The Cadbury bunny shows up on television and suddenly the hunt for chocolate Easter eggs is on. The egg is a traditional symbol of the Christian holiday and the delectable chocolate form has fans on both sides of the pond tensed with anticipation.
The UK sets the tone, hosting more than 250 National Trust Cadbury Egg Hunts in lucky locations across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but the good old U.S. of A. is wild for chocolate Easter eggs too.
Along with every grocery, drug and dollar store selling mass-produced versions, elite retailers like Williams-Sonoma trot out signature collections for Easter. Tinier companies like Lake Champlain Chocolates in Burlington, Vermont, also rally to produce artisanal chocolate eggs. And just a few words from Southern Living's eloquent essay, "Why Southern Churches Make the Best Peanut Butter Eggs" leaves no doubt about Southern states' attachment to the Easter confections. Heck, Vie de la Vegan even offers a recipe for Vegan "Milk" Chocolate Easter Eggs.
But here's the thing: while buying at the store is simple (and it's certainly an Easter miracle if you can track down the elusive Cadbury White Chocolate Creme Eggs), making your own chocolate eggs is a grand tradition.
Along with being able to customize the eggs with your own ingredients and bonding with your candy co-creators, making homemade chocolate Easter eggs provides the satisfaction of being an artisan, part of a long-standing tradition.
According to Saveur's "Basket Cases: The History of Easter Candy," while European candy-makers first started crafting chocolate eggs for the holiday in the 1800s and the first Cadbury eggs were sold in 1875, mass-produced eggs didn't come out until the early 20th century.
If you'd like to join the old-school artisans, check out this recipe based on instructions from The Independent. But first, understand that to get a shiny finish on a homemade chocolate egg, you must first temper the chocolate. "This is the process of gently heating and cooling in order to align the sugar crystals," The Independent explained. "It is also important to use the best quality chocolate you can buy; 70 percent cocoa or above."
Follow these instructions:
- Break the chocolate up into small pieces and place two thirds of it in a large glass or metal bowl over a pan of very gently simmering water. Let the chocolate melt gradually, heating it until it reaches 131°F.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, stir in the rest of the chocolate and let the temperature fall to 82°F.
- Return the bowl to the double boiler and heat it to a temperature of 90°F.
- Use a pastry brush to apply a thick layer of chocolate evenly over the outsides of both halves of your mold.
- Transfer the molds to the fridge to set for 5 minutes, then repeat the process with successive layers of chocolate. Finally, leave the molds to set in the fridge for 1 hour.
- Once the chocolate has completely set, carefully remove from the molds, gently pushing down on the shell.
- Heat a baking tray and push the edges of the shells onto it. Once softened, stick the two halves together and hold for a couple of seconds to seal. Your egg is now ready to decorate.
Of course, one thing will be missing if you forgo Cadbury's version of the eggs: their wonderful commercials. No worries there, though. Watch a compilation of them on You Tube while you wait for your homemade confections to dry.