Staying indoors this weekend? Why not whip up a batch of Easter eggs with your loved ones? Experts share tips for first-timers
From pretty pastel marzipan shades to velvety chocolate hues and everything in between, there is a childlike wonder to receiving Easter eggs. It really does not matter if they are elaborately designed or just wrapped in shiny tin foil, the anticipation of being gifted one is well worth the wait.
The fact you get them just at this time of year, makes them all the more desirable. Every other delicacy and baked delight can be conjured up at birthdays or Christmas or any other special occasion — except Easter eggs.
And while egg-shaped chocolates with little toys inside can be bought off the shelf any day of the year now, there is still a lot of fun to be had in making your own Easter eggs. They may not look perfect the first time round, but the glorious mess and lingering aroma of hot chocolate or the sticky sweetness of marzipan that goes into fashioning one, will have you at it till you get it right.
Though the process seems pretty straightforward, there are some directions you must keep in mind to achieve the desired ovoid result.
First, the basics
You will need: Cooking chocolate, food thermometer, candy treats
To begin with, one needs to melt chocolate to the right temperature. Called ‘tempering,’ this step is needed to keep the chocolate smooth and glossy and more importantly, to keep it from melting easily; a big plus when fashioning an Easter egg.
So how do you temper chocolate? Firstly, never heat chocolate directly. Put two-thirds of your cooking chocolate in a bowl and hold it over a saucepan of boiling water. Keep stirring till it melts. Take it away from the heat and add the rest of the chocolate, all the while stirring so it melts too.
Easter eggs by Sri’s Cake Lab in Bengaluru
“Make sure you use a food thermometer while tempering chocolate. It will break easily if the consistency is not right,” says Sunita Rebecca, a home baker from Hyderabad.
Ideally, the temperature of the chocolate should not exceed 120°F for dark chocolate or 105°F for milk or white chocolate.
Sounds tiresome? Rohit Thomas Kadicheeni of Silvis Creations, Kochi, recommends that first timers use compound chocolate instead of cooking chocolate, as it does not need tempering.
“It doesn’t melt so fast either, making it easier to work with. Melt it, set it and your egg is done,” he says.
However, he does warn against trying to melt a bar of store-bought chocolate. “It would need tempering too,” he cautions.
Next, smear the melted chocolate on the insides of a mould with a basting brush. If you do not have a brush, swirl the chocolate around the insides of the mould and remove the excess.
“If you don’t have a mould, reuse a Kinder Joy casing or any other rounded object to make your eggs,” says Meena Faszer, a home baker from Bengaluru. Online tutorials advocate the use of balloons for the same purpose.
Next, refrigerate the mould for 10-15 minutes till the chocolate solidifies. Apply another layer of chocolate and refrigerate for another 10-15 minutes. Repeat the process for a third coat.
Remember, the more layers you have, the stronger the ‘egg shell’.
Once you are done with the layering process, ease the egg halves out of the moulds.
Oiling the moulds before you begin makes this step easier and gives your egg shell a glossy finish. Fill one half of your egg with smaller sweet treats.
Place the other half on a warm surface, just enough to melt the edges a bit and then ‘glue’ both the halves together.
Voila! And there you have it — your very first Easter egg!
Easter eggs by Sri’s Cake Lab in Bengaluru
“Once you have a number of eggs ready, decorating them is a fun family pastime — whether you are icing shapes or names on them or just getting them ‘basket ready’,” says Meena.
You can decorate your eggs with melted chocolate or icing sugar. White chocolate or milk chocolate stands out if you are writing something on the egg, though you can use the same chocolate base for simple decorative designs. (It is also a great way to use up any extra melted chocolate).
You can use icing sugar paste that can be coloured for brighter designs. Just fill up a piping bag and use different nozzles to make a variety of patterns.
If you don’t have a piping bag: Find a small plastic bag that is of a sturdy quality, roughly about the size of your palms. Fill it halfway with your icing of choice. Squeeze the filling to a corner of the plastic bag, giving it a conical shape and secure the opening with a rubber band or tape.
Finally, cut the tip of the cone — you now have a home made piping bag. Keep in mind the surface area you will be working on. Snipping out a biggish piece of the corner will leave you with a lot of icing gushing out; which might be difficult to manage on a small egg.
If you are fairly confident of your skills and/or have a steady hand, you can also roll up butter paper or parchment paper into a cone and use it instead of a piping bag.
If not chocolate…
“Easter eggs can be made with marshmallows too,” says Sunita Rebecca. “Melt marshmallows and add crushed rice Krispies to the mix and you get a pliable, colourful medium you can use to shape eggs.”
Rice cereal is required to bring stiffness to the melted marshmallows, which would otherwise be too runny to use.
“Moisten your hands with water or dab butter on your palms to make the moulding easier,” advises Sunita.
According to Srivatsan S of Sri’s Cake Lab, Bengaluru, “Marzipan is a great medium to make Easter eggs as you can use a lot of colours on them.” Srivatsan, who has been creating themed Easter eggs this season, uses cashew paste instead of the traditional almond paste for his marzipan.
“You have to realise this is a very delicate material and an oily substance as well, so don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t turn out well the first few times. You’ll eventually get the hang of it,” he says.
Once you do, it is almost as versatile as edible play dough, and can be moulded into any shape on its own without casings.
Though marzipan eggs are not hollow, Srivatsan says people have been known to customise them by placing useful items like stationery instead of candy inside. Once you have your fillings decided, all that is left is icing. Pour some icing sugar into a piping bag and just have fun!