Most of us who celebrate Easter have fond memories of chocolate bunnies and yellow marshmallow peeps in our Easter basket, along with the dyed hard boiled eggs. My Aunt Mary made the most wonderful hand dipped, coconut cream Easter eggs. Each one of us got a big one, beautifully decorated with our names written with hard icing. We would overdose on chocolate and then feel a little sick. Modern parents are trying to scale back the sugar by offering small gifts or those plastic eggs with money inside. I think we can come up with something more creative.
There are a few sweet treats you can make yourself. My favorite is peanut butter eggs. Mix equal parts of dry, non-fat milk powder and peanut butter. Stir in just enough honey to sweeten. Form into small eggs in granola or coconut or finely grated chocolate. Flatten one side and refrigerate to firm up. It’s best if you put each one in a small cupcake paper before placing them in the Easter basket.
If you’ve never made meringues, now is the time to learn. Use any standard recipe. All you need is egg whites, powdered sugar and food coloring. You can also add flavoring. The egg whites must be at room temperature and the bowl and beaters must be very clean and free of even a trace of grease. Forming them is easy if you use a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip. Separate into several batches and tint each one a pastel color. Baking takes longer than a regular cookie since the meringues need to dry completely to crisp up. Your recipe will specify a low oven temperature and time. After baking, they should be left in the warm oven to cool. The finished product is a very light, crispy and delicious confection.
Don’t forget to dye your eggs – have a party! We noticed that white eggs have dropped in price this month, so it’s both inexpensive and fun. Cover the table and floor with newspaper to catch any drips, and mix the dyes according to the package instruction. Children always like decorating the egg with wax crayons before dying, when the design appears like magic. Remember that eggs are good nutrition for children. Let them line their Easter baskets with “grass” and a bow, all ready for Easter morning fun. Put the eggs right into the refrigerator to be brought out and displayed for just a little while.
Tuck in a small gift, wrapped of course. For younger children it could be as simple as a toy car or book of stickers, or a small jar of bubble soap. For tweens and teens, wrap up lotion, lip gloss, or cosmetics for the girls and sports cards or memorabilia from their favorite teams for the boys, or anything reflecting individual interests. Music or video CDs are appreciated by all ages. Just don’t do what my friend did and give them all water guns which made for a “memorable” day.
Of course we’ve done some research for other ideas. Here are some links to About.com resources. You’ll be surprised at the many things you can do to make an Easter basket that is both colorful and healthy.
Of course, we have a few nice Easter treat recipes created by Calorie Count members. Tip for the holiday - any cookie can be made to look festive with drizzle of icing in colors of the season. Enjoy.