Chocolate Scotch Creme Eggs Recipe

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A big talking point at the moment is Scotch eggs with a twist… a Cadbury Creme Egg enveloped in lots more chocolate yumminess. A friend asked me if I could make some and give her my recipe for them so she could feature them in her magazine. I’m not one to turn down any requests or challenges so dutifully trotted off to buy the essential ingredients. I “accidentally” bought more than I needed. You can never have too many creme eggs, right?

Here’s a few of the bits I bought. You don’t need this many unless you’re making loads!! Oops! This is where I wish I had a Cadbury Card for their shop!

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You don’t need to use Cadbury chocolate, but as the Creme Eggs are Cadbury’s I thought it would be nice to stick with them for the decoration too.

In case you haven’t seen them on social media or in newspapers, chocolate Scotch eggs are Creme Eggs surrounded by crumbled chocolate cake which has been mixed with buttercream, dipped in melted chocolate, and then rolled around in something crunchy to decorate. I’ve seen people use coconut, nuts, cornflakes… the choice really is yours. As it is nearly Easter though, my recipe uses crushed Mini Eggs. Any excuse for extra chocolate! And because the Creme Eggs don’t get baked, they stay perfectly runny and oozy.

I have an extremely sweet tooth, and as much as I loved tucking in to one of these, I found it impossible to eat a whole one. This recipe makes 6 but bear in mind you’ll probably want to cut them in half and share them, or put one half away for later. Less of a guilt trip then 🙂

So here is my recipe. There are a few stages to making these and they are very messy to make but well worth it.

CHOCOLATE SCOTCH CREME EGGS

FOR THE CAKE

170g unsalted butter or margarine, at room temperature

170g golden caster sugar

3 eggs, beaten

140g self-raising flour

40g cocoa powder

FOR THE BUTTERCREAM

70g unsalted butter, softened

25g cocoa powder

115g icing sugar

TO DECORATE

6 Cadbury Creme Eggs

200g milk chocolate

200g Mini Eggs (or whatever topping you want, eg nuts)

  • Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.
  • To make the chocolate cake, cream together the butter and golden caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually add the eggs while beating well. If the mixture starts to curdle, add a spoonful of the flour with the egg additions. Sieve the remaining flour and the cocoa powder together and fold into the mixture with a spatula or large metal spoon. Pour into the prepared cake tin, and bake in the middle of the oven for around 25 minutes, until risen and springy to touch, or until a knife or skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  • Leave the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out on to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  • To make the buttercream, sieve together the cocoa and icing sugar. Add the butter and beat well until light and fluffy.
  • When the cake is completely cool, break it up into large pieces then blitz in a food processor until you have fine crumbs. (You can do this by hand if you don’t have a processor). Add the buttercream and pulse until it is all combined and sticking together in large clumps. You can do this by hand with a spoon if you prefer. Use your hands to press it all together in to one big compressed lump, then divide it in to 6 portions.
  • Take one portion in your hand and press a Creme Egg down in to it. Use your hands to mould the cake mixture around the egg to completely encase it. Press quite firmly to make sure it is packed together tightly. Place on to a plate. Repeat with the 5 remaining eggs. Place in the fridge and chill until very firm. This takes around 1 hour, but the longer you leave them the better.

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  • Roughly chop the Mini Eggs, or place into a ziplock bag and bash with a rolling pin until they are crushed into fairly small pieces. Tip them out on to a plate.
  • When the cake covered eggs are firm, break up the milk chocolate and melt in a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir gently to make sure it is melted.
  • Now for the messy bit! Dip the cake covered eggs into the melted chocolate and turn until they are completely smothered, then roll them around on the crushed Mini Eggs. A lot of bits will stick to your fingers, but that’s a treat for when you’ve finished 😉
  • Place them back on to the plate and chill them in the fridge until set, around 15 minutes. Enjoy!

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If you make these, see if you can do them WITHOUT eating half of the ingredients along the way. All I can say is it’s a good job I bought extra Creme Eggs, Mini Eggs and Dairy Milk!!!

Easy Easter Crafts for Children…. Eggs and Nests

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The school half-term holidays are upon us already and in a few weeks it will be Easter. Where is this year going?? If you have children who are always complaining they are bored, or if the weather is miserable and you’re all stuck indoors, how about having some sticky crafty fun? These eggs and nests make beautiful Easter decorations and are a lovely unique way to give little chocolate treats as gifts. They are messy to make but that’s half of the fun isn’t it!? The only mess though is glue, and that is easy to clean up. Your child will have a great time peeling off the dried PVA glue from their hands too. My son Luke loves this part just as much as he loves the actual activity!!

Let’s start with the eggs. All you need is:

wool in whatever colour takes your fancy,

a water balloon,

PVA glue,

scissors,

a small container to put the glue in (an old clean takeaway container is perfect)

a small pot to dry the egg on (an empty yoghurt pot or even an egg cup is ideal)

small foil-wrapped chocolate eggs (we used Dairy Milk ones)

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  • Cover the bottom of the container with PVA glue, then add an equal amount of water. Mix well to thin the glue down. Cut some long strands of wool and put them into the glue. Press down until the wool is completely covered. Children love this messy bit! Leave to soak for a bit.

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  • Stretch the opening of the water balloon open as wide as you can and ask your child to push a chocolate egg into it. Push it down as much as you can and repeat with one more egg. When both eggs are inside, blow up the balloon. You might find it easier to use a balloon pump if you have one. Tie a knot in the filled balloon.

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  • Take a piece of the wool out of the glue, run it between thumb and forefinger to remove most of the glue, then wrap it around the balloon in all directions. Repeat until you have no big gaps left. You don’t want the eggs falling out when the balloon is popped! You can use more than one colour to make a really pretty effect. When it is covered as much as you want it to be, put it on to the small pot or egg cup to dry. You need to leave it overnight so the wool dries hard.
  • When it is completely dry, gently pop the balloon and use the scissors to ease the popped bits off the chocolate. And there you have a beautiful Easter egg decoration and a lovely gift for someone. This would make a cute table gift if you are having people round for Easter too. You can gently push aside a line of wool to remove the eggs inside.

 

To make the nests, blow up a water balloon and tie a knot in it. Use the same method then to cover just half of the balloon with wool. This time you want to put a lot more on to make it look more like a well-made nest. Leave it to dry on a small pot or cup overnight.

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When it is dry, pop the balloon and remove from the nest.

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Fill these with tissue paper and chocolate eggs and treats. They don’t need to be foil-wrapped for these nests.

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You could wrap these prettily in cellophane and give as Easter gifts to teachers. This is what Luke will be doing with his 🙂

I love encouraging creativity in children. So much better than them sitting in front of a screen, be it TV, tablet or computer. They are so proud when they have an end result of something beautiful that they have created themselves and even more so when they then give them as gifts.

Have a creative half-term! 🙂

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Nankhatai…Spiced Indian Shortbread from ChinsKitchen

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There is a lovely lady who I follow on Twitter called Chintal Kakaya, and she bakes the most stunning looking Artisan Indian inspired cakes imaginable. I have been drooling over the photographs of these cakes for some time now but sadly I don’t live close enough to go and buy one. Recently though Chintal opened an online shop selling Nankhatai, or Spiced Indian shortbread. She has spent months getting the recipes perfect, and now she feels ready to share them with us. As they are a new product, she kindly invited a few people to try some so she could get some honest feedback on them, and I was very lucky to be one of those invited 🙂

Just because I receive something for free to review, it doesn’t guarantee a favourable report. I believe in honesty at all times. Why mislead readers? It doesn’t help anyone. Luckily though I can honestly say I absolutely LOVE these delicious treats.

I received 3 flavours to try: Chai Spice, Peanut Butter, and Rose and Cardamom. They arrived beautifully packaged in red tissue paper (my favourite colour) and surrounded by bubble wrap to keep them secure. I don’t know what it is about tissue paper, but when I get a parcel wrapped in it, it instantly brightens my day. I see it as a sign that the contents are extra special, and in this case I was right. The Nankhatai were packaged in lovely brown paper bags with windows so you could see the yummy treats inside, and finished off with a very rich wine coloured ribbon with Chintal’s name and company name printed on it gold letters. This added to the feeling of something special waiting inside. Each packet was clearly labelled with the flavour, and on the back there was a label with ingredients, allergens, and the best before date. Perfect!

Those of you who know me will be shocked to read that I didn’t try the rose flavour first! As these are Spiced shortbreads, I figured that the Chai Spice ones would be the equivalent of a plain shortbread if you were eating a normal buttery shortbread. I wanted to try the “plain” one first so I could get a better picture of what an original one would taste like. Well, one thing I quickly discovered was that you can never use the word “plain” with these! They are anything but plain!

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The first thing that hit me was the texture. I’ve eaten lots of shortbread in my life but can honestly say I have never eaten any as light as these. They have a delicious crunch when you first bite into them, then they just melt in your mouth. And the taste!! Wow! I didn’t know what to expect but it was amazing! There is just the right amount of spice added to give the most heavenly taste. Not too strong so as to overpower it, but enough so you can taste it. Chintal says these recipes took months to perfect. Well, she has definitely mastered them! My partner Del and son Luke both tried some too. At this point I should tell you that both are terrible critics when it comes to food. I have wanted to dump many a dish on Del’s head when he has found fault with the slightest things! So I was keen to see what they both thought of these shortbreads. First there was silence. I held my breath waiting for the comments. Then they both grabbed the other packets to try those too. No comments, just an eagerness for more. I had to grab the packets off them so they didn’t get destroyed before I had chance to photograph them! They both said that they were the most delicious shortbreads they had ever tasted. In fact they went all Britain’s got Talent-y and said “It’s a yes from me”. Chintal, you got 3 yes-es! 🙂

After trying the Chai Spice one, I knew I would love the other two flavours too, and I was right. The Peanut Butter has delicious tiny chunks of peanut in which just adds to the amazing texture. Beautifully nutty and so irresistible!

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I don’t know how Chintal does it, but even with the addition of peanuts they still melt in your mouth.

And finally there was the Rose and Cardamom. It goes without saying that this was my favourite, but only by a tiny margin. I use rose water a lot, and I know it can be sooooo easy to get the amount wrong. Too little and you can’t taste it. Too much and you may as well be eating a bar of soap. Chintal has got it spot on! These ones also contain pistachios and dried rose petals for extra flavour and texture, but again this doesn’t affect how light they are.

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I should change the motto on my mug in the photo to “There’s always room for Nankhatai!”

I can whole-heartedly recommend these beautiful shortbreads to everyone. They are like little bites of heaven. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and these would make the perfect gift to tell someone you love them. Or for yourself! I will be placing an order today for more. I was sent sample packs… the packs you buy online hold twice as many so you really get a lot for your money! Chintal says on the labels on the back that these were Made with Love. You can certainly taste the love and attention that has gone in to making these perfect!

There are other flavours available too… Cranberry and Almond, Orange and Ginger, and Almond and Pistachio. They all sound equally delicious! You can buy them HERE.

I’m looking forward to trying the whole range of flavours. Now, where did I put my bank card!?

Chicken, Noodle and Vegetable Soup

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In January’s Degustabox delivery there was a packet of Slim Noodles. I had never heard of these before so was looking forward to trying them. The packet had brilliant sounding claims all over it… Helps You Lose Weight, Fat Free, etc etc, but I couldn’t really see how noodles could be so good for you. I decided to give them a go in a soup (my reasoning if I’m honest was that if the noodles weren’t that nice, the other tastes would disguise them).

There is a note on the packet that you might notice a slight aroma when you open the packet but that would go after a few rinses under cold water. I’d say slight aroma is a bit of an understatement but luckily placing them in a sieve and letting the cold water tap pour over them did get rid of the not too pleasant smell. The smell made me wonder what on earth these noodles were made from and made me question whether eating them would count as a Bushtucker Trial, so I decided to look up the ingredients. These aren’t egg or rice noodles; these are made from organic oat fibre and organic konjac flour. I’d never heard of Konjac, so delved further. Konjac flour comes from the Konjac plant, otherwise known as elephant yam. The flour is rich in a water-soluble fibre called Glucomannan. This is what helps in weight loss. It absorbs huge amounts of liquid and swells up, so that when you eat it you’ll feel full quicker and for longer. You need to make sure you have a large glass of water when eating anything with this in, as it could be a choking hazard if you don’t have enough fluid. Luckily, cooking the noodles in a soup means they have plenty of liquid to absorb, so are better to eat. There are also rumours that it is these noodles that helped certain well-known celebrities lose a lot of weight. I don’t know how true they are though so won’t name names.

Slim Noodles have no taste of their own. They absorb all the flavours of the foods you cook them with. They cook in minutes and are incredibly versatile. Use them in any dish you would normally use noodles in. They are high in fibre, fat free, sugar free, wheat free, gluten free, and have only 9 calories per 100g. They are great for vegans, vegetarians, and are good for diabetics as konjac flour helps to keep blood sugar levels at a low level. (Obviously my recipe is no good for vegetarians or vegans though).

For my recipe I used a range of vegetables but you can just use ones you prefer. I added mushrooms after I had taken out mine and my son’s portions as we hate mushrooms but my partner loves them. The vegetables only need to cook for a minute or two so if someone in your house likes different ones to you, just take out enough for yourself and add more vegetables as needed. This recipe serves 3-4 people, depending on how big your portions are 🙂

CHICKEN, NOODLE AND VEGETABLE SOUP

1.5 l chicken stock (I used 2 Knorr stock  pots)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

30g fresh root ginger, very finely chopped or grated

1 tbsp soy sauce

2 large chicken breasts, cut into bite sized chunks

1 packet of Slim Noodles

4 spring onions

1 carrot, peeled

4 tbsps sweetcorn

3 mushrooms, sliced

Chilli flakes, to taste (I used half tsp)

  • Pour the chicken stock into a large pan and add the garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Bring to the boil and then add the chicken. Cover and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and tender.
  • Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it by using 2 forks to pull the pieces apart. Transfer back into the stock.
  • Rinse the Slim Noodles well in a sieve under cold running water until there is no aroma. Drain well and add to the pan. Stir in well. Keep it simmering gently while you prepare the vegetables.
  • Slice the spring onions diagonally, keeping one sliced onion aside for decoration. Use a potato peeler to very finely slice strips of carrot, or use a mandolin slicer if you have one.
  • Add the sweetcorn, carrot, 3 spring onions, mushrooms and chilli flakes to the soup, stir well and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes.
  • Serve into bowls and sprinkle the remaining spring onion on top to decorate.

Obviously you can add more or less of each ingredient to suit your needs. This was plenty for 3 of us to have a big bowlful each, with a bit leftover. The noodles really are filling though so you won’t want a huge amount. I hope you enjoy this recipe!

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I received the Slim Noodles as part of a Degustabox parcel, but they are readily available from Holland and Barrett. What’s more, they’re in the Buy One Get One For a Penny deal too! Bargain!

No-Bake Rose and Pistachio Cheesecake

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With Christmas already becoming a distant memory, thoughts turn to Valentine’s Day. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, you just can’t escape it. The lovely people at Monin UK asked me if I would like to come up with a recipe suitable for this romantic day, and I immediately knew what I would make. People often say that oysters are the food of love. Well they’re wrong. It’s cheesecake! Fluffy, creamy, indulgent cheesecake. Not the baked ones either. You just can’t beat a no-bake cheesecake. And if you’re going to make something so heavenly, you don’t want to settle for a thin, easily crumbled base and an inch of cheesecake topping, oh no! You need a thick base you can taste, and you need lashings of creamy topping. If this looks too much for you, you can just half the ingredients to make a more delicate version, but I’d recommend going the whole hog and trying it this way. Or you could just use a bigger tin than I used.

As you all know by now, rose is my absolute favourite flavour and perfect for Valentine’s day. Don’t give someone a single red rose. That’s too cliché! Make them a beautiful rose cheesecake instead. Decorate it with rose petals, and you’ve just won my heart 🙂 I didn’t just want rose on its own though. I wanted another delicate taste, and pistachio pairs beautifully with rose. I’ve included pistachio nuts in the base and the topping but you can leave them out if you want. The pistachio syrup flavour is gorgeous. I only added the actual nuts for a bit of yummy texture. You could make this cheesecake using different flavoured syrups if you prefer but be careful if you do… not all are suitable as some of the more sour ones (such as pomegranate and cranberry) can curdle the mixture. I was toying with the idea of delicately colouring the layers (green for the pistachio and pink for the rose) but decided that if you accidentally add too much you’ll be left with a very garish looking dessert. So I’ve kept it simple this time, but feel free to colour the layers gradually if you want.

NO-BAKE ROSE AND PISTACHIO CHEESECAKE

FOR THE BASE

250g digestive biscuits

110g unsalted butter

30g pistachio nuts

FOR THE TOPPING

2 x 280g tubs full-fat cream cheese (I used Philadelphia)

100g icing sugar, sifted

300ml double cream

50g pistachio nuts

3 tbsp Monin Pistachio Syrup

3 tbsp Monin Rose Syrup

Rose petals, to decorate

  • To Make the Base: line a 7 inch loose-bottomed deep cake tin or springform cake tin with foil, carefully making sure you press as many bumps out as possible. Gently melt the butter in a saucepan, making sure it doesn’t burn. Blitz the biscuits and pistachios in a food processor until they become crumbs. Alternatively, place them into a ziplock bag, and bash them with a rolling pin.
  • Pour the crumb mixture into the pan with the butter and mix until well combined. Tip this mixture into the cake tin, cover the bottom completely, and then use the back of a spoon to press the mixture down firmly. Place into the fridge for at least 1 hour to firm up.
  • To Make the Topping: Place the cream cheese into a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, and gently whisk it to loosen it up a bit. Add the sifted icing sugar and whisk until combined.
  • In another bowl, whip the double cream until it reaches soft peak stage. (When you lift the beater or whisk,  the cream will form a slight peak but the tip of it will fold back down).
  • Add the cream to the cream cheese mixture and fold in with a spatula until well combined. Place half of this mixture into another bowl (or back in the bowl you whipped the cream in to save dishes).
  • Place the pistachio nuts into a food processor and blitz until roughly chopped. Alternatively chop by hand with a sharp knife. Tip these into one of the bowls of cheesecake mixture, along with the pistachio syrup. Fold in well with a spatula until completely combined. You’ll notice it thickening as you fold it. Pour this on top of the cheesecake biscuit base, and smooth it down until level. Place into the fridge until the next part is ready to use.
  • Pour the rose syrup into the bowl with the remaining cheesecake mixture and fold in well with a spatula. Again, you’ll notice it thickening. Remove the cheesecake from the fridge and gently spoon this layer on top. Spread until it has covered the first layer and is smooth and level. Place back into the fridge for at least 5 hours to set (overnight would be perfect).
  • Remove from the fridge. Gently remove from the tin and peel off the foil very carefully. It should hold it’s shape easily by now. Place onto a serving plate and scatter rose petals around the top. Serve and enjoy!

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I used a range of large and small petals but you can use whichever you prefer. Or you can use pistachios or even chocolate curls if you prefer. Although I made this with Valentine’s Day in mind, it is perfect for any occasion really.

I’d recommend buying Monin Syrups either from Udal Supplies Ltd or from Next Day Coffee. Just click on their names to go straight to their websites.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

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