Michelle Darmody: Baking eggs for Easter

Eggs have been symbols of fertility and rebirth since pagan times and have also been used as an emblem of Easter.

Many Christians abstained from eggs, as well as meat during Lent, so the sight of eggs on Easter Sunday must have been very welcome.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related customs that are still engaged in around the world. 

Traditionally the eggs children hunted were hand painted hollowed out egg shells. 

These are often beautifully and intricately decorated.

In the 17th and 18th centuries egg-shaped toys were created and given to children at Easter, these were covered in silk and filled with gifts.

The first chocolate eggs were developed in the early 19th century in France and Germany, at that time each egg was made by hand, one by one. 

As the century progressed machines became more advanced and chocolate half shells were manufactured and then stuck together with melted chocolate, often with a handful of sweet treats inside.

Chocolate eggs have become an enduring tradition but if you would like to try something different, two of the recipes here make use of seasonal egg shapes without the chocolate hit.

Painting cookies can be fun and engaging. 

An adult can have the cookies pre-made and then allow younger family members to decorate them as they wish. 

The icing will air dry in about an hour, depending on the temperature in the room. 

If you want them dried quicker you can pop them into a very low oven for about five minutes.

Vanilla painted eggs

140g of golden caster sugar

200g of butter

2 egg yolks

3 tsp of vanilla essence

400g of flour

2 tbsp of milk

For the icing:

1 egg white

200g of icing sugar

A couple of drops of lemon juice

Beat the sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Using a wooden spoon or spatula add in the yolks and vanilla until combined, stir in the flour then add the milk to form a dough. 

Bring it together with your hands and seal it in sheet of parchment or clingfilm, place in a fridge to cool completely.

Line two baking trays with parchment.

On a floured surface roll the dough to about 4mm thickness, then cut into egg shapes. 

Place the cookies flat on the baking tray and bake for about eight minutes until they are beginning to turn golden. 

Allow to cool on the tray until they are ready to handle and then place them onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the icing by whisking the egg white and icing sugar until it is fairly stiff. 

Dilute with lemon juice as needed. You may also need a few drops of warm water to dilute to the correct consistency. 

Add whichever colour you are using — there are great natural food colours that can be used.

Fill piping bags with your different colour batches of icing. 

Pipe your decoration onto the cookies and allow to set.

If you prefer not to use raw egg white, which is not advised for pregnant, older or infirmed people. 

Beat 7g of merriwhite powder (pasteurised egg white) with 40ml water until foamy then add 200g of icing sugar until the icing is the right consistency. 

Add lemon juice or warm water if it is needed.

Mini egg rocky road squares

125g of dark chocolate

100g of milk chocolate

150g of honey

270g of butter

300g of shortcake biscuits, roughly crushed

250g of mini eggs, roughly chopped

Line a 9-inch square tin with baking parchment.

Melt both of the chocolates, the honey and butter in a heavy based saucepan over a very low heat. 

Once the chocolate is completely melted stir the mixture and make sure the ingredients are combined.

Mix in the biscuits and chopped mini eggs and scoop the mixture into your lined tin.

Allow to cool and then place in the fridge to set. 

It will take a few hours set completely.

Remove the slab from the tin and cut into squares with a warm knife.

Lemon curd egg biscuits

200g butter, cubed

180g of caster sugar

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tbs of lemon juice

The zest of 2 lemons

500g of plain flour

1 tsp of baking powder, sieved

To decorate:

Icing sugar for dusting

2 tbsp of lemon curd

The recipe will give you quite a large batch of dough. 

It is the smallest amount you can make with one egg. 

If there is too much you can half it and freeze one batch or keep it in the fridge and make biscuits again within the next few days.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees and line two flat baking trays with parchment.

Beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.

Then mix in the egg, lemon juice, and zest. 

Finally beat in the flour that has been mixed with the sieved baking powder.

When the dough is coming together knead it lightly into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm, and leave in the fridge for an hour.

Roll it to 3mm thickness on a lightly floured surface. 

Cut into egg shapes, and then cut a circle out of half of the cookies. 

Bake the biscuits for about eight minutes, or until they are nicely brown. 

Allow to cool on the tray until cool enough to handle then place them on a wire rack to cool completely.

Dust icing sugar over the biscuits with the hole cut in then and spread the lemon curd on the full egg biscuits. 

Place the powdered cookies on top of the other one.

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