Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creme Eggs

I love the Cadbury creme eggs they have always been one of my favorite parts of Easter. Knowing all I know now though with the artificial colors and flavors in them I no longer want to buy them or let the kids eat them. So this year I decided to make my own since I can make candy corn and conversation hearts I knew I could figure out creme eggs. 
I made these without any added colors, I always use natural food dyes for my sweets but for these I wanted to try for dye free. Making them without colors required me to make 2 types of fillings both are delicious on their own but putting them together makes the classic white and yellow look. If you want to you could just make the white filling and take some out to color yellow instead of making the second filling. 
These can be made 2 ways either in molds or on sticks. I like the molds but the sticks are fun too. Any egg mold will do I found some plastic ones at Hobby Lobby for $2 each, I think they are intended for peanut butter filled eggs. With this recipe I was able to make 40 of the eggs.

Here are the recipes for the fillings and the chocolate followed by my instructions for making eggs. There seems to be a lot of instructions but they are actually quite easy to put together.

Thick Simple Syrup
1 cup sugar
¼ cup water

Over low heat in a small saucepan heat the sugar and water stirring constantly. Remove from heat once the sugar is dissolved. 

Agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup can be used in place of the simple syrup remember each adds its own flavor to the filling.

Yellow Custard Filling
¼ cup butter
¼ cup heavy cream
1-4 tbs thick simple syrup
1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla
Pinch salt (optional)

In a medium saucepan heat the butter, cream, and simple syrup over low heat stirring until the butter is completely melted. Remove from heat and slowly whisk in egg yolk*. Continue to whisk and place it back on the heat cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a spoon this will take about 3-5 min. You can till it is done if you run your finger over the back of the spoon and it leaves a trail. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and salt.Stir well to thoroughly mix. Allow to cool slightly then place in a covered bowl and place in the fridge.
*If the custard starts to get little piece of cooked egg in it immediately pull from the heat and strain the mixture. It will still work just fine.

White Crème Filling
½ cup thick simple syrup
¼ cup butter softened to room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
3 cups powdered sugar

With a mixer cream together the simple syrup, butter, salt and vanilla. Sift in the powdered sugar. Slowly beat the sugar into the butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Place in a covered bowl and refrigerate.

Chocolate Egg Coating
2 cups of chocolate chips
You can use any chocolate chips you like, milk, semi sweet, dark or a combination of chips.

Using a double boiler melt the chocolate over med heat. Stirring the chocolate as it melts till smooth. Remove the double boiler from the heat. If the chocolate starts to harden or gets thick you can easily warm it back up.

Putting together the eggs
Using a mold
Make the fillings and place them in fridge to firm up for 10-20 min. While the fillings are hardening melt the chocolate and use it to paint the insides of the molds. Remember to be sure to put a thin layer around all sides. Place the molds in the fridge for 5 min until they harden. 

Next you need to fill the molds. This is the method that worked best for me. I also tried pipping the filling into the eggs but I kept overflowing the eggs. With a little more practice the piping might work just as well. 

Take the molds and the yellow filling out of the fridge. Place a small amount of the yellow custard in each mold. I filled about 1/4 - 1/3 of the mold with the scoop of yellow custard. 
Next take out the creme filling. Working quickly, so the filling does not get to warm and sticky, scoop out a small amount of creme filling, just enough to fill in the rest of the mold. If the fillings start to get sticky place it back in the fridge for 5 min to harden up. The filling is very easy to work with when it is cold but next to impossible to work with when it is warm.
Flatten out the creme slightly and place it in the mold pressing down lightly so it fills the entire mold. Once the molds are filled place them back in the fridge. while you warm the chocolate back up.
Reheat the chocolate and paint a thin layer of chocolate on each mold completely covering the filling. Place the molds in the freezer for 5 min to firm up and make removing from the mold easier. 
When ready gently push on the top of the molds to get the eggs to pop out. Store what ever you do not eat immediately in a lidded container in the fridge. They will also do fine sitting out on the counter unless the room is quite warm. Just like chocolate chips they will soften if the temperature is to high.

On a stick
Make the fillings and place them in fridge to firm up for 20 min. Remember to take out the fillings (as needed) and work quickly, so the filling does not get to warm and sticky. If the fillings do start to get sticky place them back in the fridge for 5 min to firm up before continuing.

Start by making small balls of the custard and placing them on a parchment paper lined try. Then place the trays in the fridge.
Next take out the creme filling and make flat circles with it. The circle need to be large enough that you can wrap it around the custard balls you made. Place the circles on a parchment paper lined tray and then in the fridge to firm up before continuing. 
After about 5 min take out both of the fillings and place the ball of custard in the middle of the crème circles. Place a stick in the custard and fold up the crème around the custard and stick. Smooth the creme into a ball or egg shape they look best if you can make them slightly smaller at the top and a bit rounder at the bottom. Place each egg on the parchment paper lined tray. Then place them in the freezer so they get really firm for dipping.

While the fillings are freezing melt the chocolate. Take out the fillings and carefully dip each in the chocolate fully covering them. You may need to smooth the chocolate around all sides of the eggs or use a spoon to pour chocolate over the eggs so they are fully covered. Make sure you are only putting on a thin layer of chocolate or it will drip everywhere. Place them back on the parchment paper or stick the bottom of the sticks into a Styrofoam block so the sides are not flattened while they dry. After dipping place them back in the fridge to harden.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Smoothies are one of my favorite snacks! They are easy to throw together, the kids love them, and they are full of nutritious ingredients. Some people love having smoothies for breakfast but personally I need a little more to get me going in the morning but as a snack they are perfect. Most of the time we drink them alone but sometimes depending on how hungry we are a handful of nuts or a drop or two is needed.
I find no need for any precise measurements when making a smoothie a little of this and splash of that and you are almost guaranteed a yummy treat. I use my stick blender for making smoothies because it is quick, easy, and requires very little clean up. I start with a quart size wide mouth canning jar. I put what ever fresh fruit and veggies I am using first, then the greens and the frozen fruit or veggies, and last the liquid. I fill my canning jar to about 2-3 inches from the top with all my ingredients then just place my blender in and turn it on. Once it is well blended I pour out my kids portions and then stick a glass straw in the jar and enjoy the rest. No extra cleanup needed!
Sometimes it takes a small amount of pressure to get the frozen foods to blend in and if I am using greens I might let it go a bit longer then usual and I may have to pull out a few leaves that are not blending in.
I have yet to have a bad smoothie but I always try to follow the ratio of 60% fruit and 40% veggies or greens. This is the highest amount of veggies I will do and usually I do less then 40%. I then pour in my liquid to about half way up the fruit and veggies.
I use a variety of ingredients and rarely do we have the same combination more then once. Here is a list of ingredients I use.

Liquid- I never use milk or fruit juice in my smoothies because I feel we get enough of those with a glass of juice in the morning and milk at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Kombucha and whey are my go to liquids for smoothies. They add probiotic properties to the smoothie which make it excellent for the all important gut health. If you do not have these water, any type of milk, or a small amount of fresh fruit juice will work. *Since starting GAPS our smoothies are usually made with Kefir, raw eggs, and/or yogurt.

Fruits- I use either fresh or frozen of any of these. If you do not have fresh fruit to add that is fine just be sure you always have frozen fruit or add ice cubes to the smoothie before blending. The frozen fruit is how you get the great smoothie texture.

Veggies- I have to admit I have not tried a ton of different veggies in my smoothies but the ones I have tried I like. Frozen or fresh veggies will work well just be sure to have fresh greens. Start small and work your way up with the veggies.
beet greens

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ice Cream and Sourdough ebooks

I recently bought 2 ebooks which I am loving.
The first was Sourdough from A to Z it was written as part of the GNOWFGLINS ecourse on sourdough. I did not want to do the ecourse so I just bought the book which I have been reading through and making recipes from. It is really the best resource I have found for sourdough, or at least for nourishing wholegrain sourdough. It is wonderful to have a whole book where I do not have to tweak the recipes to use more nourishing ingredients.

We love to make ice cream and the book Just Making Ice Cream is a perfect fit for our family. The recipes are full of nourishing ingredients and we can not wait to make our way through them all.