Spring is upon us! In fact, Easter is this Sunday! This week, we made these Speckled Easter Egg Cookies for 3 different clients. 1 order was shipped to Georgia; 1 order went to Plant City; and 1 order stayed here in Tampa.
Everyone has a favorite Easter candy and Peeps are usually top-ranked lots of people’s lists. Not mine though! Don’t get me wrong, I love Peeps! I even have a Peeps t-shirt that I wear on Easter every year (or on any other day when I feel like wearing a cute little fluffy chick on my shirt). But now that Peeps are available at other holidays, including Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day, I don’t feel the same urgency to purchase them and stuff their fluffiness in my mouth! While I’m still hoping Adam surprises me on Easter Sunday with some Peeps (hint, hint), these adorable little monsters weren’t my subject of obsession this year.
This year, I was on the mission to find my favorite childhood candy. The biggest problem was…I didn’t even know what they were called! After a quick internet search, I discovered that they are called Brach’s Chicks and Bunnies! Now, I just have to find them! I searched high and low at Walgreens, CVS, Publix, and Target. I was about to give up all hope when I scoured the aisles at Target one last time. Thrown in with the strawberry-flavored Jet-Puff marshmallows, I found one lone bag of Chicks and Bunnies! Mission Accomplished!
For those of you who have never had the pleasure of trying one of these amazing treats, they are very similar to Circus Peanuts (surprise surprise, another of my favorites!). They are a very dense, chewy marshmallow that dissolves away to a smooth grittiness as you eat it. I know that sounds like an oxymoron – smooth grittiness – but if you’ve had them, I think you’d agree. These candies are perplexing. Upon first tasting them, people often get a confused look on their faces as they try to wrap their minds around the texture and taste. Some say it has a hint of artificial banana flavoring. Some like them better fresh and soft while others prefer them stale and hard as a rock. I personally like them fresh and I enjoy eating them without the over-analysis! Just enjoy them for what they are – pure marshmallow-y goodness!
Oh, and for those of you who are wondering about my bowl choice for this photo…We bought these wooden pineapple-shaped bowls in Hawaii on our honeymoon and we’ve never used them! I think we forget about them because they’re on the top shelf (which I can’t reach without a stool) in our kitchen. I decided these bowls would be perfect to display the Chicks and Bunnies! Let’s call it a Florida-themed Easter basket!
Spring is here! And that means it’s time for another exciting demonstration at the Newberry Branch Library! I decided to do a more hands-on demo this time so I focused on spring cookies:
Want to make some yourself!? They’re easy! First, bake your favorite rolled cookie (gingerbread, shortbread, sugar, etc). After the cookies have completely cooled, you’re ready to decorate them! Here’s the recipe for the royal icing I use (from www.wilton.com):
1 lb. sifted confectioner’s/powdered sugar
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder (available at craft stores or you can substitute powdered egg whites – see the package for instructions)
5-6 tablespoons lukewarm water.
Mix all ingredients in a mixer at low speed until incorporated. Then mix for 8-10 minutes on medium speed until the icing looses its shine and becomes think and marshmallow-like. This icing will dry out quickly so be sure to store it in an airtight container.
Color your icing with paste food colors (available at craft stores). Don’t use the liquid colors you’re used to seeing at the grocery store because they will change the consistency of your icing and make it really runny. Once you have the icing the color you want it, put it into a piping bag or zip-top bag and pipe a border around each cookie. For the eggs, I just put one border around the whole cookie. However, for the flower, I put a border around each petal. The border will prevent colors in neighboring sections from mixing so put a border wherever you want to separate colors.
The borders need to dry for a little bit so set the cookies aside while you thin down the rest of your icing. If you do all your cookie borders at one time, you can thin all the remaining icing. I thin my icing by adding 1/2 teaspoon water per 1 1/2 cups icing, but this is a sliding scale so you may need slightly more or less water to get the desired consistency. To test your icing, lift your spoon out of the icing and let it drip from the spoon back into the bowl. If the icing that dripped down blends back into the other icing in about 3 seconds, you have the perfect consistency. If you can distinctly see the icing that dripped for longer than 3 seconds, add more water. If the icing blends immediately, it’s too thin so you need to add a little powdered sugar to thicken it again. I know this seems picky, but it will save you a lot of headache later when we move onto the cookies!
Ready for the cookies now? Let’s go! Fill a piping bag or zip-top bag with the thinned icing. The idea here is to “flood” the cookie with icing so just squeeze the icing onto the cookie until you can no longer see the cookie underneath. To make the kaleidoscope effect, you can pipe swirls or stripes in different colors. Then, take a toothpick and gently scrape the end across the icing, dragging the colors with you.
For example, I made the white and purple egg by piping two horizontal purple stripes in the egg and filling the rest with white icing. Then I dragged my toothpick tip up and down vertically to create the kaleidoscope effect. On the blue and yellow egg, I piped a swirl in yellow icing and filled the rest with of the egg with blue icing. Then, I dragged my toothpick from the center of the egg to the outside, and back again.
The kaleidoscope eggs are super easy to make and are sure to impress! Good luck!