Some of my happiest childhood memories are of colouring Easter eggs. I remember my mother, ever the perfectionist, arranging the table meticulously before we started - first with layers of newspaper, then a bowl for each colour, then a spoon for each bowl and kitchen paper under each spoon to dry the eggs on. Everything had to be just so. I don't think you understand dear readers, my mother took perfectionism to another level, one I have never seen in anyone before or since.
Here's another example: for friends birthdays, my mother would wrap the presents. But we're not talking normal wrapping here, oh no. She would set aside an afternoon, clear up the dining table and lay it out with all the things she would need: wrapping paper, scissors, pencils, rulers, ribbon etc.
She then started by placing the gift in the middle of the wrapping paper, and traced out with a pencil exactly where to cut and fold each side of the wrapping paper. She would do the same with the ribbon and the sticky tape. It took her hours to wrap one present. Now, some people would say she was insane, as, let's admit it, most perfectionists are, but let me tell you, when that gift was wrapped, it was the most beautiful thing you would have ever seen. You wouldn't want to open it, and I didn't realise this until much later in life, but the wrapping was the actual gift, not what was inside.
And please remember, she did this for 8-12 year olds - all that time, all that effort, ripped to shreds in 2 seconds without a care in the world for how the gift was wrapped. But that's just the kind of person my mother was, it didn't matter who, what, where, when or how, it had to be *perfect*.
Having said that, my mother would be absolutely appalled at the lack of perfection on this blog!
Back to colouring Easter eggs, I'm not sure, but I think it's a very German thing. I haven't come across it as much here in London, where it seems more traditional to make and buy chocolate eggs. But in Germany, it's all about colouring eggs. Bruce had never coloured eggs before either, so we set aside an evening on the weekend to do just that. Not only did it bring back so many lovely memories for me, but it was so much fun watching Bruce get all excited about it too.
If you're interested in finding out more, I found this website that shows the whole range that I grew up with, but doesn't seem to sell any. I did however find this website that does sell one of the full packs in the range. I got mine from the food halls in Harrods earlier in the week, not that I like shopping there, I actually try to avoid it if I can, but just because I know that they are one of the few places that sells them in London.
Failing that, another tip I've been told (but haven't tried) for colouring eggs is that you could dilute 3-5 drops of good food colouring (preferably paste) in 1/4 litre (250ml) of cold water, add two tablespoons of white vinegar, and dye your boiled eggs in them (while the eggs are still hot) for about 5 minutes, or until your desired shade is achieved.
I also found this website that tells you how to dye eggs naturally, something I'll be doing from next year.
On the first day of Spring last Saturday, my florists' stalls were overflowing with the most gorgeous range of daffodils, and the queue was longer than I've ever seen. It did help that it was such a bright and sunny day. And as I'm not only celebrating Easter, but the arrival of Spring and this, my 100th post on this blog, I went wild and bought a whole armful of daffodils and forsythia - nothing says spring to me more than those two flowers. There's also something about brioche that makes me think of Spring, so I've made some chocolate cinnamon brioche rolls too.
A reader sent me a lovely long email (the best kind) last week and pointed out that I seem to be going through a yellow phase at the moment, not that there's anything wrong with yellow: the lemons in my lemon polenta post, the freesias in my pear clafoutis post, the mimosas in my chocolate macaron post, and now the daffodils, forsythia and eggs in today's post. How hilarious - I didn't even notice.
What can I say? It's been a very long, grey winter!
Now, are you ready for this week's giveaway? It's another biggie!
But before that, let me just quickly announce the 3 winners of last week's Interflora giveaway, picked at random:
Kerrin @ MyKugelhopf, Dan @ Island Eat, & Louis Anthony Woodbine
Congratulations you three! I'll be emailing you shortly to get your delivery details and your vouchers will be sent out to you as soon as possible!
And now, for this week's giveaway: I've come to trust Hotel Chocolat since their last giveaway - the prizes were all sent out and delivered on time and the winner was very happy with her prize. So when the guys at Hotel Chocolat contacted me again and offered 3 Easter Weekend Hampers (worth £50 [$75] each!), how could I say no?
Each hamper contains: Eggsibitionist & Serious Dark Fix Extra Thick Egg shells (both with chocolates), Caramel Drops, Easter Eggs & Soldiers, Sticky Toffee Easter Eggies, Milk Choc Chick Lick & An Easter Slab.
All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is leave a comment below. You can comment as many times as you like. The delivery is worldwide, so all of you can enter.
The closing date for this giveaway is Thursday 25th of March.
Thank you everyone for all your comments! I've just run the numbers through random.org and we have 3 winners!!!
Sarah (Maison Cupcake)
Sugar Plum Fairy
Oz (Kitchen Butterfly)
Woohoo!!!! Congratulations you three! I'll be emailing you to let you know right after I publish this.
To everyone else that entered - thanks so much, sorry you didn't win this time, but do try again next time... I've got some great giveaways coming up.
This giveaway is now closed, but I've left the commenting open for those of you that would still like to comment.
Chocolate Cinnamon Brioche Rolls Recipe (printable version)
For the starter:
7g dry yeast
A few pinches of flour
For the dough:
100g caster sugar
100g light brown muscavado sugar
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
50g brown sugar
Some powdered cinnamon
100g butter, melted
1. For the starter, mix the milk with the sugar and stir in the dry yeast. Add a few pinches of flour and leave to stand for 5 minutes.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugars in a separate bowl, then add the yeast mixture and mix well.
3. Add the salt to the flour and mix the flour into the egg mixture.
4. Add the milk to the mixture and mix well.
5. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time and incorporate properly.
6. Allow the mixture to rise for 2 hours.
7. Deflate the dough by pounding it with well-floured fists. The dough will be very sticky at this point and this is normal. Cover with cling film and place dough in refrigerator overnight (you can keep the dough refrigerated at this stage for 3-5 days).
8. Roll the dough out on a well-floured surface. If the dough is still too sticky, add a good sprinkling of flour to thicken it. Keep adding flour until it doesn't stick. Roll into a sheet of about 30cmx20cm.
9. Melt both chocolates over a water bath and spread over the rolled out dough. Sprinkle evenly with the brown sugar and cinnamon.
10. Starting from the side furthest away from you, tightly roll the dough towards you.
Cut the roll into roughly 5cm rounds. Place the rounds in rectangular cake tins. The amount of rounds you place in your cake tins depends on the size of your cake tins. Brush with melted butter and allow to rise for about an hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 180˚C. Bake the brioche for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Serve upside down as a loaf or gently break the individual rolls apart. Serve with chocolate spread
Chocolate nests recipe (printable version)
100g rice krispies
100g milk chocolate
100g dark chocolate
3tbs golden syrup
1. In a large, non-stick pan, melt both chocolate bars with the butter and golden syrup. Mix well.
2. Add the rice krispies into the pan and stir, coating everything evenly.
3. Spoon 5 mounds onto a tray lined with baking paper or a silicone sheet. Form a dip in the centre.
4. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until set. Peel the nests off, fill with chocolate eggs and serve.