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  • Victoria Palmer

One Year On

It was early Spring 2020, during the first lockdown, that I wrote my first blog. Initially it was a way of keeping in touch with my regulars who could no longer access my classes and after school clubs. Soon however, it also became a lighthearted and informal way of sharing sewing projects to fill the days that for many were suddenly devoid of structure.

Last year as Easter approached I shared a project that I would have done with the children, had I been in school. Today, I realise a whole year has flown by and although in many ways we may not have moved on, there is progress.

The vaccine programme has been a logistical marvel and yet again we must thank the incredible NHS for their dedication and efficiency, against the odds.

The children are back in school, although sadly I can’t join them there just yet for more sewing clubs while year group bubbles can’t mix.

And slowly but surely we are seeing the restrictions lift, businesses can get back on track and families can meet up for long overdue cups of tea in perishing cold gardens!

So while in this reflective mood I was wondering what project to share with you that would match the hopeful nature of the moment. Eventually I decided to share a favourite recipe instead of a sewing project. Easter after all is a time of renewal, hope and let’s face it, chocolate.

These light chocolate cupcakes have appeared every year in my house since I discovered the brilliant Harry Eastwood, who does marvellous things with vegetables in her naturally gluten free cakes. They are gluten and dairy free (right up until I put the Cadbury’s Mini Eggs on that is!) and as you will see, can quite possibly count towards your five-a-day. Without the ‘Eastery’ topping, these are a very decent chocolate chip muffin, reminiscent of those available in good coffee shops. This recipe is adapted from an article in a magazine but you can find heaps of similarly amazing recipes in her book “Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache”.

Light Chocolate Cupcakes.

Makes 12 Prepare 30 minutes Cook 20 minutes

You will need:

200g coarsely grated courgette

2 large eggs

150g caster sugar

1/2 tsp salt

100g ground almonds

70g rice flour

30g cocoa powder

50g chocolate chips

1 tsp vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C, gas mark 4.

  2. Line a muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases. Rinse the grated courgette in cold water then dry well on kitchen paper. Set aside.

  3. Using an electric whisk, beat the eggs, sugar and salt in a large bowl for 3 minutes until pale and thick.

  4. Add the vanilla extract then fold in all the dry ingredients until well combined. Fold in the courgette and divide the mixture between the cupcake cases.

  5. Bake for 20 minute until cooked through then cool on a wire rack.

For the icing you will need:

115g (70% cocoa) dark chocolate

115g dairy free spread (I use Pure Sunflower)

2-3 tbsp soya/rice/almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

360g icing sugar

1 tbsp cocoa powder

  1. Melt the chocolate by placing it in a heatproof bowl over a simmering saucepan of water. Once melted, once melted stir and remove from the heat. Alternatively, heat for 1 1/2 minutes in a microwave.

  2. In a large mixing bowl, use a hand held mixer to cream the dairy-free spread, beat in the milk and vanilla extract until smooth.

  3. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the icing sugar and cocoa powder slowly until thick and creamy.

  4. Can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3 days.

Spoon or pipe the icing into nest shapes on the top of your cakes and add a clutch of Cadbury’s Mini Eggs to each one.

You will make more icing than you need but it freezes well in an airtight container for your next chocolate extravaganza, just defrost at room temperature before spreading between a chocolate sponge or topping more cupcakes. Alternatively, halve the quantities and scoop any leftovers straight into your mouth while pretending to wash up.

Here’s to a happy Easter weekend with enough warmth from the spring sun to capitalise on the garden get-together rule. That’s what I intend to do whilst sharing these chocolatey treats with the family.

Happy Easter!

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