But nothing can compare to the magic of rolling up your sleeves, putting the radio on and spending a few hours with your little ones making your own eggs.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 300g cooking chocolate
- thermometer (preferable but not essential)
- plastic Easter egg moulds – available from craft shops and supermarkets
- egg decorationS
Here’s how to make perfect eggs:
Firstly, grab yourself some quality cooking chocolate. If you’re cooking for milk-allergic people, it goes without saying that you’ll need to get yourself some dairy-free alternatives. You’ll need about 300g of the brown stuff.
Step One: Melt the chocolate.
It’s not rocket science but popping the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water is the traditional way to melt the chocolate. Best to not let the kids get involved with this bit to avoid scalding.
If you don’t have a thermometer, gently melt the chocolate as per the instructions but you may find that the chocolate appears a bit mottled upon drying. This won’t affect the taste however. For perfectly smooth chocolate however, follow the details instructions here.
Chop three quarters of the chocolate (300g/10 1/2 oz) on a chopping board, using a serrated knife.
Place the roughly chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl. Half fill a saucepan with hot water, and put the bowl over it, making sure that the bowl does not touch the bottom of the saucepan. Slowly heat the water, ensuring it does not boil. Alternatively, use a microwave oven if you wish, but in ‘defrost’ position or at 500W maximum. Stir regularly using a flexible spatula so that the chocolate melts smoothly.
Check the temperature with a thermometer. When it reaches 55°C-58°C (131°F-136°F) for bittersweet/dark, or 45°C-50°C (113°F-122°F) for milk or white, remove the chocolate from the saucepan.
Set aside one-third of the melted chocolate in a bowl, in a warm place. Add the remaining finely chopped quarter (100g/4oz) of the chocolate into the remaining two-thirds of the melted chocolate, stirring constantly. Bittersweet/ dark chocolate should reach a temperature of 28°C-29°C (82°F-84°F); milk chocolate should reach 27°C-28°C (81°F-82°F); and white or coloured chocolate should reach 26°C-27°C (79°F-81°F).
Add the melted chocolate that you have set aside to increase the temperature. Bittersweet/ dark chocolate should reach 31°C-32°C (88°F-90°F); milk chocolate should reach 29°C-30°C (84°F-86°F); and white or coloured chocolate should reach 28°C-29°C (82°F-84°F). Stir until the right temperature is reached.
Step Two: The First layer.
This is where the kids can get stuck in. Allow the chocolate to cool a little and then using a pastry brush, spread the chocolate evenly inside the two mould halves and leave them to set for five minutes in the fridge.
Step Three: The Second layer.
Warming the remaining chocolate ready for the second layer, bring out the two set halves and add another layer added. It’s up to you whether you strive for perfection or you’re not bothered. The eggs will need to set for a good two hours in the fridge afterwards.
Step Four: Atonement
Easing the egg shells out of their moulds is perhaps the most nerve-wracking part of the process. Will the wait be worth it? Will you have to start all over again?
Hopefully, the two shells should be gently eased out onto some greaseproof paper to a large collective sigh.
Warming the remaining chocolate once again, using the pastry brush, you should now apply chocolate to the shell rims (as if you were applying glue) and then hold together. It’ll take about 20 minutes to dry completely so if you can set the eggs down to dry somewhere, it’ll save you standing there for 20 minutes looking like a numpty.
Step Five: The Magic of Decoration
Re-heating just a tablespoon of chocolate and using it as ‘glue’, you can add all sorts to the egg – chocolates, shapes or ribbons.
If you own a piping bag, use chocolate or icing to create your own artistic images or messages.
Marzipan is so versatile and great for kids to use. Let their imaginations run wild!
Did you know? Older eggs are easier to peel than fresh eggs. If you are planning to make hard boiled eggs for Easter and want to make sure that the eggs are easy to peel, buy your eggs at least a week ahead of time (two weeks even better, they’ll keep).
If you need easy-to-peel eggs and you have fresh eggs, you might want to try steaming the eggs for 15 minutes. Pour an inch of water into a pot and insert a steamer basket.Bring to a boil. Place the eggs in the steamer basket, cover and steam for 15 minutes (more or less, check!). (Or if you don’t have a steamer basket, steam the eggs in a half inch of water.) The steam penetrates the shell a bit making the eggs easier to peel.
If you’ve boiled a batch of eggs that you are now finding difficult to peel, try cracking the shells all around without peeling them and soaking the eggs in water for a while. The water often seems to seep in enough under the shell to make the egg easier to peel.
If you live at high altitude, let the eggs sit in the hot water longer or lower the heat and maintain a low simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.
1. Place the eggs in a single layer at the bottom of a saucepan. Cover with at least an inch or two of cold water. The more eggs that are crowding the pan the more water you should have over the eggs.
2. Heat the pot on high heat and bring the water to a full rolling boil.
Adding a teaspoon of vinegar to the water may help keep egg whites from running out if an egg does crack while cooking. Also some people find adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the water helps prevent cracking as well as making the eggs easier to peel.
3. Turn off the heat, keep the pan on the hot burner, cover, and let sit for 10-12 minutes.
If you have the type of stove burner that doesn’t retain any heat when turned off, you might want to lower the temp to low, simmer for a minute, and then turn it off.
Depending on how cooked you like your hard boiled eggs, the eggs should be done perfectly in 10-12 minutes. That said, depending on your altitude, the shape of the pan, the size of the eggs, the ratio of water to eggs, it can take a few minutes more. Or if you like your eggs not fully hard cooked, it can take a few minutes less. When you find a time that works for you, given your preferences, the types of eggs you buy, your pots, stove, and cooking environment, stick with it.
If I’m cooking a large batch of eggs, after 10 minutes I’ll sacrifice one to check for doneness, by removing it with a spoon, running it under cold water, and cutting it open. If it’s not done enough for my taste, I’ll cook the other eggs a minute or two longer.
I also find that it is very hard to overcook eggs using this method. I can let the eggs sit, covered, for up to 15-18 minutes without the eggs getting overcooked.
4. Strain the water from the pan and run cold water over the eggs to cool them quickly and stop them from cooking further. Or, if you are cooking a large batch of eggs, remove them with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of ice water.
I find it easiest to peel the eggs under a bit of running water.
The best way to store hard boiled eggs is in a covered container in the refrigerator. Eggs can release odors in the fridge which is why it helps to keep them covered.
They should be eaten within 5 days.