Friday, April 9, 2010

Easter Egg-stravaganza

I love Easter.

Every year, we have a group of friends over for Easter Brunch. We eat eggs, ham and fruit and watch whatever basketball game or bad movie happens to be on TV. We play a game. We drink mimosas (and beer and wine and... you get the idea).

I've had some form of this brunch every year since I moved to Arizona. My friends look forward to the green chili egg casserole. Mike gets revved up several days in advance for the annual peanut butter egg baking.

I'm not going to lie: I have struggled with these darn things. The filling is good - or so I'm told... I hate peanut butter and therefore have never tried them. I just have to trust that my husband is being honest with me. With the speed at which he devours them, I choose to believe him. But the chocolate coating... this has been my baking nemesis for the past several years. My recipe calls for melting regular milk chocolate chips. I have tried this several times, with several different dipping techniques, and the result is always the same: it's too gooey and too thick to work with, and the egg shells end up too soft and thick. Still tasty, I'm told, just not a proper peanut butter egg.

I improved my technique last year, but the chocolate shell was still too thick. It was time to call on my mother-in-law: the original peanut butter egg maker. Mike kept trying to explain how her eggs shells turned out (smooth, hard and thin), and I'll be darned if I could figure out how she was doing it. She let me in on the secret: You must use candy coating chocolate, like Merckens. But Merckens cannot be found in your regular grocery store baking aisle, unless you patronize a super cool grocery store. No, you must find a cake decorating store and buy it there.

a-HA! And so I found a cake decorating store (think Toys R Us for bakers), and I bought a ridiculous amount of the stuff. Because this year, I decided to branch out. This year, I was going to make butter cream and coconut cream eggs, too. Recipe courtesy of my mom-in-law, the best egg maker in the land. The butter cream recipe is the base for the butter cream and the coconut eggs:


1/2 lb. butter, chilled
1/2 lb. cream cheese, chilled
1/2 tspn vanilla
1/2 tspn salt
2 lbs. confectioner's sugar
Coconut, if desired
Dark chocolate Merckens candy coating


Combine the butter, cream cheese, vanilla and salt in a food processor or mix with a mixer. Blend confectioner's sugar into the mixture. You can add coconut or cocoa to the filling for a chocolate flavor. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll into small balls or egg shapes; refrigerate for another hour. Melt dark chocolate in a double boiler and dip the eggs into the chocolate (see technique, below).

The recipe for the peanut butter eggs is here.

Some notes

*I cut the butter cream recipe in half and made a batch of butter cream and a batch of coconut eggs. I'll be honest: the plain butter cream eggs were REALLY rich. And I'm saying that as someone who loves really sweet, rich desserts. I think they actually might be too rich for me (say it ain't so!). And the filling is a bit softer than the peanut butter and coconut varieties, which made them a little more challenging to dip. The coconut was enough to cut the sweetness, and I also liked the consistency and thickness of the filling on those better.

*The recipe makes a ton of filling, so next year, I'll probably cut the recipe in half and make just the coconut version.

*I'm not sure how much coconut I added. Quite a bit. Several handfuls. I would add a big handful, stir it up and taste it. I did that several times until the taste and consistency seemed right (full disclosure: this was my favorite part of baking the eggs).

*Want my awesome new dipping technique? This is a variation on what my mom-in-law does. I drop the egg in the chocolate, swirl it around until it is fully coated, and then scoop it up with a fork. I tap the fork on the side of the pan a couple of times to shake the extra chocolate off, and then I drop it onto wax paper.

*I used light chocolate for the peanut butter eggs and dark chocolate for the coconut. This is most definitely the way to go.

*Once they were set, I put the eggs in individual paper muffin cups. I used different colors so I could keep track of what kind each one was. I think it made them pretty.


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