At Easter, memories are as much a part of the meal as the ham and deviled eggs.
When my daughters were young, their aunt Margaret Wiseman always brought decorated petits fours to Easter dinner. All the children in our extended family — Melissa, Adam, Sarah, Jenny, Emily, Josh and Nancy — were delighted with the colorful cakes that were just the right size for them. Margaret also made bunny cakes that were covered with coconut icing.
Many years later, the sweet goodies remain cherished family memories.
Making holiday memories like these is easy, whether you make an Easter treat yourself or buy it at a bakery. And many of them are just so cute.
Here are some ideas for homemade treats that will delight everyone at your house, no matter how young or old.
Elena Maydanovich, owner of European Delights Gourmet Bakery at Brannon Crossing in Nicholasville, bakes an Easter egg cake that's made with chocolate cake and filled with a raspberry ganache. She also makes a white cake filled with white chocolate mousse and raspberry preserves, and covered with white chocolate ganache.
Elena's chocolate egg cakes
4 ounces sugar
2 ounces shortening
2 ounces milk
4 ounces eggs
2 ounces cake flour
1 ounce cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
2 ounces butter
24 ounces chocolate chips
2 tablespoons raspberry preserves
To make cake: Using a professional mixer, mix all cake ingredients for 1 minute on low speed and then 5 minutes on high speed. Pour into egg-shaped cake pan molds. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes.
To make ganache: Combine cream and butter in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add chocolate chips and mix well. Add raspberry preserves. Cool for 2 to 4 hours.
To assemble: Cut the eggs in half and fill with raspberry ganache. Put halves together and spread ganache on top.
Makes 8 eggs.
Source: European Delights Gourmet Bakery
Crisped rice Easter egg treats
Non-stick cooking spray
6 cups (10.5-ounce package) miniature marshmallows
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
8 cups toasted rice cereal
2 cups (12-ounce package) premier white morsels, divided
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
Pink and yellow mixed mini morsel toppers, assorted sprinkles and/or sugars
Spray a large mixing bowl with non-stick cooking spray. Heat marshmallows and butter in large, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until smooth. Remove from heat. Working quickly, stir in cereal and 2⁄3 cup morsels. Carefully transfer mixture into prepared mixing bowl. Cool for 5 minutes.
Spray hands with non-stick spray. Press marshmallow mixture into a 1⁄3 cup measure, then form mixture into an egg shape with hands. Repeat with remaining mixture to make a total of 24 eggs.
Microwave remaining 11/4 cups morsels and vegetable shortening in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70 percent) power for 45 seconds; stir. Morsels might retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted.
Dip top of each egg into melted morsels; shake off or scrape excess against side of bowl. Place each upright in muffin pan. Immediately sprinkle dipped end of each egg with mini morsel toppers, sprinkles or sugars. Refrigerate for 10 minutes or until set. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Jelly bean Easter bark
2 cups (12-ounce package) premier white morsels
2 teaspoons vegetable shortening
1/2 cup Wonka SweeTarts jelly beans, divided
Line baking sheet with wax paper. Microwave morsels and vegetable shortening in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on medium-high (70 percent) power for 1 minute; stir. Morsels might retain some of their original shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir in 1/4 cup SweeTarts jelly beans.
Spread mixture to 1/4-inch thickness on prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup SweeTarts jelly beans. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes or until firm.
Break into pieces. Store in airtight container at room temperature.
Easter nest cake
10-inch chocolate tube or Bundt cake (store-bought or homemade)
1 can (16 ounces) vanilla frosting
Foil-wrapped chocolate Easter eggs and other egg-shaped Easter candies (in assorted colors and sizes)
Place cake on serving platter. Turn a narrow glass or small custard cup over so that the bottom is facing up, and carefully place the glass so that it fits snugly inside the cake's center hole.
Frost the top two-thirds of the cake using a small offset spatula (one in which the blade bends up where it meets the handle), a knife or the back of a spoon. When spreading, swirl the frosting in an upward motion to give it a fluffy, nest-like appearance.
Pile candy and chocolate eggs on top of the bowl or glass in the center of the cake. Place candies so that colors and sizes are well mixed.
Happy bunny cake
Non-stick cooking spray
1 (18.25 ounces) package yellow cake mix
1⁄3 cup pure vegetable oil
1 cup water
3 large eggs
2 cans (16 ounces each) classic white frosting
Pillsbury Easy Frost vanilla no-fuss frosting
2 cups flaked coconut
Red licorice strips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray two 8-inch round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Prepare cake according to package directions using oil, water and eggs. Pour into prepared pans. Bake as directed.
Cool 10 to 15 minutes before removing from pan. Cool completely.
Turn one cooled cake layer upside down. Mark center of cake with toothpick. Measure about 2 inches in from two sides of cake, marking points with toothpicks. With the tip of a sharp knife, lightly draw two 6-inch long, football-shaped ovals, 2 inches at their widest point, to make the ears. Cut with a serrated knife. The middle part of that layer will be the "bow tie" for the bunny.
Place the second cake layer in center of large tray. Place ears and bow tie, rounded side up, to make bunny. Frost entire surface and sides of cake, connecting the pieces with frosting. Outline bunny face and bow tie with Easy Frost stars and outline the ears with stripes of Easy Frost frosting, or as desired. Sprinkle with coconut. Cut licorice pieces for mouth and whiskers. Cut jelly beans in half for eyes, nose and bow tie.
Note: To make green "grass" around bunny, toss an additional 1/2 cup coconut with a few drops of green food coloring to get desired color. Place around base of bunny.
Source: The J.M. Smucker Company
Using scissors, make a diagonal cut in the upper left corner of each marshmallow. Gently lift the corner and make a snip down the middle. Use your fingers to separate the ears and angle them outward. From the point where the first cut was made, snip to the middle of the marshmallow. Pinch the cut end slightly to form a rounded tail.
For the bunny's face, make a 1/4-inch horizontal cut midway between the base of the ears and the bottom of the marshmallow. Create the feet by making a diagonal cut in the lower left corner of the marshmallow. Divide the feet as shown (photo at left). Using a toothpick dipped in food coloring, draw on the eyes, nose and whiskers.
Source: Family Fun Magazine
For a savory Easter treat, make this cheese spread and decorate it to look like a bunny face.
Easter bunny cheese spread
3 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
2 packages (21/2 ounces each) thinly sliced deli beef, chopped
12 pimiento-stuffed olives, chopped
2 teaspoons dill weed
1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 green onions
6 miniature jelly beans
1 small carrot
Fresh vegetables and/or crackers
In a bowl, combine the cream cheese, beef, olives, dill, horseradish and Worcestershire sauce. Finely chop two green onions; add to cream cheese mixture. On a large platter, form cheese mixture into a bunny shape. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Insert jelly beans for bunny's eyes, nose and buttons. Cut carrot in half lengthwise; place cut sides up above head for ears. Cut green portion of remaining onion into six 2-inch-long pieces; place next to nose for whiskers.
Serve with vegetables and/or crackers.