Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Leftover Easter Egg Chocolate Ice Cream

Leftover Easter Egg Recipe
The concept of leftover Easter eggs is something I find hard to get to grips with. In our house, an uneaten Easter egg must have something seriously wrong with it, or have fallen down the back of the sofa. The whole point of self-denial during Lent is to celebrate your resolve with a massive blow-out at the end, which is where the Easter eggs fit in. Fit into your stomach, I mean.

Leftover Easter Egg Recipe
I do understand, however, that sometimes you can have too much of a good thing, including Easter eggs. So when Sainsbury's asked me to come up with a delicious recipe for using up leftover Easter eggs, I immediately thought of ice-cream. If you're fed up with chocolate or feel you need to stop indulging, it can go into the freezer until such time as chocolate becomes desirable once again.

 So, assuming there are such things as leftover Easter eggs in your house, here are some suggestions on how to use them in addition to the ice-cream recipe given below.
  • Melt leftover Easter egg chocolate down and use to drizzle over cakes and biscuits such as these peanut butter and chocolate cookies.
  • Turn leftover chocolate into chocolate sauce for pouring over ice-cream or any number of other things - it keeps well in the fridge. This honeyed chocolate sauce is rather delicious.
  • Chop all your leftover Easter eggs and chocolate into bits and use for any recipe using choc chips: cookies, flapjacks, brownies, cakes - the list could go on. Substitute choc bits for the walnuts in this brownie recipe.
Leftover Easter Eggs
I may claim that there are no leftover Easter eggs in our house, but I am a hoarder and tend to squirrel things away, often forgetting about them. This post prompted me to do a little search and lo and behold, I found some mini eggs from Easter 2013 nestling at the back of a cupboard. Plain chocolate eggs filled with creme de cassis, I thought they would be an ideal addition to my ice-cream. The unfortunate crushed bunnies and one of my less successful Easter egg attempts went into the mix too.

No Churn Ice Cream
Initially I was going to flavour this no churn ice-cream with vanilla as I wanted the various tastes from the eggs to stand out. But then I remembered a bar of mint and vanilla chocolate that I used to be rather fond of. The vanilla and mint were both subtle and finely balanced and worked together surprisingly well. So in order to create my own version of this flavour combination, I decided to use some fresh mint from the garden which wouldn't give too strong a flavour; I only used a little bit of vanilla pod for the same reason.

Leftover Easter Egg Recipe
The balance of flavours and ratio of ice-cream to chocolate was just perfect and it was not overly sweet. The hint of mint, made it quite refreshing and the light creamy ice-cream was easy to eat. Chunks of varying types and size of chocolate made each mouthful an adventure. I served it with this dark chocolate sauce with some added water to make it a better pouring consistency.

Cooking with Herbs over at Lavender and Lovage is all about mint this. Using my own fresh mint to flavour this ice-cream makes it particularly apt.

I'm also submitting this to Simple and in Season with Ren Behan. Fresh mint is now in season as evinced by this use of my first picking of this year's mint. This month's event is being hosted by Michelle from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families.

As this really is a Dead Easy Dessert and can be in the freezer in under 30 minutes, I am sending this off to Michelle of Utterly Scrummy Food for Families who is hosting this month for Sarah of Maison Cupcake.

Despite it's seeming lavishness, this is a very frugal recipe. I bought the cream at a bargain price as it was going out of date and the Easter eggs were already there and needed to be used up. I am thus sending my ice cream off to the No Waste Food Challenge normally hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary, but this month by Ness of JibberJabberUK.

I was sent a Sainsbury's shopping voucher in exchange for developing this recipe and post.

print recipe

No Churn Easter Egg Ice Cream
Leftover Easter Egg Ice Cream
A creamy but light and not overly sweet no churn choc-chip ice-cream flavoured with vanilla and a hint of mint. Ideal for using up all those leftover bits of Easter chocolate. Serve with chocolate sauce if desired.
  • 600 ml double cream
  • 200g (half a standard sized tin) condensed milk
  • large sprig fresh mint
  • half vanilla pod
  • 250g Easter chocolate - mixed or otherwise
1. Warm 100ml of the cream with the mint in a covered pan until nearly boiling. Turn off the heat and leave to infuse until cool.2. Strain the cooled cream and add it along with the rest of the cream to a large bowl. Add the condensed milk.3. Scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add to the cream (you could use vanilla extract, or ground vanilla pod or even vanilla paste).4. Whip the cream until peaks form.5. Roughly chop the chocolate (or place in a bag and bash with a rolling pin) and add to the cream, reserving a couple of spoonfuls to scatter on top if desired. Fold into the cream.6. Pour the cream into a 1 litre tub and scatter over the reserved chocolate. Place in the freezer.
Prep time: Total time: Yield: 1 litre plus a bit more

Monday, 14 April 2014

An Easter Eggstravaganza

Easter will very soon be upon us, so I thought I'd better not lose any more time in highlighting the Easter eggs that have come my way this season.


During my early days as a student in London, I was befriended by a girl about town; her tastes were rather more sophisticated than a country girl up from Cornwall (my travels to exotic climes and years as an au pair in Switzerland notwithstanding). One of the stylish shops she introduced me to was Thorntons in Marylebone High Street, an area full of upmarket independent retailers not far from our place of study. As students, we couldn't really afford the extravagant prices charged back then, but we would occasionally treat ourselves to just one Viennese or Champagne truffle each from their Continental range. Sometimes, we got lucky and were able to purchase a big slab of their milk chocolate at a bargain price - milk chocolate that for some reason had not made it through the quality checks. I was in heaven. Thorntons has moved on since then and is now a well known high street brand. I too have moved on in my chocolate journey since those heady days, but the fondness for Thorntons remains.

This flight of nostalgia was brought on when I was sent a large Thorntons Continental Luxury Easter Egg to review. The egg itself was huge and it came with a box of 18 classic chocolates from the Continental range. The box design was elegant and I was really taken by the impressionistic, slightly retro, spirograph-inspired design on the egg itself. On opening the box, a rush of cocoa aromas emerged that I found to be quite intoxicating; this is by no means found with all chocolate. The egg is rich and creamy with a slight astringent note that gives it a fully rounded chocolatey flavour.

These days, I prefer my chocolates with less sugar rather than more and these Continentals do err towards the sweet side, but I enjoyed them nevertheless. I was pleased to see that my old friend, the Viennese truffle was represented and although the old champagne truffle I remembered was not, there was a ganache au marc de champagne, which was very nice indeed and left a pleasantly warm glow as it travelled from mouth to tummy. The other classic I remembered of old was the Diplomat, which was another firm favourite - it seems we may have treated ourselves rather more than I at first remembered! Cappuccino truffles were never a favourite as I'm not a fan of coffee flavoured chocolates and there were two of these in the box. Luckily CT is rather partial, so he did get a bit of a look in. In fact the egg, combined with the chocolates kept us both happy for several days, as it should weighing in at 500g. Normally £24.99, I've just noticed it's currently up for an absolute bargain at £14.99.

Stay in Devon

Making my own Easter eggs has always struck me as a little daunting and although every year I had plans to try, I never actually managed it. However, this year I was sent an Easter egg making kit from Stay in Devon, so the proverbial bull just had to be taken by the horns. So I did. The kit is really meant for children, so how scary could it be? It came with a chocolate mould for two eggs and two 150g bags of milk chocolate buttons from Choconchoc. It also came in a sturdy box with instructions, some sweets to make one's very own egg heads and a paper chef's hat. I was a little surprised at the quality of chocolate which tasted good and had 33.5% cocoa solids. I was pleased that just because the kit was aimed at children, the little ones were not being fobbed off with low quality goods. There is plenty of Easter fun to be had on the website including a photo gallery of the eggs being made or eaten and an Easter egg hunt with a £500 prize up for grabs.

The instructions were a little basic. They didn't tell you how much chocolate to melt for starters. However, it worked and I successfully made two shiny Easter eggs. The trick it seems is to polish the moulds with a little flavourless oil - I used sunflower oil. This not only makes the eggs easier to get out of the moulds, but helps to give them a nice shine too. Basically, it was a process of melting the chocolate and adding it in layers. I swirled the chocolate around the mould, using a teaspoon to ensure all surfaces were covered, then poured the excess back into the bowl of melted chocolate, allowing it to set before doing the same again. My kitchen was cold, so it only took a few minutes before I was able to repeat the process, which I did twice more. As per the instructions, I dutifully decorated the eggs with the sweets provided. My egg heads looked like something from a B movie sic-fi romp, but hey, everything is post modern these days.


You may remember, my recent post about the Godiva competition and that I was too late to enter my Amaretto chocolate pots. Well I was also unable to take up the invite to go up to London for the award celebrations. For those interested, the finalists and their entries can be seen in this video clip. As some sort of compensation, Godiva very kindly sent me some of their chocolate: some Easter bunnies and some chocolate pops - aka mini Easter Eggs.

The eggs were wrapped in colourful silver paper and looked so good I kept them in a bowl on the sideboard for several days before tucking into them. Each colour egg had a different flavoured ganache, mousse or praline filling and was covered with either dark, milk or white chocolate, with a layer of the same running down the middle. There were nine different colours in all, including an orange covered coffee ganache, a gold covered white chocolate ganache flavoured with vanilla, a yellow white chocolate ganache flavoured with lemon and covered in dark chocolate and an 85% dark chocolate ganache.

My favourites were the pink milk chocolate speculoos mousse, the red dark chocolate raspberry mousse and the green dark chocolate praline with biscuits. The layer of chocolate running down the middle broke up the filling in an unexpected way adding extra texture and interest. We both liked the pops.

Sadly, the bunnies arrived in bits, having been crushed in the post, so I didn't get to assess them in the looks department. To be fair, these are not normally something that is sent in the post as they are only available to buy in shops. The chocolate itself was of the milk variety and tasted a little of coconut. It was rather too sweet for CT or I to eat as it was however, so I am planning on using the bits in baking.

Cadbury's Mini Eggs

To finish, I give you a bowl of Cadbury's mini Easter eggs. Cadbury's creme eggs I have known and loved as an Easter special ever since I can remember. You may or may not have seen the creme egg buns I made with them a few weeks ago - they were very nice. This is the first time I've come across them in mini form though. Cute with a higher ratio of chocolate to fondant filling than a regular creme egg, these are very tasty, if very sweet, mouthfuls.

The others were completely new to me in egg form: Caramel eggs, solid Dairy Milk chocolate eggs and some I got stupidly excited about when I saw them, Daim eggs. I adore the delicious bits of crunchy Scandinavian butterscotch that permeate the chocolate and was completely addicted to Dime bars as a student. The eggs come in 89g bags which gives 8 eggs, except for the Dairy Milk where you get 93g and 9 eggs.

Mini Creme Egg Easter Bundt Cakes from Belleau Kitchen
I have Easter recipe plans for my eggs, but in the meantime I'll give you one you will immediately want to sink your teeth into, courtesy of Dashing Dom.

With thanks to Thorntons, Godiva, Stay in Devon and Cadbury's for my mountain of eggs. I was not required to write a positive review and as always all opinions are my own.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Smoked Chilli Energy Bars

Breakfast Bars
Breakfast bars, snack bars, energy bars, call them what you will, these are just perfect for grabbing on the run, lunchbox material or sitting down with a cuppa. They are not only healthy but very tasty too. Packed full of energy boosting ingredients, these are virtually fat free and contain no dairy and minimal refined sugar. I used 70% dark chocolate, so there is a trace of sugar to be found, but you could easily use 100% chocolate for a completely sugar free version.

When I was sent a pot of Mexican Smoked Chilli Honey from Gran Luchito to try out, two bakes immediately crossed my mind: brownies and flapjacks. I thought the smoky chilli flavour would work well in both of these and add something rather different to anything I've tasted before. As I'd very recently made brownies, I leaned towards flapjacks. But with all the Easter chocolate around the house, I was keen for something a little less sugar and butter laden. I was initially inspired by Carl Legge's recipe for Breakfast Muesli Bar. He uses no additional sugar and no butter, but unusually adds egg and tea. I've also had my eye on Pam Corbin's Fruit and Nut Honey Bars from her book Cakes for a while. So using a bit of one, a bit of the other and a bit of my own, I came up with these rather delicious energy bars.

This is how I made:

Smoked Chilli Energy Bars

  • Chopped 100g dates and 100g dried apricots and placed in a large bowl.
  • Added 25g goji berries, 25g dried wild blueberries and 25g linseeds.
  • Poured over 125 ml of warm rooibos and fresh ginger tea.
  • Grated in the zest of an organic orange, then squeezed in the juice.
  • Added 1 heaped tbsp of smoked chilli honey & stirred.
  • Covered the bowl with a plate and left to soak for a good ten minutes.
  • Broke in a duck egg (large hens egg) and stirred.
  • Added 200g porridge oats and 50g jumbo oats.
  • Chopped 50g Brazil nuts and 50g 70% dark chocolate and added those to the bowl.
  • Stirred until combined, then spooned into a 9" sq silicone mould.
  • Smoothed the top until level, then sprinkled over 50g sunflower seeds and 50g pumpkin seeds.
  • Baked for 25 minutes at 180℃
  • Allowed to cool for 15 minutes, then cut into 15 bars.
Energy Bars
Not only are these bars full of energy, they are very tasty too. There is plenty in there to enliven your palate. The smoked Mexican chilli gives an intriguing and unexpected nudge to the senses, with the fiery chilli and smoky flavour coming through quite quickly - not your average energy bar. With their chewy texture and contrasting crispy toasted seeds, this is the slowest fast food you'll meet, quipped CT - even he couldn't gulp them down in two seconds.

It wasn't until I was set on an unstoppable course that I tasted the smoked chilli honey and actually read the ingredients. The aroma from the jar was distinctly savoury as well as smokey. I discovered that onion, garlic and vinegar had been added as well as the smoked chillies and honey. OK, not quite what I'd been expecting, but my Marmite brownies had worked so why not this. Sweet, savoury and distinctly hot, this is the sort of condiment which I've shown can be added to sweet as well as savoury dishes. My energy bars were not only robust enough to take this powerful flavour, but were actually enhanced by it.

I am sending these off to Vanesther of Bangers & Mash for The Spice Trail where it's all things Mexican this month. In fact the prize offered this month is some Gran Luchito goodies including this honey. So enter and you might get lucky.


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