Throughout the Coal Region, churches and organizations turn out tens of thousands of handmade chocolate-coated candy Easter eggs in a wide variety of flavors, selling them to raise much needed funds. It is tradition among many families to make their own eggs, too.
Every one who makes them has their favorite recipe and, more often than not, usually likes their recipe best. In my family, it was no different.
Over the years, I have had many handmade eggs at Easter from far and wide, but my Mom’s eggs always were – and always will be – my favorite. Nothing said Easter was drawing near in my house like seeing the makings for these eggs come into the kitchen with that week’s “store order” (grocery shopping)
To this day, THESE are the standard to which all other homemade Easter eggs are measured against in my mind!
Mom called these “peanut butter” eggs, but she always used some fresh, finely grated coconut in them (which my Dad cracked, peeled, and grated). She never varied the ingredients. She never made other flavors of filling.
Best tool in the kitchen
Mom always used her hands for mixing the filling – no electric mixer for her! She could easily tell by touch whether or not the mix needed any adjustments to bring it to a creamy consistency that rolled nicely but did not stick to your hands.
Mom and I always made Easter eggs together at our kitchen table when I was a kid. I can remember my amusement in watching her start out with “Frankenstein hands” caked with the super mushy filling mixture which later came together and rolled itself off her fingers as she added more powdered sugar.
I perched on the edge of that chrome and yellow vinyl chair just waiting to get the first teeny ball Mom would roll and hand to me, her “official taste tester”. I thought I called the shots as to whether they were firm enough or not and, to be honest, knew immediately they were just right but I always “needed” a couple more tastes “to make sure”!
Once the mixture was ready, out came the wax paper-lined cookie sheets and she and I set to work pinching off clumps of filling and doing our best to form them into acceptable, two-bite-sized, egg-like shapes.
The thief in the house
My Dad had some kind of built in detector that let him know the eggs were at the point of going into the refrigerator to set overnight before dipping. Pop never failed to show up when we were otherwise distracted, snag a few naked eggs for snacking, and disappear again. The only evidence of his thievery was the glaring empty spaces left on the trays among the carefully placed and spaced rows of eggs.
When it came time to dip them, Mom chopped up blocks of semi-sweet baking chocolate (found in the baking aisle of the grocery) and a little bit of paraffin wax which kept the chocolate shiny once it hardened, then melted them together in the top of a double boiler. (I can close my eyes today and see the box of “Gulf” wax sitting on the kitchen counter.)
She would take a small amount of the naked rolled eggs from the refrigerator, put them on a dinner plate, and one-at-a-time, snag each with a wooden toothpick, dip the egg, deposit it onto a wax paper-lined tray, then take a teaspoon and drop a tiny bit of the melted chocolate on to the hole left by the toothpick to seal it. The thin, semi-sweet coating perfectly offset the intense sweetness of the inside of the egg.
The finished eggs were always stored in the refrigerator in a covered tin, resting layer upon layer, separated by rounds of wax paper. To this day, my favorite way to eat these eggs is ice cold from the fridge, the first bite into it taking me back to Easters many decades ago in that kitchen in the Coal Region.
If you make these, but prefer not to get involved in melting blocks of baking chocolate and adding paraffin for whatever reason, the best option is to use candy coating wafers which are widely available in cake and candy making supply stores, craft stores and other locations. Many supermarkets also carry them around Easter. Using these wafers will yield a thicker chocolate coating on your egg than the semi-sweet baking chocolate and wax method.
The coating wafers are available in light, dark, and white along with flavors like peanut butter and also come in a rainbow of colors allowing you to get really creative with your decorating and flavor combos. I never use baking chips to coat my eggs – the results for me are less than satisfactory in appearance and the quality of chips among brands varies wildly.
If the egg centers get soft while you are dipping them, take only a few from the refrigerator at a time to dip.
You can make bite-sized eggs or jumbo ones; the yield from the recipe will depend on how much filling you use for each egg.
Tips for making perfect candy eggs
- Make sure you have sufficient powdered sugar available before starting the recipe; amounts needed can vary slightly depending on weather, peanut butter used, etc.
- I personally use only “the big names” brands of peanut butter in this recipe. I find it is hit or miss on quality and end results with many store brands.
- I use the blended peanut butter variety, not the “natural” style (the kind that separates and forms a layer of oil on top in the jar).
- If using ready-to-use bagged coconut from a cake supply store rather than fresh, I suggest finely ground unsweetened.
- Yes, you can skip the coconut altogether if you prefer; adjust the powdered sugar when mixing to get the proper consistency for rolling.
Mom’s Homemade Easter EggsCourse: Snacks, Candy, DessertsCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
Creamy peanut butter filling with a hint of coconut enrobled by luscious chocolate.
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar (approximately – have extra in case needed)
1/4 pound (1 stick) salted butter or margarine, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces creamy quality peanut butter
1 to 2 cups finely grated fresh coconut, to your taste (or store-bought unsweetened) OR skip the coconut – you will need to adjust the amount of powdered sugar.
Coating wafers – the amount you need depends on how large you make the eggs; smaller eggs use up more coating chocolate OR semi-sweet baking chocolate and paraffin.
- In a large bowl, cream together the butter (margarine) and cream cheese until smooth.
- Add the peanut butter and vanilla and mix until smooth.
- Add the coconut and mix well.
- Add the powdered sugar, starting with a couple cups, mix and continue to add powdered sugar as needed to get a soft filling that is not sticky and can be rolled into egg shapes using your palms.
- Form egg shaped balls in desired size and place on lined cookie sheet(s).
- Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
- To coat
- Melt coating wafers OR semi-sweet baking chocolate and paraffin in top of double boiler; take care not to get any steam or water in chocolate or it will seize up. Add enough grated paraffin to a block of baking chocolate so that a puddle dropped on a plate remains shiny when it hardens. The mixture should be thin when heated.
- Stir the coating occasionally. Use fork or toothpick to dip egg, tap off excess chocolate on rim of pan, drop egg onto lined pan to set. (Re-warm coating as needed.)
- Store in refrigerator.
- Try using white coating wafers to dip these eggs for a completely different take on them and delicious flavor!
DID YOU MAKE THIS?
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Lori Fogg, A Coalcracker In The Kitchen
Sharing coal region comfort foods and nostalgia
Born and raised “a coal miner’s daughter” in Schuylkill County in the Anthracite Region of Pennsylvania, I love to share recipes and memories of home with fellow “coalcrackers” and celebrate our unique blending of Eastern European and Pennsylvania Dutch heritage and cuisines here in northeast Pennsylvania.