We booked the Disney Magic at Sea, UK Cruise

If you have been following the details of the Disney Magic at Sea, UK cruise, then you’ll be aware of the difficulties we fans have faced already. From announcing dates, to retracting them and then seemingly cancelling them (it wasn’t exactly the case!!) – it has been a bit of a nightmare. At this point, all we knew is that covid was still playing a huge role in dictating how the cruise would pan out. Although not clarified, it seemed that there would be many changes to the usual cruises and I wondered as such what would we be able to do on a ship?

Sailor Minnie

Initially because of all of the indecisive information leaked, we decided we would forgo the cruise and opt for Disneyland Paris instead. However, we discussed the possibility that we might not be able to travel over the summer and even now it seems like a trip to France is pretty unlikely. We ‘ummed and ahhed’ for a few hours on the day the staycation was released, but in the end we decided to book because we knew (prayed) Disney would come though.

The next stress having booked the cruise, was learning that the activities could not be booked until our total balance was paid. This was quite a big deal to be honest. Truth is even at this point, I wasn’t sure if we were 100% on going. The activities were important for us and having no information on what would be available for us to enjoy was making us anxious that we could be wasting a great deal of money. We knew there would be no Sail-a-Wave party nor any fireworks. We also knew that social distancing would remain in place and that this would affect character meets.

When I called Disney, the people at the other end of the phone seemed so lovely but they didn’t seem to know much either. Myself and others I have spoken to were constantly told that no one will know what Disney can offer until closer to sailing – I do get that, honestly I do. However it was really quite annoying and I couldn’t shake the worry that we might have spent a lot of money to essentially be quarantined on a fancy ship.

The pool

At this point the person I spoke to kindly let me know that I could cancel the reservation at anypoint and still receive a full refund.. this twisted my arm and so off we went and paid the full balance. We gleefully thought that this meant we could book activities and get a feel of what to expect! Well not quite, it turns out that everything had been booked out. As we had not sailed before, we were considered a general customer and there were a number of people with privileges above us. I cant even tell you how disheartened I felt because we had already cancelled a number of various Disney trips and Ita really wanted to experience the Bippidy Boppidy Boutique. I noticed also that we were unable to book the show and that this was also not a guaranteed activity.

We had so many conversations at this point whether it was worth holding on or whether cancelling would be the better option. Every step seemed so disappointing and totally un-Disney-like!

Inside the ship

A few weeks later after checking the Navigation App daily, I saw that the BBB had availability! Securing this really helped change my anticipation because at least it meant we had something to look forward to. I really recommend checking the app daily (if not more) because when people cancel of move around their plans, activities come up but also get booked out almost immediately.

So far we have been lucky to have booked the BBB, a massage and reserve a mixology class – that one depends on how I feel about leaving Ita in the kids club and I’m just not sure I am there for that yet!

The next stress will be check-in. I have already heard some horror stories about the process and been warned to set my alarm to start the process at 5am. Once we check in we can reserve the show and kids activities too. So its quite a big day! Please Disney, no more stress?

Disney Cruella Afternoon Tea, The Lanesborough Hotel London

I had quite a few messages and questions from my Instagram post after we had the most wonderful Cruella afternoon tea and so felt it was most appropriate to do a blog post to tie everything together.

The tea is at The Lanesborough Hotel on Hyde Park Corner and is called It’s a Little Bit Mad and is inspired by the new Cruella movie by Disney. It is only on until the 4 August 2021 and so it really is quite exclusive. Therefore if you are planning on going I would book asap. It is on 7 days a week but there are also limited sittings. Monday through to Thursday the tea is only available from 2.30-4pm.

Photo from The Lanesborough

We ordered 2 adults afternoon teas and then some plain sandwiches for Ita, since she is so small and rarely finishes an entire tea. We were so surprised when the staff put together a mini version for her, complete with sandwiches and treats too – it is truly impressive when hotels make such an effort. Surprisingly she demolished the lot! The staff too were all so friendly and engaging with Ita which made us feel really welcomed. If you are visiting with a few small children, I would recommend considering whether they need their own or whether sharing would be a better option. Hotels such as this tend to listen to their customers requirements and we have always found them to be very responsive.

The food is impressive. The creativity is so unique and the tastes are so different to any other tea we have had. My favourite was the lobster and prawn tartlet and both Ita and Dominic thought the Runway Diva was incredible.

Ita’s only little comment was that there should have been “something dalmatian” and she does have a fair point. The tea is very specific to the new movie which is edgier and darker, since it is set in 1970s London and has a punk feel to it. I would recommend watching the new Cruella movie beforehand so you know what to expect but also, if you are taking your children it will add to the fun.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the tea and to be honest I think this will be a really memorable one.

I also went for the speciality cocktail, the Scene Stealer, and it was completely that. Not only aesthetically beautifully but the dry ice that followed made everyone look! The cocktail is Bombay Bramble, freshly squeezed lemon juice, raspberry purée, Maraschino cherry juice, simple syrup, topped with white apricot air foam and dry freeze blackberry dust served on a tray of dry ice – yum!

The hotel itself is stunning. The tea room is by far my favourite (completely up there with The Ritz in my opinion) and is the perfect setting. It is also in a brilliant spot should you wish to explore afterwards. Of course it is right by Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, but it is also within walking distance to Piccadilly and also to Mayfair.  

You can see the full menu via this link:

https://www.oetkercollection.com/media/45464/its-a-little-bit-mad-the-cruella-inspired-afternoon-tea-menu-the-lanesborough-2021.pdf

Prices start at £55 per person. You can make a reservation via this link;

https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/the-lanesborough/restaurants-bars/afternoon-tea/its-a-little-bit-mad/

Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure Review, Norfolk

Press Invite | On Sunday we visited Roarr Adventure which is situated in Norwich. We weren’t too sure what to expect but Ita really enjoys dinosaurs so we were happy to take the long drive to see what it was like. To be honest, I wish I had researched it more beforehand because the truth is there is SO much to do and planning would have been really beneficial to the day. I am going to share some tips to make sure you get the best from your visit.

Although Roarr! Dinosaur Adventure has bee around a while, it has undergone a lot of renovations over the years. We found out on the way there that the park is run by a 4th generation family of palaeontologists. The current owner is the great-great grandson of a Victorian explorer who claimed to have discovered a hidden valley, where dinosaurs still exist. I mean, that’s quite cool and even if it isn’t true, when we told Ita this she felt like it added to the excitement. We actually had to remind her that dinosaurs were indeed extinct! 

We arrived at the gates at 11 and it was really quiet which meant no queues. The park opens at 10 so I imagine it may have been a bit more busy at that point. It was only when we were inside though that we realised you have to book your splash pad slot. There was still quite a big queue of people waiting to book their 20 minute slots so we decided to explore the park and see what times were available afterwards. Luckily we were able to grab a time slot. It really would be worth heading there immediately at 10am although since the slots are only 20 minutes long, I think there is enough time for everyone to get one! The splash zone is brilliant and frankly it made Ita’s day so don’t forget to bring a costume. It is spacious with lots of different fountains for children of all ages. You can also buy swimsuits and towels from the gift store for around £10 each if you do forget yours.

The Dinosaur Trail is by far the best we have ever (ever) encountered. It is quite long and set in woodlands and there are so many different dinosaurs. I have honestly never seen anywhere like it. If your child is into dinosaurs then this really will blow them away. The huge brachiosaurus really is something else. It is pushchair friendly too as the walk is down hill with a flat ground.

There are a few ‘rides’ such as Raptor Racers and Dippys Raceway. Some of these are only available during school holidays and on weekends so bare this in mind when you do visit. There were constantly queues for this and we decided to keep exploring with the intention of returning back but in the end there was too much to do and see.

There is of course a few ‘Meet and Greet’ opportunities with Dippy. We watched the dance along show and at the end the assistant to the mascot abruptly told the children to get back – this meant everyone huddled together, quite confused. She then proceeded to call children out, one by one with no reason or rhyme, for their photos to be taken. It was really confusing and calling children up one by one was frustrating and indicated that there was some sort of preference system. We watched one child with extra needs crying their eyes out because they were upset they were not called up. There definitely should have been a queuing system here for safety but also to indicate to children when it is their turn. There were a few other issues around this and I am addressing this directly with the company. This was the only negative to our day. My honest opinion here would be to miss the dancing stage show and meet Dippy after his theatre show where it is far better managed.

One of the highlights of the day was the Live show in Dippys Theatre and also the short movie too. (These are two separate shows in the same theatre). The recorded show is on at different times throughout the day whereas the Live Dippy Shows are at 2.30 and 4.30 although you can only meet Dippy at 3.30 I believe. It is definitely worth planning your day around these as the theatre is gorgeous – not what I expected at all. If it is particularly hot outside too then this is the perfect haven.

At Roarr! There is also an indoor soft play area. We were granted beautiful weather on the day we visited though so we did not venture inside. On a wetter day this would be s handy though. We also saw that there were Predator High Ropes (think go ape style) at the end of the dinosaur trail and this is included in your park ticket price. Ita is a bit too small for this though so we chose not to try it out, but it looked really fun (and maybe a bit scary too). They also have Jurassic Crazy Golf but we are doing a crazy golf later in the week and I wanted to make sure Ita was still going to look forward to it! This again, is included with your ticket.

There is also a Secret Animal Garden where you can pet small animals daily. (12pm is Guinea Pig Petting, 2pm is Tortoise Time and 3pm for Guinea Pig Petting). This can get really busy so if you do want to do this then arrive in that area about 10 minutes beforehand. 

One of the best things that the park have included is Dippy and his friends. To children, these mascots are so fun but it encourages a clear theme so the park really stands out.

As mentioned previously, it really was a long drive. It took us just over 2 hours 40 minutes to get there (and then much the same getting home). It is actually really worth doing a staycation as there is so much to do locally. For example Great Yarmouth is only 45 minutes away. In fact, the website has a really helpful section of recommended accommodation close by.

https://www.roarrdinosauradventure.co.uk/where-to-stay/

You must book in advance via the website (link below). Adults and children over 90cms are £18.95 for the day. Children under 90cms are free.

https://buy.myonlinebooking.co.uk/DinosaurAdventure/sessions.aspx?tid=1516&_ga=2.183258406.1682791040.1622528277-336884737.1622528277

Would we visit again? Absolutely, but only if we were planning a staycation. It is quite far for a day trip (totally my fault) but there are so many positives to Roarr! Dinosaur Park that it is definitely somewhere to add to your list of places to visit.

Peter Rabbit Afternoon Tea Review, The Dilly

PR Visit | On the weekend we headed to Piccadilly to enjoy the Peter Rabbit afternoon tea. We had actually had this tea a good few years ago now, but we really enjoyed it. So when we were invited back to review it, we were really excited!

The most beautiful afternoon tea

The tea itself is beautiful, visually it has to be one of the best teas that we have had the pleasure of having. The Mr McGregors Garden is really very obvious, especially in the child’s version which is served in a little box with green coconut to resemble grass. The little touches like adding fresh vegetables and flowers is so clever. Almost everything is edible, including the plant pots that Peter is resting on! The treats are not only aesthetically pleasing though, they are one of the best we have had and everything tasted so fresh, adding to the garden theming. One thing that really stood out was the child friendly cocktail – Ita loved this!

Child’s version

Prices start at £39 for adults and £29 for children. There really is quite a lot offered but it is worth noting that they are very happy to provide more sandwiches. We even asked for plain ones for Ita and they were kindly brought to her within moments.

The Dilly itself is situated in Piccadilly, and afternoon tea is served in The Terrace which is situated on the second floor. It is just across from Fortnum and Masons and if the weather is on your side, then there are tables outside for you to enjoy your tea there. The views are gorgeous! T

he Terrace is equally as beautiful inside though with lots of foliage and so much space.

Social distancing is not an issue here at all. The Terrace is spacious and the tables are well set out. You do need to also scan the QR code upon entry and hand sanitiser was dotted around too.

Themed to perfection

The Peter Rabbit afternoon tea is served Monday through to Sunday from noon to 5pm and is bookable via this link below. You will also find the menu here too.

https://thedillylondon.com/food-drink/afternoon-tea/

Vegetarian and fully vegan options are also available but you will need to let them know in advance so it is prepared as necessary.

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and I can’t think of one negative at all. It is the perfect children’s afternoon tea and well worth booking!

Ita’s cocktail

Opening the Hamleys Store in London

Making special childhood memories is really important to us and there are some things that money simply can’t buy.

My two favourite memory makers involves theatrical openings of two particular toy stores: the Disney store (check out our previous blog or social media post) and the opening of Hamleys store in Regents Street. Both are exceptionally special but for this post we’re focusing on Hamleys.

Today we headed to Hamleys and Ita was called to the front of the store and told to open a special box that Bakewell Bear (the Hamleys bear) was holding in his paws. Inside was a bell! The entertainment team encouraged an energetic countdown and then Ita rang the bell, officially opening the store. As it was her birthday last week, everyone (including members of the public) sang happy birthday and it was a really memorable moment – Ita was so shocked!

However, did you know that this is something Hamleys can possibly do for your child too? Although it’s not promised, if you contact contact Hamleys ahead and let them know you are visiting because of your child’s birthday, they will try their best to allow your child to ring the bell and open the store. You can contact the store via their Customer Services Team for further info. This experience is free.

We then had a private tour of the store with a member of the entertainment team, Lauren, who was fantastic and so well informed. She told us all about the fascinating 258 year history of the store as we walked around the 7 floors. This tour I understand is at a separate cost, bookable in advance and finishes with a special Hamleys goodie bag – to book this tour you can contact Hamleys via their Customer Services Team for further info.

There is also a private VIP shopping experience where you can book to visit the store when it’s closed to the public.

There are lots of events taking place throughout the day at the store and one of the most fun areas is on the 2nd floor where the Frozen 2 castle is. The entertainment team here often put on a special reindeer training show and encourage your child to take place and walk the red carpet. Lauren explained this was almost daily during the week where it tends to be a bit quieter.

To see what other events are available see the link below.https://www.hamleys.com/what-s-on-at-hamleys

Vax Platinum SmartWash Review

Last week we received the new Platinum SmartWash Carpet Cleaner by Vax and I have been so eager to try it out! We have ivory carpets on our stairs and in all of our bedrooms and after 5 years, it’s fair to say that they needed freshening up.

Now that’s not to say we haven’t tried to maintain our carpets but lockdown especially saw my efforts go by the way side and so we ended up hiring a cleaner from a reputable company – I’ll get back to that!

Easy to manoeuvre in the hallway

The Vax Platinum SmartWash is the UKs first carpet washer with “motion sense” technology which means there is no trigger. It automatically washes and dispenses clean water and antibacterial solution when you push forward and then it dries when you pull back. Push forward – washes. Pull back – dries. It’s such a simple idea but it’s brilliant and means your carpets aren’t wet for hours on end. It also has a dry only feature too!

The brush bars in the front are specially designed, flexible bristles. They are designed to distribute the correct energy into your carpet fibres to effectively agitate and lift stubborn dirt and stains. Around skirting and doors especially I noted that our carpets had become marked – I think from dust. The machine has completely removed the marks from under the doors and significantly reduced marks by the skirting. I am so impressed with this.

The Platinum SmartWash also comes with a SpinScrub hand tool and a 2.5m hose. This was especially handy for the stairs and I plan to use it on our sofas soon.

The muck it collected – this was after using a different cleaner only a month before!

One of the best features is the Auto Mix. When we used a hire cleaner it was a complete hassle trying to mix the right amount of solution. It was also very easy to refill once the clean water had been used and because of this it made cleaning the carpets much quicker.

So I’ve alluded to the fact that last month we hired a carpet cleaner from a big brand. To put it bluntly, I was not impressed. The machine was huge, heavy and impractical for a home. The cleaning solution was a nightmare to mix and attach to the machine and my hand was left in agony by the trigger button. After all that work, my carpets did not look visibly cleaner and my rug actually looked worse. When I went on to the Vax website it stated “the Platinum SmartWash effortlessly outperforms the UKs leading rental and delivers a deep clean 7 times more effective than vacuuming alone”. I have to agree.

In motion…

It had never occurred to me to own a carpet cleaner. I had always assumed that the relatively low cost of renting a machine would suffice. However the effort to hire meant that 5 years passed without bothering to make the effort and after hiring a machine last month and paying £130 for the privilege, it really seems like false economy. By contrast, the SmartWash retails at £299 and I can see myself using it quite frequently which I hope means we might get another few years out of the carpets!

Overall I am hugely impressed. The machine is built so it can be used frequently and results are instant.

Want to check it out for yourself? Here is the link:

https://www.vax.co.uk/vax-platinum-smartwash-carpet-cleaner?utm_source=garciafamilyuk&utm_medium=blog&utm_campaign=smartwash

* PR product gifted for review.

Blenheim Palace

Yesterday we visited Blenheim Palace, based in Woodstock Oxfordshire. Although the weather was absolutely against us, we had a brilliant visit and we were so glad to have ventured out in the miserable rain and wind.

Blenheim Palace is a beautiful estate built back in the early 17th century and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. There is so much that Palace offers families including a number of walks around the Palace (4 to be precise) with buggy friendly and dog friendly routes and the walled garden has a little play area for children. In this particular garden there is a wonderful little café selling pizzas. Definitely recommended.

There is also a beautiful miniature train just by the entrance that we did not get to go on this time but it is on our to do list when we head back soon. The miniature train runs back and forth between the palace and the walled gardensbetween 11-5pm daily and it is suggested that a £1 donation is offered. As the palace is currently closed (due to the government restrictions) we were unable to go inside, but again, this is something we will definitely do next time.

The beautiful water fountains

Aside from being a stunning palace with beautiful grounds, Blenheim Palace also hosts a number of events throughout the year. From next month the Luna Cinema will be showing various movies. There is even a jousting tournament!

https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/

One event not to be missed however is the annual Christmas at Blenheim Palace which is an after dark illuminated trail. Over a million lights, lasers and seasonal sounds full the gardens and this event is something that sells out almost immediately. 

New for this year is the story of The Nutcracker where the palace rooms will be transformed and filled with hidden surprises. It sounds magical! This is something we cant wait to see for ourselves. Tickets are on sale now!

https://www.blenheimpalace.com/whats-on/events/christmas/

Blenheim Palace is arguably the most beautiful stately home we have ever visited. It was no surprise to learn that as such, the palace has featured in a number of movies such as Cinderella (2015), Harry Potter: Order of the Phoenix (2007) and Transformers: The Last Knight (2017).

Outside the palace

As the Palace is over 300 years old, restoration is underway and is classified as the biggest restoration to date. All funds raised through the likes of ticket sales go right back into the property through repair and conservation projects.

Pre-booking is essential for all visits now which is entirely to be expected. Currently the park and gardens are open and from later on in the month, the house will be too. There is a fantastic offer on at the moment where if you buy one visit then you will be given an annual pass upgrade for FREE!

https://www.blenheimpalace.com/tickets-booking/

If you work for the NHS, a blue light service or the defence, then you can gain 30% off your entry by using code NHSBP30 (NHS) or BLC30 (blue light and defence).

We really enjoyed our visit and we cannot wait to return for some of the fun events that Blenheim has to offer.

Leaving you on this little bit of trivia for you… Blenheim Palace is the only non-royal estate to hold the title of Palace!

Our visit was an invite for PR purposes.

The Little Beach Hut, Mersea Island

Yesterday we headed to Mersea Island Beach in Essex to enjoy the sun and have some family friendly fun!

Outside our beach hut

If you aren’t aware, Mersea Island is in Colchester and is quite literally its own little island. The island is divided into two areas – West Mersea and East Mersea and connected to the mainland by The Shrood, which is a little causeway that floods at high tide creating the island. Mersea Island is really quite famous for its oysters and beautiful beach huts.

Our visit was mainly because we were invited to use the beach huts by a local business called The Little Beach Hut company which has 4 huts on the island and is a fantastic way to have a hassle free trip to the seaside. The huts are named Peggy, Bertie, Lotty and Kitty, and they’re all individually decked out! It was such a pleasure to visit the beach without bringing everything needed for the day.

Yesterday we used Peggy – a front row hut with a decking area outside. This size hut is currently available for 6 people and is a really good size. Inside (and free to use for our visit) was beach toys, cutlery, plates, kettle, a wind breaker, deck chairs and two has rings with gas. Literally everything needed to have a fantastic trip to the beach.
https://www.thelittlebeachhutcompany.co.uk/peggy.html

Interior of Peggy

In terms of food, we decided to bring our own picnic hamper but the company can also assist with catering too.
https://www.thelittlebeachhutcompany.co.uk/catering.html

The huts are suitable for all types of weather as they all either have interior glass doors or large windows. All of the huts have kitchen areas with sinks and gas cookers. I have to admit, the fact that Ita could play just outside in the sand, whilst I sorted lunch and Dominic relaxed in the deck chair, was enjoyable in itself.

Amenities free to use…

There are 2 car parks close by (really reasonably priced too) and the hut that we used was very close to the public toilets also. In fact, one little gem was that there was a small children’s play area in such close proximity with a cafe too.

The huts are available to rent by the day or for longer periods. They’re perfect for families especially but also for a little gathering too!

Mersea Island seems very small and quaint and before travelling, I couldn’t find much to do there. One adventure that stood out was a little boat trip “Lady Grace” however this was booked up way in advance (we had checked back in March!). I think the boat trip would have been really fun so if you are planning on visiting Mersea Island do check them out. https://www.essexboattrips.co.uk/index.php/en/

The experience of having a beach hut for the day has really changed my perception of having beach days in general. Typically I wouldn’t do day visits to the seaside simply because there is too much to bring and lug around in order to have w good day. The fact that everything we needed was already here for us made the whole experience a pleasurable one!

I would absolutely recommend The Little Beach Hut Company – perfect for a summers day out!

Nap time

* This review is part of a Press Trip

The Church Farm Ardeley, Hertfordshire

On the weekend we headed to Church Farm in Ardeley, Hertfordshire for their new Teddy Bear Surprise trail.

A brief overview of The Church Farm is that they are a not-for-profit farm, food, care and education enterprise. They offer a fully functional farm with several different farm animals, such as pigs, cows, geese, goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.

The farm is open daily to the public and they grow and produce fruit, vegetable and meats that they also sell. This is sold through the onsite café, the Jolly Waggnoer Pub (right by the farm) and the food box delivery service which they also offer.

Detailed Map of The Church Farm

We purchased tickets for entrance to the farm, the Teddy’s Big Surprise and a bag of animal feed, which we thought was a good price.

We arrived on time for our Teddy’s Surprise slot and were greeted by a member of staff that gave us all the information about the day ahead, what we could expect and the best way to navigate around the huge area. So we headed straight to the Teddy area, which was situated in a beautiful apple blossom orchard. Ita was so excited as we passed several of the farm animals such as the geese, goats, sheep and Ita’s favourite for the day, the pigs and piglets.

Ita feeding the piggies

As we headed through to the apple orchard, we were met with the first Teddy Bear, they gave a workbook and some information about the experience ahead. There were Teddy Bears everywhere, we spotted bears playing and having their picnics, playing chess, hanging from trees so there are untold amounts of photo opportunities.

We were met with a number of teddy’s that needed our help with counting bears in trees, nursery rhymes and helping the bears go to sleep. I must say, the bears were so good at entertaining us and Ita and made the experience so much more enjoyable. Once all the tasks were complete, we headed to the final gazebo were Ita could pick and choose her choice of toy.

Helping the bears solve a riddle!

The Teddy Big Surprise is running every Saturday and Sunday from 17th April until the 9th May, and all children that come in disguise, they will receive a rosette.

Having checked and been advised by a lovely follower on social media, all children (even those under 1 years) require a ticket for this which seems a little unreasonable.

https://churchfarmardeley.checkfront.co.uk/reserve/?item_id=452

We then went back on ourselves and having picked pig feed at the beginning of our visit, we went around looking at the cute piglets. Ita really enjoyed seeing them interact with each other and the different sizes of all of them.

The Church Farm offer other activities when you visit, one of them is to see their all new Farm Fairy Trail which comes with an activity booklet to complete. This area is really well made, with a couple playhouses, rabbits and lots of different fairies to spot and read about.

Another activity you can pre-book is the Lamb Bottle Feeding which I know we would have all enjoyed and is available for people of all ages and is such a unique and amazing experience to have.

Finally you can join in with the egg collecting on the farm. You can help collect the eggs from over 300 free range hens and then take them home which I think is another amazing experience.

Overall, we had a really enjoyable morning at The Church Farm and would highly recommend the Teddy’s Big Surprise experience. All the information you need can be found here:

https://www.churchfarmardeley.co.uk/

Ita with her special toy!

Easter Baking Ideas

Following the well received Valentines Day Baking Ideas blog post we did last month, we thought it would be a good idea to do the same for Easter!

Jump to the Easter Macarons Recipe
Jump to the Creme Egg Blonde Recipe
Jump to the White Chocolate Easter Egg Cheesecake Recipe
Jump to the Hot Cross Bun Recipe
Jump to the Easter Tiffin Recipe
Jump to the Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Over the next few weeks we will be adding loads of different Easter themed recipes!

Easter Macarons

Ingredients

Macarons

  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 100 g Ground Almonds
  • 100 g Egg Whites (3 Medium Eggs worth)
  • 75 g Caster Sugar
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • Food Colouring (Use Gel Colouring or Powered Colouring – for some reason liquid colouring didn’t work and helped the macarons to burn in the oven)

Macaron Filling

  • Lemon Curd
  • 75g Butter (Softened)
  • 150g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Instructions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, sift 100g of the Icing Sugar, and 50g of the Ground Almonds. It is very important that both are sifted as this prevents lumps.
  2. In a second medium sized bowl, do the same with the other 100g of the Icing Sugar, and 50g of the Ground Almonds.
  3. Make sure the bowl and whisk you are using are spotlessly and whisk the Egg Whites.
  4. Whisk the egg whites up to stiff peaks, and start adding the Caster Sugar teaspoon by teaspoon until all is incorporated. Whisk for another minute.
  5. Add half of the meringue mixture to one of the bowls of Sugar/Almonds. Should be around 85-90g.
  6. In that bowl, add the 1 tsp of Vanilla and one of your food colours (we chose yellow) and fold the mixture carefully but making sure that its all combined.
  7. With the other half of the Meringue, add the other food colouring (we chose blue) and 1 tsp of Vanilla and whisk till combined. Add this to the Sugar/Almond mix and repeat the folding.
  8. With a disposable piping bag, add a small round tip or cut the tip of the bag. Carefully pipe the mixtures on a baking sheet (I drew some small circles using my husbands wedding ring).
  9. You should end up with equal amounts of yellow shells, and blue shells.
  10. Once piped, tap the trays onto the work surface 5-6 times to get any air bubbles out, and leave on the side for 1 hour to form a skin.
  11. Towards the end of the hour, turn your oven on to 130C Fan.
  12. Once the hour is up, put the Macarons in the oven to bake for 16-20 minutes.
  13. Leave them to cool fully on the mats before peeling them off (it’s very easy to peel them before they have cooled though)
  14. Once cooled, make your buttercream.
  15. Add your softened butter to a bowl, beat the butter for a couple minutes and add the icing sugar, little at a time until it comes together. Add the vanilla and a little bit of milk if the mixture is too tough!
  16. Add to a piping bag or use a spoon to add to one side of the macaron in the middle and then put them together!
  17. Or add lemon curd to the middle of your macarons.
  18. Put them into the fridge to set and the enjoy!

Creme Egg Blondies

Ingredients

  • 170g Butter (Softened)
  • 165g Light Brown Sugar
  • 100g Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Large Egg and 1 Yolk
  • 275g Plain Flour
  • Handful Mini Creme Eggs (We used approx 10)
  • 3 Creme Eggs, Halved

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 160C Fan.
  2. Whisk the Butter, Light Brown Sugar and Granulated Sugar until fully combined.
  3. Add one Egg and one Egg Yolk and whisk again.
  4. Add the Plain Flour until just combined.
  5. Spread into a baking tray, and then add the Mini Creme Eggs.
  6. Place in the oven, and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the skewer comes out slightly clean when inserted.
  7. While still warm, add the halved Creme Eggs on top and leave to chill fully in the tray (Tip when halving the Creme Eggs, place in the fridge for about 30 minutes and cut from the top of the egg)

White Chocolate Easter Egg Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 3 Easter Eggs (Halved)
  • 200g Digestives
  • 75g Butter
  • 150g White Chocolate
  • 200g Cream Cheese (We went for reduced fat)
  • 50g Icing Sugar
  • 120ml Double Cream
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract

Decoration (Optional but we used)

  • Mini Eggs (please remember these are a choking hazard for small children)
  • Purple Colour Gel
  • Green Colour Gel
  • Pink Colour Gel
  • 40g White Chocolate
  • Carrot Decorations
  • Wafer Flowers

Instructions

Biscuit Base

  1. Half the Easter Eggs (I put them in the fridge to harden up for 20 minutes and then cut them from the top).
  2. Blitz the digestives in a food processor or put them in a sealed bag and smash with a rolling pin (this is what we did)
  3. Melt the butter in the microwave.
  4. In a bowl, tip the melted butter over the crushed biscuits and mix until combined
  5. Fill the Easter Eggs with the mixture and place back in the fridge until the filling has been made.

Filling

  1. Mix the Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar and Vanilla using a whisk or a spatula until smooth.
  2. When whisked, pour in the Double Cream and continue to whip the mixture until it starts to thicken (Remember not to over whip the cream mixture as it may split)
  3. Once completed, spread your mixture in the prepared Easter Eggs evenly. Leave to set in the fridge for 5-6 hours or overnight.

Decoration

  1. Melt 10-15g of White Chocolate and mix with Green Colouring Gel and decorate as you wish.
  2. Do the same with the remaining colours, Purple and Pink.
  3. Use the Mini Eggs, Wafer Flowers and Carrots for decoration.

Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients:

  • 225ml Whole Milk
  • 500g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 65g Caster Sugar
  • 8g Dried Active Yeast / Fast Action Yeast
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Nutmeg (or you can use a Mixed Spice instead)
  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • 50g Unsalted Butter (cold)
  • 150g Raisins
  • 100g Milk Chocolate Chips (when I make these again, I will probably omit these as I am not sure they added that much to the flavour)
  • 2 Medium Eggs

Topping

  • 30g Flour
  • 30ml Water
  • 1 tbs Caster Sugar
  • 1 tbs Boiling Water

Instructions

  1. Warm your milk in a pan until it is just steaming.
  2. In a bowl, add your Flour, Salt, Cinnamon, Ginger, Nutmeg, Sugar, Yeast and Orange Zest – add in your Butter and rub between your fingers.
  3. To the bowl, add your warmed Milk, and the Eggs, Raisins and Milk Chocolate Chips and mix it all together.
  4. Knead for 10 minutes until the mixture is smooth, elastic and springy to touch. I did it by hand and it is hard work but definitely worth it when the dough comes together, but you can also use a Stand Mixer with a dough hook.
  5. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with a tea towel. Leave to prove and rise until doubled in size – usually takes 1-2 hours (took ours 1 hour and 40 minutes)
  6. Once risen, remove from the bowl and knead lightly on a floured surface to knock the air out!
  7. Cut evenly into 12 balls (mine weighed 98g each) and add on a lined tray with about a centremetre gap between the balls.
  8. Cover with lightly oiled cling film, and leave to rise whilst your oven preheats to 200C/180C Fan. I left them for 60 minutes!
  9. Once the oven is at temperature – whisk together the flour and water and carefully pipe on to form the crosses.
  10. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes!
  11. Once baked – boil the water and mix with the sugar. Brush the Hot Cross Buns lightly with the sugar mixture if you like them sticky and shiny and then leave to cool fully.
  12. Enjoy!!

Easter Tiffin

Ingredients:

  • 175g Golden Syrup
  • 125g Unsalted Butter
  • 200g Milk Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 200g Dark Chocolate (Chopped)
  • 200g Digestives (Chopped)
  • 100g Raisins
  • 200g Mini Eggs (50g for Decorations)
  • 75g Mini Marshmallow

Instructions

  1. Line a 9×9″ square baking tray with parchment paper, leave to the side.
  2. Melt the Golden Syrup and Butter gently in a pan on a low heat – when the butter and syrup have melted fully and started to bubble a little, turn the heat off and add the chopped chocolate and stir until it has all melted.
  3. In a big bowl, add the Digestives, Raisins, Mini Eggs, and Mini Marshmallows and the pour the chocolate mix on top. Mix the ingredients together until it is all coated well. Pour into the tin and spread down firmly.
  4. Sprinkle the crushed Mini Eggs on top of the Tiffin! Leave to set in the fridge for 4-5 hours or until it is firm.
  5. Once set, remove from the tin and cut into pieces.

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

The Dough

  • 600g Strong White Bread Flour (Plus Extra for Dusting)
  • 14g Dried Active Yeast
  • 75g Caster Sugar
  • 90g Unsalted Butter
  • 275ml Full Fat Milk
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Large Egg

The Filling

  • 45g Unsalted Butter (Melted)
  • 175g Light Brown Sugar
  • 1-2 tbsps Ground Cinnamon (We added more)

The Topping

  • 200g Icing Sugar
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 3-4 tbsp Water

Instructions

  1. Sift the Flour into a large bowl and then add the Caster Sugar and Yeast. Mix until they are all distributed evenly.
  2. Rub the Butter into the mixture until it is like breadcrumbs.
  3. Gently heat the Milk until warm – but not hot (if you are doing it in a pan, you want the milk to just start steaming)
  4. Add the Milk, Vanilla and Egg to the dry ingredients.
  5. Knead the dough together for around 7-10 minutes (I had to YouTube the best way to knead as it is definitely new to me) or use your Stand Mixer with the Dough Hook.
  6. Once it is kneaded it will be elastic and springy to touch (not sticky)
  7. transfer into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film or a towel. Let is rise for 1-2 hours, or until it doubles in size (mine took 75 minutes)
  8. Whilst the bread is proving, we can make the filling. Mix together the Light Brown Sugar and Ground Cinnamon and leave to the side.
  9. Once the dough has risen, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and roll it out to a rectangle. Mine ended up being around 50cm x 30cm!
  10. Gently brush the surface with the Melted Butter and then sprinkle over the Sugar / Cinnamon Mix.
  11. Roll the dough from the long side to long side so you have created a long sausage. Now cut into 12 pieces.
  12. You should cut the middle, and then two halves into two more, and then each into three pieces (I must confess I did this part wrong and cut too many times, so I ended up with 15 pieces)
  13. I used a large rectangular baking dish (around 30cm x 24cm) and put them in. They should be spaced out so they are not touching each other yet.
  14. Cover the dish with clingfilm and let them rise for another hour or so. By the end they should be touching.
  15. Towards the end of the second proving, preheat the oven to 180C / 160C Fan so that they can go straight into the oven.
  16. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown and cooking through.
  17. Leave to cool and make the icing! Mix the Icing Sugar, Vanilla and Water until a thick icing paste is produced. The spread it over the rolls.
  18. Enjoy!