Ankles wet from dewy grass, a basket filled with foil-wrapped eggs, a sugar high by 10am … the Easter-egg hunt was an annual highlight when I was little. I’ll be recreating it for my son this year, but there’ll be some grownup offerings, too: squidgy-centred brownies and the easiest chocolate truffles. Both lean on a favourite pairing: chocolate and nut butter, a flavour friendship rarely bettered. If you can’t have nuts, then sunflower seed butter will work here, too.
Chocolate and almond butter brownies (pictured above)
This recipe asks you to make two batters to swirl into the tin, but both are quick and easy and the swirling is a cinch. This does use quite a lot of nut butter, which is very easy to make yourself and much cheaper. Use raw or toasted nuts – in this case, almonds: just put them into a high-speed blender, blitz for a minute or two until you have a coarse powder, scrape down the sides and blitz again until you have a smooth paste. If it looks dry at that point, add a little coconut or groundnut oil, and blitz again. Sweeten with a little honey, maple syrup or vanilla, if you like.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
For the almond butter batter
75g golden caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g smooth almond butter
For the chocolate batter
100g white spelt flour
100g golden caster sugar
½ tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
145g coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, chopped into 5mm chunks (melt 150g and save the rest for garnish)
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4 and line a (20cm x 20cm) brownie tin with baking paper.
First make the almond butter batter by whisking together the sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla, whisk again, add the almond butter, stir until well combined and set aside. The batter will be thick.
For the chocolate batter, whisk together the dry ingredients. Create a well in the centre and add the oil, eggs and vanilla. Stir to combine. Pour in the melted chocolate and give the batter another stir until the chocolate is mixed through.
Dollop alternating heaped spoonfuls of each batter into the tin. Once all the batter is in, use a butter knife to swirl it in figures of eight. Top with the remaining chocolate, pressing each piece slightly into the batter, and sprinkle with a pinch of flaky salt.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the brownies are firm and the almond butter swirls are golden. Take out of the oven and leave to cool in the pan completely before cutting.
Easy chocolate truffles
No tempering of the chocolate; no rolling or filling; just some simple melting, mixing and pouring is required. This batch makes a lot, and will keep you in truffles for a couple of weeks – just make sure you store them in the fridge. I have given you a choice of flavourings and coatings below, so take the basic mixture and make it as flavourful and as colourful as you like. This recipe is from my book The Modern Cook’s Year (4th Estate).
Prep 10 min
Cook About 2 hr
Makes About 48
60g coconut oil, plus a little extra to grease
30g light brown sugar
200g nut butter (I use almond, cashew or hazelnut)
200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
2 big pinches flaky salt or*
Additional flavours (optional)
Zest of 1 unwaxed orange, lemon or lime
*Smoked sea salt instead of regular salt
1 red chilli, finely chopped
Seeds of 2 cardamom pods, crushed
½ tsp ground cinnamon
To coat (use one or more)
50g raw cacao or cocoa powder
Pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, finely chopped
Candied ginger, finely chopped
Grated dark chocolate
Dried rose petals, crushed
Grease a 20cm x 20cm square brownie tin with coconut oil. Heat the coconut oil and sugar in a saucepan on a low heat. Once the oil has melted and the sugar has dissolved into the oil, take the pan off the heat, add the nut butter, chocolate, vanilla and salt and stir until everything has melted. If you’re adding any other flavour, stir it in now.
Pour the mixture into the tin, then chill for about two hours until set solid. While the truffle mix is chilling, get your chosen coatings ready and put each in a little bowl.
Once set, turn the truffle slab out on to a cool work surface and cut into squares (mine are 1-1.5 cm), then gently dip each truffle in its coating to cover. The truffles will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks in a sealed container.
- Food and prop styling: Anna Jones. Food assistant: Nena Foster
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