In America there’s a tradition of dipping white hen’s eggs into colourful dyes the night before Easter then hiding them in the morning for the children. There is a papier-mache golden egg filled with money to find, as well as other prizes and sweets nestled into secret spots throughout the home. I loved this tradition as a child, racing through the house to find the most eggs before my older brother.
Once the hunt was finished, I always gravitated to the kitchen where Dad was making lunch and Mum was baking. My brother was most likely off to play baseball with his buddies. My mother always made a delicious egg bread that we braided into a large golden loaf.
This year, I’ll be making golden fried dough balls with my daughter. The origin is Nigerian but they are universal in their appeal, so sweet and chewy. I’ve put together some of my favourite flavours for this time of year and tried to make them as colourful and fun as possible. You will benefit from owning an electric stand mixer, but all can be made without one (except the raspberry marshmallows).
Milk chocolate and bay leaf tarts
Milk chocolate bay leaf ganache makes for a truffle-like filling with a crisp cookie crust. My perfect tart. The bay works beautifully with delicate milk chocolate, adding an unexpected layer of complexity.
Makes 6 individual tarts
For the chocolate-almond pastry
unsalted butter 300g
icing sugar 60g, sifted
ground almonds 100g
fine sea salt ½ tsp
cocoa powder 60g
plain flour 380g
For the milk chocolate bay ganache
milk chocolate (preferably 35-40%) 320g, chopped into small pieces
double cream 290g
bay leaves 3 fresh or 6 dried
flaky sea salt to finish
For the pastry, cream the butter on a low speed. Add the sugar and cream a little longer. Add the ground almonds and cream well, but you’re not going for fluffy here, so don’t aerate the butter too much. Add the salt and then the eggs, one at a time, until combined. The mixture may not be smooth but this is fine. Add the cocoa powder just until combined. Add the plain flour in two batches on very low speed, just until it comes together – a moment or so. Do not over mix. Gather into two balls, wrap each ball in clingfilm and chill for at least four hours.
Dough can be kept in the fridge for up to four days or in the freezer for three months. This recipe makes enough dough for two tarts or 12 tartlets, but making a smaller quantity is quite difficult so just make the whole batch and freeze half the dough for another time.
When you’re ready to roll, butter six individual tartlet ring moulds and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. I use the rings with no bottoms as they are deep and have nice straight sides, but you could use fluted ones if you prefer. Alternatively, you can make one large tart.
On a well-floured surface, roll one ball out to about 4mm thick. Keep gently lifting the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick, adding more flour as needed. Cut circles of dough slightly larger than your moulds to accommodate the sides. Gently place the pastry over the buttered moulds and press down to fill evenly. Trim the excess from the edges and place the lined moulds into the fridge or freezer for about an hour.
When you’re ready to bake, heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Line each pastry with a piece of parchment and fill to the brim with dried rice, beans or ceramic baking beans. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the baking beans and paper and bake for another 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
To make the ganache filling, weigh the chocolate pieces into a heatproof bowl and set aside. Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan with the bay leaves, just until it starts to boil, then turn off the heat and cover. Let the leaves steep in the cream for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and heat the cream again (watch cream like a hawk, it can bubble over very quickly and create a mess). When the cream starts to bubble, pour it over the milk chocolate (removing the bay leaves) and let it sit in a warm place in the kitchen without stirring.
After 10 minutes, vigorously whisk together the chocolate and cream until smooth. If some unmelted pieces of chocolate remain, let the chocolate sit for another 10 minutes and whisk again. If you have a cool or draughty kitchen your ganache may solidify before it has properly melted. If this happens, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water for a few minutes, being careful not to overheat.
Pour the ganache into the baked tart shells and give them a little shake to settle the tops. Sprinkle with some flaky sea salt. They can be served immediately or left to set at room temperature, which may take up to two hours.
Marshmallows take a little focus and some proper baking equipment, but, oh, what a joy to make and eat real homemade.
Makes about 30 marshmallows
icing sugar 25g
egg white 1
caster sugar 200g
cold water 180g
powdered gelatin 2 sachets (30g)
vanilla extract 1 tsp
dehydrated raspberries 35g, crushed (or dehydrated raspberry powder)
Grease a 20cm x 30cm baking tray with a little oil. Line with parchment paper and grease again. Whisk together the icing sugar and cornflour and sift over the tray.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place the egg white and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat the raspberries with 25g caster sugar, until they start to bubble and break apart (about 10 minutes). Then push through a strainer to remove all of the seeds. Set aside the puree and discard the seeds.
Put 60g (4 tbsp) water into the bottom of a small, immaculately clean saucepan and add the remaining 175g caster sugar on top of that. Place over a medium heat with a sugar thermometer. Swirl the pan so there are no hot spots but avoid stirring (see tip below). While the sugar is reducing to the hard ball stage (130C) dissolve the gelatin in another small saucepan with the remaining 120g of cold water, then heat it slowly, stirring the whole time until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Turn off the heat and add the raspberry puree and vanilla extract.
When the syrup reaches the the correct temperature, turn off the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture. Turn the stand mixer on to high and whisk the egg white to medium stiff peaks. Then, with the mixer still going, pour in the gelatin mixture in a slow steady stream. Once all of the syrup is incorporated, keep the mixer on for about 10 minutes until the mixture is almost set and doubled in volume.
Pour into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a spatula. Leave to set for about three hours. Once set, remove from the tin and use a sharp knife to cut into about 24 little marshmallows. Toss in the dehydrated raspberry powder and serve. Keep in an airtight container for up to a week.
Sugar crystalises very easily, but don’t let this deter you from making this recipe. To avoid this, wash your pan before use and be sure to rinse and dry it well. The water in the bottom of the pan will help to avoid hot spots where the sugar burns so that you don’t have to stir. If you feel you need to stir, swirl the pan rather than stir with a spoon. Once the sugar melts, you can turn the heat up. If you do get some crystals, blast the pan on the hottest heat you have. This should melt any crystals. Good luck!
This content was originally published here.