Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies

This Easter was a sad one for me – I didn’t receive a single egg!

Sure, I may have told people that I was trying to be healthy and cut down on sugar, but still… it’s Easter!

On Easter Monday I went out to see if I could find any bargain reduced eggs and treat myself. I don’t know why Easter egg chocolate is better than normal chocolate, but it definitely is…

As it happened, there weren’t any actual eggs (apart from One Direction ones, wonder why no one bought those…) but what Tesco did have to offer my was half-price bags of Malteaster Bunnies – and so the idea for these cookies was born.

The dough on its own is delicious, with Ovaltine powder to give it a distinctive malty taste, but the two bags of massacred bunnies plus a bar of milk chocolate chopped and added to the mix really make these a Malteser-lover’s delight.

My first batch didn’t go entirely to plan, they spread too thinly and were a little oily, but I think I must have measured something incorrectly as the second batch turned out fine, with only 10g less butter difference to the first.

They are still quite thin cookies, falling into the soft and chewy rather than thick and cake category, but I liked them and they went down well with my taste testers at work too.

You could make these at any time of year – just swap the seasonal bunnies for one of those Malteser bars and it should work fine. Actual Maltesers I always find go chewy when baked, but feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes!

Malt-Easter chocolate chip cookies (basic cookie recipe adapted from Cookies & Cups)

  • 105g unsalted butter
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
  • 1 medium egg
  • 130g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 50g (two sachets) Ovaltine powder
  • 2 bags (around 100g) Malteaster Bunnies, chopped
  • 100g milk chocolate, chopped

Chop the butter into cubes then add both sugars and beat until light and fluffy, this will take a couple of minutes. Add the vanilla bean paste and the egg and beat again until well combined, then sift in the flour, baking powder, bicarb, salt and Ovaltine and beat once again until it all comes together. Fold in the chopped chocolate and bunnies, then chill in the fridge for an hour or so.

Divide the dough into equal-sized balls – I got 14, weighing 45g each. Chill again while you pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (160 fan) and then place spaced out on a baking sheet, 6 at a time. Bake for around 10 minutes, until just starting to crisp around the edges. Leave to cool on the baking sheet – if you try and move them while hot they’ll break and you’ll be forced into eating warm gooey cookie dough, and no one wants that…

We_Should_Cocoa_V3

I’m entering these cookies into Choclette’s We Should Cocoa challenge, this month hosted by Rachel who chose Easter as the theme. They’re a great way of using up any sad looking bunnies leftover from the weekend!

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Chocolate hot cross buns

Chocolate hot cross buns

Yes, I know it’s really way too late to be posting this recipe, but these buns were too good to either not blog about or wait another 11 months to blog about!

Last year I made my first ever hot cross buns, having never really liked them previously. I was pretty happy with how they turned out, considering baking with yeast isn’t my strong point, and so I fancied trying them again this year, but with a bit of a twist.

With a hungry pony to feed, the twist obviously had to be chocolate, so I used a recipe from Delicious Magazine and tweaked it slightly to suit his tastes and what we had in the kitchen cupboards – less spice, no candied peel, dark chocolate instead of milk and sultanas instead of raisins.

Although I’ve only tried a little bite of one, I thought they turned out better than expected, and the pony has been enjoying them warmed up for breakfast for the past couple of days. The orange and spice flavours are both quite subtle but enough to make it more than just a chocolate bun and the chunks of chocolate and sultanas make a nice texture contrast as well as giving bursts of sweetness.

It’s so difficult to find breakfast foods the pony likes that I think I may have to follow Caroline at Cake, Crumbs and Cooking‘s lead and ditch the cross on top to turn them into ‘not hot cross buns’, therefore making it acceptable to bake and eat them all year round!

Chocolate hot cross buns (adapted from Delicious Magazine)

  • 400g plain flour
  • 25g cocoa powder
  • 1tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1tsp salt
  • 85g butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 14g dried fast action yeast
  • 1 medium egg
  • 190ml lukewarm milk
  • 75g chopped dark chocolate
  • 75g sultanas
  • zest of an orange

For the crosses and for glazing:

  • 50g plain flour
  • 40g caster sugar
  • juice of half an orange

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, spice and salt into a large bowl, then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and yeast, then add the egg and milk, starting by mixing in with a fork or spoon, then continuing with your hands until it comes into a rough dough. Turn out onto your worktop and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is pliable and elastic. Leave in a lightly oiled bowl to rise for an hour and half to two hours, or until doubled in size.

Once risen, add the chocolate, sultanas and orange zest to the dough and knead again, just until the add-ins are well dispersed throughout the dough. Divide into 12 equal pieces, then roll into balls and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, spaced a couple of centimetres apart. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rise again for an hour or so, until the buns have risen and are just starting to touch each other.

To make the crosses, mix the flour with 4-5tbsp water until it reaches a thick, pasty but pipeable consistency. Score crosses into the tops of the buns, then pipe on the flour paste. Bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, until risen and firm but not browning.

Heat the sugar and orange juice in a small saucepan and boil until it starts to thicken into a syrup. Brush this on top of the buns while they are still warm, and either serve straight away or toast when you want to eat them.

Hot cross buns

Yes, I know I’m a little late to the party with these, but I was so happy with how these turned out that I wanted to post them so I can refer back next Easter!

I chose this recipe from Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking because it seemed pretty simple and could be adapted to the ingredients I had on hand.

Mine didn’t turn out quite in perfect roll shapes as the dough was quite wet and sticky to work with, but I think generally speaking the look like a decent HCB…

I’ve never really been a fan of HCB’s so I can’t compare what I made to the ones you can buy, but the feedback from the pony was good and even I enjoyed half of one as well!

I’m entering these for the April Fresh From The Oven challenge, which this month is hosted by The Little Loaf.

Hot cross buns (recipe from Cakes, Crumbs and Cooking)

  • 150g strong flour
  • 175g plain flour
  • 25g cornflour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4tsp ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp dried yeast
  • 25g caster sugar
  • zest of one orange
  • 180ml milk
  • 100ml water
  • 30g butter
  • 125g sultanas
  • extra flour and water for the crosses
  • 1tbsp golden syrup

Start by covering the sultanas in boiling water and soaking for half an hour, to plump them up. Heat the milk almost to boiling point, then add in the butter and stir until melted. Leave to cool to room temperature.

Mix the flour, cornflour, salt, spices, yeast, sugar and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. Drain the sultanas and add those in too. Ad the milk and butter mixture and the 100ml water and stir in to the dry ingredients to form a wet, sticky dough. Cover and leave for 2 hours to rise.

Once risen, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead quickly to knock the air out. Divide into equal pieces and shape into balls (I made 10 80g balls, the original recipe made 18 mini rolls. Place on a baking sheet, spaced out but not too far apart, like this…

Leave for another 45 minutes until risen again – they should be almost touching. Make a paste from the extra flour and water and pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until golden. Heat the golden syrup and brush over the top of the buns, then either serve immediately or leave to cool then slice and toast, spread with butter. Delicious!

Chocolate Easter nests – and return of the chicks!

Thanks to WordPress putting my Easter Chick cupcakes on Freshly Pressed on Thursday, my blog has had insane amounts of views and the most comments I’ve ever had – thank you WordPress!

The marzipan chicks that topped the cupcakes have proved to be rather popular, so I’m pleased that they get to feature in this post as well!

These Easter Nests are the simplest ever treat to make, perfect if you’re looking for something that children can help to make or if you’re just a big fan of mini eggs…

I used an Annabel Karmel recipe for these, but really all you need is shredded wheat, chocolate and mini eggs and I’m sure they’d turn out great!

Chocolate Easter nests (recipe from Annabel Karmel)

Makes 8

  • 5 shredded wheat
  • 75g milk chocolate
  • 75g dark chocolate
  • 3tbsp golden syrup
  • 50g butter
  • 1x 100g bag mini eggs

Use your fingers to break up the shredded wheat in a bowl – it takes a bit of time but you don’t want there to be any non-chocolatey lumps. Place the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a saucepan and heat over a low temperature, stirring until smooth. Pour over the shredded wheat and stir in until all the shredded wheat has been coated in the chocolate mixture.

Line a cupcake tin with 8 paper cases, then divide the mixture between them. Press down and up the sides a little, so it forms a bowl shape. Place 3 mini eggs in the middle of each and leave in the fridge to set for a couple of hours.

If you want to top with cute marzipan chicks, the how-to is here!

Easter chick orange and almond flourless cupcakes (GF)

I’ll admit, the title of these cupcakes is a bit of a mouthful, but I just didn’t think there was any part of it that could be missed out.

Obviously the flavour needs to be in there – orange and almond; the type of baked good – cupcake; the fact they can be enjoyed by people with wheat and gluten allergies – flourless; and of course the theme that inspired them and gives them their cuteness – Easter chicks!

I knew I wanted to bake something Easter-themed this week, but also wanted it to be something my wheat intollerant colleague could enjoy too.

I found these orange and almond cupcakes which looked gorgeous, and then the marzipan chicks just seemed to go perfectly, both in flavour and colour!

The cupcakes themselves were really good – dense yet light and kept well for days. The white chocolate topping nicely balances out the slight bitterness from the orange, and the chicks – well, just look at them and their cute little faces!

I made these on Sunday, so was delighted when on Monday Kate from What Kate Baked announced Easter as the theme for April’s Tea Time Treats challenge (following a brilliant scone round up on Lavender and Lovage) – these are my entry!

Easter chick orange and almond flourless cupcakes (recipe adapted from My Food Trail)

Makes 8 cupcakes

  • 1 whole orange
  • 140g ground almonds
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 40g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 medium/large eggs
  • 100g white chocolate
  • 50g double cream

Boil the orange for an hour and a quarter (bit tedious but worth it) then blitz in a food processor until no lumps remain and set aside. Sift together the almonds and baking powder into a bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time, using an electric whisk. Add half the almonds, then the orange pulp, then the rest of the almonds, beating until well combined.

Line a cupcake tin with 8 cases, then divide the mixture between them – they should fill about 3/4 of the way up as they don’t rise much. Bake at 160 degrees for 45 minutes, until the tops look dry and craggy (don’t worry, they’re not overcooked and will be deliciously moist inside!)

Melt together the chocolate and cream, then leave to cool. Once it’s thickened but still pourable, spread on top of the cupcakes.

For the chicks (makes 12):

  • 225g golden marzipan
  • 2 or 3 drops red food colouring

Take 1/2 of the block of marzipan and divide into 12 equally sized pieces. Roll each into a slightly long oval ball, then pinch at one end to make tail of the chicks. Take half of the remaining marzipan (1/4 of the original block) and divide into 24 equally sized pieces. Roll each into a ball then press down to flatten out into wings, then press onto the sides of the chick bodies.

With the last quarter of the marzipan, add a couple drops of the red food colouring and mix in well to make an orange colour. Pinch of 12 very small bits to mould into cone shaped beaks, and attach to the faces of the chicks using a little dab of water. Divide the rest of the orange marzipan into 12 pieces, roll into balls and flatten out into circles. Use a knife to cut half way up each circle to create feet, then attach to the bodies again using a dab of water.

Use a cocktail stick to make indentations for the eyes, and there you have it – Easter chick cupcake toppers!

Review – Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg

When Hotel Chocolat were kind enough to offer me the chance to review one of the products from their Easter range, unsurprisingly I didn’t hesitate in saying yes!

The only problem was choosing which product; it actually took me several days to come to the decision but in the end both the pony and I were won over by the smiling faces of the chocolates inside the ‘You Crack Me Up’ Extra Thick Easter Egg.

Here’s what they have to say about it: “An irrepressibly upbeat egg cast in 40% milk chocolate and bursting with our cheeriest chocolates, from smiley face pralines and happy chicks to classic Easter bunnies – Includes 12 chocolate brownies, cookie pralines, chocolate fried eggs, solid chocolate bunnies and chicks cast in milk and caramel chocolate and more.”

It arrived in gorgeous hat box style packaging, which I somehow managed to refrain from opening for a full 5 days, until it was the weekend and I could take pictures in the sunshine.

Opening the box revealed two half shells of the egg wrapped in gold foil, with a tissue wrapped package of mini chocolates inside each half. Well done Hotel Chocolat for making it easy to share between two people – although the pony promptly gobbled his and is now begging me for some of mine every time I  have some…

The shell of the egg certainly does look a lot thicker than a normal egg, but it’s a bit deceiving as the edges are a lot thicker than the rest of the shell. It’s still a lot better than most eggs you would get though, and a really nice quality milk chocolate.

I actually preferred the treats that came inside the egg though if I’m honest – the crunchy praline and chocolate brownie smiley eggs in particular were delicious and I wish I had more!

The You Crack Me Up Extra Thick Egg retails for £26 – considerable more than I would normally pay for an Easter egg, but I think the size, quality, taste and packaging combined do make it worth it if you really want a treat.

You can buy this egg and lots of other easter goodies from www.hotelchocolat.co.uk – thanks very much for sending me one for free!