It’s always nice to offer something a bit different to those who don’t like to eat just regular chocolate eggs around this time of year, so today I’m bringing you three ways to make chocolate bark. Hopefully this will suit almost anyone, and I’m sure everyone would forgive you for wanting all three of these considering that Easter only happens once a year! It’s nice to have some on hand for guests, but also as super simple gifts if you wrap it up neatly, so make as much as you want. And this couldn’t be cheaper or easier to make, especially when you consider how over priced most Easter goodies are these days.
200g each white / milk / dark chocolate
Various toppings – I paired white chocolate with dried cranberries / mini salted pretzels with the milk / raisins and almonds with dark
Break up the chocolates and pop them in three separate heat-proof bowls.
Heat a saucepan of water until simmering, and put the bowls, one at a time, on top, to melt the chocolate. Ensure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water, as this can burn the chocolate.
Pour the chocolate onto baking sheets covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the toppings over the chocolate, before leaving to set. I put my mine in the fridge to speed up the process.
It can be tough to come up with healthy snacks to reach for when chocolate, or other sugary treats, seem like the easy option. Everyone gets that hunger pang in the middle of the afternoon and it can be difficult to resist all those things that you know are bad for you. Step in these delicious flapjacks, from Deliciously Ella. They require only a small amount of healthy ingredients and are a cinch to whip up when you get half an hour. I much prefer to know exactly what’s going into the food I eat, so there’s no excuse for me not to bake up a batch of these when I’m low on snacks and what something to keep me going until dinner. Give these a go, you won’t regret it.
200g / 2 bananas
6 tbsp maple syrup
6 tbsp cashew butter
4 tbsp coconut oil
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees celcius (180 fan).
Place the oats in a large mixing bowl.
Mash the bananas with a fork and add them to a saucepan along with the maple syrup, cashew butter and coconut oil. Heat gently until the mixture forms a liquid.
Pour the liquid over the oats and stir well, so that the oats are fully covered.
Grease a baking tray with coconut oil or line with parchment paper. Transfer the mixture to the tray, pressing down firmly to compact it.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top starts to brown.
Leave to cool in the tray before slicing up into flapjacks of your preferred size.
These were some little pastries I whipped up during a Mother’s Day brunch we had at our parents’ house a couple of weeks ago – and they were just lovely. The heat from the pepper was perfectly offset with the sweetness from the onions and the parmesan was just the right thing to top it off. They are so easy to make and are the perfect finger food, so give them a go next time you’re entertaining a crowd, they’re sure to be a hit. The only tip I have is to chill the caramelised onions, so they keep their consistency better and don’t end up dripping all over the place. This recipe is from Afternoon Tea.
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
115g plain flour
60g butter, chilled and diced
1 tablespoon water
A few teaspoons of caramelized onions
15g parmesan cheese, grated
4.5-5cm cookie cutter
Crush the peppercorns with a pestle and mortar, then put in a food processor with the flour and a large pinch of salt. Pulse to combine, then add the butter and process for about 20 seconds, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. With the motor running, gradually add the water until the mixture comes together into a dough. If necessary, add a drizzle more water. Press the pastry into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill for about 15 minutes.
Roll out the pastry onto a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thick. Cut out rounds with a biscuit cutter, using all of the excess. Arrange on the baking sheet, prick with a fork and bake at 190 degrees for 12-15 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Spoon caramelized onion onto the pastry discs, then top with parmesan.
225g (8oz) butter (room temperature), plus extra for greasing
350g (12oz) light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs
50g (1¾oz)cocoa powder, sifted
250g (9oz) self-raising flour
100g (3½oz)white chocolate, melted (for topping)
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan 160°C/350°F/Gas 4). Grease a large traybake tin and line with baking parchment.
Place the butter, sugar, eggs, cocoa powder and flour in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on a low speed for approximately 3 minutes, or with a wooden spoon for a little longer, until smooth.
Spoon the mixture into the tin, spreading evenly, and bake for approximately 40 minutes, covering with foil for the final 10 minutes.
Test to see if they are cooked by inserting a knife into the brownie, and if it comes out clean, the brownies are ready. Leave to cool slightly before turning the brownie onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cool, melt the white chocolate and zig-zag over the top of the brownie. Once dry, cut into 12 squares.
Adapted from a recipe in Mary Berry’s Cookery Course.
These have always been a big hit amongst my family (I don’t eat beef, so I’ve never tried them, but I’ve been assured that they are pretty tasty) and work really well if you’re hosting a buffet lunch or dinner as they’re super easy to make and can be made ahead of time so that you can just heat them up as required. This recipe makes 10 to 12, but that’ll depend on how big you decide to make them.
2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
1 tbsp butter
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 (340g) can corned beef, finely chopped
2 packs of ready rolled puff pastry sheets
1 egg, beaten
Put the potatoes into boiling water and cook for about 8 minutes, until soft but still holding their shape.
Heat the butter in a large frying pan and add the onion. Cook for 3 minutes, until just starting to soften.
Add the potatoes and corned beef to the pan and cook for a further 7 minutes. In this time, the corned beef should break down and become softer, which is what you want, as it’ll make for a better filling. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celcius. Roll out your pastry sheet. Take a side plate that has a circumference of approximately 6 inches and use this to cut out some pastry rounds. Collect together the unused cuts and re-roll it until you use up all the pastry.
Fill one half of each circle with the beef and onion mixture, leaving a small margin around the edge. Brush this margin with the beaten egg and fold the other half of the circle over, sealing the pasties by crimping all the way around the edges.
Place the pasties on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush more egg over each one.
Bake for 25 minutes, until golden and then leave to cool on a wire rack.