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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Egg-cellent Easter

I love Easter.  Bright dresses, pastel candies, and the sunshine.  Oh, the sunshine!  Easter symbolizes rebirth, but for me it's not because of the religious connotations.  (After all, I'm Hindu. . . )  It's because, right about now, those of us (un)lucky enough to live in the north are finally coming out from a deep freeze.  Now, before anyone gets too excited, we could still get hit with a final soul-crushing blizzard before it's truly over -- it's not June quite yet, after all -- but we are so close.  The flowers are starting to push through, the grass is starting to green.  And we made it through another winter (thank God.)  So in celebration of Easter (and flowers!) here is a sweet celebratory treat.

Chocolate Eggs 
filled with 
Lemon Cheesecake and Passionfruit Curd

The one thing that would make this recipe better -- if it were easier.  Unfortunately, it takes forever, but the end product is well worth it.  Makes 20 eggs (if you don't mess up and crack any of the eggs. . . )

Chocolate Eggs

You will need plastic egg molds.  They cost about three dollars but look like they should cost three cents.  Ah well, supply and demand. . .
You will also need one pound of milk chocolate.  I'm a chocolate snob, so I used E. Guittard 38% Cacao Milk Chocolate, but it came back to bite me in the end, since I absolutely cannot, under any circumstances -- if my life depended on it, as a matter of fact -- temper chocolate to any degree of success.  What does that mean(?) you, my down to earth, non-chocolate-snobby friend may ask.  Well this is what it means:  When the chocolate eggs first form, out of gooey, lovely, reflective streams of molten sugar, they are gorgeous, even, and shiny.  When they sit at room temperature, they become dull and sometimes speckled.  They still taste great. . . but, well,  if one first eats with her eyes, then something is definitely lacking in the final product. I've learned my lesson -- in the future, chocolate candy disks, it shall be.

Melt the chocolate over a double burner, stirring frequently to ensure that it doesn't burn.  When fully melted, spoon one to two teaspoons of chocolate in each mold.  Fill all the molds first.  Then start swirling the sheet around so that the chocolate coats the inner mold.  This is almost impossible to do cleanly.  The chocolate will get on the edges, but that isn't a big deal.  The important part is that the entire inside of the mold is filled completely.  Turn the sheet upside down onto a drying rack with parchment paper or a Silpat underneath the feet of the rack.  This way, the excess chocolate will drop onto the paper so the egg shells aren't too thick,  and you can reuse the extra chocolate if you wish. After about five minutes, turn the sheet over and scrape the edge of each mold with a butter knife so that the edges of the eggs are clean.  Put the sheet in the freezer for at least 1/2 an hour, up to a couple of hours.  After the chocolate is cold, pop the egg shell halves onto your work surface.  Be careful, they will be delicate.  Set aside until needed.


Filling

This recipe is from here

For the cheesecake

10 ounces of softened cream cheese
1/2 cup already sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Combine everything but the whipping cream and mix until well incorporated.  Add the whipping cream and beat until fluffy.
Note: For some reason, almost every recipe I've seen instructs to whip the cream to stiff peaks first and then to fold it into the secondary mixture.  However, I think it saves a ton of time (and dishes) to just directly whip the liquid cream into the other mixture until the whole thing forms stiff peaks. 

For the curd

4 tsp passionfruit juice
2 Tbsp apricot preserves
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

This is the easiest curd recipe you will ever, ever, ever find.  And it tastes amazing, so win-win.

Combine everything in a saucepan and warm over medium heat until the butter melts.  Pour into a different dish and refrigerate with cling wrap directly placed (touching) the curd so a skin does not form.  (Told you -- so easy. . .) After 30 minutes the curd can be used.

Construction

Lay the egg shells out, hollow side up.  Since each shell only makes half an egg, you will need two halves to make a whole egg.  (Duh, I know, but bear with me.)  Take the shells that are sturdiest and use them for the bottom halves of your eggs.  Hopefully, the prettiest egg halves are left for the tops.  Otherwise, you will have to decide if appearance or structure is more important to you.  Choose wisely. . .

Fill a piping bag (no tip needed) with the cheesecake mixture.  Pipe the cheesecake into the bottom halves of the eggs.  Take a small spoon (I used a dessert spoon) to scoop out a small sphere of cheesecake along the center of the egg, using almost the entire length of the egg.  Use a similarly sized utensil to spoon the curd into the hole.




 (Looks like eggs, get it?!  Although this is almost certainly a waste, because no one will every see the inside of the egg like this. . .)

Heat one to two ounces of chocolate in a double broiler.  Fill a piping bag fitted with a very small round tip.  I used an Ateco 4.  Working quickly, outline the border of each egg bottom with a thin line of chocolate. Carefully top with an egg top.  It's best to do one egg at a time so that the chocolate does not dry prematurely.  While the chocolate is still warm, smooth the edges with your finger or a brush.

When the eggshell halves are firmly affixed, you can decorate!

I used fondant in three colors: yellow, pink and white.  I used gel colors to achieve my preferred shades.  With the help of daisy fondant punches and fondant molds, I was able to accomplish the majority of the decorations.  The only flower made by hand was the rose, and even that was pretty easy.


Here's how to make a quick fondant rose:

Punch 5 small circles with a circle cutter.
Frill the edges of the fondant with a toothpick.
Overlap each circle with the next by about fifty percent.
Tightly roll the circles together starting with the first circle placed.
Cut the roll in half.
Frill the "petals" out to get the desired look.

















The decorations can be easily attached to the chocolate eggs with a dab of melted chocolate.  Some sparkly dust and they're ready to eat!








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