Happy Easter! What a fabulous time of year it is. Not only do us office workers get a nice long 4 day weekend but we are encouraged to spend it eating chocolate eggs, hot cross buns and roast lamb dinners. Heaven!
At my recent supper club I did some rather lovely Easter appropriate desserts that I wanted to give you the recipes for, so I have temporarily dragged myself away from munching on chocolate in bed to do so. If you’re having a dinner party tomorrow (or even tonight) it’s not too late to whip these up and I can promise that your guests will be mightily impressed.
I got the idea from Glynn Purnell’s burnt English cream eggs that featured on Great British Menu in 2008. At first I thought I might try to recreate those but then I decided it would be even better if I could make them look like eggs.
Cheesecake or panna cotta both seemed like a good idea and in the end I went with the panna cotta.
My first challenge was to work out how you take the tops off the eggs. I tweeted Glynn to ask how he did it. He replied, which was very lovely of him. His reply was that he did it was a light sabre, which was less lovely of him. Although, I suppose he is far too important to be doing that sort of thing for himself and no doubt had an army of people doing it for him.
Some internet research led me to this little instrument of torture. I bought mine from the most wonderful cook shop on Marylebone High Street, called Divertimenti. I would highly recommend that you check it out if you are ever in the area.
It is intended to take the tops off soft boiled eggs but with a bit of patience and practice, it works on raw eggs too. You just place the metal dome on top of an egg, hold the egg firmly in your hand and then pull the plunger and release. As it comes down on the egg, it will either (1) shatter the egg entirely because you have done it too hard *starts again* (2) take the top off in one nice neat piece *runs round the room whooping with arms in the air* or (3) create a fine hairline crack around the egg *gets sharp knife out and tries to gently prize the top off without cracking the egg*.
I would say that 15% were total disasters, 5% came off perfectly and the other 80% required some knife action. The moral of the story is to make sure that you have extra eggs to hand and plenty of time to get this done.
The next step is to remove the membranes from the eggs. This is a fiddly little job and one that I achieved by poking in a finger in and gently peeling it off the side. Again, there may have been one or two breakages at this stage and it certainly required a lot of patience.
Once you have removed the membrane, rinse and dry your eggshells and you are ready to start on the filling – an absolute breeze after all that!
I will give you the recipe for 2 eggs and then you can just multiply it by however many you need:
1 sheet of leaf gelatine;
65 ml whole milk
65 ml double cream
1 vanilla pod
10g caster sugar
1 teaspoon grappa
1/4 fresh mango
1 teaspoon of lemon curd
First off you need to heat the cream and milk with the sugar and vanilla seeds until almost boiling and then pour into a measuring jug.
Add the grappa and the gelatine (soaked as per the packet instructions) to the measuring jug, then place the jug in a bowl of ice to cool.
Stir from time to time and make sure you keep an eye on it. You want to wait until it is close to setting and then pour into your eggshells. If you leave it too long it will be difficult to pour in with precision but if you do it too soon the vanilla seeds wont be evenly disbursed.
Once you have filled your eggshells, making sure the mixture is right to the top, leave them in the fridge to set. This should take about 3-4 hours.
To make the mango coulis, just whizz up the mango in a food processor then cook it in a small pan with the lemon curd on a very low heat until everything has broken down. Once this is done you just need to strain it through a sieve and you will have a nice little bowl of yolk coloured filling.
The final step is to fill the eggs. I wish I had done a neater job, but it is quite fiddly. I used an apple corer to remove a round from the middle of the panna cotta and then filled the hole with the coulis, placing the eggs back in the fridge for another hour or so to set.
It’s nice to serve them in egg boxes, so that there is intrigue when you bring the boxes to the table and you can enjoy the reaction when your guests open the boxes.
To add a bit of fun at the supper club, I also handed round shots of grappa in advance and then the shot glasses were used as egg cups.
Although it might seem like a lot of work, this dessert is well worth the effort, both for flavour and effect. Perfect for an Easter dinner party or at any other time of the year when you want to do something that looks a bit fancy.