Cook with Jamie: Children will love my hand-painted Easter eggs – and I’ve got a simnel cake for the grown-ups too
21:30 GMT, 30 March 2012
Jamie says in the UK Easter goes hand-in-hand with chocolate eggs and bunnies of all sizes
So it's that time of year again, people – Easter! In this country, from a food point of view, for better or worse, this holiday goes hand-in-hand with chocolate eggs and bunnies of all sizes.
Although it's really easy to buy a whole load of shop-bought Easter eggs and be done with it, I think this is one of those occasions when it's a million times better to get your hands dirty and make and decorate your own – especially if you have kids.
I've got wonderful memories of making chocolates, and I want my girls to have that, too. Because I've done so much work in schools over the years, people often think I must be really strict about stuff like chocolate or treats at home; that totally isn't true.
I don't think naughty-but-nice
desserts should be edited out of our lives completely, they just need to
be a treat. As a parent, it's good to embrace them every now and then.
Although you can easily make your own chocolate eggs by melting
good-quality chocolate then pouring that into egg moulds, this
particular weekend I didn't have any, so I improvised!
I bought a few half-decent hollow Easter eggs then spent an afternoon
filling and decorating them with the girls. It was all about getting
creative with chocolate. The thing I really like about this recipe is
that it's something that any parent can do, and get a kick out of,
without too much fuss or stress.
the kids will make a mess and, no, they won't know when to stop licking
their fingers, but that's part of it. They'll feel good about
themselves, and that they really own the results. Which is one part of
what cooking's all about for kids. Let's face it, sometimes it's just
nice to do things where the only sound you can hear is giggling!
JAMIE'S TOP TIPS
For ganache with panache, try swapping
dark chocolate for white chocolate or folding through some finely
chopped dried, candied or glace fruit or ginger. Adding sprinkles, sweet toppings or
edible glitter from a cake shop to your eggs is a nice touch – let your
imagination run wild. You'll be so impressed by the things your kids
come up with!
HAND-PAINTED EGGS WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
As a general rule when making these, use the best-quality hollow chocolate eggs you can buy – there should be enough ganache to fill 15 small eggs. It's also useful to have some old egg cartons to hold them while decorating, and you'll need paintbrushes, white chocolate, sweets, flaked or ground nuts… anything that can be stuck on with melted chocolate.
First, unwrap the foil from your hollow eggs and place them in the carton. Carefully heat a knife blade in a pan of hot water. Wipe it dry then hold against the top of the egg so it melts a perfect 1cm (in) hole. Repeat with the rest.
The eggs will be fine for a week in the fridge – but Jamie says he doubts that they'll last that long
Spoon or pipe ganache into each of the
eggs, then place in the fridge for an hour or two to set. This will give
you a chance to prepare for decorating. The sky is the limit here. Melt
more chocolate and paint it onto the eggs in spots or stripes. Or pour
melted white chocolate (even coloured with natural food dye) into a
sandwich bag, then snip off the corner and use as a piping bag. The eggs
will be fine for a week in the fridge – but I doubt they'll last that
FOR THE GANACHE
● 200g (7oz) good-quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces
● 200ml (7fl oz) double cream
● 25g (1oz) unsalted butter
● Pinch of sea salt
Place the chocolate in a bowl. In a pan, bring the cream to the boil then immediately remove from the heat. Add the chocolate and butter and leave to stand for a few minutes. After the cream has melted the chocolate for another few minutes, add a tiny pinch of salt and give it a stir, then leave for another few minutes. Stir again to make sure the chocolate has melted, then let it cool slightly. Then, using a piping bag or spoon, carefully fill up your hollow eggs.
This cake is an Easter classic and is usually decorated with 11 marzipan balls to represent the apostles – minus Judas, for obvious reasons.
175g (6oz) unsalted butter175g (6oz) soft light brown sugarFinely grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange175g (6oz) plain flour2tsp baking powder25g (1oz) ground almondstsp each ground cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg3 large free-range eggs1tbsp semi-skimmed milk150g (5oz) raisins100g (3oz) currants or
sultanas100g (3oz) sour cherries or dried cranberries, chopped100g (3oz) mixed peel2tbsp apricot jamIcing sugar, for dusting220g (8oz) golden marzipan
Preheat the oven to 150C/gas 2. Grease the base and sides of a 20cm (8in) loose-bottomed cake tin and double line with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and sugar until pale, then beat in the zest. In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.
Beat 1 egg into the butter mixture with 1tbsp of the dry mix. Repeat with the remaining eggs, and finish by folding in all the dry mix. Stir in the milk and dried fruits and peel. Do not overbeat. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for 1 hours or until golden and a skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Gently heat the jam until liquid. Dust a work surface with icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to 1cm (in) thick and trim so it’s a little bigger than the tin. Use the trimmings to form 11 balls. Brush the top of the cake with jam and put the marzipan round on it. Crimp the edges with your fingers and dot the balls round the cake, securing with jam. Serve as it is, or caramelise the marzipan edges with a blowtorch or under a hot grill.
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