Secret Choc Easter Egg Cupcakes

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What’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!

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Cute bird!

 

What 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

 

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Half fill the cupcakes cases, then add a frozen chocolate egg

 

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Top with cake

How 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…

 

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Rainbow colours

Now, 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.

 

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Nom! Creme Egg Cupcake

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!

 

 

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Heavenly choc drizzle

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Home Made Chocolate Creme Eggs

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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.

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Gooey Easter Goodness

 

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.

Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.

Brushing chocolate up the sides of the egg moulds.

 

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible across the back.

Using a spatula, spread melted chocolate as smoothly as possible across the back.

How It’s Done:

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 stovetop 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.

Chocolate shells with fondant.

Chocolate shells with fondant.

 

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. 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!

 

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

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

 

 

 

Peacemaker Blog Tour: Marianne de Pierres

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PEACEMAKER by MdPI talk to Marianne de Pierres about her new novel, PEACEMAKER, and her signature dish!

 

  • The world of Peacemaker and its protagonist, Virgin Jackson, have been playing a big role in your life for a number of years now. Can you give us an insight into your relationship and history with this story?

 

It started out as a short story ten years ago entitled Gin Jackson: Neophyte Ranger. In that incarnation, it was more obviously SF and less urban fantasy. It was also set in the outback in a future Australia that looked nothing like the environment in the current novel. I loved the character and played around with some spiritualism in the story line without really developing the ideas. The story was published in Agog! And then later by Fablecroft Publishing. Around the time that Fablecroft reprinted it, I began the novel. I was enjoying writing it, but the notion of it seeing it as a comic slowly took root. I left the novel unfinished to pursue that idea. Comic artist extraordinaire, Nicola Scott, recommended a young artist to me. Her name was Brigitte Sutherland and she did a great job matching her artwork  to my vision. Unfortunately, we never got past issue 1 as she was drawn away to other things in her life. That’s when I picked up the novel again…

 

  • You’re well known for genre mashing. Is this something you set out to do intentionally when starting up a new story – to push boundaries – or is it more organic, something that just happens as the story progresses?

 

GR author pic_webI just like it. It’s as simple as that. I find it stimulating to write and read. Single genre novels don’t always feel as exciting to me, and anyone who writes for a living knows how important it is to be thrilled by each new project.

 

  • Peacemaker has a fairly large cast of fabulous secondary or supporting characters. Do you have a favourite? Who was the most fun to write?

 

I’m always a bit in love with my secondary characters. One or more of them is usually funny, and they are always quirky! In Peacemaker, I think I would have to say that Hamish is my favourite. He’s so dysfunctional, sociopathic but also very competent and reliable. Can’t wait to write more of the story with him in it.

 

  • I know you put a lot of work into the naming of your characters. Virgin Jackson? Any insight into where that one came from?

Peacemaker cover_BlackI’ve always liked the name Jackson, whether as a surname or a first name. It seems kinda cool to me, so I’d always planned to to use it sometime. Virgin as a first name, was a way of harking back to an era when you could call someone a name like that and not be ridiculed. It’s old fashioned. I wanted that sense of nostalgia and connection with the good ol’ days

  • You’re very active in connecting with your fan base via the internet, public appearances and conventions. How important do you think this is for authors both now, and heading into the future? And on that note, do you find there’s much difference between fans – ie; your science fictions fans vs the crime readers?

Put it this way, if you don’t make the effort to connect with your readership online then you’re disadvantaging yourself, and probably missing out on a whole lot of fun as well. Not all writers are interested in making the time consuming commitment to using social media on any kind of scale, and I understand their choice. But if you are inclined to be sociable with readers, it will stand you in good stead. The key word here is personalise.

  •  Lastly, having some inside information, I know you’re a bit of a foodie. Do you have a signature dish? What keeps you going when you’re closing in on a deadline? Sweet or Savoury?

I’ve fallen out of love with cooking but not eating. It’s a bit of a conundrum. That’s why I pour over your recipes with such zeal, Mandy. However, I can make a decent baked cheesecake, caramel bananas, and strawberry shortcake. Definitely a dessert person!

 

Home Made Strawberry Icecream

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I’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:

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Strawberry ice cream cone!

Homemade 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.
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Home grown strawberries

How 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.

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Strawberry ice cream

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. 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…