Thursday, 4 April 2013

Going Cocoa-Loco...

One of the perils of Easter, other than the sudden appearance of a giant fictional rabbit in the garden, is the ridiculous amount of chocolate that manages to wiggle its way into every nook and cranny of the house, the car, down the back of the sofa...

The tidal wave of chocolate at this time of year is almost entirely unavoidable. And why would you want to hide from away from all those boxes of deliciousness at the only time when being a chocoholic is not a burden but a much-envied blessing? But now, after too many evenings spent in a cocoa induced daze; my bedside table has slowly transformed itself in to a miniature replica of the supermarket confectionary aisle, my handbag has begun to resemble that of an overweight shoplifter with a serious sweet tooth, and, most sadly of all, my ability to cram my face with crème eggs has finally begun to dwindle.

But what to do with your glut of foil wrapped chocolates when your sweet-tooth has finally given up the ghost? Hide it in your knicker drawer for an emotional crisis or nuclear disaster? Experiment with chocolate facials? Nah, I reckon the only use for all those neglected eggs and bunnies is to smash them up, melt them down and bake the whole lot into something entirely delicious.
And look no further than these toothsome, devilishly moreish recipes. Why not start your chocolate spring clean with the wickedly delicious Turkish Delight and Pistachio Rocky Road; delicately flavoured with neon pink chunks of Turkish delight and flecked with desiccated coconut. The crunch of pistachio nuts is the perfect contrast to the pillowy softness of pure white marshmallow, but throw in a bit of whatever you have lurking in the cupboard; raisins, honeycomb, almonds, dried cranberries, sour cherries. Get stuck in to the ingredients cupboard and then tuck in with a vengance- They won’t hang around for long...

And if the mountain of chocolate you have to deal with is of the white variety, why not give these delectable Black and White Blondies a go? Moist squares of white chocolate and coconut, flecked with fresh blackberries (see, now you get the name..) they are a chocolate lovers dream; almost good enough to make a certain bunny but a bungalow on the Costa del Sol and hang up his basket in early retirement.

Black and White Blondies

200g white chocolate, chopped
125g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
200g plain flour
A pinch of salt
75g dessicated coconut
100g blackberries, halved


Preheat the oven to 170oc, and grease and line a 33/23” baking tray.

In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, heat the butter and 150g of the chocolate until melted and smooth.

Remove from the heat and add the sugar, stirring well. Add the eggs and vanilla, before folding in the flour and salt until well incorporated.

Carefully mix in the coconut, remaining chocolate and blackberries until they are evenly distributed throughout the mix.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tray (it will be quite thick, don’t worry!) and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown but still soft in the centre. Leave to cool and dig in!

Pistachio and Turkish Delight Rocky Road

100g milk chocolate, chopped
100g dark chocolate, chopped
100g butter
150g golden syrup
250g rich tea biscuits
50g desiccated coconut
50g glace cherries
40g mini marshmallows
100g raisins
50g pistachio nuts
3 Frys Turkish delight bars, chopped
A pinch of sea salt


Line a medium sized baking tray (about 24cm square or equivalent) with greaseproof paper.
In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water; melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate until smooth and glossy.

Put the biscuits in a freezer bag and break with a rolling pin, until you have medium sized pieces.
Mix all the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture and stir until full combined. Tip into the lined tray and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

When completely set, cut into squares and get stuck in!

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


By the way- I couldn't resist making another giant bowl of gorgeous truffles from this recipe at the weekend; using Easter and the tidal wave of chocolate as a perfectly wrapped excuse for the hundredth time since Hot Cross Buns started appearing on the supermarket shelves. This time I plumped for a heady mix of crystalised ginger, honey and spiced whiskey; shaped them into egg shapes (what else?) and arranged the devilishly rich little chocolate gems into pastel egg boxes, lined with grease-proof paper and the leftover muticoloured foil wrappers that seem to appear every time I put my hand into a bag or under a cushion. Well, waste not want not...

The perfect Easter treat; just keep them well away from anyone young enough to still believe a giant rabbit hopped into the garden and hid Creme Eggs in the flower pots...

Sunny-Side Up..

Having time for more than an unbuttered, half burnt piece of toast or a spoonful of soggy, cardboard flavoured cereal at breakfast time is my favourite thing in the whole wide world. The luxury of actually sitting down at the table, drinking orange juice in sips rather than student union style gulps, trying to do the crossword (and failing in my case; I once convinced myself that ‘four letter flightless bird’ was, obviously, a duck..) is what Bank Holidays are absolutely made for.

This Easter weekend, it was, of course, all about eggs. I know what you are thinking, and yes, chocolate for breakfast is technically OK at this time of year; but before the cocoa carnage that occurred after the Easter Eggs were hunted and de-foiled, the treats on our breakfast table were more of the yolk and white variety than Cadbury or Mars. It all started so well...

Eggs for breakfast is kind of an unspoken rule over this otherwise chocolate filled weekend; a symbol of rebirth (on a serious note) and as much an Easter staple as mince pies at Christmas or too much champagne at New Years (hopefully less seriously.) A leftover tradition that hails from the days when Lent was followed much more religiously than quitting Facebook or giving up the lift at work; the glut of eggs in the pantry after the 40 days and 40 nights of serious fasting (chickens have never been too good at reading ‘no need to lay’ memos, thus cramming the larder as Good Friday dawned) meant that boiled, fried or scrambled, they were the obvious choice on Easter morn.

 This year, despite the fact that my army boyfriend was in Suffolk for the weekend, thus providing the perfect opportunity for an ‘Eggs and Soldiers’ post; it was the frying pan that got the brunt of the action. And with sunny-side up brightening the kitchen table in a way that the sun itself couldn’t quite muster; these fresh and spicy Mexican eggs with corn pancakes were a real winner. Crammed with fresh veg and herbs, fiery with chilli and paprika and sprinkled with zingy lime and coriander, they were the perfect contradiction to the early morning chocolate feast that is almost obligatory at this cocoa-loco time of year. Just what the Easter Bunny ordered; after all this might be the only meal that doesn’t involve cracking a chocolate egg for a while...

Mexican Fried Eggs with Corn and Jalapeño Pancakes

Crowned with smoky-sweet peppers and onions, delicately spiced with cumin seeds and paprika; the fluffy, jalapeño spiked pancakes are the perfect platform for the naughtiest of eggs. No poaching or egg white omelettes here (well, is there really much point after cramming your cheeks with chocolate bunnies?) serve this delicious take on my favourite Huevos Rancheros with bowls of sour cream, grated cheddar, chopped spring onions, sliced avocado and wedges of lime. Ramp up the spice with extra chilli for those with a fiery tooth (or a hangover) sprinkle over some fragrant coriander, cram the table with as many people as you can and get stuck in...

Smoky peppers and onions

Olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 pepper, sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper

Jalepeno and corn pancakes

1 green chilli, finely chopped
150g plain flour
100g polenta
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs, lightly beaten.
200 ml milk
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp melted butter, plus extra for cooking.
To serve
4-8 eggs, fried to your liking
Sour cream
Lime wedges


To make the smoky peppers; first fry the onion and garlic over a medium heat in a little olive oil. When softened, add the cumin seeds, paprika, tomatoes and sliced peppers and fry for a further 5 minutes.

Add the vinegar, sugar, tomato puree and a splash of water, season well and leave to simmer over a low heat until thick and sticky.

Meanwhile, make the pancake batter. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre and whisk in the beaten eggs until you have a smooth paste.

Gradually add the milk, whisking all the time, until you have a thick batter. Stir in the chopped chillies and melted butter and leave to stand until ready to assemble your breakfast.

In a saucepan, heat a little butter or olive oil. Fry ladlefuls of the thick batter until bubbles begin to appear on the surface and the underside is lightly browned. Turn and fry for a few more minutes on the other side.

To assemble, top the pancakes with the peppers and onions, fried eggs and a sprinkle of coriander leaves. Serve with bowls sour cream, chopped spring onions, grated cheese, extra chillies, sliced avocados and get stuck in!