Easter Dates

These sweet treats are so easy and fun to make. A delicious chocolate layer around a sticky date (which tastes just like caramel), stuffed with nut butter – this treat is reminiscent of a snickers bar, but the quality ingredients make it so much better! You can customise them to your taste using your favourite chocolate, nut butter and decorations. I’ve gone for a white chocolate drizzle here, but crushed hazelnuts or desiccated coconut make delicious decorations. Or try some Achill Island flakey sea salt to offset the sweetness of the dates? I’d love to see your re-creations. Tag us on social media or share in the comments below.

Liz x

Ingredients

  • Pitted dates
  • Your choice of nut or seed butter (we stock peanut, almond, hazelnut and tahini works well here too – or you can make your own nut butter, it’s easy! Simply blend roasted nuts or seeds into butter with a pinch of salt. We sell organic nuts and seeds in compostable bags here.)
  • Your choice of chocolate (we stock a really good range of ethically sourced, organic chocolates here.)
  • Your choice of toppings or decorations eg white chocolate, crushed nuts, desiccated coconut, sea salt flakes

Method

  1. Gently melt chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pot of water. Place a sheet of baking parchment on a tray or chopping board.
  2. Open up a date and stuff it with a 1/2 tsp or so of nut butter. Close the date up again.
  3. Dunk the stuffed date in the bowl of melted chocolate. Use two small forks to turn the date over a few times to get it completely coated in chocolate. Then remove the date with a fork and place on the baking parchment.
  4. Repeat until you have made as many Easter dates as you like. Now, while the chocolate is still wet, you can quickly decorate the dates with some sprinkles of salt/nuts/coconut or a drizzle of white chocolate.
  5. Allow the chocolate to completely set in a cool place. Then enjoy! Pack into little Easter baskets to share with friends or bring along to a coffee date. They should stay fresh in an airtight container in the fridge for 4 days.

Hot Cross Buns

How is it the Easter holidays already? The kids have only just been back at school for a few moments! Well here we are and what is Easter without toasted sticky, spiced, fruity buns slathered in lots of butter? Here’s my plant based recipe. Sure it takes a while to make, but most of that time is just waiting for the dough to rise. These will keep you and the kids busy for a least one day over the Easter holidays anyway. Liz x

Ingredients (makes 12 buns)

  • 120g sultanas
  • 1 orange
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 300ml milk (I use oat milk)
  • 50g butter (I use a dairy free butter)
  • 500g strong white bread flour (plus about 60g extra for making the paste for the crosses)
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 7g yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar mixed into a syrup with a little water (or maple syrup) for glazing

Method

Measure out the sultanas and spices into a small bowl. Add the zest and juice of the orange. If your orange is very large, just use half the juice. Mix well and allow the sultanas to soak up the orange juice and spices.

Measure the milk and butter into a small pan and gently heat it to melt the butter. Allow it to cool to a touchable temperature while you measure out the flour, sugar, salt and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Mix the dry ingredients well then pour in the warm milk and butter and mix with your hand into a rough, sticky dough.

Tip the dough onto a clean work surface then knead well for about 5 minutes until you have a smooth, stretchy ball of dough. Don’t be tempted to add more flour, just keep kneading until it all comes together. Then pop the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover it with a clean tea towel and allow it to rise and double in size. This should take about an hour in a warm place.

When the dough has doubled in size, stretch it out onto a clean work surface and spread over all of the juicy, spicy sultana mixture. Then roll it up and give the dough an extra knead to incorporate the ingredients. Put the dough back in the bowl to rise again for another hour or so in a warm spot.

Once the dough has doubled in size again, take it out and divide it in 12 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into neat balls and put them on a lined baking sheets. I space mine out onto two sheets because my oven doesn’t bake evenly so I like to give them room for the hot air to circulate. If your oven is good you can place them together on one large baking sheet, just leave a couple of cm between each one to allow them space to rise. Cover them with the tea towel and allow them to rise for about 45 minutes.

Once the buns have risen, mix about 60g of flour with just enough water to make a paste (aim for the texture of toothpaste). Then spoon the paste into a piping bag and pipe crosses over the buns. You could do other designs too if you like? Signs of spring like eggs, flowers, bunnies or lambs… Then put the buns into a preheated oven at 200C (fan) for 15 to 20 minutes until the buns are golden brown.

*If the buns are looking a bit dry, spray them with a little water just before they go in the oven. Most of the rise will happen in the oven now so you don’t want them to form a crust before having a chance to rise and get fluffy inside.

When the buns are cooked, removed them from the oven and brush them with syrup while they are still hot. I simply mix a couple of tbsps of brown sugar with enough boiling water to make a syrup. You could use maple syrup or warmed, sieved apricot jam instead. Then allow them to cool before eating. They are fantastic still warm and fresh from the oven or if you are eating them the next day they are great toasted. Happy Easter!