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Archive for Holidays & Occasions

FOOD FUN: Easter Popcorn Recipe

For an Easter weekend snack, how about some “Easter” popcorn?

Just combine plain popcorn with an Easter-theme confection: pastel sprinkles, mini pastel jelly beans or baking chips. We use pastel mint chips from Guittard, but a trip to the nearest candy store will yield other choices.

You can go one step further and make white chocolate popcorn bark with an Easter candy garnish. Because the candies adhere to the chocolate, you can use pastel M&Ms and other heavier confections (without the chocolate they’ll sink to the bottom of the bowl). This recipe is from Popcorn.org.

 
RECIPE: WHITE CHOCOLATE POPCORN BARK

Ingredients For 1 Pound (Twelve 3-Inch Squares)

  • 5 cups popped popcorn (purchased or home-popped)
  • 12 ounces white chocolate baking chips, chopped white chocolate or white candy coating*
  • 1 cup pastel candy (less for sprinkles)
  •  
    ________________________________
    *We use Guittard white chocolate chips or chop Green & Black’s or Lindt white chocolate bars. We avoid white candy coating because it substitutes vegetable oil for the cocoa butter in real chocolate (and that’s the reason many people dislike “white chocolate,” as they’re actually eating white candy coating).

     

    popcorn-rainbow-sprinkles-urbanaccents-230

    Easter popcorn. This batch is made with white chocolate and pastel sprinkles. Photo courtesy Popcorn.org.

     
    Preparation

    1. COVER a baking pan with foil or wax paper; set aside. Place the popcorn in a large bowl; set aside.

    2. MELT the chocolate in a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. When the chocolate is melted, stir in the candy.

    3. POUR the chocolate mixture over the popcorn and stir to coat. Spread the popcorn onto the prepared pan and allow to cool completely. When chocolate is cooled and set…

    4. BREAK into chunks for serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Easter Egg Dessert Pizza Or Fruit Platter

    fruit-pizza-easter-egg-sugarhero-230

    This Easter egg “dessert pizza” is glazed fruit atop baked cookie dough. Photo courtesy Elizabeth LaBau | Sugar Hero.

     

    Pastry chef Elizabeth LaBau of the blog SugarHero.com decided back in 2013 to create an egg-shaped dessert “pizza” for Easter: a cookie dough base topped with glazed fruit.

    Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Here’s the recipe.

    We always bake a cake with Easter decorations, and also serve a fruit salad. So three years ago, we adapted the “pizza” idea to a fruit platter.

  • Year 1: We took a tray and piped royal icing in an Easter egg shape, a border to contain the fruit. You could arrange the fruit without one, but as guests serve themselves, the border keeps the shape of the egg (not to mention, it keeps the grapes from rolling away).
  • Year 2: We had an inspiration to go back to the original recipe’s cookie dough, but use it raw to build the border. Unless you have a very steady hand, it’s much easier to shape strips of cookie dough into an egg than to pipe the shape. We used a tube of egg-free sugar cookie dough. Some people nibbled on the dough, some didn’t.
  • Year 3: We used chocolate chip cookie dough. Not surprisingly, most of it was nibbled up.
  •  

  • Year 4: This year, we’re using cream cheese frosting for the border. It’s easier to pipe and tweak (fix the shape) than royal icing. A recipe is below.
  •  
    Truth to tell, even with three years of practice, Ms. LaBau’s work is still far lovelier than ours. But we never claimed to be a professional pastry chef—just a professional pastry eater.

    RECIPE: CREAM CHEESE FROSTiNG

    Ingredients

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup strawberry jam, room temperature
  • 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
  •  
    Note: To frost a cake, you need a larger amount of icing. For vanilla cream cheese frosting, combine: 16 ounces cream cheese, 2 sticks (1 cup) softened butter, 1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar (sifted after measuring) and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE the ingredients and place in a piping bag and pipe an Easter egg shape.

    2. TIP: If you don’t want to pipe freehand, cut an egg shape from foil or parchment and use it as a guide. The trick is to fold the foil in half and cut half an Easter egg, so the halves will be perfectly symmetrical when you unfold it.

      

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    RECIPE: Double Coconut Easter Layer Cake

    Coconut Easter Layer Cake

    Easter Layer Cake

    Top: A classic Easter cake with coconut “grass” and Easter eggs. Bottom: You can tint the batter different colors for a surprise. Photo courtesy Reynolds Kitchens.

     

    Coconut cake has become an Easter tradition. Adults and children alike are tickled pink by the green coconut “grass” and Easter egg candies.

    This recipe from Reynolds Kitchens is “double coconut,” made with coconut layers as well a coconut frosting.

    RECIPE: DOUBLE COCONUT EASTER LAYER CAKE

    Ingredients
     
    For the Cake

  • 3-1/4 cups of flour
  • 1-/34 cups of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • 1 cup of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1-1/4 cups of canned coconut milk
  • 8 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon of coconut extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut
  • Optional: food color
  •  
    For the Frosting

  • 12 ounces of softened creamed cheese
  • 1 pound of room temperature unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons of coconut extract
  • 1 pound of sifted powdered sugar
  • 4 cups of sweetened shredded coconut
  • Green food coloring
  • Garnishes: small Easter egg candies
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment.

    2. WHISK together the egg whites and shredded coconut in a separate bowl. Add in the coconut extract and then the egg whites and shredded coconut mixture in 3 batches into the butter-sugar mixture.

    3a. MIX the flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl and add into the creamed butter-sugar mixture, while alternating with the coconut milk but beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. Be sure to stop and scrape the sides of the bowl often.

    3b. If you want to tint the layers, divide the batter into thirds and tint two of the three with a different pastel color.

    4. DISTRIBUTE the cake batter evenly into 3 cake pans. Bake the cake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm in the center. Cool the cake pans on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes.

    5. WHIP the butter and cream cheese in a standing mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Mix in the coconut extract and powdered sugar until completely blended.

    6. TOSS together in a slider storage bag 1-1/2 cups of the shredded coconut and 4 to 6 drops of green food coloring, until the coconut becomes green. Frost the cooled coconut cake in layers with a small amount of frosting. After each layer has been frosted, sprinkle on ½ cup of shredded coconut and press into the frosting before adding on the next layer of cake.

    7. FROST the entire outside and top of the cake and use the remaining shredded white coconut to coat the outside of the cake.

    8. FINISH the top of the layered coconut cake by sprinkling on the green coconut shreds, but take care to not get any of the shreds around the outside. Garnish the top of the cake with assorted Easter egg candy and chocolate.

     

    LAKER CAKE BAKING TIPS

    These tips for creating the perfect layer cake are from Reynolds Kitchens:

  • Start by carefully reading the recipe. Baking is scientific, and requires ingredient precision to achieve the best results. For example, if you combine all your ingredients and later realize your eggs needed to be beaten separately, your cake could come out mealy.
  • Cool the layers upside-down. When the layers are done baking (a toothpick can be inserted and removed cleanly), flip them upside down onto a cooling rack so the cake tops are flat. Otherwise, your cakes may cool with a rounded top, which must be leveled with a long serrated knife.
  • Use applesauce to lighten the calories. Substitute plain applesauce evenly for vegetable oil in the recipe. The applesauce will maintain the cake’s moisture and flavor but will decrease the unwanted fat and calories.
  •  
    FROSTING TIPS

     

    Cake Icing

    Icing a cake is easier on a pedestal. Photo courtesy SugarSweetBakery.

  • Allow the cake to cool entirely prior to frosting. A warm cake will cause the frosting to melt into a messy, thin layer on top and virtually no frosting on the sides.
  • Use a generous amount of frosting between layers and ensure that it is evenly distributed. If you are filling with custard, fruit purée or jam, first create a barrier of frosting around the top rim of the layer, to keep the filling from spilling out of the cake.
  • Place the cake on its pedestal prior to frosting. First use 4 to 5 pieces of wax paper to completely covering the pedestal, allowing some to hang over the pedestal sides. Frost the cake and remove the wax paper.
  •   

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Hot Cross Buns

    Hot Cross Buns

    Hot Cross Buns

    Top: What a treat: Warm hot cross buns (photo King Arthur Flour). Bottom: You can substitute dried cherries or cranberries for the raisins (photo Ocean Spray).

     

    Tomorrow is Good Friday, a traditional time for Hot Cross Buns. You can mix up the dough today, divide it into muffin pans, mix up the frosting…and have everything ready when you wake up tomorrow. In just 20 minutes, Hot Cross Buns will emerge from the oven: fragrant with spices, sweet with dried fruit.

    from King Arthur Flour

    And you don’t need to save these delicious breakfast buns for Easter. Although that’s why they have an icing cross, you can…

    RECIPE: HOT CROSS BUNS

    Prep time is 25-35 minutes, rise time is 1 hour, bake time is 20 minutes. You can prepare the dough in advance and refrigerate it overnight. See footnote*.

    Ingredients For 12 To 14 Buns

    For The Buns

  • 1/4 cup apple juice or rum
  • 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup raisins or dried currants
  • 1-1/4 cups milk, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, 1 separated
  • 6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 4-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • For The Egg Wash

  • 1 large egg white, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  •  
    For The Icing

  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 teaspoons milk, or enough to make a thick, pipeable icing
  •  
    ___________________________________
     
    *You can refrigerate the completed dough for the first rise (first proof), from a few hours to a few days. For loaves of bread, refrigerate unshaped dough; then shape it after removing it from the fridge. Refrigerate the dough immediately after mixing, not after a rise. After removing from the fridge, let it rise a second time on the counter. This can take one hour or several, depending on the yeast. Refrigeration actually yields tastier results because the yeast has more time to do its work. Allow the dough to warm up a little before baking.

    You can shape loaves before refrigeration, but it may produce an uneven rise because the center of a large loaf will warm much more slowly after removal from the fridge. However, buns are small enough to avoid this problem, so feel free to shape before you refrigerate. [Source]

     

    Preparation

    1. LIGHTLY GREASE a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

    2. MIX the rum or apple juice with the dried fruit and raisins, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave briefly, just until the fruit and liquid are very warm and the plastic starts to “shrink wrap” itself over the top of the bowl. Set aside to cool to room temperature. When the fruit is cool…

    3. MIX together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit. Knead, using an electric mixer or bread machine, until the dough is soft and elastic. Mix in the fruit and any liquid. Let the dough rise for 1 hour, covered. It should become puffy, though it may not double in bulk.

    4. DIVIDE the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces. That’s about 3-3/4 ounces each—about 1/3 cup, a heaped muffin scoop. Use greased hands to round the dough into balls and place them in the prepared pan.

     

    Good Friday Buns

    Originally, the cross atop Hot Cross Buns was a simple knife cut. The icing came later. Photo courtesy BBCGoodFood.com. Photo courtesy BBCGoodFood.com.

     
    5. COVER the pan, and let the buns rise for 1 hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

    6. WHISK together the reserved egg white and milk, and brush it over the buns. Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool.

    7. MIX together the icing ingredients, and when the buns are completely cool, pipe a cross shape atop each bun.
     

    THE HISTORY OF HOT CROSS BUNS

    The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” appears in 1733. A sweet yeast bun filled with raisins or currants, the cross on top was originally made with knife cuts. Over time, icing was piped over the cuts.

    The cross symbolizes the crucifixion, and the buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday.

    They are believed to predate Christianity: Similar buns were eaten by Saxons to honor Eostre, the goddess of spring. In their ancient pagan culture, the cross is believed to have symbolized the four quarters of the moon.

    “Eostre” is believed to be the origin of Easter. Many pagan holidays were ported into Christianity in its early days, to encourage pagans to convert to the new faith.

    You don’t have to wait for Good Friday to enjoy hot cross buns. They’re too delicious to save for one day of the year. You can variety the recipe with dried cherries or cranberries instead of raisins.

      

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    EASTER: Peeps Cupcakes With Hidden Surprise

    Who doesn’t love a surprise? Certainly, this Easter cupcake counts as one: In addition to an alluring Peeps chick on top, these cupcakes from Betty Crocker have a surprise in the middle—other Easter candies.

     
    RECIPE: PEEPS CUPCAKES WITH HIDDEN SURPRISE

    Ingredients For 24 Cupcakes

  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist yellow cake mix (or your own yellow cupcake recipe)
  • Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
  • 1 cup assorted mini candy-coated chocolate candies, jimmies or confetti candy sprinkles (we used pastel M&Ms)
  • 1 container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy white frosting -or- make the easy (and much better-tasting) homemade buttercream*—recipe below
  • Green food color
  • Optional: green sparkling/decorating sugar
  • 24 Peeps marshmallow chicks (yellow or assorted colors)
  • Optional: Pastel cupcake wrappers
  •  
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.

    2. MAKE the cake batter as directed on box. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about two-thirds full). Bake as directed on box for cupcakes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

    3. SCOOP out the center of each cupcake, about 1 inch deep, using melon baller. Fill each with 1 heaping teaspoonful candies.

    4. SPOON the frosting into a medium bowl; stir in enough food color until you have your desired green color. Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with colored sugar. Top with a Peeps chick. Store loosely covered.

       

    peeps-surprise-cupcakes-1-bettycrocker-230

    peeps-Chick-Surprise-Cupcakes-2-230

    Peeps Easter cupcakes with a hidden surprise. Photos courtesy Betty Crocker.

     
    ____________________________________
    *All you need to make buttercream is a stick of unsalted butter, a cup of confectioners’ sugar, 1/4 cup whole milk and the flavoring of your choice, such as 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. You can tint it any color you like. Here’s the recipe for chocolate buttercream and other flavors.

     

    Colored Peeps

    Easter Cake

    Top: The original Peeps were made in yellow and white. Today there’s a rainbow of colors (photo courtesy Pioneer Press). Bottom: This Peeps Easter Bunny Cake recipe is from FoodySchmoodyBlog.com.

     

    PEEPS HISTORY

    In 1920, confectioner Sam Born opened a small candy store in Brooklyn, New York, selling fresh confections made daily. In 1953, he introduced Peeps marshmallow chicks in yellow and white.

    It used to take 27 hours to make a single Peep: Each one was hand-squeezed from a pastry tube. Now it takes six minutes on a mechanized line. Sam Born’s son, Bob, mechanized production in 1954 with a special machine still used today. The business, the Just Born Company, is still family owned.

    An average 5.5 million Peeps are made every day. That’s 2 billion Peeps a year, enough to circle the Earth three times.

    Peeps bunnies were added in 1973. The chicks way outsell the bunnies: 4 of every 5 Peeps purchased are chicks. But chick or bunny, Peeps are the number-one selling non-chocolate Easter candy.

    Beyond Original Marshmallow Peeps, there are now flavored Peeps (Blueberry Delight, Candy Cane, Candy Corn Dipped Peeps, Cherry Cordial, Chocolate Mousse, Fruit Punch, Lime Delight, Mystery Flavor, Orange Delight, Raspberry Delight, Strawberry Creme, Sugar Plum, Vanilla), as well as Original in blue, green, lavender, orange and pink colors.

    There are chocolate-dipped Peeps, Peeps atop sugar cookies, Sugar-Free Peeps, Peeps Marshmallow Eggs, Peeps Lollipops, gift sets and wearables (headbands, slippers, socks, etc.), all sold at Peeps & Company retail stores and online.

    And there’s more: Peeps Snowmen, Peeps Jack o’Lanterns, Peeps Witch Chicks, Green Marshmallow Christmas Trees and Chocolate Mint Christmas Trees.

     
    You can see them all here.

    Google “Peeps recipes” and you’ll find Peeps fondue, Peeps sushi, Peeps pizza, Peepsicles, even Peeps pots de crème.

    Just Born also makes Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike and Teenee Beanee jelly beans.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Candy Apples

    M&Ms Caramel Apple

    Easter Chick Chocolate Apple

    Easter Candy Apples

    TOP: Roll a caramel apple in M&Ms (photo Amy’s Apples). Center: Turn the apple into a chick with yellow sprinkles (photo Amy’s Apples). Bottom: You can make a hard candy coating like the red Halloween apples, switching the red food color for pastels. Photo courtesy Rose Bakes.

     

    Candy apples have a strong association with Halloween. But the treat, which adds a good-for-you apple to the candy components, can be embellished for any occasion.

    It’s the first full day of spring and a week from Easter, so what are you waiting for?

    Join confectioners across the nation who make seasonal apples, typically caramel or caramel coated with chocolate. White chocolate can be used as is or tinted in Easter and spring colors.

    You can also use a milk or dark chocolate coat, but some decorations look better against white. However, if you’re totally covering the apple with coconut or M&Ms, the color of chocolate underneath doesn’t matter matter.

    You can also make a hard candy apple coating like the red Halloween apples, but with pastel spring colors instead of red. Here’s how.

    You can use any candy apple, caramel apple or chocolate apple recipe.

    The apples of choice are sweet-tart varieties: Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith.

    If you’re using chocolate, you can melt baking chips; but if your palate is sensitive to the difference, spring for Lindt bars or other well-priced “premium” brands.
     
    WHERE TO BEGIN

    Click the links to take a look at different approaches to decorating Easter apples. Most are very easy to make; adding bunny ears does take some technique.

    Popular decorations include:

  • Colored chocolate shavings or baking chips.
  • Himalayan pink sea salt. For a sweet and salty apple you can use 100% pink sea salt or blended with pink sparkling sugar), lavender sparkling sugar, etc.
  • Mini candy Easter eggs or jelly beans, placed around the stick end of the apple. First add with other decorations like sprinkles or green tinted coconut.
  • Pastel candy pearls.
  • Pastel sprinkles and confetti. Wilton has a nice Easter mix.
  • Pink or mixed color sparkling sugar (a.k.a. decorator sugar and sanding sugar).
  • Something exotic, like pink bunny sprinkles, or an actual marshmallow Peep sitting atop the decorated apple (the stick is pushed through it).
  •  
    CANDY APPLES HISTORY

    The practice of coating fruit in sugar syrup dates back to ancient times. In addition to tasting good, honey and sugar were used as preserving agents to keep fruit from rotting.

    According to FoodTimeline.org, food historians generally agree that caramel apples (toffee apples) probably date to the late 19th century. Both toffee and caramel can be traced to the early decades of the 18th century. Inexpensive toffee and caramels became available by the end of the 19th century. Culinary evidence confirms soft, chewy caramel coatings from that time.

    Red cinnamon-accented candy apples came later. And, while long associated with Halloween, they were originally Christmas fare, not a Halloween confection.

    According to articles in the Newark Evening News in 1948 and 1964, the red candy apple was invented in 1908 by William W. Kolb, a local confectioner.

     
    Experimenting with red cinnamon candies for Christmas, he dipped apples into the mixture and the modern candy apple was born. The tasty treat was soon being sold at the Jersey Shore, the circus and then in candy shops nationwide.

    Later, coatings evolved to include caramel and chocolate, along with candy decorations ranging from simple to elaborate.

     
      

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    RECIPE: Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

    Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies

    Dutched Cocoa Powder

    Top: Sweet and salty, chocolate and caramel: How can you resist? A recipe and photo from The Baker Chick. Bottom: Dutch process, or Dutched cocoa, is processed with alkali to neutralize cocoa’s natural acidity. It is milder in flavor and lighter in color than non-Dutched cocoa powder. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

    Thanks to The Baker Chick for helping us celebrate National Chocolate Caramel Day, March 19th. We made her wickedly good Salted Caramel Pretzel Brownies.

     
    RECIPE: SALTED CARAMEL PRETZEL BROWNIES

     
    Ingredients For 24 Brownies

    For The Pretzel Crust

  • 4 cups small pretzels, crushed into small pieces
  • 6 tablespoons of butter, melted
  •  
    For The Brownies

  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs plus 2 large yolks
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  •  
    For The Toppings

  • 1 cup salted caramel sauce (purchased or homemade)
  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling
  •  
    Preparation

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Fit a 9×13 pan with foil or parchment paper. Overlap two sheets, including two tabs that hang over the sides, so you can easily lift the brownies out of the pan.

    2. ADD the crushed pretzels to the bottom of the pan and drizzle with the melted butter. Set aside while you make the brownie batter.

     
    3. WHISK together the cocoa powder and boiling water in a large bowl, whisking quickly until just combined. Add the chopped chocolate and stir until melted. Add the oil, melted butter, eggs, yolks and vanilla, whisking after each addition. Add the sugar, mix until well-combined. Sprinkle the flour and salt over the batter and then fold in, mixing until smooth and well incorporated while not over-mixing.

    4. POUR the caramel sauce over the batter in lines going vertically, then horizontally. Use the tip of a knife or skewer to swirl the batter back and forth.

    5. BAKE for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let brownies cool completely before cutting into squares.

     
      

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    EASTER CANDY: Easter Chocolate From Our Favorite Chocolatiers

    You can’t enter a food or drug store without facing down all the chocolate Easter bunnies and other candy. Thank you very much, but when we eat chocolate, it’s got to be really good chocolate.

    Here’s a sample of what are favorite chocolatiers are featuring this Easter. The candies are all natural (no artificial colors, flavors or preservatives) and handmade in small batches. All are beautifully packaged. Each company has other Easter choices as well.

    Since they don’t contain preservatives, artisan chocolates should be eaten within 10 days of receipt. (That’s not a tall order!)

    BURDICK CHOCOLATE:
    SIGNATURE BUNNY BOX

    This keepsake wooden box contains our favorite Burdick Easter candies, embellished with a gold wax seal and a beautiful ribbon. It includes:

  • Five hand-piped White Chocolate Bunnies with an orange-flavored hazelnut chocolate interior and almond ears
  • Two sets of Marzipan Eggs
  • Two sets of Chocolate Truffles
  •  
    The Signature Bunny Box is $26.00 at BurdickChocolate.com.
     
    CHARLES CHOCOLATES:
    EDIBLE CHOCOLATE BOX OF BONBONS

    A signature item at Charles Chocolates, the Easter Edible Chocolate Box has a white chocolate lid with a smiling Easter bunny. The bottom of the box is dark chocolate. Yes, it’s 100% edible.

    Inside the box are the chocolatier’s chocolate-enrobed caramels—Classic Fleur de Sel and Bittersweet Chocolate Fleur de Sel Caramels—with chick and bunny designs. The total weight of the box and contents is 17 ounces.

    The Easter Collection Edible Chocolate Box is $65.00 at CharlesChocolates.com.

     
    JOHN & KIRA’S:
    CHOCOLATE COTTONTAILS

    You’ll have to provide your own grass, because these adorable Chocolate Cottontails arrive in a charming keepsake box made of heavy pink paper. The label is removable so the box can be repurposed as you like.

    Three of the Cottontails are filled with peanut butter praline, three with coconut ganache and three with salted honey caramel. The outer shell is white chocolate, with a dark chocolate shell underneath.

    The box of 9 bonbons is $29.95 JohnandKiras.com.

       

    Gourmet Easter Chocolate Assortment

    Gourmet Easter Chocolate

    /home/content/p3pnexwpnas01 data02/07/2891007/html/wp content/uploads/2016 chocolate cottontails johnkira 230s

    Top: Signature Bunny Box from Burdick Chocolate. Center: Edible Chocolate Box from Charles Chocolates. Bottom: Chocolate Cottontails from John&Kira’s.

     

    Recchiuti Easter Eggs

    Gourmet Chocolate Easter Eggs

    Z Chocolat Easter Candy

    Top: Recchiuti’s Easter Eggs are filled with burnt caramel and chocolate ganache. Center: Speckled Robin’s Eggs from Woodhouse Chocolate are filled with brown butter ganache. Bottom: Classic French pralines in a mahogany box from Z Chocolat.

     

    RECCHIUTI CHOCOLATE:
    CARAMEL & CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS

    This special box of chocolate Easter eggs divides the treasure between Recchiuti’s beloved Burnt Caramel in milk chocolate shells and his Force Noir Ganache (dark chocolate laced with vanilla) in dark chocolate shells.

    The Combo Egg Box, 28 pieces (10.75 ounces of chocolate), is $45.00 at Recchiuti.com. Note that the eggs are halves (the backs are flat).
     
    WOODHOUSE CHOCOLATE:
    SPECKLED BROWN BUTTER GANACHE CHOCOLATE EGGS

    These beautiful Speckled Robin’s Eggs are delicately hand colored in pastels and filled with Woodhouse’s signature Brown Butter Ganache. The box can be given as is, or added to an Easter basket.

    A box of six pastel eggs is $15 at WoodhouseChocolate.com.

     
    Z CHOCOLAT:
    EASTER PRALINES

    How about an elegant gift sent directly from France? Virtually no one will have received such a special box of chocolate.

    Z Chocolat, known for its elegant packaging, offers its Easter pralines—miniature chicks, bunnies, and other critters—in stunning black boxes.

    But even more stunning are the two fine wood boxes: the Easter Diamond box, handcrafted mahogany that’s embellished with an artistic egg motif and a gold metal latch; and the white basswood box.

    No matter which box you choose, it’s filled with pralines and solid chocolates in dark, milk and white.

  • The Easter Diamond (Mahogany) Box is $189.48 for 76 pralines.
  • The Easter Sunshine (Basswood) Box is $148.87 for 52 pralines.
  • Three sizes of heavy black paper boxes are $39.47 for 26 pralines to $136.46 for 62 pralines.
  •  
    Prices were converted to dollars from Euros at a $1.13/euro conversion rate.

    Head to ZChocolat.com.

     

      

    Comments

    EASTER: Speckled Egg Malted Milk Cake

    Easter is early this year: just 10 days after St. Patrick’s Day, on March 27th. This year we’re passing on our beloved coconut-covered lamb cake in favor of this elegant caker. Who knows: Next year, maybe we’ll make one of each.

     
    RECIPE: SPECKLED EGG MALTED MILK CAKE FOR EASTER

    Wow guests with this impressive cake inspired by malted milk candy eggs. It was developed by Heather Baird for Betty Crocker.

    Prep time is 40 minutes, baking, frosting and assembly time is 2 hours. You’ll also need a new, stiff-bristle paint brush to “fling” the chocolate speckles. (It’s fun!)
     
    Ingredients For 10 Servings

    For The Cake

  • 1 box Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  •  
    For The Frosting

  • 1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Dash salt
  • Liquid blue food color
  •  
    For The Speckling Chocolate

  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened baking cocoa
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  •  
    For The Phyllo Nest

  • 1/3 cup kataifi* (kah-TAY-fie, shredded phyllo dough)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 speckled candy-coated malted milk egg candies
  •  

    speckled-egg-malted-milk-cake-2-230

    Athens Foods Kataifi

    Top: An Easter cake delight by Heather Baird for Betty Crocker (photo courtesy Betty Crocker). Bottom: Make the nest with kataifi, shredded phyllo dough (photo courtesy Athens Foods).

     
    ________________________
    *Shredded phyllo (fillo) dough, kataifi, looks like shredded wheat. In addition to Greek pastries, it is often used to make edible bird nests. Look for it in a Greek or Mediterranean market or wherever Athens Foods products are sold; or buy it online.

     
    Preparation

    1. HEAT the oven to 350°F. Spray 3 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray; set aside.

    2. WHISK together in large bowl the cake mix and malted milk powder. Add the remaining cake ingredients; beat with electric mixer on low speed until well combined. Divide the batter evenly among the cake pans.

    3. BAKE for 22 to 28 minutes or until the layers spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool the cakes in the pans on cooling racks for 5 minutes. Turn the layers out onto cooling racks and cool completely, about 30 minutes. Level the cakes using a large serrated knife or cake leveler, as needed.

    4. MAKE the frosting: In a large bowl, beat the softened butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer on low speed until incorporated. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and salt and beat 1 minute longer. Add the blue food color, 1 drop at a time, beating until a light blue color is achieved.

    5. FILL and and frost the cooled layers. Refrigerate the frosted cake 1 hour or until the frosting is dry to the touch.

    6. MIX the baking cocoa and vanilla in small condiment bowl. Load a new (unused) stiff-bristle paint brush with the cocoa mixture. Using your fingers, flick the loaded brush bristles toward cake, creating a splatter pattern. Re-load the brush and cover the entire cake with chocolate speckles. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes.

    7. MAKE the phyllo nest: Heat the oven to 375°F. Butter 1 muffin cup in regular-size muffin pan. Tear off 1/3 cup portion of kataifi and place it in the muffin cup in a circular nest shape. Gently brush the phyllo nest with melted butter. Bake for 15 minutes or until the phyllo is golden brown around the edges. Gently remove the nest with a fork; cool on a cooling rack.

    8. ATTACH the cooled nest to the cake with a dot of frosting. Place the 3 speckled egg candies inside nest. To serve, bring the cake to room temperature. Store the cake loosely covered with plastic wrap.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Horseradish Sauce

    Pork With Horseradish Sauce

    Salmon & Horseradish Sauce

    Steak & Horseradish Sauce

    Fresh Horseradish Roots

    Horseradish Root

    Horseradish sauce on: (1) roast pork sandwich (from National Pork Board), (2) poached salmon with dill-horseradish sauce (Sysco), (3) steak salad (Good Eggs); (4) horseradish root, freshly dug (North Fork Horseradish Festival) and (5) horseradish root as it often looks in the market (Markon.com).

     

    In the U.K., horseradish sauce has long been paired with roast beef. But its zinginess enhances other beef preparations from filet mignon to steak, brisket and corned beef; other meat dishes (pork, lamb, smoked chicken) including sandwiches; assertive seafood like mackerel, salmon and smoked fish; even veggies.

    To make horseradish sauce, you can use a base of sour cream or heavy cream, or substitute fat-free Greek yogurt. Made with fat-free yogurt, it’s a low-calorie sauce.

    You can add other flavor accents, from capers to herbs to Dijon mustard to lemon zest, all with negligible caloric impact.

    The sauce can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

     
    RECIPE #1: HORSERADISH SAUCE WITH HERBED WHIPPED CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 1 horseradish root, peeled
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Herb: chervil, dill, parsley or chervil (or capers or lemon zest)
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRATE the horseradish root finely with a microplane into a small bowl. Mix it with a splash of white wine vinegar to prevent browning.

    2. WHIP the cream until soft peaks form. Gently fold into the whipped cream with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Mix in the herb as desired.

    3. PLACE in the fridge for 2-4 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.

     
    RECIPE #2: HORSERADISH SAUCE WITH DIJON SOUR CREAM

    Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup grated fresh horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon or grainy mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. GRATE the horseradish root finely with a microplane into a small bowl. Mix it with a splash of white wine vinegar to prevent browning.

    2. PLACE all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until smooth and creamy.

    3. PLACE in the fridge for 2-4 hours to allow the flavors to meld. Before serving, taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
     
    WHAT IS HORSERADISH?

    Believed to be native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, horseradish has been cultivated for some 3,000 years, prized for its culinary uses as well as for homeopathy.

    A pungent root, horseradish is a perennial plant in the Brassicaceae family* of cruciferous vegetables, known for their antioxidant, cancer-fighting properties. It is a root vegetable that is used as a spice.

     
    Like mustard, the raw plant is not pungent. The heat and aroma only appear when the appropriate part of the plant is crushed (mustard seeds), cut or grated (horseradish root), creating a chemical reaction. Once exposed to air or heat, the pungency begins to erode. Prepared horseradish is grated root that adds vinegar to preserve the pungency (and needs to be refrigerated).
     
    Why is it a “horse” radish?

    In German, the root is called meerrettich, sea radish, because it grows by the sea. It is believed that the English mispronounced the German word “meer” as “mare,” and began calling it mare radish, which evolved to horseradish. “Radish” comes from the Latin radix, meaning root.

    While horseradish and conventional radishes are both members of the Brassicacae family (“Brassica” in English), they are from different geniuses. The horseradish genus and species is Amoracia rustincana, and the radish is Raphanus sativus.

    During the Renaissance, horseradish consumption spread northward from Central Europe to England and Scandinavia. While it was used medicinally, it wasn’t until 1640 that the British began to eat horseradish, and then only by the rural people who grew it.

    But by the late 1600s, horseradish had become the standard English accompaniment for both beef and oysters. The English, in fact, grew the pungent root at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travelers.

    Early settlers to the American Colonies brought horseradish to cultivate. It was common in the northeast by 1806.

    In the U.S., commercial cultivation began in the mid 1850s, when immigrants started horseradish farms in the Midwest. After World War II, horseradish was planted commercially in Northern California and other areas in the country. Today, approximately 6 million gallons of prepared horseradish are produced annually in the U.S., with a much smaller amount of fresh root sales.

    While the root gets all the press, horseradish leaves are also edible: raw or cooked, in pestos, salads, sautés and stir fries. They have a sharp, bitter, peppery taste similar to arugula and kale, their Brassica cousins.

    Horseradish.org, which supplied some of this information, has dozens of horseradish-related recipes from the expected (dips and sauces) to the intriguing (cream of horseradish soup with peas and bacon).

    Two of our favorite recipes are horseradish compound butter for steak, and horseradish mashed potatoes.
     
    ________________________________

    *The Brassica family of cruciferous vegetables, called Brassicaceae in the Latin-based taxonomy system, includes bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, horseradish/wasabi, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes and turnips, among others.

      

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