An Easter Afternoon Tea, that wasn’t

CP April challenge

This months challenge from the Center Parcs team is Edible Easter Egg Nests. Not to be one to take the easy route I decided to theme an afternoon tea for today, Easter Saturday, around this challenge.

Once I’d had a look through the eggspert tips, I had plenty of ideas and also took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. Check out my Easter board for more. My favourite tip from Center Parcs own Chief Creative Chef, Lynn Dixon was “Not a fan of chocolate? Twist multi-coloured liquorice laces together to create an edible nest, softening them in the microwave for 20 seconds to make them easier to mould” Though I didn’t do these it did get me thinking outside of the box (the Shredded Wheat box that is!)

Here’s what I decided on.

Easter afternoon tea

1. Lemon meringue nests served with a chocolate spoon

2. Shredded Wheat chocolate nests (well, you have to don’t you?)

3. Marshmallow rice crispy nests

4. Marzipan hot cross buns

5. Coconut Nutella nests

6. Mini egg cookies

7. Chocolate covered strawberry carrots

We were also going to have smoked salmon and cucumber sandwiches on granary bread, Cheshire cheese and caramelised onion chutney sandwiches on white bread, pastrami and mustard on brown bread and plain old ham sandwiches, slices of quiche and a selection of crisps. All served on 3 tier cake stands. But, it wasn’t meant to be!

Good Friday night brought with it a tummy bug for Littlebit, so it wasn’t such a GOOD Friday after all. Unfortunately this meant that our planned breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the local garden centre was off. This has become an annual event so I was really disappointed. Littlebit had no clue we were going though, thank goodness. It also meant we had to call off our Easter Afternoon Tea too, and not only that but we had to ditch half of the cakes (after I’d taken these photos of course) as Littlebit had helped to make them after she’d been exposed to the tummy bug (we know where it came from!)

We’ve still been left with cakes a plenty though. If you like the look of any in particular then read on as the recipes are below.

lemon meringue nests

1. Lemon meringue nests with a chocolate spoon

These are so simple. I made a regular meringue mix:

2 large egg whites
110g caster sugar

Pre heat your oven to 150°C.

Place the egg whites in a large metal bowl and, using an electric hand whisk on a low speed, or I use my Kenwood Chef on the lowest setting, begin whisking. Continue for about 2 minutes, until the whites are foamy, then switch the speed up a little and carry on whisking for 1 more minute. Then turn the speed to the highest setting and continue whisking until the egg whites reach the stiff-peak stage. Next, whisk the sugar in on fast speed, a little at a time (about a tablespoon at a time), until you have a stiff and glossy mixture. Pipe onto a baking tray lined with grease proof paper in circular spirals making the outer edge two spirals tall.

Pop them on the centre shelf of the oven and leave them for 30 minutes. Don’t open the oven door during this time, tempting as it may be. Once the 30 minutes is up turn the oven off and leave in there for at least 4 hours.

Once they were completely cool I melted a little white chocolate and painted the insides as this means they’ll last a bit longer before going soggy. Then once that was set I popped in a spoon of shop bought lemon curd and topped with a few Easter coloured jelly beans. I served these with a chocolate spoon made with the Lakeland spoon mould.

shredded wheat chocolate nests

2. Shredded Wheat chocolate nests (well, you have to don’t you?)

Simplest recipe ever.

400g bar of your favourite chocolate, has to be Cadbury Dairy Milk in this house
Smallest box of Shredded Wheat (16 biscuits)
2 tbsp golden syrup
Mini eggs (we chose Milky Bar eggs)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, in 30 second blasts stirring in between to ensure it doesn’t catch and burn. Crush the Shredded Wheat in a large bowl. Stir all 3 ingredients together and then pop into paper cases and hollow out a little dent to fill with eggs with your thumb. Drop the eggs in before the chocolate sets so they stick. Voila!

marshmallow crispy nests

3. Marshmallow rice crispy nests

Another really simple recipe.

A bag marshmallows
50g butter
6 cups Rice Krispies
Spray oil
Mini eggs (we chose mini mini eggs from Tesco)

Take a 12 hole muffin tin and spray generously with spray oil.

Melt the butter and marshmallows in a heavy based pan over a low heat. This will take a while but believe me you don’t want to crank the heat up too much or they’ll catch. Once a big congealed gooey and sticky mess add the 6 cups of crispies and stir well. Now you have to work fast as they start to set quite quickly.

Spray a couple of dessert spoons with the spray oil and drop a heaped dessert spoon into each hole of the muffin tin. Use the back of the spoon to create a small hollow for the eggs.

Once all of the holes are filled drop in your eggs and allow to set at room temperature.

marzipan hot cross buns

4. Marzipan hot cross buns

Ok, so these aren’t nests but I was running out of ideas!

Golden marzipan
Plain (white ish) marzipan
Handful raisins

I used half a block of golden marzipan and a small slice of the white marzipan for these so you’ll have to think of another use for the rest, sorry!

Drop your handful of raisins onto a chopping board. Roll the golden marzipan into a sausage using your hands collecting and mixing in the raisins as you roll.

Cut the sausage into 11 equal parts (representing the 11 apostles) and roll into balls using the palms of your hands.

Roll out your white marzipan into thin strips and cut into 22 equal lengths and use for the crosses of the “hot cross buns”.

coconut nutella nests

5. Coconut Nutella nests

This recipe is a little more of a challenge as it’s rather messy and difficult to shape the nests but with a bit of perseverance I got there in the end.

Tin sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut (I got this from Holland and Barrett)
1 cup Nutella
Mini eggs (we chose mini mini eggs from Tesco)
Pre heat the oven to 170°C. Line a large baking sheet with grease proof paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined. Add in the coconut and mix well.

With a spoon, scoop up about 2 Tablespoons of the dough and place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. I actually ended up getting in there with my hands as it was the only way. I formed them into loose balls and then squashed down onto the baking sheet. Forming the sticky coconut into nests. Make a hollow in the centre.

Bake for 18 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes or until they are firm and then remove onto a cooling tray. Cool completely.

Once cool place about a tablespoon of Nutella in the middle of each nest and add your eggs.

mini egg cookies

6. Mini egg cookies

You can find the recipe for these moreish Mini egg cookies on last years Easter baking post.

7. Chocolate covered strawberry carrots (as shown with the Marshmallow rice crispy nests)

White chocolate buttons
Orange food colouring (or red and yellow as I used)
Strawberries

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave as above, add food colouring as desired. If the chocolate splits at this point (which it did for me, I think I added too much colour) add a splash of milk and whisk quickly and it should come back together and still set firm when cooled.

Holding each strawberry by it’s leaves dip in the orange chocolate mix coating well and lay on a piece of grease proof paper to set. Once it’s started to set and before the rest of your chocolate hardens use a skewer or cocktail stick to drizzle the lines/details of the carrot over.

So, there we have it. An Easter Afternoon Tea that never was! And although we had to ditch the Coconut Nutella nests and the Marshmallow rice crispy nests in case they’d been contaminated the rest are all in tins waiting to be eaten and distributed once we’re all well again!

Why don’t you write a post about Edible Easter Nests. By taking part in this month’s challenge you are in with the chance of winning a break at a Center Parcs Village of your choice (excluding Woburn Forest), as one of the wildcard bloggers! April’s challenge closes on the 27th, so make sure to enter before then! Full terms & conditions can be found here.

I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and visited Elveden village with my family courtesy of Center Parcs in March 2014. 

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It was a very good Good Friday, in the end!

We had plans on Friday. Plans to revisit Broadway where we got wed 4 years ago last Thursday, the 17th April. Because Daddypinkwellies was working on the actual date and the very next day was Good Friday we decided we’d go down for the day, we do this at least once a year on a nice sunny day. There’s a lovely park to play on, the country park nearby, tea shops a plenty and of course the gorgeous hotel where we got married to have lunch in. That plan however, was foiled!

Thursday night I barely slept a wink. Unusually, I settled down early at 10:30pm but by 11:30pm I was wide awake with a piercing toothache which meant I only dozed in fitful sleep for the rest of the night. Needless to say, though the weather was glorious, I was so exhausted and pained Broadway was off.

Burbage common 1

Instead though, we paid a visit to our local Country Park Burbage Common & Woods and spent a couple of lovely hours there. Playing on the park, eating cake from the fabulous Acorns Coffee Shop and of course Littlebit found the only muddy puddle left in the 200 acres!

Burbage common 2

So, despite the pain, which is still yet to go away, we had a lovely day!

YouTube Preview Image

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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Alphabet Lotto: Review

Alphabet Lotto 1

We’ve been playing with Orchard Toys board games again, courtesy of Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard. Last month we brought you a review of Insey Winsey Spider which we still play regularly. This month though we’ve been playing with Alphabet Lotto.

Alphabet Lotto 2

Littlebit was struck down with the chicken pox a few weeks back and thus we were quarantined, providing lots of time for playing board games (she wasn’t really up to much more for a number of days) and she really took to Alphabet Lotto during this time, playing it at least once a day over the period of a week (some days we must have played 3 or 4 times).

Already Littlebit recognised and could name certain letters, all those in her name and the first letters of all of her friends and family, but there were some she would struggle with despite me working with her bath letters, books and alphabet games on the iPad. Not now though. After playing this game for a few weeks Littlebit recognises ALL letters of the alphabet plus the sounds like “th” and “ch”. There is a definite improvement and I’m sure it’s largely down to this board game and how much we’ve played it.

Alphabet Lotto is supporting Littlebit’s phonics learning at playschool and later at school as I think this game will last us a few years with all the variations of play.

Alphabet Lotto 3

What we love most about this game is the number of different ways you can play. We started by matching picture to picture, then moved onto letter to picture, picture to letter and then finally letter to letter.

Each variation of the game is different enough to mean that most times we play Littlebit wants to have a go at all versions so we spend a good half an hour playing with this game.

The game is suitable from age 3 upwards and is for 2-5 people.

Alphabet Lotto 4

The game develops letter recognition, improves memory skills and ties in with early learning goals.

Like the other Orchard Toys games Alphabet Lotto is brightly coloured, appealing to pre-schoolers and has some wonderful illustrations.

Alphabet Lotto 5

You can see Littlebit and her Auntie Amy enjoying the game above. Doesn’t it look like they’re having fun?

Alphabet Lotto is available from Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard priced at a reasonable £8.99.

This is a review post. I am a Shop Ambassador for Hubbard’s Toy Cupboard and we were provided with this game for review. All opinions are my own.

Hubbard's Toy Cupboard Shop Ambassador

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