Tag : eggs

The Crafty Lass does… Needle Felting workshops!

A very happy and crafty Easter to you!

The last couple of weeks have been full of Easter crafts for The Crafty Lass – especially at the John Lewis and Waitrose head offices with their Craft Club – where I spent a couple of evenings running Introduction to Needle Felting workshops – making some decorative Easter eggs!

A very therapeutic and pretty-simple-when-you-know-how craft – slowly building up layers of 100% wool fleece in a whole myriad of colours, needle felting onto polystyrene egg shapes. We had marbling effects, little flowers, hearts, initials, spots, stripes – we even had a flamingo!! Put simply – just some great evenings of fun, laughter and crafting!

I was hoping for lots of lovely photos to go alongside this blog post (and I do have some!) – but through the wonders of technology (or lack of it, and failing miserably, and user error) – I managed to delete ALL the photos of the Waitrose workshop …That also meant spending approximately an hour of my supposedly lazy Easter Sunday morning trying to fathom how to restore them – and failing. I’ve had to give it up as a bad job, and accept that they are gone. Silver lining – it is a darn good excuse to just eat more chocolate…. not that you need it on Easter Sunday!

Either way, IT issues aside – we had a great time – one quote of the John Lewis evening:

“I have had a horrible day today… but now I am fine”!

After felting their eggs – some people planned to add ribbons to hang them up as pretty decorations, some to simply add to their Easter tables, and some to add to their desk at work to make them smile! 🙂

A successful set of Easter workshops complete for this Crafty Lass. What Easter crafts have you been getting up to?

Don’t forget – if you’d like The Crafty Lass to run a workshop with your team, or at an event – why not get in touch! 🙂

Categories: Easter, Workshops

The Crafty Lass does… Chocolate Easter Eggs!

Happy Easter!

So, the husband has gone out this Easter Sunday – the whole day – so, I have the house to myself – to do whatever I want. I could have spent a few lovely leisurely hours catching up on all my overdue to be watched Masterchef (I haven’t seen the last SIX episodes!) or, I could have gone out and spent some time in the rare sunshine. No – instead, I stayed in and made a mess, I made a huge chocolatey, fun, mess. I did make some chocolate Easter eggs in the process…but mainly a mess. 😉 The finished eggs aren’t perfect and, it would of course have been ALOT easier to go into my local supermarket and just BUY eggs. But, where would the fun be in that?

 

Chocolate, especially making moulded chocolate has always frightened me. Haha – not literally – but, ‘What if it’s too hot?’ ‘What if it’s too cold?’ ‘What if water gets into it?’ (Chocolate and water DO NOT mix!) ‘What if it just won’t come out of the mould?’ So many concerns! And, as it turned out, it was fine!

Chocolate, needs to be at the right ‘temper’ (don’t we all!) to ensure a lovely glossy sheen, a perfect ‘snap’ when you break into it, and to stop the chocolate ‘blooming’ (when fat and/or sugar can rise to the surface – which is still safe to eat, but just makes it look unsightly.) Ideally, I would have a fantastic ‘tempering machine’ at my disposal (quite a bit of cost in that!) Second to that, I would try and use a microwave to slowly melt the chocolate to the right temperatures/consistency…however our’s recently broke, and is yet to be replaced.  So, I used the the ‘Bain-Marie’ method. This ‘Instructables’ tempering guide clearly shows the step-by-step process, and the temperatures required. And, as long as you stick to these – it really is that easy.

 

Top Tip 1! Bowls. I actually used plastic (instead of glass or metal) – to try and ensure the actual bowl didn’t ‘keep’the the temperature up too hot once off the heat, so it would cool down much quicker.

 

Top Tip 2! Lakeland have a great device that I used – a ‘Thermospatula‘ – a silicone spatula and thermometer combined – perfect!

 

Once the chocolate was tempered, I poured the chocolate into the egg moulds and swirled/twisted them around to ensure all areas were coated. I then repeated this process to ensure the eggs would be thick enough – too thin and they could easily crack when coming out! Once all coated, it was into the fridge for five minutes. The chocolate doesn’t take long to set – and if tempered correctly, as the chocolate re-forms into a solid mass, it will slightly shrink away from the mould, allowing it to easily come out. Luckily for me, this did actually happen – a slight ‘tap’, and out they came, and as hoped – with a lovely shiny finish. If they don’t come out that easily – a quick blast in the freezer can sometimes help!

Top Tip 3! Once each of the ‘half eggs’ are out of the moulds – I used a heated tray straight from the oven… gently resting the egg halves on here, to slightly re-melt the edges before putting together. Et voila, one whole egg!

 

The finished result – I am happy that they do actually look like eggs (not sure what else they would look like!) – but I have learnt a few things:

1. It isn’t hard, or scary. Working with chocolate is alot easier than you think – and importantly, fun! I’d highly recommend anyone to give this a go! It doesn’t have to be Easter themed – there are a whole multitude of moulds, in all shapes and sizes out there to try! And joking aside – it wasn’t THAT messy, just a few bowls/moulds to wash up! 🙂

 

2. You need to work quickly with chocolate – I poured the tempered chocolate into the moulds, and didn’t swirl it around into the egg shape quickly enough – so the chocolate started to set – and allowed for a few air holes in the eggs. A way to combat this? I should have banged the mould gently on the work surface to bring these air bubbles to the top – and out of the chocolate – before setting, but I didn’t, so there are a few little air pockets here and there.

 

3.  Quantities? You need to work out just how much chocolate is required for your specific egg mould. I melted FAR too much. It’s ok – it will just have to be eaten 😉 – but next time – I will melt less (I melted 400g for these three eggs, added in around 150g in the tempering process – and probably only used around two thirds.) Anyone out there with some ‘top tips’ for measuring what is required?

Next year’s attempt will be to try patterned eggs! Dark, milk and white, filled with sweeties, little gifts – the ideas are endless.

Now, all that there is left to do… is eat! Happy Easter everyone!

 

Categories: Easter, The Crafty Lass does...

Top 5… Traditional Egg Decorations!

Did you know, that actually the Easter eggs tradition didn’t start with chocolate…? Behind the rows and rows of commercialised packaging, brands and more sugary treats than you can shake a chocolate stick at – are symbols of fertility, rebirth and new life. The tradition of giving and receiving eggs goes back hundreds of years and good old UK chocolate brand Cadbury explains all with ‘The Story of Easter and Easter Eggs’ HERE.

I love chocolate, don’t get me wrong (who doesn’t?) and Easter is a great excuse to have chocolate for breakfast – but I remember as a child always having boiled eggs on Easter Sunday morning, and loved nothing more than getting all my feltip pens out and drawing pretty patterns on the shells afterwards!

So, whatever the reasons behind the egg tradition – and I am certainly looking forward to some chocolately delights on Sunday – but here are my Top 5 egg decorations – the more traditional way…

 

1. Love colour? Have some patience and time on your hands? How about creating some ‘Pantone‘ eggs as here on How About Orange?

 

2. Simple, but effective – are these ‘Oodles of Doodles‘ pastel coloured eggs from Pattern Stitch Blog, that look great! Or, get inspiration from her previous year designs in minimalist black and white! Go wild with edible pens and creating your own wacky doodles!

 

3. Now when is there a time in life when glitter doesn’t improve everything?! Why not try these Glitter dipped eggs from ‘Frugal Mom Eh!‘. Bright, sparkly and fun!

 

4. Living at Home has this great idea of just simply decorating using tapes wrapped around in vibrant colours! (use Google Translate to turn German – English, simples!)

 

5. Lastly, but not leastly – these beautiful and intricately designed eggs by The Caroline Johansson add a further touch of inspiration by adding on a little hook – which you could then hang up on a tree!

 

There are hundreds, thousands of ideas out there! While searching, I came across ‘Minion’ eggs, ‘Super Mario’ eggs, simply dyed, painted, metallic, wax resist… go wild and unleash your imagination!

 

P.S. Ok, I know I said ‘Top 5’ but I couldn’t resist also adding a link to these ‘eggcellent’ (sorry) Disney themed cuties!

 

 

Categories: Easter, Top 5

The Crafty Lass does… Easter ‘Egg and Soldiers’!

Are you having friends and family over for dinner this Easter? And need an interesting dessert? Well, look no further than this scrummy delight of ‘Egg and Soldiers’!

I made this last year for a post-Sunday-roast-pud, and it went down a storm! Even serving it in empty egg cups/boxes, for extra presentation points! 😉

I was inspired originally by Raspberri Cupcakes – where she makes these, and with such beautiful photos and ideas – I couldn’t resist giving it a try for myself!

I used ‘Kinder’ eggs as the outer shell – perfect size, and actually, on the day I was hunting for hollow chocolate Easter eggs – after four separate supermarket visits – they were the only ones anywhere had!! This was Easter Saturday and everywhere was sold out! However, they worked just perfectly in the end… Our nephew especially loving it – as he got SIX Kinder surprises!

Gently taking off the top, without cracking the main part of the egg was the hardest part…

Top Tip! Leave the foil wrapper on, and put the eggs in the freezer for around 10-15 minutes to slightly harden the chocolate before gently carving off the top with a sharp, ideally serrated knife… Just be gentle! 🙂

For the ‘egg white’, I used a ‘Nigella community recipe’ – Quick Vanilla Cheesecake – (it really does do what it says on the tin and is quick and simple)…and then, just simply spooned into the eggs. Ideally, I would have piped it in – which of course you could do, if you have the time/a piping bag/nossle to hand! Then – simply pop into the fridge for around an hour or so, or until slightly set. Using an empty egg box to put them in is ideal at this stage – as it ensures the ‘eggs’ stay upright whilst setting!

 

The ‘yolk’ was made from a fresh and juicy mango and around a tablespoon of caster sugar. I cubed a whole mango into a saucepan, added in the sugar and heated gently until a slightly thicker, and gloriously yellow puree, before allowing to cool. For the six eggs I made – I had quite abit of coulis left over, which I had the following day with ice-cream (just like a Solero!) So, maybe adjust to however you see fit… I am sure it’ll still get eaten if any left! 😉

 

Whilst the cheesecakes were setting, and the mango cooling – I made the amazing shortbread. It is a Jamie Oliver recipe – and the clue is in the name… The Best Shortbread in the World from his book ‘Cooking with Jamie‘. I can’t find an ‘official’ link for it, but here it is on one of Jamie’s forums.  It takes a little longer than ‘normal’ shortbread, but it is thick, buttery, crumbly, sugar coated amazing-ness. It makes the kitchen smell truly fantastic!!

 

Once the cheesecake was set, I simply spooned out a small part in the centre (reserve, and eat later!), poured in the coulis – and ‘et voila’!

Then, served up in egg cups and/or boxes – with the ‘soldiers’ on the side.

Enjoy! Let me know if you give it a go!

Categories: Easter, Sweet Tooth Scrumptious Stuff!, The Crafty Lass does...

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