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Get creative with these imaginative chocolatey creations courtesy of food writer and Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn. From a pretzel nest to Percy Pig cupcakes, they’re sure to make the long weekend choc-full of deliciousness

“Aside from the abundance of chocolate available, the Easter break means there’s more time to get creative in the kitchen”


“Coming up with ideas for my designs and bakes is what I love most. I seem to have a habit of seeing everything as food, and am constantly discovering similarities in textures and appearances between edible and non-edible things – my mind loves mixing up the mediums in and out of the kitchen.

“I’m a big fan of M&S Food and always look forward to seeing the new treats that come out each Easter. Even the colourful foil wrappers around the chocolates inspire my creations – I use them in sketchbooks, and sometimes recycle them to use as place names to sit on the table with my Easter bakes.

“My salty and sweet chocolate nest is super quick to put together, and doesn’t even require baking. Inspired by the little chocolate nests I used

to make as a child, this giant version uses my favourite M&S pretzel sticks in place of the usual cereal, along with other chocolatey M&S treats and biscuits. You could make this part of a family Easter egg hunt by placing the nest in the centre of the table, before hiding an assortment of M&S eggs around the house and garden. Every discovered egg can then be brought back to the nest for everyone to dive into!

“Following on from the original Percy Pig pignata cupcakes I created for M&S, I decided to give this bake an Easter twist with the help of some seasonal Percy meets the Easter Bunny sweets. The baking equivalent of a hide-and-seek Easter egg hunt, each of my chocolate mud cupcakes hides a hollowed chocolate egg half with a speckled egg and M&S Jazzie sprinkles nestled within.”

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Percy’s Easter egg hunt
pignata cupcakes

“Chocolate eggs are hidden from sight in these cupcakes, ready to be hunted down by Percy and the Easter Bunny, under a rich chocolate ganache and chocolate crumb soil!”

For the cupcakes
150g butter, roughly chopped
150g light muscovado sugar
150g golden syrup
150g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
150ml whole milk
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
150g self-raising flour

For the ganache
150g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
300ml double cream

To decorate
2 packs of M&S Chicky Choccy Speckled Eggs
1 M&S hide & seek egg hunt bag
1 pack of M&S Percy meets the Easter Bunny sweets
M&S Jazzie sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/gas mark 3. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a large heavy-based saucepan. Cook over a medium heat until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Stir until melted, then allow to cool.

Measure the milk into a jug, then beat in the eggs and vanilla extract with a fork. Pour into the syrup mixture and beat to combine with an electric whisk. Sift in the cocoa powder and flour, beating until everything is well combined.

Pour the mixture into 12 muffin cases, dividing it equally. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cakes have risen and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out fairly clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the ganache. Put the chocolate, golden syrup and vanilla into a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over a medium heat. When it’s just coming to the boil, pour it over the chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny. Leave to cool. It should reach a soft, spreading consistency.

To assemble your cakes, use a small sharp knife to cut your hollow eggs in half. Break the remaining hollow eggshells into small pieces and set aside. Cut out the core of your cupcakes with a teaspoon, removing enough so the hollowed egg halves can fit in snugly. With the cone-shaped off-cuts, cut a lid for your cake, and crumble the remaining off-cuts into a bowl for the soil.

Fill your half eggs with a speckled egg, sprinkles and chocolate eggshell pieces. Cover with the cake lid.

Spoon the chocolate ganache on top of each cake and spread with a palette knife. Decorate with chocolate cake crumbs, a speckled egg, Percy meets the Easter bunny sweets, smashed speckled eggs and jazzie sprinkles.


Salty and tweet Easter nest

“A real treat for Easter. If you don’t like raisins, you could use chocolate-covered peanuts or M&S peanut butter and caramel chunkies”

100g butter
100g dark chocolate, chopped into pieces
100g milk chocolate, chopped into pieces
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 packet of M&S salted pretzel sticks
1 packet of M&S chocolate-coated salted caramel cookies
1 packet of M&S milk chocolate sea salt fudge bites
1 packet of M&S chocolate-covered raisins
An assortment of M&S chocolate eggs, to fill and decorate

Take a piece of baking parchment and scrunch it up in your hands, then smooth it out (this makes it easier to manipulate). Use it to line a 20cm frying pan.

Put the butter in a medium heavy-based saucepan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until melted. Add all the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the golden syrup and vanilla extract.

Take out a handful of the pretzel sticks and set aside. Break and bash up the remaining sticks inside the bag with a rolling pin, and add these to the saucepan, saving a few crumbs to scatter over the nest later.

Bash up the biscuits (use the pretzel bag if it’s still usable), then add to the pan. Chop the fudge bites into small pieces and add to the pan, along with the chocolate-covered raisins. Stir and combine together, ensuring everything is thoroughly coated in chocolate.

Transfer the mixture to the lined frying pan, pressing it up the sides with your fingers and the back of a spoon to produce a hollow nest shape. Scatter over the reserved pretzel crumbs to adhere to the nest and create a nest-like textured surface.

Refrigerate until set. Remove the nest from the fridge and fill with an assortment of chocolate eggs and the reserved pretzel sticks broken into twig-like pieces.

Words and recipes: Frances Quinn / Deputy food editor: Heather Taylor