In the Coal Region, churches and organizations turn out tens of thousands of handmade candy Easter eggs, selling them to raise much needed funds. It is tradition among many families to make their own eggs, too. Every one who makes them usually likes their recipe best and in my family, it was no different.
Over the years, I have had many handmade eggs at Easter – from far and wide – but Mom’s eggs always were – and always will be – MY favorite. Nothing said Easter was nearing in my house like seeing the makings for these eggs come into the kitchen with that week’s “store order” (grocery shopping)
Mom called these “peanut butter” eggs, but always used some fresh, finely grated coconut in them (which Dad cracked, peeled, and grated). She never varied the ingredients. She never made other filling flavors.
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 and I can remember finding it amusing watching her start out with “Frankenstein hands” as the filling was super mushy at the start but came together and rolled itself off her fingers as she added the 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 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 lumps of filling and doing our best to form them into acceptable, two-bite-sized, egg-like shapes. 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 and he 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 (I can close my eyes today and see the box of “Gulf” wax sitting on the kitchen counter) which kept the chocolate shiny once it hardened, and melted them together on top of a double boiler.
She would take a small amount of the naked rolled eggs from the refrigerator, snag each with a toothpick, dip the egg, deposit it onto another wax paper-lined tray and 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 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 bite into it taking me back to Easters many decades ago in that kitchen in the Coal Region.
If you make these, you might want to coat them using what many people favor today and I use – candy coating wafers which are widely available in cake and candy making supply stores and many supermarkets carry them around Easter. Using these wafers will yield a thicker chocolate coating on your egg than the semi-sweet baking chocolate method.
The 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 personally prefer Merckens brand. If the eggs get soft while you are dipping them, take only a few from the refrigerator at a time to dip. 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.
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.
Lessons learned throughout the decades of making these 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 use only Jif or Skippy traditional creamy peanut butter. I have found only these two give me consistent, quality results.
- If using bagged coconut, rather than fresh, I use unsweetened and give it a whirl in the food processor to break the shreds/flakes down into fairly fine pieces.
- Yes, you can skip the coconut altogether if you prefer; adjust your powdered sugar when mixing to get the right consistency.
Mom’s Homemade Easter EggsCourse: Snacks, Candy, DessertsCuisine: Coal RegionDifficulty: Easy
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 peanut butter (Jif or Skippy)
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.
- 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 in top of double boiler; take care not to get any steam or water in chocolate or it will seize up.
- Stir the coating occasionally. Use fork 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 flavor!