Making homemade Easter eggs is a real labour of love. It requires patience, commitment, nerves of steel and (ideally) hands of marble, not to mention the willingness to scrub the inevitable countless chocolate splashes from all over your kitchen after the event. But since I’m never one to turn down a culinary challenge – the comments on this post mark the throwing down of the egg-shaped gauntlet – I set about it enthusiastically.
Having got hold of some plastic moulds, which included a rather unhelpful set of back-of-packet instructions that didn’t even mention greasing said moulds before use, I stocked up on good quality chocolate and checked the state of my pastry brush and got down to business.
The process was relatively straightforward, as follows:
- Grease the inside of the moulds really well with Cake Release or some flavourless oil (probably a better bet and much less dubious…the ingredients list for this particular concoction isn’t exactly bursting with good things)
- Melt pieces of chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of very gently simmering water
- Allow chocolate to cool slightly, before brushing a thin layer onto a mould
- Place in fridge to set
- When chocolate has set, brush on another layer
- …and so on, until you’ve built up five or six layers of chocolate and no gaps/pale patches show when you hold it up to the light
- Leave in the fridge overnight to ensure it is completely set
- Gently pull the plastic away from the chocolate, gradually working your way around the edges of the mould, to break the vacuum and thereby releasing the egg half – be patient, slow and steady and you WILL get there eventually!
- Stick egg halves together using melted chocolate
- Pop it back in the fridge until the ‘join’ has set
My top tips:
- If adding little bits and pieces – tiny fudge chunks, candied fruits, popping candy (just some suggestions) – to the egg ‘shell’, place them onto the second or third layer of set chocolate before applying the next coat so that there’s no danger of their adhering to the mould itself and causing a sticking situation later on. They also need to be nicely embedded into the surrounding chocolate to keep them secure.
- On no account dip a mould containing set chocolate into a bowl of hot water (however briefly) thinking that this will help the task of removal – disastrous idea, it won’t.
- Make sure there is plenty of chocolate coverage around the very edges of each egg half, otherwise it will be tricky, if not impossible, to stick the two halves together. Plus the whole thing will be more likely to crumble at the slightest touch if the edges are frail.
- Don’t over-handle the unmoulded chocolate, you want it looking pristine with a lovely sheen rather than covered in incrimiating finger smudges (better than bite marks, admittedly). This is easier said than done, especially when it comes to trying to glue the pieces together…
- Avoid refrigerating the chocolate for too long – it will start to go cloudy.
- Get someone to assist you! I was very lucky in that I had a willing and supremely capable helper for the times when I needed more than one pair of hands, or just some moral support.
I made one milk chocolate egg with fudge chunks incorporated into half of it, and a dark chocolate one studded with candied orange peel. An early attempt at unmoulding resulted in a pile of chocolately rubble (which then obviously had to be eaten rather than wasted…what a shame), so I filled the other half of that one with mini eggs and hey presto, a lovely Easter gift.
The pack of moulds I bought also came with trays for making small solid eggs, which took the fun to a whole other level. This was easier, or certainly more leisurely, than constructing the large hollow eggs. Simply melt chocolate, add your chosen flavourings, fill greased moulds using a teaspoon, refrigerate until set, unmould, stick egg halves together using melted chocolate. Glacé cherries, finely chopped and briefly steeped in fabulously retro cherry brandy, make a wonderful addition to bite-size dark chocolate eggs – and I have the post-Easter belly to prove it.
What with the sad sale of Cadbury to Kraft, the taste of our shop-bought Easter eggs (and our chocolate in general, come to that) may well be in jeopardy in future years. We should all get practising for next Easter now I say. Your country needs you.
Finally, I must just do a shout-out to my amazing mother and her delicious festive kulich and pascha (being traditional Russian Easter bread, rich and sweet and bursting with fragrant dried fruit, and its pyramid-shaped cream-cheese-based accompaniment respectively) that we enjoyed over the weekend. One day I will be worthy of that challenge…