Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Snappy Easter...

I am going to say something controversial. Not quite Miley gyrating her flesh coloured granny pants on Robin Thickes crotch at the MTV awards. Not even as shocking as Susanna Reid flashing her pants AGAIN on BBC breakfast (Yeah, yeah I need to stop reading the Daily Mail on the tube...), but pretty damn risque.  

 So here it goes, don't say I didn't warn you. Here goes the revelation that made my mother gasp last weekend...I reckon, hand on heart, that Easter is the most photogenic festival of them all. Yup even beating Christmas. Hands down, with a giant foil wrapped bunny and a six pack of Creme Eggs...

Now, I know the last weekend is about a lot more than pastel flecked chocolate eggs and glistening hot cross buns on a gingham table cloth, but I'm afraid that's just how it is. So, having lived the weekend through the lens of my instagram app, stopping sporadically to gobble down a few (bags of) mini eggs and butter a hot cross bun, I thought I would share a few snaps to back up my slightly strange argument.

Sure, Christmas has fairy lights and flaming Christmas puddings, but, really, nothing quite matches up to big jugs of Daffodils basking in the Spring sunshine, or an embroidered table cloth adorned with summer pudding, lemon cheesecake and my Granny's totally retro (but even more delicious) coffee pudding. Stuffed with layers of rich butter-cream and sponge soaked in coffee liquor, this devilish regular on our dining table is covered in the whitest of cream and a scattering of toasted almonds. Just perfect, and one of the many reasons I love this time of year so bloody much.

But, in all of this chocolate and Easter bunny induced madness, I must not forget the star of my Springtime show. The glorious, one and only Hot Cross Bun. Yup, becoming a baking obsession almost as soon as the Creme Eggs appear on the shelves, this year I finally (and totally) cracked it. Frangranced with cardamom, rich with the almost toffee like flavour of muscavado sugar and flecked with caramelised orange, this recipe is an absolute winner. Glistening, perfectly risen, light buns of joy; just leave off the crosses and hey presto, Easter-time happiness all year round. Instagram won't know what's hit it...

(Recipie to follow, I promise!)


Monday, 14 April 2014


I can’t help thinking that Easter might just be the only time when being a chocoholic is not a burden but a much-envied blessing, when being able to handle more than a miniature tube of mini eggs becomes an achievement of Olympic proportions.

But, there comes a point when all this fun has to stop. When avoiding a sugar-rush of epic proportions becomes number one priority, just after finding a pair of elasticated trousers to fit your rapidly expanding waist-line. Yup, unfortunately, after too many evenings spent in a cocoa induced daze, there becomes a point when it all has to stop. In my house, it is usually when I notice my bedside table slowly beginning to transform into an exact replica of the supermarket confectionery aisle, or maybe when my handbag begins to resemble that of an overweight shoplifter with a serious sweet tooth. But, most sadly of all, is when I realise my ability to even look at a crème egg without feeling queasy has finally begun to dwindle; then I know that it really is time for all this chocolate to find another home...

But what to do with your glut of foil wrapped goodies when your sweet-tooth has finally given up the ghost? Hide it in your sock 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 this devilishly moreish throwback to my favourite way to use up all those goodies who somehow escaped your Easter bonneted rampage over the long weekend. There is simply no better way to start your chocolate spring clean than with these wickedly delicious Turkish Delight and Pistachio Rocky Road bars; 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 (inspired by a bloody delicious Jamie O creation I munched on in the departure lounge of Heathrow recently- immense), 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...

Pistachio and Turkish Delight Rocky Road, (makes 12, feeds 2...If you're lucky)

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!