When it comes to filling Easter baskets with treats, jellly beans and chocolate eggs are easy. You can step it up a notch and buy something unique from a bakery. Or, click inside and try a recipe.
When it comes to filling Easter baskets with treats, there are three choices: packaged, custom-made and homemade.
Packaged, commercially produced goodies are easy to find. Every supermarket and mass merchandiser sells jelly beans, marshmallow chicks and chocolate eggs.
Step it up a notch and consider buying something special from a bakery or candy store.
Great Harvest Bakery in Springfield, Ill., has Honey Bunnies, individual sized rabbits made from honey whole-wheat dough. Handcrafted in the bakery, no two are exactly alike.
“This is a Great Harvest tradition we look forward to every spring,” said store owner Chris Tarpley. “The expressions on children’s faces are priceless” when tucked into a basket. The rabbit can be nestled in Bunny Munch granola, a mixture of nuts, raisins, seeds and dried fruit.
Hollow chocolate eggs filled with mixed nuts, jelly beans, assorted chocolates or foil eggs are a signature item at Pease’s Candy Shops in Springfield. They come in various sizes and can be personalized with the recipient’s name.
“The eggs can be filled with anything,” said Pease’s co-owner Rob Flesher. “We’ve been asked to put in car keys, engagement rings and all kinds of jewelry.”
Other treats at Pease’s include cream eggs, peanut butter eggs, bunny suckers, jelly rabbits, coconut bird nests, chocolate bunnies and chocolate rabbit ears.
“When you bite into a chocolate rabbit, you always bite the ears first, so that must be the best part,” said Flesher.
And then there are homemade treats. Below are recipes for fudge, bird nests and bunny cupcakes.
Very Best Fudge
3 cups granulated sugar
1 can (12 fluid ounces) evaporated milk
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups miniature marshmallows
4 cups (24 ounces) or 2 packages (12 ounces each) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Line 13-by-9-inch or two 8-inch-square baking pan(s) with foil.
Combine sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in 4- to 5-quart, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Stir in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan(s). Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into pieces. Store tightly covered in refrigerator.
Makes about 4 pounds.
Egg-Ceptional Easter Nests
1 2/3 to 2 cups (11- to 12-ounce package) butterscotch or semisweet chocolate morsels
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
2 cans (5 ounces each) chow mein noodles
30 to 60 foil-covered chocolate eggs, any flavor
Line trays with waxed paper.
Microwave morsels in large, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70%) power for 1 minute; stir. The morsels may retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir in peanut butter until well blended.
Add chow mein noodles to morsel mixture; toss until coated. Using ice cream scoop that measures about 2 rounded tablespoons, scoop and drop onto prepared trays, then immediately shape into nests. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Before serving, place one or two foil-chocolate eggs in each nest. Store prepared nests in covered container for up to 1 day.
Makes 30 nests.
Easter Bunny Cupcakes
From Family Fun Magazine
A cupcake (baked from your favorite recipe)
Pink decorators’ sugar
Frost a cupcake with white icing. Sprinkle on shredded coconut “fur.”
Cut a large marshmallow in half widthwise. Squeeze each half slightly to give it an oval shape, then decorate the sticky side of each one with pink decorators’ sugar and set them in place for ears.
Add a jelly bean “nose” and either jelly bean or snipped Sweet Tart “eyes,” and mini marshmallows for “cheeks.” For a finishing touch, draw on decorators’ gel pupils or whiskers if you like.
Kathryn Rem can be reached at 217-788-1520.