Sunday 31 March 2013

Lime Cheesecake Easter Eggs, Hot Cross Buns and Craft

This Easter was busy and chaotic.  It was so full of crazy experiments that I forgot to make my usual nut roast for Sunday lunch.  Ah well, we had Easter egg pizza, hot-cross-bun styled dessert pizza, vegan lime cheesecake filled Easter eggs, stodgy orange-infused hot cross buns and pom pom Easter bunny craft!  We had fun.

To start with let me give you a little list of some memorable moments this Easter:
  • Sylvia calling me "Mama N O".  This was because I spent a lot of time saying "N O spells no".  I suspect it came from telling her not to eat all the chocolate and hot cross buns about the kitchen.  (At least I am not a "nasty robber" which is what she reserves for people she really dislikes.)
  • E and Sylvia attending their first Easter vigil mass.  I was pleased to share it with them because I have fond childhood memories of the drama of the fire outside the church bringing light into the darkness.
  • Eating our Easter egg pizza while we watched Pinocchio.
  • Having fun with Sylvia drawing Easter eggs for the blog photos.  After we finished the photo, she blue-takked them to the kitchen cupboard doors.
  • Sylvia lining up her little chairs in the loungeroom to make a train for her dolls.  She was the driver, of course.
  • Watching George Gently on tv with E and my parents after Easter mass.

I am sorry to say that my hot cross buns were not a highlight of this Easter.  The weather had cooled and I didn't read the recipe.  They should have sat in the fridge overnight but I was determined to bake my hot cross buns on Good Friday.  Perhaps a little sweetener might have helped them rise.  I just liked the idea of orange zest and spice infused milk (because Sylvia doesn't like peel) but common sense tells me I should have just applied this idea to last year's hot cross bun recipe.  The end result was very tasty but rather stodgy.  I have written my recipe notes below for future reference.

My other experiment on Good Friday was to make Ricki's vegan GF Chocolate covered cheesecake Easter eggs.  This is an area that is far more challenging than yeast baking.  When Sylvia begged me to buy Easter egg moulds in the supermarket, they seemed a perfect way to make this recipe just a little easier.

I am not sure that it was a good move to decide to make one and a half the quantity of Ricki's recipe.  She said it made 6 to 8 eggs and I thought this might not be enough to take to my family Easter lunch.  I think I used far less filling for each egg (mine were halves after all) and after making 20 we still have three or four times the mixture left.  It also meant that it took me three lots of mixture in my little blender attachment for my hand held blender to blend the whole lot.  And even then it wasn't as creamy as I suspect Ricki intended.  It was creamy with just a slight graininess.

Sylvia loved helping.  It was fun.  I still remember helping my mum make Christmas chocolates as a teenager.  We did get quite messy.  Which is part of the fun.  Well you have to taste.

I used limes instead of lemons.  At first I thought the filling too sweet.  Some years ago I came across the idea of adding nutritional yeast flakes to vegan cream cheese filling.  It makes sense.  This gives that slight savoury tang to the "cream cheese".  Then E thought the filling wasn't sweet enough.  The chocolate we used wasn't as bitter as I intended because the supermarket didn't have the one I wanted.  Once the filling was in chocolate it was soft and sweet enough.

I took the easter eggs out of the moulds in the middle of another activity.  I can't remember what but I do remember that I would have preferred to have more time to trim the edges.  Perhaps banging the chocolate down to avoid air bubbles might help helped too.  Nevertheless they looked pretty and tasted good.

So here is a gratuitous photo of Dolly with the photo background that we decorated with Easter eggs pictures.  The shape for the eggs came from the packaging for the moulds.  But what I really need to tell you is that I used some of the leftover cheesecake filling for an excellent dessert pizza.  I mixed a bit more coconut milk with some cheesecake filling to make it easier to spread over the dough.  Then I sprinkled choc chips, thinly sliced plums and some Viennese Christmas sugar.  It was most excellent.  For fun I left a cross in the middle so it looked like a hot cross bun.  (See top collage for pizza photos.  Pizza made with fast track dough.)

Sylvia and I wrapped some easter eggs for her cousins but rather than make our little [craft kit] pom pom Easter bunnies for each kid, I thought it might be good to do it as a craft activity.  It was rather chaotic.  Getting bunny ears to stick to a pom pom is quite challenging.  (Kudos to Ella who seemed to get it.)  While the kids were doing the craft, my parents hid the Easter eggs so they could do an Easter egg hunt.  More mayhem.  Plus a birthday cake, footy fever, quizes and stories from a Fiji holiday.

My mum made a roast dinner for Easter Sunday lunch.  She made sure the vegetarians were catered for with a delicious roast beetroot and carrot dish with goats cheese.  The highlight of the lunch was Fast Ed's Triple Chocolate Cheesecake (from Better Homes and Gardens) that my mum and my brother's girlfriend made.  It was truly amazing. 

After seeing all the decadence of the weekend, you will understand why I came home tonight and made a stew based on this Tomato Lentil Soup.  However there is plenty of cheesecake mixture left.  I am considering making some extra Easter eggs with it.  After all, it is healthier than the rest of the Easter eggs we brought home with us.

I am sending these Easter eggs back to Ricki for her Wellness Weekends.  Thanks Rick for inspiring me to finally try my hand at some Easter eggs.

Previously on Green Gourmet Giraffe:
One year ago: WW Skye's tomato and pumpkin curry and copyright issues
Two years ago:  New Kitchen, Old Stuff
Three years ago: Eat Drink Blog Conference - notes and reflections
Five years ago: Easter Nut Roast

Lime cheesecake filled easter eggs
Adapted from Diet Dessert and Dogs
makes about 20 half eggs

1 1/2 heaping cup (250 g) raw natural cashews
1/4 cup (60ml) full-fat coconut milk 
3 tbsp (30 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp (30ml) coconut sugar
1 tbsp (15ml) nutritional yeast flakes
1 1/2 tsp (7ml) whole chia seeds, finely ground 
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract (I didn't use but might in future)
zest of 2 limes
pinch salt
750g dark chocolate

Soak cashews overnight.  Drain and whizz with remaining ingredients (except chocolate) in a powerful food processor.  (Mine doesn't quite make the smooth and creamy it should but is close enough for jazz.)

Melt chocolate in small amounts (about 100g at a time).  Line silicone Easter egg moulds with chocolate.  Leave in fridge for an hour or so and then fill with cheesecake filling.  Cover with chocolate.  Return to the fridge for a few hours.  Pop out of moulds.  (If you don't have these moulds then you could either roll chilled filling into balls or chill in a square tin and cut into blocks, and then dip in melted chocolate.)

I only used 250g chocolate so I have guessed you might need 750g but am not sure this is quite the right proportions.  If you have less chocolate than filling, you can use the filling on a dessert pizza or to swirl in brownies.

Orange-infused Hot Cross Buns (work in progress)
Adapted from Nigella (with a little help from my previous recipe)
makes 20 buns

300 ml milk
50 g butter or margarine
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup water
zest of 1 orange
1 star anise
5 cloves
2 cardamom pods
[perhaps could add 1 tbsp sweetener]
500 g bread flour
100g soy flour
200g wholemeal flour
3 tbsp chia seeds
14g dried yeast
300g dried fruit (I used sultanas and cranberries)
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger

1 to 1 1/2 cups plain flour
at least 1/2 cup water

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 tsp mixed spice

Heat ingredients through to cardomom pods in a small saucepan until the butter melts.  Cool to lukewarm.  Remove and discard spices.

Add remaining ingredients.  [NOTE: I added heaps of liquid here and it was still quite a stiff dough.  Perhaps more liquid is needed or if it turns out that it is too wet some more flour would be needed.]  Knead for about 10 minutes until soft and smooth.  I did this in two lots because I doubled the original recipe and there was a lot to knead.

[NOTE: in recipe said to lead overnight but I didn't.]  Cover and rise 1 hour.  Knead briefly.  Cover and rise another hour or two (I did two because the room was cold and the dough wasn't rising much.)  Divide dough into 20 pieces and place in roasting dish to rise about 30-45 minutes (I think I did this for an hour or two while Sylvia had bath and I made dinner.  Still no rising.)  Meanwhile preheat oven.

Mix up the dough for the crosses til you have a paste.  Pipe (I used a ziplock bag with corner cut off - too much corner was cut off) the crosses across the buns.  Bake at 220 C for 20 - 40 minutes until browned and hollow when tapped.  (It took me 40 minutes til they were golden brown.)  Heat glaze ingredients in a small saucepan til sugar is dissolved just before buns come out of oven.  Carefully remove hot buns til a teatowel covered wire rack.  Brush buns with glaze over and over til no glaze is left.

On the stereo:
Tigermilk - Belle and Sebastian


  1. I think if I had molds like that, I'd make stuffed chocolate eggs all the time. Would you recommend that recipe? I've had it bookmarked for a while, too!

    1. Thanks Janet - the moulds made it really easy to do - actually we made more with leftover filling tonight and they were so quick. I definitely recommend the recipe - should make it clearer in the post - they are so much nicer than cheap sugary easter eggs and you only need one (or maybe two) to feel very satisfied

  2. Oh, wow, yours are SO pretty! Now I want to go out and get myself some molds. :) Hope you all enjoyed your Easter with eggs, pizza and those hot cross buns. . . still waiting to try those!

    1. Thanks Ricki - the easter egg moulds were serendipitous as I was thinking of making the recipe anyway. I think they meant I used more chocolate to filling than I might have if I dipped them in melted chocolate like you did but still very yummy

  3. Happy Easter Johanna - it looks like you've had a lovely time with family. I love the look of your homemade eggs and that filling sounds great. I must try soaking cashews - one of the few nuts I'm ok with!

    1. Thanks Caroline - cashews are so sweet and creamy - I think my cashews didn't get quite as soft as ricki's because I don't have such a powerful blender but it is still quite yummy (and they work great in a vegan cheese sauce if you ever have the urge to try cashews that way)

  4. I must confess to giggling at your hot cross buns, but I am sure they tasted wonderful despite their appearance - and I have nothing but praise for your cheesecake eggs, which look and sound fantastic. I love that you used lime instead of lemon, and agree on the benefits of nutritional yeast in creamy fillings.

    It sounds like a busy but enjoyable Easter, and hopefully today gives you time to recover from the busy side without losing the enjoyment!

    1. Thanks Kari - I love thick crosses on hot cross buns but the ones this year were crazy - in fact it felt like the cross was the star of the show with a little bun on the side! Limes have been cheap which is why I used them. And we did relax more on Easter Monday

  5. Look at that cheesecake! If it's any consolation, my buns were a bit solid this year too (and I went to a friend's place this morning and she'd made some real shockers!) so maybe there's something in the air. And there's always next year...

    1. Thanks Lucy - I think solid home made buns are better than some of the light as a feather supermarket hot cross buns - I am quite enjoying mine even though they weren't the bonniest buns!

  6. I love these little eggs - so cute. And your Easter anecdotes made me laugh. Hope you had a great Easter Johanna!

    1. Thanks cakelaw - nothing like a bit of laughter at easter - I had a good easter thanks (except when I deleted a paragraph of this post by mistake but that is a problem I can live with)

  7. Wow you've been so busy haven't you! Not a day off for you but such delicious results. I love Sylvia's ultimate insult too-very cute! :D

    1. Thanks Lorraine - it is busy in a good sort of way - and sylvia is developing a great sense of humour - we have such fun laughing!

  8. Damn your Easter looked delicious! I'm so jealous. I wish we had of had an Easter party. Love how you get the kids involved. Looks like so much fun!

    1. Thanks Cass - when our family gets together it is like a party :-)

  9. Boo about the HCBs! I didn't make any this year as we had family over for dinner on Good Friday and I was cooking other things. The eggs look great and I'm sure they were fun to make with Sylvia. The "nasty robber" term is funny, where did that come from?

    1. Thanks Mel - I finished my hot cross buns today and am actually missing them now because I love them for breakfast - hope you got some fun cooking done over easter. Not sure where the nasty robber term came from but it makes me laugh


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