Creme Filled Chocolate Eggs and Mary’s Secret Ingredient

It’s not very often that I have the drive or even desire to do anything crafty. While some might argue these next few words…I have to say that I’m not even remotely crafty. I’m not… Anymore. But something caught my eye last week, and I fell under its spell.

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These adorable eggs.
I mean, do they count as crafty?
I don’t think so…
They’re candy.

But somehow in my mind, they fit in the crafty category…

I had the pleasure of stumbling upon Lorraine’s blog: Not Quite Nigella last week while I was visiting Mary Frances’ blog: Love, the Secret Ingredient to buy a limited edition culinary surprise box.

There, on Lorraine’s blog, were the most adorable chocolate eggs that I’ve ever seen, and I knew right then and there that it would be a matter of time before I tried my own version, and that turned out to be today. Well, technically, I started them the other day..but it takes a couple of days to prepare the eggs for this.

Don’t get too panicky… I say a couple of days to prepare…but it’s a matter of an hour to empty the eggs, wash, sterilize (per Martha Stewart’s instructions), and color them. I let them sit for a couple of days to make sure that they were completely dry before I poured the chocolate into them.

So…the other day…I came across a box of Cadbury creme filled eggs that I had bought for Easter, and I wondered if I could make the eggs creme filled instead of solid chocolate. The hardest part, I thought, would be doing a thin lining of chocolate around the inside of the egg without it running down the sides to end up in a hardened mass at the bottom of the inside of the egg.

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Surprisingly, it worked! I poured a little bit of chocolate into the eggs, and swirled it around the inside of the egg until there was a very thin layer of chocolate covering the sides. I put the eggs in the refrigerator until the chocolate set, about 15 minutes. After the chocolate hardened, I poured a little more chocolate inside, and swirled it around until it covered the sides, and then put them back into the refrigerator to harden for a few more minutes.

While the chocolate was hardening for the second time, I made the creme out of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and light corn syrup. It only took a few minutes to mold the creme into the eggs, and top it off with more chocolate to seal the hole in the bottom of the egg.

I was really surprised at how easy they were to make (just plan a couple of days for prep). It worked out nicely, because I just hard boiled the eggs I wanted to color for Easter, and did them all at the same time! And…they’re so cute. They’re a perfect project to do with your kids!

Like I said, the whole reason I found Lorraine’s blog was because I was visiting Love, the Secret Ingredient for Mary’s new product…Mary’s Secret Ingredient (MSI), which is a limited edition culinary surprise box. Culinary and Surprise in one package?? Oh yeah, I’m all for that!!

I really thought this was a cool idea, and wanted to see what it’s all about. Mary offers these boxes (100 available each time) four times a year… Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter. I love the surprise element of these boxes…with the promise of gourmet and artisanal ingredients! And who knows? Maybe there will be something in there that I’ve never heard of before! I’m always up for finding new products to use in the kitchen.. and this is truly a fun way to do just that!

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And…Mary will share a recipe on her blog featuring the ingredients. Speaking of Mary’s blog, I urge you to stop by and visit. It’s such a great blog, and her talent goes way beyond her kitchen, with her wonderful heartwarming stories. She’s such a great lady, and I think what finally sold me on MSI, is the fact that Mary will donate 10% of the annual profits from this whole venture to the worldwide Feed the Children! Because in Mary’s words…”No one should go hungry”..

We need more Mary Frances’ in the world to do their part in ending hunger. We should all do our part to help end world hunger….

Life is good… it’s a “creme filled chocolate egg and culinary surprise boxes that are not only fun, but aid in the fight to end world hunger” kind of good.

Creme Filled Chocolate Eggs
Makes One Dozen

A quick note: While the creme filling starts out as a putty consistency, it will soften inside the egg to more of a creme consistency.

I know I probably don’t have to say this, but I need to: Watch young children with these eggs, especially with the eggshell! The eggshell is not meant to be eaten, and could become a choking hazard!!

1 dozen eggs, uncooked
2-3 quarts water
1 tbsp white vinegar

2 cups chocolate (such as Valrhona, that is good for tempering)

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract, or almond extract, or orange extract

Using a sharp paring knife, begin tapping lightly on the bottom of each egg until there is a hole large enough for the whites and yolks to pour out. Carefully rinse the eggshell under warm water until cleaned. Repeat with all eggs. Save the egg carton.

Place the eggshells in a pot of water with white vinegar. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 minutes, skimming off the foam as it appears. Remove from heat.

Color the eggshells using your favorite egg coloring kit, or food coloring.

To dry them, I placed each eggshell on a skewer that was placed in a jar..and let sit for two days.

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After the eggs are completely dry: Melt the chocolate, and pour about a tablespoon inside the eggshells. Swirl the chocolate around inside the egg, put each egg back in the egg carton, and place in the refrigerator to harden.

Repeat step five with another thin layer inside the eggshell. Place in the refrigerator to harden.

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While the chocolate inside the egg is cooling, mix together the powdered sugar, butter, corn syrup, and extract until well blended. The creme will be very close to a putty consistency.  Remove eggs from refrigerator, and begin packing the creme inside each egg until filled.

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Cover the hole on the bottom of the egg with more melted chocolate. Put the filled eggshells back in the egg carton, and place in refrigerator to harden for two hours to overnight.

Use for table decoration, seating markers, or gifts!

Enjoy!!

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Impulsive Purchases and Mini Headlights

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Sometimes I do things that I have no other explanation for, except that it was a spur of the moment thought, that led into a spur of the moment online purchase….there was no thinking involved…just a thought, and the click of a button…and then guilt for the purchase.

On Wednesday last week, I decided that I wanted a donut maker.
By Friday, it arrived in the mail.

I should probably mention that I am not being paid to talk about this donut maker. This is really all about me, and my impulsive nature.

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When I opened the package on Friday, and sat there staring at this powder blue donut maker, I honestly wondered what the heck was I thinking on Wednesday.. I don’t know..I guess I thought it would be kind of fun to be able to make little donuts when the mood struck. I thought that I’d rather eat a homemade donut, and it would be much better than deep frying…but I was feeling guilty for such a random purchase.

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I can honestly say it works pretty well for the $25 I paid for it. I do agree with the reviews on Amazon, when they complained that the donuts cook unevenly. They definitely cook faster on the bottom than on the top.

This little donut maker probably appeals to a very young crowd (or impulsive people like me), but I certainly wouldn’t let a child use it, at least unattended. It gets really hot to the touch on the outside. The donuts didn’t stick to the pan at all, but it was pretty hot when I was pulling them from the rings.

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And now for the donuts… they’re about 2 inches in diameter, so more of a little nibble than anything. I do think that they’re a nice little treat for a Saturday morning… possibly rolled in sugar, cinnamon, or even plain! I liked them because they were quick and easy. A breeze of a clean up!!

I decided to make mini headlights, and I’ll tell you why I love these little things…

I’m not sure about you, but when I lose my willpower (which is often), and go for a full size crème filled chocolate frosted donut, and eat the whole thing while I’m thinking to myself that it doesn’t even taste as good as I thought it would…and then that sickly sweet feeling comes over me immediately after that very last bite…the bite that I really didn’t want, but ate anyway…and then I’m miserable…sick and miserable.

Well, these mini headlights were the perfect size to remedy that. I ate one, and it satisfied any crème filled donut craving that I might have had. I could have even eaten two of them, and still wouldn’t have gotten that sickly feeling. And the beautiful part of the whole thing? It tasted good, because I made it exactly the way I thought it should be made.

So, in the end… will I use this little donut maker often? No, probably not. I do know that I’ll pull it out once in a while, and make these fun little donuts.

I’m definitely not sorry for this impulsive purchase. No guilt here!

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Mini Headlights
Makes About Two Dozen

The Donut:
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1-1/3 tbsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt
½ cup milk
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat your donut maker.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, eggs, vanilla, and vegetable oil until well blended.

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You can spoon the batter into the donut rings, but I found that it’s much easier to use a disposable piping bag. Fill the rings just to the top with the batter, close the top of the donut maker, and let cook for exactly two minutes. Remove the baked donuts from the rings, and let cool on wire rack.

The Ganache:
1 cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp heavy cream

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Place the chocolate chips and heavy cream into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until the chocolate is completely melted, and spreadable. Add a few more drops of heavy cream if you feel it needs it. Dip the tops of the donuts into the ganache, and set on wire rack to cool.

The Crème Filling:
¼ cup shortening
¼ cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
¼ to ½ cup heavy cream

In a large mixing bowl, beat the shortening, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and ¼ cup of the heavy cream until fluffy. If it isn’t as fluffy as you’d like, continue to add heavy cream until it becomes your preferred piping consistency.

Pipe onto the chocolate covered donuts. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.

Enjoy!

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Short and Sweet…. Raspberry Napoleon Cups

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It’s official. We are now into the holidays, and that brings the hustle and bustle of planning, preparing, and shopping. I love Christmas. It’s my most favorite holiday of the year, but it’s a lot of work!! Sometimes it’s fun work…and we all know that sometimes it’s really stressful work..

I think I can safely guess that you’re like me, and while I can get some of the things finished during the week, I rely on the weekend to get the majority of it done. Even then, it’s still a rush, because I still have the normal everyday things to do on top of everything else. Which is why I took Black Friday off, and just spent a relaxing day decorating and cleaning…I believe I started a new Black Friday tradition for myself! And then, there’s always that one weekend, that just when I’m in the thick of the hustle and bustle, I realize that I have a party to go to that night, and I promised my friend I’d bring a dessert! That’s when my mind starts looking for quick and easy…short and sweet.

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This is truly a short and sweet dessert. The idea came to me about five years ago, when I wanted to make a raspberry napoleon type dessert for a party that I was invited to. The only problem was, that it was going to be a finger foods type of party, meaning that a Napoleon wasn’t going to work, not to mention, I was pressed for time.

As I was walking through the freezer section at Wegmans, I saw this little box of mini phyllo cups. Perfect!! I could fill them with pastry cream, raspberries, whipped cream, and drizzle them with chocolate. They just might be a decent finger food dessert!

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I did not anticipate the huge hit they’d be… That evening, I could hear people talking about them, and asking who made them, and then asking me for the recipe! Of course, I had no culinary or patissier expertise to impress them… But as I shared the recipe, I found that they loved this little dessert, which was not only pretty, but also delicious enough for the fanciest of soirees, yet easy and casual enough for a picnic….but also quick to throw together, and so, so simple to make.

I have made these little Napoleon cups with the pastry cream, and without. I have to say that they are delicious both ways. Honestly? I think it’s the little phyllo cups that make them so outstanding, especially if you brush them with the butter before filling them, which gives them such a rich flavor.

So now I need to give you the bad news…. These little phyllo cups will hold up for an evening, but they won’t hold up overnight. If you are planning on making them the day before, it won’t work. They’ll get soggy regardless if you use the pastry cream or not. Go ahead and make the pastry cream the day before, but I recommend that you put them together the same day as the event. Like I said before, these are just as delicious with just raspberries and whipped cream, so if you’re out of time, then honestly, skip the pastry cream!  The good news is, is that there will be zero leftovers to worry about!

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Raspberry Napoleon Cups
Makes 24

The Cups
2 – 12 count packages of mini phyllo pastry shells
1 – 12 oz package of fresh raspberries
1 tbsp salted butter, melted

The Whipped Cream
1 – 8 oz carton heavy cream
1 tsp sugar, or more depending on your desired sweetness
1 tsp vanilla

Pour the heavy cream into a large bowl, and with an electric mixer, begin mixing it until it forms stiff peaks. Add the sugar and vanilla, and continue to beat until it is stiff enough to put in a pastry bag to pipe. Put the bowl of whipped cream into the refrigerator until ready to use.

The Pastry Cream
¼ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 -1/2 tbsp flour
¼ tsp salt
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk the sugar, heavy cream, flour, and salt in a small saucepan on medium heat. Cook until it begins to bubble, or until it’s thickened, stirring occasionally. While the cream mixture is cooking, break two egg yolks into a small bowl and lightly stir them with a fork. As soon as the cream mixture has thickened, spoon about a ½ cup of the cream into the egg yolk bowl, and whisk quickly, pour the egg/cream mixture back into the pan and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from heat, and stir into the vanilla. Pour the cream into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.

Once the pastry cream has completely cooled, take about 1/3 cup of the whipped cream, and fold it into the cream.

The Chocolate Sauce
½ cup chocolate chips
2 tbsp heavy cream

In a small microwaveable bowl, heat the heavy cream for about a minute. Add the chocolate chips to the heated heavy cream and stir until melted.  Add a little more heavy cream if the chocolate sauce is too thick for drizzling.

Begin Layering:
The beauty of this recipe is that you can prepare the phyllo cups right in their little plastic package. Melt the butter, and brush all over the inside of each cup. Begin layering the Napoleon cups by spooning one teaspoon of pastry cream into each cup. Put two raspberries on top of the pastry cream.

Spoon the whipped cream into a pastry bag that has been loaded with a star tip (I use Wilton 1M), and pipe the whipped cream over the raspberries. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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