If you’re after something a little different this Easter holiday here is my round-up of a few favourite alternative Easter treats (don’t worry, chocolate is still very much on the list!)
1. OK so call me crazy but I really like the sound of this Chocolate Paella recipe. It’s like a chocolatey rice pudding with hazelnuts, raspberries, chocolate (obvs) and white chocolate buttons. What’s not to love?!
Paella de Chocolate: Chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut paella
Serves 6 – 8 people because it’s really chocolaty!!
Cooking time: 25 minutes
300g of Spanish paella rice such as bomba or calasparra
2 tsp granulated sugar
20 ml vanilla essence
10g of extra brute chocolate powder
25g white chocolate callets (mini buttons)
1 orange (for peel and zest)
160g of dark chocolate (I use 53% for this recipe)
25g chopped toasted hazelnuts
200g fresh raspberries
650 ml water
1 paella pan or a 30cm large heavy bottom frying pan
1 small saucepan
1 microplain or small box grater
Place the rice into a heavy based saucepan with the cocoa powder and half the vanilla essence.
Add in 500ml of water with the orange peel and give it a quick stir. Place the pan onto the stove and turn the heat up in the pan to a rolling boil and then down to simmer for 14 minutes, stirring a couple of times to make sure the rice doesn’t stick.
All you are looking to do here is infuse the rice with a little orange and vanilla, open up the pours, inject the cocoa rouge colour into the rice but you are not playing with the starches of the rice. After 14 minutes the rice should still be firm.
Remove the rice from the pan immediately and spoon it out onto a big plate, or tray or anything you can find to halt the cooking process. Spread it out really thin so it can cool almost instantly. Then remove the orange peel. I refer to the rice as ‘par-boiled’.
Place the paella pan onto the stove and add in the sugar, raisins and the rest of the vanilla extract and the remaining water then bring to the boil, turn down to a medium heat.
Taste it, this is your Caldo – your broth, and this has to be spot on… if you want to add a dash more vanilla, then now’s your chance… Get ready the next stage is full on and you cannot leave the stove!!
Quickly throw in the par-boiled paella rice.
Then give it a good stir through to spread the par cooked rice out evenly. Leave it to gently bubble away for about 4 minutes so the caldo can get to work with the rice, remember this is the first time the rice has had chance to absorb the sugar.
Then drop in the dark chocolate. And give it one more stir, just one swoop through the pan and then that’s it
From now on remember this rule…move the pan, do not stir the paella.
Turn the heat to low, let the rest of the broth be absorbed by the rice, this takes about 1 minute. Once the broth has totally disappeared, check that the rice is al dente – cooked but with a slight bite, then remove from the heat.
Bring the hot pan out of the kitchen and into your serving area, I like to get everyone involved at this point, all those little fingers going to work
As a family you can sprinkle over the white chocolate (you can either use callets as I have, or chips or you can even snap and shave off from a block. Just let it melt on the top.
Then add the hazlenuts and a good grating of orange zest, plus a little squeeze of a wedge or 2 for good measure!
A Rest is so important: about 2 or 3 minutes is my golden rule,
Well if you can stop the kids delving in….
(Recipe courtesy of Antony Bennett – www.latasca.co.uk).
2. This caramel tea is super delicious. You know me, I love tea so I’m easily pleased! But this truly is so nice as a sweet treat or a posh Easter gift.
Caramel Tea for Easter, £10.00
(Available at The East India Company flagship store on Conduit Street, or online at www.eicfinefoods.com)
This smooth blend of pure Ceylon black tea with rich notes of caramel offers a full-bodied decadent cup with a sweet aftertaste. With its distinct aroma of caramel, this tea is the perfect way to awaken the senses on Easter morning.
Brew time : 2g tea in 200ml water for 4 minutes
3. For low (no) calorie easter treats, I love the range of Lush easter products. Typically I buy Fluffy Egg bath bombs this time of year (as all the easter products are limited edition) and it smells like sweet pink candyfloss and produces many many bubbles!
This year the new products include Golden Egg (I think they may have had this last year too?), Carrot Cone and Funny Bunny Knot Wrap – the latter two being full of lovely little bath and body treats, giving the perfect excuse to have a little pampering over the bank holiday weekend.
A brand new invention… this egg is a bath bomb coated in bath melt mixture. It will unexpectedly sink to the bottom of the bathtub while the outer layer dissolves, popping to the surface as the fizzing centre is revealed.
Ingredients The outer bath melt mix is made using our beautiful fair trade, organic Colombian Peace Village cocoa butter and olive oil from a brand new permaculture project we’re working with in Palestine. Scented with the best selling Honey I Washed the Kids fragrance, it’s coated with PET free golden lustre.
Inspired by chocolate cream eggs, we reverse it and coat the hard bath bomb centre with a creamy bath melt shell. £3.50 each
Inside this carrot-shaped cone you’ll find a rabbit hidden within a slice of Carrot soap; a Bunch of Carrots for the rabbit to enjoy; and a Golden Egg, a reward for the bunny for eating all of his carrots! You’ll discover the contents as a story, along with a maze game for the lucky recipient to play as they search for the Golden Egg! Vegan £16.95.
Tied up inside this organic cotton Knot-Wrap is a selection of limited edition Easter treats. The organic cotton Knot-Wrap is from re-wrap, a women’s co-operative in India. By choosing the Lush Knot-Wrap gift options, instead of traditional paper wrap, you are helping us save 11.6 tonnes of waste per year. Especially relevant at times like Easter when excess packaging is so prevalent.
CONTAINS: two Bunny bubble bars; A Bunch of Carrots reusable bubble bars and a Fluffy Egg bath bomb. Vegan £19.95.
4. For a grown up Easter treat try this recipe for Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes by Eric Lanlard. They are a combination of chocolate and spicy ingredients, such as cinnamon and nutmeg. Omit the chilli and cayenne pepper for a result more akin to a chocolate hot cross bun!
Makes: 12 Cupcakes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
175g (6oz) plain flour
225g (7.5 oz)caster sugar
4 tsp cocoa powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract
1 tsp white wine vinegar
5 tsp sunflower oil
chili pepper cake decorations, to
For the Frosting:
100g (3.5 oz) dark chocolate, broken into
150g (5oz) unsalted butter
150g (5oz) icing sugar
¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Line a cupcake tin with paper cases. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, bicarbonate
of soda, cinnamon and nutmeg into a bowl. In a large bowl, blend together the Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Extract,
vinegar, oil and 250 ml cold water. Mix the dry ingredients into this mixture until the batter is smooth.
2. Divide the mixture between the paper cases (it will be fairly liquid) and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a
skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
3. To make the frosting: melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of barely simmering water,
making sure the bowl does not touch the surface of the water. When melted leave to cool. Whisk the butter and
icing sugar together until pale and fluffy, then whisk in the cooled melted chocolate and the cayenne pepper. Pipe
the frosting onto the cooled cakes and top with chilli pepper cake decorations to finish.
5. There’s still time to enter my Easter Fashion Competition which finishes on Easter Sunday! Follow the link and you could win yourself your favourite fashion item for spring summer.
I hope you all have a lovely Easter weekend and enjoy the bank holiday (fingers crossed for good weather) and don’t eat all your chocolatey treats in one go!