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Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Traditions Include Homemade Chocolate Eggs

  

 Easter memories often include goodies from overflowing Easter baskets, exciting egg hunts even if still wearing winter coats, as well as the fun of dying and finding ways to eat all those colorful eggs.Traditions are wonderful to pass along, especially if they include old-fashioned recipes pulled out only for the holidays.

Three Pennsylvania Dutch Easter egg recipes are below with all the sweet, creamy, chocolate goodness you would expect with a "Grandmom" type recipe.

CHOCOLATE COVERED CREAM EGGS














2 lbs. confectioners' sugar  (1 pound = 4 cups so need 8 cups)
1 stick or 1/2 cup butter or margarine
8 oz. package cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate coating wafers or semi-sweet chocolate chips (start with 2 cups)
Vegetable shortening (1 tbsp. added for each 2 cups melting wafers)

DIRECTIONS
Soften the stick butter at room temperature or about 20 seconds in the microwave.
Soften the cream cheese at room temperature for about 30 seconds in the microwave (take out of the foil packaging before putting in the microwave).
Cream together the butter, cream cheese and the vanilla extract.
Gradually add the confectioner's sugar and blend to mix.

To shape into eggs:
Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. Have some extra confectioner's sugar handy to dust your palms since the mix will be sticky. With your hands, dip out and shape into little balls, roll in palms of your hands till firm, and then roll to form an oval shape. Place on the cookie sheet leaving some space between them. The recipe said to put the baking pan in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. Personally, I don't have room in my refrigerator, so I use my chest freezer. I find that if frozen they hold together better for dipping into the melted chocolate.

To coat with melted chocolate:
This is the part where it is easy to blow it. Chocolate is not forgiving with how it is melted. If it is melted at too high a temperature or if there is any moisture whatsoever in the bowl it will seize up and be useless.
Some people use the double boiler method of having the chocolate in one pot on top of another pot containing simmering water, stirring constantly.
The method I prefer is to use my microwave. The model I use is a small counter top type with a maximum output of 700 watts. I put 2 cups of melting wafers and 1 tbsp. shortening in a microwave safe bowl. I heat at 70% power for 2 minutes, stir, heat another 30 seconds at 70% power, stir till smooth. The reduced power isn't written anywhere as a rule, it just seems to work best in my experience. You will have to experiment with your own model.

Leave the candy eggs in the freezer till you are ready. You don't want them softening while waiting for the chocolate. Once the chocolate is melted, don't fool around getting the eggs dipped.
Using two spoons, drop one egg at a time into the chocolate, dip it out with one spoon and transfer it to the other spoon letting the excess chocolate drip off. Lay the coated egg onto another baking sheet or plate lined with wax paper and it will harden as it cools. Don't drop more than one egg into the melted chocolate because the extras will soften while waiting and may lose their shape.

Depending on their size, this batch makes about 4 dozen
Store your eggs in a covered container and keep in the refrigerator.

PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE COVERED EASTER EGGS














1 lbs. confectioners' sugar  (1 pound = 4 cups)
1 stick or 1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups smooth peanut butter 
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Chocolate coating wafers or semi-sweet chocolate chips (start with 1 cup, you can always melt more)
Vegetable shortening (1/2 tbsp. added for each cup melting wafers)

DIRECTIONS
Soften the stick butter at room temperature or about 20 seconds in the microwave.
The easiest way to measure peanut butter is to use one of those plastic push-up cups that are composed of two pieces where one fits inside the other to push out the contents.
Cream together the softened butter, peanut butter and vanilla.
Gradually add the confectioner's sugar and blend well.

Follow the directions in the Cream Egg recipe for shaping and chocolate coating the eggs.
Depending on size this batch makes about 2 - 3 dozen.
Store in a covered container and keep in the refrigerator.

COCONUT CHOCOLATE COVERED EASTER EGGS














3/4 cup mashed potatoes (cook potatoes and mash with just enough milk to be able to mash the lumps out)
2 cups fresh or dried flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened is up to you)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar

Chocolate coating wafers or semi-sweet chocolate chips (start with 1 cup, you can always melt more)
Vegetable shortening (1/2 tbsp. added for each 1cup melting wafers)

Mix together the mashed potatoes, coconut, salt and vanilla. Gradually mix in the sugar. Cover the bowl and store in the refrigerator overnight.

Follow the directions in the Cream Egg recipe for shaping and chocolate coating the eggs.
Depending on size this batch makes about 2 - 3 dozen.
Store in a covered container and keep in the freezer.

I had a hard time with this recipe. I had used leftover mashed potatoes from a meal and I think it was because they had been mashed with an egg, butter and milk, that even being in the fridge overnight to thicken up, my candy mix was still too wet. I compensated by adding additional confectioner's sugar and a bit more coconut till the mix had a stiffer consistency. I gave up trying to form egg shapes with my hands, it was way too sticky. So I just used two spoons as with cookie dough and plopped little mounds on a wax paper lined baking sheet. The mounds sank somewhat so my candy looked more like coconut wafers. Though once they were in the freezer for an hour, I could  then shape them with my hands into an egg or ball shape. But they still turned out tastefully good, just like a Mounds Bar, so definitely worth making again. I plan on experimenting in the future with the potatoes. I'm going to use baking potatoes since they are drier than typical white potatoes, and use just enough milk to be able to mash the lumps.

 HAPPY EASTER!