Gluten Free Fondant Fancy Cupcakes (Inspired by ‘The Great British Bake Off’)

Today I’m going to share with you my Gluten Free Fondant Fancy Cupcakes recipe which is inspired by the showstopper challenge from the Semi Final of ‘The Great British Bake Off’.

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Last week’s show saw the remaining four bakers battling it out over Patisserie for a place in final, but sadly Selasi didn’t make the cut. He might not have made it to the final, but he did win over the hearts of the nation and I will definitely miss him during this week’s show. Speaking of this week, the final will be a very bittersweet occasion, as although I am excited to see who wins, I am sad that this is the last episode of GBBO as we know it.

What I’m going to miss most is how the show has inspired me to bake things I’d never thought of trying – this includes fondant fancies, which were featured on last week’s show.

I used to love Fondant Fancies and seeing them on the show has made me feel super nostalgic – I remember having them at my Grandma’s house when I was little and how I always would choose the pink ones, because I liked them best!

I will admit though, Fondant Fancies looked incredibly difficult and fiddly to make, so I decided to go for a more simple approach. My Fondant Fancy cupcakes are much a easier to achieve, but they are every bit as delicate, dainty and delicious as the fondant fancies I remember.

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These cupcakes would be lovely served at afternoon tea or a birthday party and are sure to impress, despite being deceptively simple.

Gluten Free Fondant Fancy Cupcakes

Makes approximately 16 small cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes:

150g softened butter (or dairy free alternative)
150g caster sugar
150g gluten free self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp milk (or dairy free alternative)

For the buttercream:

100g softened butter (or dairy free alternative)
100g icing sugar

For the fondant icing:

300g ready to roll icing
50ml cold water
A few drops of pink food colouring

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C/gas mark 3 then line two cupcake trays with 16 cupcake cases.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Add a tablespoon of flour, then beat in the eggs a little bit a time before sifting in the remaining flour and baking powder. Add the milk, then beat the ingredients together with the electric hand mixer until combined.

4. Spoon two teaspoons of mixture into each cupcake case, being careful not to overfill them. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and firm to touch.

5. Leave the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack. To make the buttercream, beat the butter with an electric hand mixer until it’s very light and fluffy. Add the icing sugar and continue to beat until all the ingredients are combined, then transfer the buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a medium plain nozzle.

6. Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe a blob of buttercream onto each cupcake then place them in freezer to firm up while you make the fondant icing.

7. Cut the ready to roll icing into pieces and place them in a large bowl. Add a splash of water and using a spatula start to break up the icing until it starts to become more paste like. Add the rest of the water and beat with an electric hand mixer until the fondant becomes more runny.

8. Save a couple of tablespoons of the white icing to decorate the top of the cupcakes. Add a couple of drops of pink food colouring to the remaining icing and mix until the fondant turns a light pink colour.

9. Remove the cupcakes from the freezer. Spoon a little of the pink fondant icing over each cupcake, then use a palate knife to spread out the icing making sure that the buttercream is covered.

10. Put the left over white icing into a piping bag fitted with a small writing nozzle. Pipe the icing across the top in a zig zag pattern.

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Gluten Free Churros (Inspired by ‘The Great British Bake Off’)

Over the past week there has been an uproar over the news that the BBC has lost the rights to host ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and that as of the next series it’s new home will be channel 4, after they paid double the amount than the BBC had offered to take the show. Mel and Sue stepped down from hosting the show saying that they are ‘not going with the dough’ and today Mary Berry has also announced that she will be exiting the show, leaving fans worried about the future of their favourite programme  – it’s been more dramatic than series 5, when Ian dumped his Baked Alaska in the bin!

I, for one, am absolutely gutted that this is the end of Bake Off as we know it, but I have a huge amount of respect for Mel, Sue & Mary for not selling out. I don’t know whether I will continue to watch the show over on channel 4, but I am determined to enjoy every second of the current series, while it lasts.

To help cheer everyone up, today I’m going to share my Gluten Free Churros Recipe, inspired by the showstopper challenge from this year’s Batter Week.

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Batter week saw the bakers tackle stuffed Yorkshire puds, delicate lacey Pancakes and a simple Spanish street food called Churros, out of which they were expected to create a spectacular showstopper.

To achieve perfect Churros the bakers were tasked with making a choux pastry like dough that would be soft enough to pipe, but firm enough to keep its distinctive shape during frying. The Churros also had to be crisp on the outside and cooked to perfection on the inside, so it was essential to get the oil at the right temperature otherwise you may end up with uncooked dough inside… oh, and they had to be uniform in size!

Last year I worked a lot on perfecting my gluten free choux pastry, so as I already had a recipe which I thought would work, I decided I would give Churros a try.

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My Churros plan – does anyone else make notes whilst watching bake off?

It took a few attempts to find the perfect balance of ingredients. I made my first batch of dough following my gluten free choux pastry recipe, but the result was a dough that was slightly too soft – perfect for choux buns, but not stiff enough to keep its shape in hot oil.

My second batch was much better as I used less egg which helped to give the dough a much firmer consistency. I also discovered that the pinch of baking powder I’d added to my choux pastry recipe was not required for Churros as it made them puff up and split during frying.

Getting the oil to the right temperature without a deep fat fryer was tricky, although not impossible – it’s a good idea to do a few testers first and adjust the temperature accordingly. I also found I had better success piping the Churros straight into the pan (as opposed to piping them onto parchment paper) which is fine as long as you don’t mind them not being uniform!

I’m pleased to say that once I had ironed out all these issues, the result was Churros which were beautifully crispy and light and fluffy on the inside.

imageI recommend eating them fresh as they don’t keep all that well. I served mine with a rich chocolate dipping sauce and together I think they would make a fantastically unique dessert for a dinner party.

Gluten Free Churros with Chocolate Dipping Sauce 

Ingredients

For the Churros:

60g gluten free self-raising flour

1 tbsp caster sugar

55g unsalted butter

110ml cold water

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Churro coating:

1 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp caster sugar

Plus 1-litre sunflower oil for frying the Churros.

For the chocolate dipping sauce:

100g good quality milk or dark chocolate

100ml double cream

1 tbsp golden syrup

Method

1. Place a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low to medium heat, then add the water, sugar and butter and bring the ingredients to a gentle simmer.

2. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the heat and quickly beat in the flour until all the ingredients come together in a smooth ball. It’s important to cook out all the flour, so if you can still see some flour keeping beating.

3. Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and beat it gently for a few seconds with a wooden spoon to help release some steam – this will help the mixture to cool down.

4. In small bowl whisk the egg to break up the yolk.

5. Once the pastry mixture is cool, add the vanilla extract and then the egg a bit at a time whilst beating with an electric hand mixer – don’t add the egg whilst the mixture is hot or you will end up with scrambled eggs!

6. At first the mixture will look a little bit lumpy but keep beating and adding the egg bit by bit until it becomes a smooth and stiff dough.

7. Transfer the mixture to piping bag fitted with a star nozzle then  place the dough in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.

8. Meanwhile, slowly heat up the oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat while you make the chocolate sauce.

9. To make the chocolate dipping sauce, together the chocolate, cream and golden syrup slowly in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Gently stir until all the ingredients together, then set aside the sauce to cool.

10. Once the dough has chilled, you can fry your churros – you’ll know the oil is ready when the surface starts to shimmer.

To double check the temperature of the oil, test a little bit of the mixture and adjust the heat accordingly. If it takes more than a few minutes for the dough to turn golden brown, your oil needs to be slightly hotter, but if the dough turns a deep golden brown after about 30 seconds it’s too hot and the oil needs to cool down slightly. The perfect Churros should be ready within 4 to 5 minutes and should be crispy.

Whatever you do, don’t leave leave the hot oil unattended at any point.

11. Pipe 3 to 4 Churros directly into the hot oil and use scissors to snip off each one. Don’t cook too many at once as this can reduce the temperature of the oil and your Churros will take longer to cook – the longer they take to cook means they are exposed to the oil for longer, this can make them soggy!

Fry each Churro for 4 to 5 minutes, turning them over occasionally with kitchen tongs to make sure they are cooked on all sides. Transfer them to kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil. Keep going until all the dough is used up.

12. Mix together your caster sugar and cinnamon, then roll each Churro in the mixture until they are coated.

13. Serve immediately accompanied with the chocolate dipping sauce.

 

Gluten Free Viennese Whirls (Inspired by ‘The Great British Bake Off’)

Bake Off is finally back on our TV screens, so queue the nationwide baking frenzie and attempts to recreate bakes from the show at home – sometimes with varing success!

This was certainly the case when I attempted to make a gluten free version of Viennese Whirls, the technical challenge from this year’s Biscuit Week.

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I discovered Mary Berry’s recipe on the BBC Food website and decided to give it a whirl (see what I did there?) – I thought a gluten free version would work quite well and that all I needed to do was change the flour… I was quite wrong!

I followed Mary’s recipe to the letter and all the the tips the bakers mentioned on the show, including insuring the butter was soft enough and chilling the whirls before baking. Unfortunately, they turned out a crumbly mess and I couldn’t even get them off the baking tray without them disintegrating into a million pieces

The recipe definitely required a few further tweaks to work gluten free, so it was back to the drawing board.

I think that the first attempt went wrong because the mixture was too soft and a bit oily which resulted in the mixture melting in oven, despite the fact that I’d chilled the whirls in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to baking.

On my second attempt I decided to use margarine instead of butter, which combatted some of the oiliness, and I added a touch more dry ingredients, which resulted in a firm but pipeable mixture. Again, I  chilled the whirls before baking which helped them to keep their shape.

This time they came out overbaked, which I think is due to the oven temperature being quite high in Mary’s recipe – if you don’t check the biscuits every 30 seconds after the first 13 minutes, you might accidentally overbake them and I definitely wouldn’t recommend leaving them for the full 15 minutes without checking them!

By the third attempt, I knew I had found the right balance of ingredients but decided to drop the oven temperature from 190 degrees to 180 to help to slow down any potential overbaking.

It was definitely third time lucky. The result was a whirl that had kept its shape, was golden but not over baked and was actually stable enough to get off baking tray and be filled. They also tasted delicious and melted in the mouth – heaven!

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Gluten Free Viennese Whirls

Recipe adapted from Mary Berry’s Viennese Whirl Recipe from ‘The Great British Bake Off’ found on the BBC Food website.

Ingredients

For the biscuits:

250g soft margarine (or dairy free alternative)

70g icing sugar

225g gluten free self raising flour

50g cornflour

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the filling:

Strawberry Jam (Mary’s recipe said Raspberry, but I prefer Strawberry)

100g unsalted butter (or dairy free alternative)

200g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/160 degrees C fan/gas mark 4.

2. Line 3 baking trays with baking paper, then use a 5cm cutter to draw 8 circles onto each sheet of paper, making sure they are well spaced out. Turn the paper over so the circles are underneath.

3. In large bowl, cream together the margarine, sugar and vanilla with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the gluten free flour and cornflour and beat with the hand mixer until all the ingredients are fully combined.

4. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a medium star nozzle – I like to use plastic disposable piping bags because I think they are easier to use.

5. Pipe 24 swirls inside the circles on the baking sheets. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for 10 – 15 minutes to help the swirls firm up before baking.

6. Bake for 13—15 minutes, until  pale golden-brown in colour. I reccomend checking them every 30 seconds after the first 13 minutes as the edges can catch and they can easily overbake.

7. Leave the whirls to cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes then transfer them to wire rack to cool completely.

8. To make the butter cream, beat the butter, icing sugar and vanilla extract with an electric hand mixer until light and fluffy and almost white in colour. Transfer into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle.

9. To decorate: Spoon a little jam onto the flat side of half of the biscuits, then pipe a swirl of buttercream over the top. Place a biscuit on top of each one to create a sandwich, then dust with a little icing sugar to finish.

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No Churn Raspberry and Mascarpone Ice Cream

After what has seemed like months of endless grey clouds and drizzle, the sun finally decided to grace the UK with its presence and Britain has just enjoyed a week of uncharacteristically warm weather, which some of us Brits are quite frankly not used to.

Despite the fact it has been uncomfortably hot at points, I have tried to make the most of the sunshine as it will be over all too soon and at the weekend I had my first (and probably last) barbecue of the year and made homemade ice cream.

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When I think of summer one of the first things that pops into my mind is ice cream. When I was a little girl my dad worked as an ice cream man and the summer holidays consisted of playing outside with my sisters, endless supplies of ice cream and ice lollies and the occasional trip out in the ice cream van, if I was good!

So, I’m sure you’ll understand why the hot weather meant that I just had to have ice cream and what could be a more perfect excuse to make my own? It’s also surprisingly  easy – it’s a no churn recipe, so you don’t need an ice cream machine but an electric whisk is always a good idea.

When it came to choosing flavours, I decided to use mascarpone cheese as a nod to my Dad (he’s Italian so it seemed like the perfect ingredient) and raspberry which is a lovely sharp contrast to the creamy mascarpone – this recipe is incredibly versatile though, so you can go to town creating tonnes of interesting flavour combinations!

No Churn Mascarpone And Raspberry Ice Cream

For the Raspberry Sauce:
125g fresh raspberries
1 tbsp caster sugar
25 ml cold water

For the Ice Cream:
250g cheese mascarpone, room temperature
397g can sweetened condensed milk
600 ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method: 

1. To make the raspberry sauce: place the raspberries, sugar and water into a food processor and blend to a puree. Push the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds then set it aside for later.

2. For the ice cream, soften the mascarpone cheese with an electric whisk until it is very soft, add the condensed milk and vanilla extract then whisk until the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks, gently fold through the condensed milk and mascarpone mixture without knocking too much volume from the cream, but ensuring that all the ingredients are combined.

3. Drizzle half of the raspberry sauce over the ice cream mixture but don’t fold it through. Spoon the mixture into a large freezable container and place in the freezer for at least 6 hours or overnight and refrigerate the remaining raspberry sauce.

4. Thaw the ice cream before serving with the remaining raspberry sauce.

Honey Roasted Chicken, Feta and Quinoa Salad with Sticky Sautéd Tomatoes

Today I’m going to share with you one of my most favourite creations, my Chicken, Feta and Quinoa Salad with Sticky Sautéd Tomatoes. This is a recipe which I come back to time and time again because it’s super easy to prepare and incredibly tasty.

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I made this for my sister on her most recent trip to London, I had offered to make us both lunch and wanted to serve something more interesting than your usual lunchtime fodder.

Personally I think this salad ticks all the boxes. For a start, there is not a bland lettuce leaf in sight which instantly makes it infinitely more appealing. The base of my salad is made up of quinoa, a grain which is a fantastic source of protein and dietary fibre, and if prepared in the right way can be incredibly flavoursome.

The rest of the ingredients are far from boring, the chicken breast is roasted in sweet and sticky honey which contrasts wonderfully to the salty feta and refreshing cucumber, but without a doubt the absolute star of this dish is my sticky sautéd tomatoes which I am completely obesessed with – you’ll know why, once you’ve tried them!

The salad is topped off with a handful of pomegranate seeds and a bunch of parsley… I tried to get some leaves in there, somewhere!

Honey Roasted Chicken, Feta and Quinoa Salad with Sticky Sautéd Tomatoes

Serves 2 – 3 

For the Salad:
120g Quinoa, rinsed (I used a mix of white/black/red quinoa)
500ml water, brought to the boil
1 chicken stock cube
400g diced chicken breast
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp honey
1/2 a cucumber, deseeded and chopped into half moon shapes.
50g Feta cheese
A bunch of fresh parsley
12 cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp caster sugar
A handful of pomegranate seeds (optional)

For the Dressing:
Lemon juice
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to season

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C/Gas mark 4.

2. Coat the chicken in olive oil and honey, then season it with black pepper.

3. Bake the chicken in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. To check the chicken is cooked, make sure the meat is white and that no pink remains.

4. Whilst the chicken is cooking, place the quinoa into pan of boiling water and crumble over a stock cube. Stir and reduce the pan to simmer, then cook for 15 minutes until the quinoa is soft.

5. Drain quinoa and leave it cool slightly.

6. To make the sticky tomatoes: heat up a dash of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook for a minute or two, until they start to become slightly wrinkly. Add the red wine vinegar and sugar, then stir to coat the tomatoes until they become sticky.

7. Serve your salad on a large serving plate. Start with the quinoa on the bottom, layer up the slices of cucumber, feta, chicken and tomatoes, then top with fresh parsley and pomegranate seeds.

8. Drizzle over olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. Season with black pepper and serve with wedge of lemon on the side.

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Gluten Free Easter: Carrot Cake Recipe

Today, I’m going to share with you my Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe – perfect for those of you who aren’t too keen on chocolate but still want something sweet to celebrate the Easter weekend.  
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I love Carrot cake, and whilst it isn’t necessarily thought of as a traditional Easter bake, I really can’t think of a better time of year to enjoy it. After all… Easter, Spring, Bunnies… it all makes sense really!

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This cake is really quite simple to make and keeps really well –  In fact, it tasted as good, if not better a few days later. It can also be kept at room temperature, although, if your house is a bit warm it may be best kept in the fridge.

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients

For the cake:
300g gluten free self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
200g grated carrots
50g walnuts, roughly chopped
175g light brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
150ml sunflower oil
3 large eggs

For the frosting:
2 x 180g tub philadelphia cheese
1 x 250g tub mascarpone cheese
4 tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Plus decorations, I used these House of Cake Carrot Sugar Decorations from Sainsbury’s.

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/gas mark 4 and grease and line a round 7″ tin with greaseproof paper.

2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and spices, then stir through the grated carrots and chopped walnuts.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, sunflower oil and maple syrup, then add this to the dry ingredients, mixing until the ingredients are just combined.

4. Spoon the ingredients into the prepared tin and then bake for 50 – 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted through the middle comes out clean.

5. Remove the cake from the tin and leave to cool completely before assembling. `

6. For the frosting, gently mix together the Philadelphia, Mascarpone and vanilla extract then gently fold through the icing sugar.

7. Carefully cut the cake into two halves using a sharp knife or cake cutting wire.

8. Place the base of the cake onto a serving plate, cover it with and even layer of frosting then place the second piece of cake on top. Spread remaining frosting across the top using a palate knife and finish off the cake with your chosen decorations.

I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend. If you are looking for any more Easter baking inspiration why not check out my Gluten Free Mini Egg Ice Cream recipe which can be found over on The Daily Spectacle website. It’s a no churn recipe and it can be prepared ahead – the perfect dessert for Easter Sunday Lunch.

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There are lots of other Easter recipes for you to try here on my blog too, including my Mini Egg Millionaire Shortbread, Chocolate Nest Cupcakes and Easter Sugar Cookies or you can see what else I get up to over the Easter weekend over on my Instagram or Facebook Page.

 

Gluten Free Easter: Mini Egg Millionaire Shortbread

It doesn’t feel like two minutes since Christmas, but March is here, Easter is almost upon us and I’m excited to be sharing with you my first Easter recipe of the year – Gluten Free Mini Egg Millionaire Shortbread.

imageI’m rather obsessed with Millionaire Shortbread and Mini Eggs are quite possibly my favourite Easter confectionary, so I just had to put them together in a bake!

I don’t know what I’d do if Mini Eggs weren’t gluten free, but they do contain Maltodextrin, which whilst being a gluten free ingredient can sometimes prove troublesome for Coeliacs. There are a couple of supermarket alternatives out there, however, which don’t contain maltodextrin, including ‘Micro Easter Eggs‘ from Sainsbury’s and ‘Chicky Choccy Eggs’ from M&S. ‘Galaxy Golden Eggs‘ are also gluten free and would create and interesting finish.

 

This bake would make a lovely treat for the children after a busy Easter Egg hunt and is the perfect way to use up any left over Mini Eggs after Easter!

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Ingredients

For the shortbread base:
275g gluten free self raising flour
175g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g caster sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 x 397g tin of condensed milk
100g unsalted butter
100g dark brown sugar

For the chocolate layer:
200g dark chocolate
100g milk chocolate

To decorate:
1 x bag of mini eggs

Method

1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees C/gas mark 3 then grease and line a 20 x 20 square tin with greaseproof paper.

2. To make the shortbread base, mix together the flour and sugar in large bowl, then rub in the butter until you are left with a breadcrumb like texture.

3. Start to bring mixture together with your hands until you have a smooth ball of dough.

4. Press the dough into the tin, smoothing it into an even layer that reaches the corners of the tin.

5. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown, then set it aside to cool whilst you make the caramel.

6. To make the caramel, place the butter into a large microwavable bowl and heat until melted. Add the sugar and give the ingredients a good mix until you can’t feel any grains of sugar on the bottom of the bowl – you may need to heat it again for another 30 seconds or so to encourage the sugar to dissolve throughly.

7. Add the condensed milk and heat for a further two minutes before whisking the ingredients throughly with a balloon whisk. Heat the caramel for a further 4 – 5 minutes, giving it a good whisk after each minute.

8. Drop a little bit of the caramel into a glass of cold water – if the mixture can be rolled into soft ball then it’s ready to be used, otherwise it may need another 30 seconds in the microwave.

9. Smooth the caramel in an even layer over the shortbread base, then leave to set.

10. For the chocolate layer, gently melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Pour the chocolate over the top of the shortbread and caramel layers and smooth out with a palate knife.

11. Decorate the top with mini eggs – I broke up a few mini eggs by bashing the bag with a rolling pin which I then scattered across the top – then leave to set before cutting into equally sized pieces.

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There will be more Easter bakes coming up very soon, but in the meantime, you can keep up to date with my kitchen adventures on Instagram or on my Facebook Page.

UPDATE – Here in the UK Mini Eggs are definitely Gluten Free, but I’ve been informed that Mini Eggs in the US may contain gluten due to potential cross contamination risks during the manufacturing process.