Every now and then there are holidays or events that serve to remind me that despite a common language and many cultural similarities, the UK and US are still quite different places, and customs and traditions cherished back home often leave them scratching their heads (or rolling their eyes!) over here.
Case and point: Easter eggs. Never in a million years would I have imagined ever feeling any level of remorse for taking your basic plain white American egg for granted. But just try to find a carton of good 'ol classic white eggs over here and you'll embark on a scavenger hunt beyond your wildest dreams.
Want to make things really interesting? Go out and try to find easter egg dye in London. Seriously, I dare you. Walk into your local supermarket and explain that you want white eggs and Easter egg dye to color them. Now get out your iPhone and capture the precious look on their faces as they try to figure out if your a certified mental case or just a sad art school flunkie with too much time on your hands. (For the record, eggs in the UK by comparison are already exceptionally colorful with colors ranging from pale blue to vibrant mahogany) but neither of these will do you much good when you want to dye them that traditional pallet of Easter pastels.
After learning my lesson several years ago, I've long since given up on the whole dying Easter eggs thing. I thought it would be a cute tradition to share with my husband. We like to swap customs and cultural oddities and this seemed like a fun little project to crack open a bottle of wine and do together on a rainy Sunday night.
When that failed, I planned to buy lots of little colored plastic eggs and fill them with fun surprises to hide around our flat for both he and Dexter to find. Cute right? Not so much as it turns out, considering finding colored plastic eggs around here was just about as bad as locating white versions of the real thing, and the explanation process was only marginally less embarrassing. This year for Easter #4, I decided it was time for a change of tact.
I was bound and determined to do something Easter egg themed, although "traditional" would clearly have to go out the window. And that's when I remembered the most awesome cupcake book ever and the amazing egg-themed project that would officially be my attempt at keeping (American) Easter commercialism alive! Hurrah!
And so....voila! My new interpretation of Easter egg festivities and homage to yummy Easter indulgence. True, these may not be the plastic eggs filled with chocolate buttons of my childhood, but they are fresh baked vanilla cupcakes filled with decadent white chocolate chunks. And that's a trade-off I can live with....at least for this year!
For an ultra decadent, alternative version to vanilla cupcakes, try this recipe by the never-fail Hummingbird Bakery. Click on the link for deets on how to create the "All Cracked Up" broken egg centerpiece.
"All Cracked Up" White Chocolate Egg Cupcakes
Adapted from "What's New, Cupcake?"
12 mini cupcakes baked in paper liners
1 cup white chocolate melting wafers
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup lemon curd (store bought or homemade)
1 cup vanilla frosting (Betty Crocker version used here)
Yellow and red food coloring
7 standard size plastic Easter eggs (approx. 3.5 inches long)
1 clean egg carton
1. Melt the white chocolate in a microwavable bowl. Heat for 20 seconds and stir. Re-peat in 10 second intervals until the candies are melted and smooth, approximately after 1 minute.
2. Line a cooking sheet with wax paper and place in the refrigerator. Pour a couple of drops of oil into each egg half and swirl it around until all the sides are coated. Empty the egg of any oil left sitting in the bottom.
3. Using your finger or a small brush, generously coat the inside of each oiled egg half with the melted chocolate. Transfer each egg, open side down, to the cookie sheet in the refrigerator. Repeat with the remaining melted chocolate and plastic eggs.
4. After a few minutes, apply a second coat to any eggs where the white chocolate layer is looking thin or translucent. (Don't worry about the inside being heavily coated, it makes the egg strong and will not affect the outside presentation of the egg when removed from the mold. Return to fridge for 5 mins.
5. Remove eggs from the refrigerator and let set a few minutes to come back to room temperature.
6. To remove chocolate eggs from the plastic molds, gently press along the rim of each egg, squeezing sides very gently to loosen. Place thumb inside of each egg mold, and slowly slide thumb along the inside wall of the egg, pulling downward towards the open end. The chocolate will slide out fairly easy.
*Don't worry if a couple of eggs crack as you go, you will want the broken segments for decoration.
7. Place the cupcakes into the egg carton.
8. Mix 1 drop of red and 5 drops of yellow food coloring together with the lemon curd. Spoon the lemon curd into a plastic bag and snip a tiny (1/8 inch) bit of the corner to use as a piping bag.
8. Cover each cupcake with a white chocolate egg, keeping some whole and breaking others. Pipe a small mound of lemon curd into the center of each cupcake you want to reflect as the yoke coming from the broken eggs.