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TIP OF THE DAY: Make Easter Eggs Filled With Cake!

Steph of The Cupcake Project created a recipe called How to Make Cupcakes in Egg Shells.

But, if you decorate the eggs before serving, you have Easter Egg Surprise: an egg with cake inside.

It’s fun and memorable: Most people won’t have seen anything like it.

Here’s the recipe.

We took it one step further, using white eggs and decorating them.

This protects everyone from any bacteria on the egg, and protects the eggshells from any oils on hands that may prevent the dye from adhering.
 
HOW TO DECORATE CAKE EGGS AFTER THEY’RE COOKED

We used a wide paintbrush and took the advice of Incredible Egg to use water warmer than the eggs.

They also caution that hands should be washed in hot, soapy water before and after handling eggs—even if they’ve already been cooked or decorated.

Because a hole has been punched into the top of the shells to insert the cake batter (photo #1), you can’t fully dip cooked cake eggs in dye (well…maybe if you use dark chocolate cake, a bit of color won’t show).

Instead, you can try one of these three techniques.

  • Option 1: Try this if you have an exceedingly nimble grip, and can hold the eggs at the top while dipping them into the dye. We filled a juice glass with dye (diluted in water) that would not reach the top of the egg when the egg was added to the glass. The narrow glass held the egg upright. We could lift the egg out using doctors’ gloves and a spatula, but it wasn’t easy.
  • Option 2: We next moved to the hand-painted approach. Using wide hobby paintbrushes, we placed food coloring in ramekins, placed the egg upright on a nonslip mat and held it with one hand, as we painted swaths of color with the other.
  • Option 3: We didn’t try this one for lack of time, but we think it will work and could be the easiest. Dye the eggshells before adding the cake batter, and bake the cake in the colored shells. The cake eggs bake at 350°F for 23 minutes, so they should retain their colors.
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    You can practice the first two techniques with the raw eggs in your fridge (and return them for subsequent cooking).

    Or, you can color whole eggs and then bake them in the oven to get hard boiled eggs.

    The hard boiled eggs look and taste the same.

    THE HISTORY OF EASTER EGGS

    The tradition of painting hard-boiled eggs during springtime pre-dates Christianity. Fertility and rebirth are fundamental to life—not just for people but for the crops and animals that sustain them.

    The most ancient known decorated eggs are 60,000 years old: engraved ostrich eggs found in Africa. Decorated eggs have also been found from prehistoric Egypt and the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete [source].

     

    Cake Easter Eggs

    Cake Easter Eggs

    Dyed Easter Eggs

    [1] and [2] It’s an egg. No, it’s a little cake (photos courtesy Cupcake Project). Use white eggs if you plan to color them. [3] Here’s how to get these beautiful colors, from Urban Comfort.

     
    Easter was a pagan holiday adopted by Christians; it has no relation to Christ.

    The Christian custom of Easter eggs began among the early Christians of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs with red dye in memory of the blood of Christ (more).

    The Easter holiday itself is named for the Germanic goddess Eostre (Eostra, Eostur, Ostara, Ostare, Ostern and other names), a fertility goddess. Her name derives from the ancient word for spring, eastre,

    She was very popular with Anglo-Saxon pagans in Brittania as well, many of whom were descended from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island.

    Eostre’s sacred animal is the rabbit, a symbol of fertility; and the egg is her symbol of fertile purity, both of which involve the spring and new birth.

    In Old German, the month of April was called Ostar-manod: Easter month, or month of the Goddess Eostre. In Old English, it became Easter-monab (pronounced eh-AH-ster moh-NATH).

    The English word April derives from the Latin aperire, to open (e.g. buds).

      

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    PRODUCT: Easy Coconut Macaroon Mix For Passover

    Macaroons are a delicious cookie year-round. The originals were invented by Italian monks from ground almonds. The name derives from the Italian maccherone.

    Italian Jews adopted the cookie for eight-day observation of Passover, because it was free of restricted ingredients like flour and leavening.

    The macaroon was introduced to other European Jews and became popular as a year-round sweet. Over time, coconut was added to the ground almonds and, in certain recipes, replaced them.

    Macaroons arrived in France in 1533 with the pastry chefs of Catherine de Medici, wife of King Henri II.

    But the French macaron, a meringue sandwich, was centuries away.

    The concept was invented by Pierre Desfontaines Ladurée, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, had the idea to join two meringues and fill them with ganache.

    Here’s more history of macaroons and macarons.

    MAKE MACAROONS FOR PASSOVER

    You can make them from scratch, or pick up a box or two (or three) of King Arthur Flour’s Coconut Macaroon Cookie Mix.

    It’s $5.95 per box, yielding approximately 2 dozen macaroons; and it’s certified kosher.

    They’re super-easy to make: Just add water to the mix, scoop them into balls and bake.

    If you love coconut, this is your cookie. Ever so slightly toasty on the outside, moist and chewy inside.

    They’re as good or better than any from-scratch recipe we’ve had.

    While the ingredients themselves do not have gluten, the mix is not certified gluten-free because it hasn’t been tested for the presence of gluten.

    VARIATIONS

    You can dress them up macaroons by:

  • Dipping them in quality chocolate, all dipped or half dipped.
  • Drizzling them with chocolate.
  • Adding mini chocolate chips or toffee chips to the batter.
  • Making them thumbprint style, with a chocolate or other flavor disk on top (photos #1 and #2).
  • Baking squares with a chocolate bottom (photo #3).
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    BAKING TIPS

    Use parchment so the white bottoms don’t get too dark or scorch, and reduce the oven temperature to 350°F,

    Even so, watch them closely as they bake.

    If the mix is too dry, before baking, add another 1/4 cup of water (or as needed).

     

    White Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

    Coconut Macaroon Mix

    All photos courtesy King Arthur Flour.

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Piñata Cake

    Our job includes a lot of research, which often turns up surprising things.

    One of this is piñata cake, a concept that originated in the U.K. and is also popular in Australia.

    We also found it in Germany, called surprise cake.

    You don’t hit a piñata cake with a stick. It’s when you cut into the cake that the treasures (candy) spill out.

    The treasures are theme candies that fill a “secret” center well in the cake. The well is cut after the layers are baked, so you can place anything in the well without fear of melting.

    (If you’re in the chips, silver dollars would be nice!)

    The uncut top layer then goes on top of the well layers, and the whole cake is frosted.

    A four-layer cake is recommended to have enough room for lots of candy to tumble out.

    You can make them in any occasion. We’re keeping a recipe for a Valentine’s Day: a red velvet cake in red and pink layers, filled with Valentine candy.
     
    IT’S EASY!

    “We can’t stress enough just how easy these cakes are,” says The Whoot in Australia. “Everyone will think you must have gone to so much effort.

    “It has a very festive look and you can make it in colors to suit any theme.”

    The only caveats are:

  • You need to bake a dense cake. The cake circle needs to be hardy to hold the sweets in the well.That means no no airy cakes, angel cakes or sponge cakes.
  • Don’t cut too wide a well. The perimeter needs to be sturdy enough to hold up the cake.
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    THE HISTORY OF PIÑATA CAKE

    A 2015 article in London’s The Daily Mail says that “Asda kicked off the trend last year with their Smartie pinata cake and Lakeland [a manufacturer] soon followed, selling all the paraphernalia needed to create ‘surprise’ cake.”

    Asda is a supermarket chain in the U.K., that first created the cake for sale in its stores.

    After the success of the cake, Asda printed the recipe on its lifestyle website.

    The first cookbook with a piñata cake recipe seems to be Cakeology by Juliet Sear, published in 2015.

    She notes that piñata cakes had become popular in the past year, i.e., 2014.
     
    PIÑATA CAKE FOR EASTER

    For a holiday in which the Easter Bunny brings baskets full of surprises, piñata cake this makes a great holiday cake.

    Carrot cake, the favorite of the Easter Bunny, is both theme-appropriate and dense.

    If you have the frosting skills, you can you can make a basket weave frosting, turning the “piñata” into an Easter basket filled with Easter treats.

    Of course, piñata cake works for any holiday, any occasion, any theme colors. The decorations on top can be as simple or ornate as you wish.

    Ask someone else to cut the cake, and be the first to see the surprise.

     

    Pinata Cake

    Pinata Cake

    Pinata Cake

    Pinata Cake

    Some of the many ways to create a piñata cake. Links to the recipes are below.

     
    RECIPES

    Here are the recipes in the photos:

  • Cake #1: piñata cake recipe in spring pastels, from Australia’s In The Playroom.
  • Photo #2: a glamorous piñata cake recipe* from Germany’s Dr. Oetker, which calls it a surprise cake.
  • Cake #3: a rainbow piñata cake recipe from Bakers Corner, Australia
  • Cake #4: The secret well. Photo courtesy Cakeology.
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    CHECK OUT THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF CAKES IN OUR CAKE GLOSSARY.
     
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    *The recipe is in German and uses Dr. Oetker baking products. We present the photo as a guideline for the most elegant piñata cake we found. You can cut and paste the recipe into Google Translate if you want a translation.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Deconstruct Your Favorite Foods

    For National Black Forest Cake Day, March 28th, we deconstructed the Black Forest Cake (photo #1), inspired by the dessert (photo #2) at Compère Lapin in New Orleans.

    We had so much fun with it, that today’s tip is: Deconstruct one of your favorite recipes.

    Here’s what we did with Black Forest Cake:

    Instead of a chocolate layer cake with cherry filling, garnished with shaved chocolate and whipped cream, we followed Compère Lapin’s lead with:

  • An individual chocolate round covered with ganache.
  • A side of morello cherries in kirshwasser (cherry liqueur).
  • A scoop of cherry sorbet atop a bed of flakes of grated chocolate.
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    We like the deconstructed even better than the traditional.

  • It’s elegant and sophisticated, as opposed to the old-fashioned layer cake with whipped cream.
  • The richness of the chocolate ganache added an intense chocolate hit, lacking in the original.
  • The morello cherries in kirschwasser added just the right counterpoint to a sweet dessert.
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    Serve it with a liqueur glass (or snifter, or jigger) of kirschwasser.

    If this seems like too much work, here’s a super-easy deconstructed Black Forest Cake:

    Take a slice of chocolate pound cake, chocolate sour cream cake or even a brownie. Top with the Red Sour Cherry Topping from Chukar Cherries (or a quality cherry pie filling) cooked with kirschwasser, and a generous topping or side of whipped cream.

       

    Black Forest Cake

    Deconstructed Black Forest Cake

    [1] A conventional Black Forest Cake (photo courtesy Sweet Street Desserts. [2] Black Forest Cake deconstructed, at Compère Lapin restaurant | New Orleans.

     
    There’s more about Black Forest Cake below, including its origin and a link to traditional recipes.

    WHAT ARE DECONSTRUCTED RECIPES

    Deconstruction is an avant-garde culinary trend of the last 15 years or so, championed by the famed Catalan chef Ferran Adrià, who has referred to his cooking as “deconstructivist.”

    Hervé This, the “father of molecular gastronomy,” reintroduced the concept in 2004 as “culinary constructivism.” Essentially, all of the components and flavors of a classic dish are taken apart and presented in a new shape or form.

    The idea is art plus fun, and the deconstruction must taste as good as the original. For example:

  • Deconstructed pecan pie could be brown sugar custard [emulating the filling], with crumbled shortbread cookies [for the crust] and a side of caramelized pecans.
  • Deconstructed key lime pie could be the key lime filling in a Martini glass, topped with graham cracker crumbs.
  • Deconstructed stuffed cabbage is our favorite way to make stuffed cabbage. We’ve done this for some 25 years—who knew we were so avant garde? We slice the cabbage and cook it in the tomato sauce (sweet-and-sour, with raisins and vinegar) along with rice-filled meatballs.
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    The deconstruction saves hours of blanching cabbage leaves, filling them with chopped meat and rice, rolling them and simmering in tomato sauce.

    All the flavors are there, and it’s also easier to eat: One often needs a steak knife to saw through those blanched cabbage leaves. We say: Our deconstructed version is better than the original.

     

    The first “Black Forest Cake” was probably not a conventional cake but a dessert comprising cooked cherries, cream, kirsch and a biscuit: similar to the original berry shortcake.One of the quintessential Old World desserts, Black Forest Cake transports us to eras past, when the thought of chocolate cake, cherries, liqueur and whipped cream were a dessert equivalent of heaven.If you want to make a traditional Black Forest Cake, here’s a recipe.

      

    Deconstructed Buffalo Wings

    Deconstructed Buffalo Wings

    Two ways to deconstruct Buffalo Wings: [3] as a parfait (Hungry Girl) and as a chicken meatball topped with blue cheese (Carlos Andres Varela Photography).

     


    SOME DECONSTRUCTED RECIPES

    Study these for ideas. When you’ve created your own masterpiece of deconstruction, send us a photo.

  • Deconstructed Bloody Mary
  • Deconstructed Buffalo Wings #1
  • Deconstructed Buffalo Wings #2
  • Deconstructed Caesar Salad
  • Deconstructed Coffee Ice Cream
  • Deconstructed Crab Cake
  • Deconstructed Fruit Loops Cereal
  • Deconstructed Guacamole
  • Deconstructed Ratatouille

  • WHAT IS BLACK FOREST CAKE

    The Black Forest region of southern Germany is known for its sour morello cherries and kirsch, or kirschwasser, a clear cherry brandy made from them.

    It’s not surprising, then, that desserts made with both the cherries and the kirsch are part of the regional repertoire.

    Black Forest Cherry Torte—torte is the German word for cake and Schwarzwälderkirschtorte is its name in German—is a chocolate layer cake filled with layers of whipped cream and Kirsch-soaked morello cherries.

    The cake is garnished with more whipped cream, morello or maraschino cherries (the latter more readily available in the U.S.), and chocolate curls or shavings.

    In the traditional German cake, the chocolate layers are soaked in kirsch syrup, although brandy or rum can substitute. American recipes tend to omit all spirits to make the cake family-friendly (and nowhere near as interesting).

     

    The earliest version of the recipe possibly dates to the late 16th century, when cacao ground from costly New World beans was first integrated into cakes and cookies.

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    FOOD FUN: Easter Naked Cake With Chocolate Nest

    In our first apartment, we began to bake Easter cakes. For years, we had a Nordicware lamb-shape cake mold. We baked a chocolate cake (a black sheep, as it were), frosted it in vanilla and covered it with white flaked coconut.

    One year, we out grew the lamb, gave the mold away and moved on to a layer cake. The sides were covered in white coconut and the top was green-tinted coconut, the “grass” upon which we placed our favorite malted-milk speckled candy Easter eggs.

    After years of dying coconut, and with complaints from those who didn’t like coconut cake (you know who you are!), last year we made this Speckled Easter Malted Milk Cake.

    Alas, lacking a good hand for smooth icing, ours didn’t look quite this pretty. We haven’t met anyone who can show us the trick.

    So this year, we’re minimizing the need for icing by going with a naked cake (see photos).

    A naked cake can have can have a light, uneven swath of frosting on the outside with naked cake showing through (see the nakedness here).

    Or, it can have no side frosting at all. That solves my particular challenge!

    NAKED CAKE VS. STACK CAKE: THE DIFFERENCE

    Is a naked cake the same as a stack cake? No.

    Both of these layer cakes are so newly trendy that the terms are often used interchangeably. But they are different:

  • A stack cake has zero frosting on the sides, just between the layers—and often just powdered sugar on top.
  • A naked cake has an iced top, and can have a light swath of frosting on the sides (a semi-naked cake), as described above.
  • Stack cake is an older concept from Appalachia; it was a typical wedding cake in that economically-challenged region. Each neighbor brought one unfrosted cake layer to the party (it could be any flavor), to be stacked with layers of frosting provided by the bride’s family.
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    EASTER CAKE IDEAS

    We like the concept of stack cake as a modern party idea—a pot-luck cake, as it were. Here’s how to throw a stack cake party.

    This Easter, we’re not going to ask everyone to bring a layer (maybe next year, guys). So we’re making a naked cake.

    We’re currently thinking orange pound cake layers topped with a great ganache. (It’s great when you make it from the best chocolate, like Callebaut or Valrhona). Make any cake and frosting recipes you like, 2 or 3 layers. You can add fruit to the frosting layers (raspberries, sliced strawberries).

    Thanks to the video below, we’re topping our cake a chocolate nest, filled with our [still favorite after all these years] speckled malted milk eggs. It is a really easy technique.

    You can find other nest recipes made with everything from shredded wheat and pretzel sticks to Chinese fried noodles and uncooked rice vermicelli. Trust us: The chocolate nests are easier—and taste better.

    You have plenty of time to practice: All you need is sugar water, melted chocolate, two pans, a bowl and a squeeze bag.
     
     
    VIDEO: HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE NESTS

     

    Naked Easter Cake

    Easter Naked Cake

    Naked Chocolate Cake

    [1] Here’s the recipe for this Chocolate Easter Egg Nest Cake from Chewtown. We used the chocolate basket recipe in the video below. [2] This naked cake from Black Jet Baking Co. is decorated with jelly beans and sprinkles (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] We prefer this type of side icing on our naked cakes (photo courtesy King Arthur Flour).

     

    Here’s the recipe with measurements.

    Note that this recipe makes individual nests. For a cake of 8-9 inches diameter, use a bowl as your mold instead of the foil.

    We did not make the leaves or feathers shown in the recipe, but instead filled our basket with malted milk eggs.

      

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