Try your hand at homemade Easter treats


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Another holiday, another family get-together. Easter is more about candy than presents, but some of our grandchildren have outgrown the thrill of finding Easter baskets. So, this year, in our family, it's Easter baskets for the little ones and treats for the older grandchildren and the adults.

All the ingredients for these recipes can by found at any cake and candy supply store or large grocery store.



CREME EGG CUPCAKES

PG tested

"Bake it in a Cupcake" takes the cupcake to new levels. They're beautifully decorated and stuffed with everything from cookies, fruit and candy to frozen phyllo dough. Each of these is stuffed with a creme egg. After the cupcakes cooled a bit I couldn't resist taking a bite -- they're scrumptious. I decorated mine with pastel M&Ms, then put the cupcakes in larger colorful cupcake liners (by Wilton).

For the cupcakes

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk

  • 18 miniature chocolate creme eggs (1.2-ounce size)

For the frosting

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, if needed

  • 1 cup finely shredded sweetened coconut

  • Green food coloring

  • Handful of jelly beans

To make cupcakes, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 standard muffin tins with 18 paper liners. Use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed to combine the butter and sugar for 90 seconds until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing in each egg completely before adding the next. Use a spatula to scrape down the bowl. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed and mix an additional 30 seconds until all ingredients are well combined. Add the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, alternately with the milk, 1/3 cup at a time, mixing until each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and continue to mix the batter on medium-high speed for 30 seconds, until smooth and creamy.

Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of batter into each cup in the prepared tins so they are about three-quarters full. Place a chocolate crème egg in each cup and use your finger to lightly spread the batter over it (without pushing it to the bottom of the tin -- they'll sink a little on their own). Bake about 25 minutes until the edges and tops of the cupcakes have turned golden brown and the cake springs back when you gently press your finger into the top of it. Allow the cupcakes to cool in the tins for at least 10 minutes before moving to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make frosting, whip the butter about 30 seconds with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or a hand mixer on medium speed. Add powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, whipping on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add vanilla and whip until just combined; if the frosting is too thick, add the milk and whip on high 20 seconds until the frosting is fluffy. Put the shredded coconut in a small bowl and use a fork to mix in a few drops of green food coloring. Pipe or spread the frosting on top of the cupcakes, roll the edges of the cupcake in the dyed coconut, then place a few jelly beans in the center.

Makes 18 cupcakes.

-- "Bake it in a Cupcake: 50 Treats with a Surprise Inside" by Megan Seling (Andrews McMeel, 2012)



LOLLIPOPS

PG tested

There is a difference between chocolate molds and candy molds. The candy mold should be heavier than the chocolate mold. But to be sure ask the sales clerk.

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 7 ounces (weighed) or 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 11 ounces (weighed) or 1 cup light corn syrup

  • 1 to 2 teaspoons flavoring extract (I used raspberry)

  • 3 to 4 drops gel food coloring of your choice (I used red)

Equipment

  • Hard candy lollipop molds

  • Lollipop sticks

  • Candy thermometer

Coat the cavities of the lollipop molds with a very light layer of nonstick cooking spray or vegetable oil. Insert lollipop sticks into the molds, set aside.

Combine water, granulated sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then brush the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to prevent sugar crystals from forming. When the sugar syrup comes to a boil, insert the candy thermometer.

Continue to cook the sugar syrup, stirring occasionally, until the thermometer reads 300 degrees. Remove the pan from the heat and let the candy stop bubbling completely. Once it is still, stir in the flavoring extract and the food coloring of your choice (I used raspberry extract and red gel food coloring).

Carefully spoon the hot sugar syrup into the prepared molds, making sure the tops of the sticks are covered with syrup and are well embedded in the candy. Let the lollipops sit and harden at room temperature until they are completely cool and firm, about 35 minutes to 1 hour. Once cool, don't pull them out by the sticks. Instead carefully flex the molds to remove the lollipops without causing any breakage.

Makes 8 large (2-inch) lollipops.

-- "The Sweet Book of Candy Making" by Elizabeth LaBau (Quarry, 2012)



SPRING CHICKS

PG tested

There is a cake pop for every season. These will get everybody's attention, including the adults. You can buy this Bakerella chick cake pop package, which includes 24 sticks, clear treat bags and tags. You'll also need a foam block.

  • 1 boxed cake mix (18.25 ounce)

  • 1/2 cup ready-made frosting

  • 24 ounces yellow candy coating

  • 24 lollipop sticks

  • 24 orange rainbow chip sprinkles

  • 48 yellow rainbow chip sprinkles

  • 48 orange flower sprinkles

  • Black edible ink pen

Bake cake as directed on the box, using the 9-by-13-inch cake pan. Let cool completely.

Cut the cake in half. Crumble one of the halves of the cooled cake into a large mixing bowl (you should not see any large pieces of cake). Wrap remaining cake in plastic wrap and freeze for another use. Add the frosting to the crumbled cake and mix with the back of a large metal spoon until thoroughly combined. The mixture should be moist enough to roll into 11/2 inch balls and still hold a round shape. After rolling the cake balls by hand, place them on a wax paper-covered baking sheet.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours in the refrigerator or place in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You want the balls to be firm but not frozen.

Melt the yellow candy coating in the microwave safe plastic bowl, following the instructions on the package. The coating should be about 3 inches deep for easier dipping. (Bakerella usually works with about 16 ounces of coating at a time.)

Take a few cake balls out of the refrigerator or freezer (if you have more cake balls in the freezer transfer them to the refrigerator).

One at a time, dip about 1/2 inch of the tip of a lollipop stick into the melted candy coating and insert the stick straight into a cake ball, pushing it no more than halfway through. Dip the cake pop into the melted coating and tap off any excess coating.

Let dry completely in the foam block. When dry, use a toothpick to dot a small amount of melted candy coating in the position for the beak, , and attach an orange rainbow chip sprinkle. Use the same technique to attach 2 yellow rainbow chips for wings, pointed-side out, on either side of the cake pop, and 2 orange flower sprinkles at the bottom for feet.

Draw eyes with the black edible ink pen, and let dry completely. Repeat with the remaining cake pops.

Store cake pops in an airtight container on the counter or in the refrigerator for several days. If you're giving them away as gifts, bag and tie them with ribbon and gift tags.

To make standing chicks, form a cake ball into a pear shape and drop it into the bowl of melted candy coating. Cover it with the coating without moving or stirring it around in the bowl. Then lift it from the coating with a spoon. Tap off the excess and slide the chick carefully off the spoon onto wax paper to set. If the coating pools at the bottom, use a toothpick to draw a separation line around the cake ball. When the chicks dry completely, it will be easier to break off the part you don't want. Decorate as directed. Wrap each chick in bags and tie with ribbon. Thread the gift tag though the ribbon for a pretty presentation.

-- "Cake Pops Spring Chicks" kit by Bakerella (Angie Dudley) (Chronicle, 2013, $10.95)



PRESENTS

PG tested

This calls for making ribbons on the "present" cupcakes from chewing gum, but next time, I would use fruit leather.

Pinch opposite edges of Reynolds StayBrite Treats Baking cups to make them square shaped. Arrange the baking cups in a square baking pan (I used a 9-by-13-inch pan) to help retain their shape.

Mix and bake a batch of your favorite cupcakes. Cool on a wire rack.

Cut 3 sticks of soft gum in half lengthwise. Bend the sides of the first strip into loops to create the bow. Press the ends together to make the bow and wrap the second strip of gum around the gathering to cover. Trim any excess gum and cut a notch from both ends of the strip for the ribbon tails and press underneath the bow.

Spread an even layer of vanilla frosting on top of a cupcake and make smooth. Add some color and shine by sprinkling the top of the cupcake with confetti sprinkles, then gently rolling the top of the cupcake in white sugar.

Arrange 2 strips of gum crosswise on top of the cupcake, securing with a dot of frosting. Add the bow securing it with a dot of frosting.

-- Reynolds



COCONUT CUPS

I had coconut leftover from another recipe, so I came up with this recipe for my daughter Kellie, who loves coconut.

  • 5 tablespoons butter

  • 3 cups flaked coconut

  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

  • 4-ounce box instant coconut pudding

  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk

  • 1/2 cup half-and-half

  • Fresh raspberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup mini cupcake pan with vegetable oil.

Melt butter in large frying pan. Add coconut and stir to combine. Cook coconut over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat, add corn syrup to coconut mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.

Divide the coconut mixture evenly into each cup. Gently press the mixture into each cup, making sure you have an indentation in the middle.

Bake about 15 minutes or until a bit of the coconut begins to turn golden brown. Cool on wire rack while making filling.

Place the pudding mix, milk, and half-and-half in a bowl. Follow directions on pudding box.

Remove coconuts cups from pan. Fill each cup with filling. Top with fresh raspberries or other fresh fruit.

Makes about 12 cups.

-- Arlene Burnett



MINI CHOCOLATE CUPS

  • 1 box Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Brownie Mix

  • Chocolate pudding or mousse or raspberry preserves (I used Dr. Oetker Mousse Mix)

  • Chocolate ganache, recipe below

Using the directions on the package, mix brownie mix, divide batter into a 24-cup (2-inch) lightly greased mini muffin pan, and bake. Cool on wire rack about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully remove the cupcakes from the pan. Slowly cut the cupcakes in half then spread your choice of filling. Place the top of the cupcake over the filling.

Take a spoonful of ganache and pour over each cupcake. Let the ganache drip over the edges. When the chocolate is set place each cupcake in a mini cupcake liner.



CHOCOLATE GANACHE

PG tested

  • 3/4 cup whipping cream

  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips)

Bring cream to a simmer, remove from stove. Add chocolate, stir until chocolate melts. Allow the ganache to cool and thicken a bit before spooning it over the cupcakes. Or refrigerate ganache until firm, then whip it on high until fluffy. Spread over cupcakes.

-- Arlene Burnett

food - recipes - mobilehome

Arlene Burnett writes the Kitchen Mailbox column: aburnett@post-gazette.com. First Published March 28, 2013 4:00 AM


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