Mandy Wrangles_2_tnWhat’s better than chocolate eggs at Easter? Chocolate creme eggs hidden in cupcakes, of course! Even better, with a few cheats, this is a quick, simple recipe that’s easy to make with a bunch of kids and minimal mess – and they taste as good as they look, especially when they’re bitten into!

 

 

Half fill the cupcakes cases, then add a frozen chocolate eggWhat You Need:

300 grams caster sugar

300 grams of softened butter

6 eggs

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

60 grams of cocoa (I used Cadbury brand)

240 grams of self raising flour

24 mini creme-filled Easter eggs. I used a mixture of Cadbury’s Creme Eggs, caramel-filled, strawberry-filled and mint.

24 cup cake cases. Good quality ‘foil’ cases work better for this recipe (though not essential)

2 tubs of commercial vanilla frosting. This is part of the ‘cheat’ bit.

Various aerosol food colours (colour in a can)

Various Easter-themed sugar decorations or melted chocolate

 

EE cupcakes 2How it’s Done:

Freeze your eggs for a few hours, overnight is best.

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line two by twelves cupcake tins with the cases. Using an electric beater, beat the sugar and butter until it lightens in colour and begins to ‘fluff’. Beat in the eggs on at a time, and then the vanilla. At this stage, your mix will probably look pretty ghastly and have begun to curdle. Don’t worry! It will all come back together with the next step – adding the flour and cocoa. As I’ve mentioned in previous recipes, this is a good time to remember to use the spill guard on your mixer, or to stir through the flour slowly. Unless, of course, you like to wear flour…

 

 

Nom! Creme Egg CupcakeNow, don’t be thrown by the fact this is quite a stiff mixture. It needs to be that way to stop the eggs dropping. One mixed through, add a large teaspoon of mix to each cupcake case. You need enough to give a generous covering of the bottom of the cupcake. Then, add an unwrapped Easter egg, by laying it on its side. Cover with another spoonful of cake mix, making sure the egg is totally covered and the case is about 2/3 full. Bake for aprox. 20 minutes, or until the cake springs back when you touch it. The usual method of sticking a skewer inside won’t quite work this time.

When baked, allow your cupcakes to cool completely. Fill a disposable piping bag with frosting, and using a large nozzle, pipe a simple swirl. Give a quick squirt with the aerosol colours, and decorate with either: more eggs, melted chocolate or sugar decorations…or, you could use all of the above like we did!

 

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tn

It’s almost Easter! Just a few more days until the Easter Bunny is due to deliver the goods. And when you’re six years old, this is a Very Big Deal indeed. Such a big deal in fact, that the six year old living at my place has been counting down the days since… well, December 25th came and went. My kids are also currently on school holidays, so to help keep Mr 6 amused (and yeah, maybe to keep the Bunny-ache at bay…), we’ve been making all sorts of Easter Yummies. First up, the Mandy Wrangles version of that oh-so-amazing-gooey-chocolately-fondantey-goodness in a ball – the Cadbury Creme Egg.

 


Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.What You Need:

Egg shaped chocolate moulds. Mine are plain, but you could use patterned ones.

Milk chocolate melts.

White fondant, available from all cake decorating shops, some supermarkets and online.

Yellow food colouring.

Vanilla essence.

A clean paintbrush.

 

How It’s Done:

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible acorss the back.Make sure your moulds are clean and completely dry. Remember: when working with chocolate, moisture is your enemy. Melt milk chocolate using your favourite method, whether it be a small amount at a time in the microwave, over the stove-top using the double boiler method, or like me, using a cheap little fondue set. Once your chocolate is melted, you need to work fairly quickly.

Place a small teaspoon full into each chocolate shape. Now, you need these eggs to be hollow, so don’t over-fill. Using your paintbrush, brush the chocolate right up the sides of the mould before moving on to the next egg shape. Once all egg shapes have been chocolatised (yes, that is totally a word. Now.) put aside to set at room temperature.

While your chocolate egg shells are setting, take a couple of tablespoons of the white fondant and add some vanilla to taste and a few drops of yellow food colouring.

See? So easy a six year old can do it.

The vanilla flavour won’t give you the exact flavour of the Cadbury kind, but it’s pretty darn yummy.
Technically, you could use any flavour – in fact I’ve been considering making up some zombie Easter eggs with green or blue insides flavoured with blueberry or mint… but that could be an entirely different blog post…

Once your shells are set, spoon a teaspoon of white fondant into each. Then repeat with a smaller amount of yellow fondant in the centre. Melt up some more chocolate and smear over the top of your shells, trying not to make too much mess of your fondant.

Smooth off the top with a flat knife or spatula, as in my pic.

Once the egg halves are completely set (don’t rush them), they will pop out of the moulds with a small tap. Then, with a little more chocolate dabbed onto the back, join two halves together to make a whole. See… so easy a six year old could do it!

 

 

Chocolate shells with fondant

 

Gooey Easter Goodness!

 

 

 



 Mandy Wrangles_2_tnI’ve mentioned before that we have a glut of strawberries happening at our place this year. I’ve been growing them in pots for 3 or 4 years, and a good day’s picking would mean half a dozen, maybe more, and gobbled up within minutes of reaching the kitchen. If they reached the kitchen. 

This year, we built a dedicated strawberry patch. I split a couple of the plants I already had, and planted about six more from my local nursery, in the hope that I’d have enough for jam in a next year or two. Wow, did I underestimated the fruiting ability of a happy strawberry! Still not getting enough in one day for that illusive batch of jam – but there’s been plenty of other recipes made. Including this one – possibly my favourite:

 

Stawberry icecream_1Homemade Strawberry Ice Cream

In the past, I’ve used a basic vanilla base without eggs for my strawberry ice cream. Since I have so many strawbs to play with this time around, I figured why not go for a traditional ice cream base using eggs (did I mention we also have a permanent glut of eggs, kindly laid daily by our eight backyard chickens?)

 

What You Need:

  • 3 cups of fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped roughly into quarters. Put aside 1/2 cup to add to ice cream later.
  • 1 ¾ cups of caster sugar. This will be divided into 2 lots – 1 cup for the strawberry sauce, ¾ cup for the ice cream base.
  • 2 eggs.
  • 3 cups of heavy cream.
  • Juice of one lemon.

 

strawberry ice cream 2How It’s Done:

Add 2 ½ cups of chopped strawberries, 1 cup of sugar and the lemon juice to a medium saucepan. On a low heat, cook until the mix resembles a slightly chunky sauce and sugar is dissolved. It’s okay to bring it to a simmer, but try not to boil. This step will take around 20 minutes. Make sure you stir frequently. Allow to cool and then refrigerate.

 

For the ice cream base, using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs for a couple of minutes until they become light and fluffy. Whisk in the ¾ cup of sugar a little at a time until completely combined. Then add the cream and whisk until blended. Here’s a secret – even though this mix will be at room temperature, chill it for an hour. Your ice cream machine will be so much happier you took the time to do so.

 

Once both mixtures are sufficiently chilled, begin churning the egg mix according to your machine’s instructions. I use an ice cream add-on to my KitchenAid machine, but there’s plenty of dedicated ice cream makers out there, ranging in price from hundreds of dollars right down to $30.

photo 3-2 (3)The trick is to keep the bowl in your freezer so that at any time you need it, it’s fully frozen. My machine will produce soft-serve ice cream in around 25 minutes, so I churn the egg mixture alone for half that time, and then while the machine is still running, add the strawberry mix. Once the required consistency is reached, add the reserved chopped strawberries and continue churning for a further minute or two. You can either eat now, or pour into a sealable, freezer-happy container for a further two to three hours, which will give you a great, scoopable consistency.

Be warned…you will never, ever bother to buy commercial strawberry ice cream again. The difference is AMAZING.

*best eaten within four days, due to the raw egg factor of this recipe. That’s if it lasts that long…



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnIt was one of those Monday afternoons. You know the kind, we all have them. Our home is currently undergoing huge renovations, with most rooms involved – thankfully not the kitchen, been there, done that – we’re talking dust, chunks of plaster, holes in the roof and walls, new windows going in, old ones going out, floor coming up, floor going down, walls being chainsawed completely out of the way. And dust. Again.

 

Anyway, I was madly preparing ‘stuff’ for my oldest son who was to undergo oral surgery the next morning**, middle son had been in a wonky-computer related meltdown all weekend that I hadn’t quite managed to resolve, and then, with an hour to go before school-pick up, Lovely Husband reminded me that I’d promised to make youngest son cupcakes, to be ready when he got home. Of course.

No time to make the real deal from scratch, and no time to get to the shop. So this is what I made:

(And this is why it helps to keep a pretty well-stacked pantry)

 

emergency cupcakesWhat You Need:

1 packet of commercial chocolate cake mix.

Cupcake liners.

60g dark cooking chocolate.

125g butter.

6 tablespoons of milk.

500g of icing sugar.

Lollies. I used jellybeans and M&M’s.

 

How It’s Done:

Make and bake cupcakes according to the directions on the packet. I always keep a chocolate and a vanilla cake mix on hand for emergencies like this one. And, you know, lazy baking days.

Allow cupcakes to cool completely. Confession – I ran out of time, so cooling happened while I did the school pick-up. But it worked out okay because the boys helped decorate, which is apparently, almost as fun as eating the cupcakes.

 For the icing, add chocolate, butter and milk to a large saucepan. Bring to boil, giving it a good stir frequently. Remove from heat and beat in icing sugar until smooth. You might find you need to add a little more icing sugar or milk, depending on consistency. You can either pipe the icing on (beware though, it stiffens quite quickly) or just smooth it on with a knife. We are talking emergency cupcakes, after all. Chop around half of your desired lollies, leaving some whole. Press into icing and you’re done!

 **this may or may not translate into ‘I was having a complete and utter freak-out at the thought of my son undergoing surgery’. He did fine, by the way.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Mandy Wrangles_2_tnWe have this serious glut of strawberries going on at our place right now. I know, I know. Tough problem to have, right? Well, it’s not really a problem. I can tell you there’s not many of those delicious red berries going to waste. Our patch is netted, so we’re not sharing too many with the local wildlife (here it’s not just the insects and the birds, but reptiles like blue tongue lizards and baby skinks as well).

The chickens are getting the few imperfect ones, and the rest are either scoffed on the spot by my kids, or actually making it to the kitchen. I have a couple of strawberry recipes for you – this first one is a simple savoury dish to serve with friends as an entrée or snack over drinks.

 

Baked camembertWhat You Need:

  • 3/4 cup of fresh strawberries, half some of them, dice the rest.
  • 1 round of camembert cheese. Like everything, buy the best you can afford. For this recipe, it’s best (but not essential) to buy one that comes in its own box.
  • Balsamic glaze (found in the salad dressing isle of your supermarket).
  • Bruschetta or crusty bread to serve.
  • Pancetta or prosciutto to serve.

 

 


How it’s Done:

Baked Camembert 2If you’re lucky enough to purchase a Camembert in its own box, all you need to do is remove it, and any plastic packaging. Score the top of the rind with a sharp knife in a criss-cross pattern, about half a centimetre deep. Then pop it back in box, without the lid.

Push the strawberry halves into the scored rind, sprinkle the diced pieces on top, reserving a few to keep fresh to serve,

Bake for around 12 – 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees C, until cheese is melted through – beware of over-baking though. Camembert has a habit of re-setting if it over cooks.

To serve, place on a cheese platter, drizzle with plenty of balsamic glaze. Add crusty bread and prosciutto if desired. Sounds like a strange combination – but it’s delicious!

If you don’t have a Camembert round in its own box – I didn’t – don’t despair! Cut a square of baking paper, and another of foil. Place the baking paper on top of the foil, the unwrapped cheese on top of that, and, holding firm, tie it with kitchen twine.

This helps to keep the Camembert in shape and stop any leakage of hot oozing cheese all over your oven tray. You should be able to see where I’ve tied the twine in the ‘before’ photo here. Otherwise, prepare and serve exactly the same way. 



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