mix and smooth the top.
  7. Bake the brownies for 25 minutes, until they still have a bit of a wobble in the centre, but have a bit of a crust.
  8. Leave to cool in the tin for AT LEAST half an hour, then eat!

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Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

Cranberry, hazelnut and dark chocolate biscotti

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It always seems to be the case that we’re on holiday for biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off. However, I’m not one to let a small matter such as a foreign country, untranslatable ingredients and a lack of recognisable baking equipment stop me from baking along! Last year we were in Jersey (admittedly much easier to find ingredients!) when I made these (https://elliespinkcakes.wordpress.com/2014/08/13/lemon-and-white-chocolate-biscuits/) lemon and white chocolate biscuits, and this year, in Croatia, I attempted biscotti.

I had already baked these and was sitting down to watch when Paul said that his (and Mary’s!) choice of biscotti recipe would involve hazelnuts, cranberries and dark chocolate…. the very combination I had chosen for mine! These biscotti really did have all the odds stacked against them: I was baking in 36 degree heat, with a very temperamental oven, no scales, and something I bought from the supermarket assuming it was plain flour…. in hindsight though, I’m really not sure it was! However, they actually turned out pretty well, they would definitely pass Paul’s ‘snap’ test, although admittedly do have a better texture once dunked in coffee!

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Strawberry and coconut ice-cream with an almond and cacao crumb (Vegan)

Strawberry and coconut ice-cream with an almond and cacao crumb (Vegan)

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This vegan ice-cream is perfect for hot summer days, as it has all the creaminess and texture of non-vegan ice-cream, thanks to the whipped coconut cream, but is also much lighter and more refreshing, as it doesn’t have any dairy in it. It tastes almost like a frozen strawberry smoothie, and is absolutely delicious! This ice-cream is also free from refined sugar, only using maple syrup as a sweetener, so it will set pretty hard in the freezer, which explains the addition of the vodka, and the necessity of removing it from the freezer 20 minutes before you want to eat. However, the lack of refined sugar isn’t all bad – because it only has (mainly!) healthy ingredients, it is entirely acceptable to eat for breakfast… which I have done…!

One of the best things about this ice-cream is that it’s so easily customisable; once you have the coconut and banana base you can add any flavours you want, maybe some mint extract and cacao nibs to make a healthy mint choc chip? Or how about adding peaches instead of strawberries to make a creamy peach ice-cream? Once you have churned the ice-cream you can either put it in a tub to freeze, or spoon it into ice-lolly moulds to make an exciting treat for the kids! The cacao and almond crumb is, of course, entirely optional, but I do find that it adds a lovely crunch of texture.

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Roasted almond and dark chocolate shortbread

Roasted almond and dark chocolate shortbread

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These shortbread are the ultimate dunking biscuits – tea, coffee or hot chocolate, it doesn’t matter, they are just perfect! The chocolate layer melts so they can soak up just enough of the liquid while still retaining a crunch from the roasted almonds. They would be perfect served with scones as part of an afternoon tea, or simply on pretty, floral china as a spring afternoon treat!

This shortbread uses the classic 3-2-1 recipe, with 3 parts flour (with a little bit of rice flour for crumbliness!), 2 parts good quality salted butter and one part caster sugar, but the nuttiness of the roasted almonds takes them to another level entirely! It’s really important not to roll the dough out too thinly, as you want thick, crumbly shortbread and not thin biscuits.

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Roasted almond and dark chocolate shortbread:

  • 280g plain flour
  • 2 dessert spoons of rice flour or ground rice
  • 200g good quality salted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 80g whole almonds
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Heat the oven to 180C, then spread the almonds out on a baking tray and cook for 10 minutes, then take them out of the oven and allow to cool completely.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then stir in the flours until you have a smooth dough (you may need to use your hands at the end!)
  3. Roughly chop the almonds and then mix them into the shortbread dough.
  4. Form the dough into a ball and then roll out to a thickness of 2cm.
  5. Either cut the shortbread into squares or use a cutter, then place the shapes onto a lined baking tray and bake for 18 minutes until lightly golden.
  6. Transfer the shortbread onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. When they are completely cool, melt the dark chocolate in a bowl over a pan of boiling water, then tip each shortbread into the chocolate so a third of it is covered, then leave to set on the rack.
Mini Yule logs

Mini Yule logs

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Welcome to Day 11 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These mini chocolate logs are so cute, just the right size to serve for tea on Christmas day, and look really effective with the markings and icing decorations. Make sure to cover the sponge with a tea towel after you have removed the baking paper, or it could dry out and become difficult to roll.

I used gingerbread coffee syrup in the filling to give it a spicy taste, but you could use rum or any other syrup in place of it. The decorations are really easy to make – we used icing coloured with gel food colourings rolled into balls and cut into holly leaves using a cutter.

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Florentines

Florentines

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Welcome to Day 9 of the 12 days of Christmas on Ellie Bakes, where I will be sharing a festive recipe every day until Christmas Eve. I think Christmas is the best time of the year for baking, and I have lots of great recipes to share!

These Florentines make brilliant last minute Christmas presents, and would also be great nibbles for a Christmas party. You can make bigger ones with larger biscuit cutters which would also be perfect for dunking in a cup of tea!

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