Chocolate buns for Easter treats

In my last post I mentioned that I had recently received some cupcake cases and Easter picks in a gift, from the Baking Mad website. Yesterday I decided it was time to press them into use:

I pinched an excellent recipe from Karen Burns Booth (of the beautiful Lavender and Lovage website), courtesy of a cookbook I got at Christmas. Karen’s cakes feature on the front cover of the book:

Her recipe is for Karen’s Little Chocolate and Violet Fancies which end up looking like the above, quite exquisite. This is her recipe:

Mine weren’t quite up to Karen’s high standard, and as I wanted to use my new cake cases and Easter picks, they ended up looking like this:

I didn’t have any violets or violet sugar, and I fancied using Earl Grey tea, so I tweaked the recipe and ended up with Earl Grey Chocolate Buns.

From my youth I remember that my mum always called this sort of individual cake a ‘bun’, as opposed to a ‘fairy cake’ or a ‘cupcake’ (I don’t think that word was known in Scotland until fairly recently) or indeed a ‘muffin’ (which, to Brits, is something quite different from the large cakey delight known across the pond).

A few days ago, before I had decided to borrow Karen’s recipe, I was thinking about what sort of cakes to put into my new cake cases and liked the idea of making them chocolate flavoured, but with a little surprise inside.

When I saw these creme filled chocolate eggs in my local supermarket, I thought they’d do for the surprise:

It seemed a pity to remove the pretty foil wrappings, but I don’t think they’d have improved the taste of the cakes:

After putting cake mix into a batch of cake cases I squidged an egg into each one:

Then I stuck another blob of cake mix on top of each egg:

I put too much cake mix in each cake case and so the buns overflowed a bit:

To my mind there’s nothing wrong with a cake that’s a bit on the large side, so I acceped their burgeoning girths, slapped on the icing and threw on a scattering of decorations while whistling a merry tune:

Once the icing was on I planted plant Easter flags and declared the cakes ready for consumption:

I was interested to see how the creme filled eggs inside might have been affected by baking, and was pleased to find that they had remained intact:

The creme was still very much as it had been in its pre-baked condition, and the thin chocolate outer layer had begun to melt nicely:

I made a total of 16 cakes using the recipe above. Most of them have gone into the freezer, where I hope they will survive all right with their ganache icing, but if they come out looking a bit the worse for wear I could perhaps bung them into an ovenproof dish and make them into a hot chocolate pudding.

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A little trip to Tibet

Yesterday dawned wet and misty in Perthshire, and it put me in the mood for a trip to the remote area of Eskdalemuir, in Dumfries and Galloway.

Eskdalemuir is the name given to both an area and a small village, and is famous for its meteorological observatory and its Tibetan Buddhist monastery.

It was the monastery that interested me on this occasion, because I had been wanting to take my delightful assistants there for some time. They visited it in the 1960s when it was only just being established, but they hadn’t seen it as the working monastery and retreat centre it is today.

Since it’s a fair distance from Perthshire, we stopped en route at one of my favourite tearooms and took tea/coffee and freshly baked fruit scones:

I think the scones had just come out of the oven when we arrived, because I saw them sitting on a baking tray and they were still warm when they came to the table. They had also been sprinkled with flour, something I find very appealing:

Our snacks kept us going until we got down to the Tibetan monastery, which has its own tearoom, where we took our lunch:

The tearoom menu is vegetarian and,  surprisingly to me, doesn’t serve any of the monastery’s own produce. The food on offer consists of pasties, pastries, cakes and toasties, although they grow all sorts of vegetables and herbs in their garden on site.  Every time I visit I wonder why they don’t serve lovely fresh salads from their garden in the tearoom. We chose pasties, and the spinach and ricotta one was particularly good:

The tearoom is very brightly decorated with an exotic feel to it:

The delightful assistants appear to have been cock-a-hoop with the place:

After tea/juice and pasties, we went to visit the temple, where the Mahakala Prayers were underway. Visitors are free to enter and leave the temple during this time and it makes for an interesting experience, as the monks chant and play various instruments, including drums, cymbals and some sort of trumpet.

I didn’t take any photos inside the temple, but this is what it looks like from the outside:

We left our shoes outside on racks outside very elaborate doors:

All round the monastery grounds there were little shrines with candles, coins and odd items left as offerings:

This one had a few quite surprising items, including an onion and some wrapped sweets:

There’s a lot to look at in the monastery grounds, including an impressive stupa with flags, and a corridor of prayer wheels behind it:

It wasn’t perhaps the best of weathers for visiting, but the Peace Garden is always a tranquil and beautiful place:

Apart from the occasional squawk of a peacock:

Toodleoo Buddhas – until next time!