Easter is approaching — a time to share sweet eats with family and friends. Food stores are laden with chocolate eggs, rabbits and chickens this year and — judging from my last few supermarket visits — by the time Easter arrives I think many children will have overindulged and soured on sweet treats.
The tradition of eating of eggs was once prohibited during the lead up to Easter (Lent) and their return afterwards provided a reason to celebrate. Hence the evolution of the giving of eggs to celebrate Easter Sunday and spring (in the northern hemisphere). In many countries hens’ eggs were decorated with dye or paint but these have largely been replaced by the chocolate variety. The eggs can be hidden for children to find on Easter Sunday, supposedly brought by the Easter bunny.
Hot cross buns are readily available— nowadays almost right throughout the year. They can be enjoyed hot or cold, or as burger buns for pan-fried ham as well as the base for bread and butter puddings.
Roast lamb is also an Easter tradition, especially in Greece. However, many Americans choose to roast a ham. Both provide a great feast for the family during the holiday weekend while we enjoy the last of the warmer weather.
CHOCOLATE & CUSTARD EASTER MUFFINS
These muffins require longer cooking than normal because of the custard centres.
2 cups self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup caster sugar
100g butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4-1/3 cup thick custard
Topping: 300g prepared yellow buttercream icing
10 small Easter eggs
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line 10 muffin holes with paper cases.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, mixed spice and baking soda into a bowl. Stir in the caster sugar.
Whisk the butter, buttermilk and egg in a bowl to combine. Stir into the dry ingredients until just moistened.
Half fill the paper cases with the mixture. Make a hollow in the middle of each and place a teaspoon of custard in the centre. Top with the remaining muffin mixture. Bake for 25-30 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. Pipe the tops with the buttercream icing and place an Easter egg on top. Makes 10.
EASTER HEDGEHOG SLICE
Hedgehog slice presumably received its name from an English concoction of light coloured chopped biscuits combined with a chocolate mixture, then iced and stuck with slivered almonds. This is an Easter version.
Base: 250g shortbread biscuits
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
150g milk chocolate, chopped
100g butter, chopped
1/2 (395g) can sweetened condensed milk
Topping: 225g white chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons Kremelta or coconut oil
50-60 mini Easter eggs
Lightly oil and line a 24cm x 20cm slice pan with baking paper.
Crush the shortbread with a rolling pin leaving some as little chunks. Place in a bowl with the coconut, cocoa powder and ground cinnamon. Mix well.
Melt the chocolate and butter together with the sweetened condensed milk on low heat. Mix well.
Pour into the dry ingredients and mix again.
Press into the lined pan. Chill until set.
Melt the white chocolate with the Kremelta, stirring often. Pour over the base. Allow to set a little then top with the mini Easter eggs. Cut into squares or bars. Makes about 25 squares.
SALMON BURGERS WITH CITRUS AIOLI
The perfect weekend burger. I used Peplers Citrus Tartare Aioli.
200g fresh salmon fillet, pin bones removed
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 shallot, diced
1/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 tablespoons rice bran oil
2 burger buns, citrus tartare aioli, salad ingredients, chopped parsley, lemon wedges to serve
Chop the salmon and place in a food processor. Add the mustard and pulse briefly. Add the shallot, breadcrumbs, capers and seasonings and pulse until finely chopped but not puréed.
Form the mixture into 2 patties. Cover and refrigerate, if required, for up to 4 hours.
Heat the oil in a non-stick pan on medium. Pan-fry the burgers for 2 minutes each side.
Toast the split buns, if preferred. Spread with aioli. Top the bases with salad ingredients, then the burgers, more aioli, parsley and a lemon wedge. The tops may be served on the side. Serves 2.