Chocolate Easter Nests

DSCN9420I first wanted to make Easter nests for my colleagues two years ago, but sadly I was unable to find any equivalent of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs. Last year I failed to find any such thing again… I even tried the English shop in Heidelberg, but they had run out. So when I was in England in February, I grabbed two large bags of Mini Eggs. Arriving back in Germany, I discovered that Milka have now released their own version of Mini Eggs… this is the law of sod in action!

There are probably a million recipes for these Easter nests on the Internet, but I’m going to share mine with you anyway… I tell you how to make them in Germany, so my version is totally different, obviously 😉

Chocolate Easter Nests

You will need:
Cupcake cases
A box of plain Shredded Wheat – in Germany, use the “Original” Toppas. They’re covered in icing sugar, but that doesn’t seem to hurt the nests
Plain or milk chocolate – enough to cover your Shredded Wheat – I used roughly 150g chocolate to 100 g Toppas (guessing as I didn’t actually do any weighing…)
Cadbury’s or Milka Mini Eggs (or your country’s equivalent of chocolate eggs in a colourful sugar shell)

What to do:
1. Break the chocolate up and melt it in a bowl over a pan of water. Or I suppose you could use the microwave… I don’t have one!

2. While the chocolate is melting, in a large mixing bowl break the Shredded Wheat/Toppas into bits. If you’re using Toppas, the ones with most icing sugar might be a little harder to crush – don’t worry if there are some slightly larger bits in there a this point.

Toppas

3. Ad the melted chocolate to the mixing bowl and stir the Shredded Wheat/Toppas and the chocolate together until the Shredded Wheat is completely coated. While stirring, you can crush any larger bits of Toppas that didn’t crush earlier.

4. Place roughly a dessert spoon of the mixture into each of your cupcake cases and use a teaspoon to push some of the mixture up the sides, leaving a dent in the middle. Be careful not to make a hole in the bottom though!

Nest

5. Place 2-3 Mini Eggs in each of the nests. If you think your nests are too dry for the eggs to stick to, you can use a bit of melted chocolate as glue.

Easter nest

6. Place the Easter nests in the fridge for at least half an hour to set. Once they’re ready, you’ll be able to take the cakes out of their cases and they’ll look just like miniature bird’s nests!

Aren't they cute?
Aren’t they cute?

Now go and check out Manda’s recipe post for a different take on edible Easter nests!

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My first ever Banoffee Pie!

Two food posts in a row seems like a bit of a cop out, but to be honest I haven’t been doing anything else worth blogging about… and I have been promising you this one for a while, so here you go.
There are more banoffee pie recipes on the Internet than you can shake a stick at (not sure why you would want to shake sticks at recipes?), but I actually ended up using a combination of three to get my amounts/ingredients/methods, so I thought I would add my recipe to the mix… including a pointer or two on how to find said ingredients in Germany.

Banoffee Pie

Ingredients
1 tin of condensed milk (you need sweetened condensed milk, gezuckerte Kondensmilch in German; Nestle do one under the brand name Milchmädchen.)
300g chcolate digestives (if you can’t find actual digestives, DeBeukelaer does some called Granola that work just as well)
75g butter
400 ml whipping cream (some recipes use double cream, but the closest equivalent here is expensive so I decided to go with plain old Schlagsahne. It works for the Germans…)
2-3 bananas

Method

The scary part... please don't explode!
The scary part… please don’t explode!

1. Lie the tin of condensed milk on its side in a sauce pan of water – make sure the water is covering the whole tin! Apparantly if the tin becomes exposed, explosions will happen!
2. Bring the water to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer the tin in the hot water for 2-2.5 hours. After that time, remove the water from the heat and leave it to cool for about half an hour before removing the tin from it.
3. While the condensed milk is still heating, crush up your biscuits (use a blender if you have such a thing, or place them in a food bag and hit them with a hammer/rolling pin) and melt the butter in a sauce pan.
4. Mix the biscuit crumbs and butter together, then use the mixture to line a 23 cm cake tin. The biscuit crumbs base should go across the bottom and part way up the sides. Tip: Use a metal spoon to press down the biscuit crums – they’ll only stick to a wooden spoon and refuse to spread out properly! Once the base is firmly pressed down, stick the cake tin in the fridge until the condensed milk is ready.
5. Open the tin of condensed milk. The contents should be a pale brownish colour (caramel colour!). Take your biscuit crumb base back out of the fridge and spread the caramel over it.

Wiaitng to be decorated
Wiaitng to be decorated

6. Slice 2 bananas and use them to make a layer of banana slices on top of the caramel. Save the rest of the banana.
7. Whip the cream until it stands up in soft peaks when you pull up your whisk, then gently stir in as many slices of banana as you think appropriate
8. Cover the sliced banana layer of the pie with this cream/banana mix and then place the pie back in the fridge.
9. Shortly before you want to serve the pie, remove it from the fridge again and decorate it with more banana slices and some chocolate flakes.

That’s it! Easy, peasy! And once you’ve made the caramel, it doesn’t even take that long.
I had never made this before, but it turned out delicious and the Germans I served it to loved it. Success!

The finished article, chilling in the fridge (sadly, I forgot to take a decent photo of it once we arrived at the party so this is all you're getting..)
The finished article, chilling in the fridge (sadly, I forgot to take a decent photo of it once we arrived at the party so this is all you’re getting..)

Afternoon tea for two

When I spotted clotted cream being sold in Karstadt last week, I instantly decided that it was a sign from the universe that I needed to make scones at the weekend, so that’s just what I did. And what’s the obvious thing to do wih scones (well, yes, eat them of course… slightly less obvious than that, though)?
Answer: Afternoon tea:

The scones could have been just a little more risen (my self-raising flour was technically out of date), but inside they were as light and fluffy as they’re supposed to be. With clotted cream and jam, they made a delicous afternoon treat!

Jam first or cream first, which do you prefer?

Before moving to Germany, I don’t think I had ever purchased clotted cream in a supermarket… afternoon tea was an occasional treat reserved for cafés. On the rare occasions that we had scones at home (usually purchased from Greggs), they were fruit ones and we tended to toast them then smother them with butter. But I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to inject a little piece of “home” into my every day life.  I love Germany and its food very much… but I can have Maultaschen for dinner any time. An afternoon tea is something special!

Do you like to inject little pieces of your old home into your life abroad, or have you embraced your new culture wholeheartedly? And for those of you who don’t live abroad, do you ever try to recreate meals from your travels into your every day life? Just curious. (You can call it nosy, if you like ;-))

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goat’s Cheese Risotto

I would like to share with you what the boyfriend and I ate for tea tonight because it tasted absolutely amazing even if I do say so myself 😉 Plus, the recipe was made up entirely by yours truly with no input from my usual recipe websites.

Here’s what you’ll need (serves 2):
1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed or finely chopped
Olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
Risotto rice, however much your packet says makes 2 portions
Vegetable or chicken stock
100g soft goat’s cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
Herbs/spices to taste
White wine, about half a glass (optional)

And the method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C (you should do this before chopping your squash really), then put about 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl (I never claimed this recipe was low calorie!) and add one clove or garlic, then stir in the butternut squash until it is all coated in garlic/olive oil mix. If there isn’t enough olive oil, add a bit more. Then add freshly ground black pepper and some other herbs/spices to taste. I used a bit of cayenne pepper and some dried mixed herbs (called “italische Kräuter” in Germany)

2. Place the butternut squash in an oven-proof dish and place it in the oven. You’re going to want to roast it for between 30 and 45 minutes, taking it out half way through to give it  a stir and check on the spices (I ended up adding salt plus more black pepper at the halfway point).

Some bits of squash are slighty green because it wasn't 100% ripe yet. It still tasted good though!
Some bits of squash are slighty green because it wasn’t 100% ripe yet. It still tasted good though!

3. Place some butter in a large saucepan and melt it then use it to fry the second garlic clove and the red onion. Once the vegetables are almost done, add your risotto rice and continue frying until the rice is glassy looking.

4. Make up the amount of stock your rice’s instructions tell you to (I used chicken stock because I had run out of vegetable, but vegetable would also be good) then pour the stock into the saucepan, stir and allow to simmer.

5. When the rice has soaked up almost all the liquid, add the goat’s cheese to the saucepan and stir it in. You should end up with a lovely creamy looking mixture.

6. By this time, your squash should be ready. Remove it from the oven, check the spices again then, when all is good, stir it into the saucepan with the other ingredients.

The squash all roasted
The squash all roasted

7. Once the squash is stirred in, add some white wine to the saucepan. I used roughly half a glass. Stir everything together and simmer until the white wine has mostly been absorbed and you’re left with a colourful mixture with a creamy consistency.

8. Enjoy your meal!

The finished article
The finished article

p.s. Looking at this post and any of my previous recipe and baking posts will probably tell you exactly why I’m not a food blogger!