We could count on the homemade peanut butter Easter eggs every year. Just like clockwork, a one-pound white cardboard box of melt-in-your-mouth goodness appeared for each member of the family. Everyone got their own, with their name written in the upper right-hand corner. My mother-in-law, Rosemary Lebegern, made sure that everyone was treated equally, and may God save your soul if you “borrowed” any from someone else’s box.
For the first time since “Mom” passed away in 2007, I got her recipe out and read it. Not only did she provide the recipe for peanut butter eggs, but also butter cream and peanut butter “krackle” eggs, made with Rice Krispies.
On the back of the card are directions for making the chocolate coating. Rosemary indicated that she bought the necessary chocolate wafers at Edwards Freeman Nut Company in Conshohocken, indicating that the chocolate was already tempered and that adding paraffin was also not needed. In typical “Mom” fashion, she added a note, “Ask them if you have any questions. They will tell you.”
Edwards Freeman Nut Company is worth the drive. A visit is like going back in time. Located at 441 East Hector Street in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, the store’s interior is lined with shelves with cubbies that are filled with every type of candy you can imagine. The candy you’ll find ranges from old-fashioned favorites right up through the most recent candy fads. They even have candy-coated insects! The Easter candy was out in full force and I had no trouble finding family favorites as well as some new items to try. Mercken’s Chocolate Wafers, for melting and dipping the peanut butter eggs, were featured prominently, and I bought 3 lbs. Until all was said and done, I spent more than $80. I even bought some bottles of hot sauce. (As your kids get older, what goes into their Easter baskets gets revised.)
I was glad that I didn’t have to add wax to the chocolate to make the coating. Something just seems wrong about that. When I was recently in another store, I overheard two women talking about adding paraffin to chocolate. I’m guessing it has something to do with making the chocolate less likely to melt in your hands. The one woman’s son saw the wax going in and he hasn’t eaten a peanut butter egg since. (If only that would work in my house!)
MOM’S PEANUT BUTTER EASTER EGGS
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
1¼ cups peanut butter
1 lb. confectioner’s sugar
1 lb. tempered chocolate wafers (I used Mercken’s)
Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium low heat until melted. Add in the peanut butter. Make certain that you measure the peanut butter by volume. It is often sold by weight. Stir until smooth, then remove from heat. At this point, I found it helpful to transfer the mixture to a large bowl, but if your saucepan is large enough you can add the sugar without using a bowl.
Add the sugar about one-fourth at a time and incorporate it completely. Use a wooden spoon at first. As the mixture cools, you can knead it with your hands. Cool the mixture for at least one hour in the refrigerator.
To melt the chocolate wafers, place them in a microwaveable glass bowl and heat on high power for one minute. Stir. Heat for an additional minute. If all of the wafers are not fully melted, continue microwaving 20 seconds at a time.
Begin to form “eggs” from the peanut butter mixture. The size and shape is your choice. My mother-in-law’s eggs were always uniform in size and shape. I started with smaller, rounder shapes and they morphed into flattened peanut butter balls. A little experimenting is probably in order. Try to form the eggs quickly so that the heat from your hands doesn’t soften the “eggs” too much. If the eggs are too soft they will change shape. You also want the surface to be a smooth as possible.
Rather than dip the peanut butter eggs directly into the melted chocolate, coat your fork with chocolate, then place an “egg” on the fork. Use a spoon to ladle the chocolate over the egg until covered. Gently tap the fork on the edge of the bowl. This will speed the dripping of the chocolate and evenly distribute the chocolate coating.
Scrape the bottom of the fork on the edge of the bowl and gingerly transfer the coated egg to a tray lined with waxed paper. The weight of the egg and the “lubrication” for the chocolate should allow the egg to gracefully slide onto the waxed paper. This takes a little practice and no small amount of finessing.
Candy makers use a special two-tined fork that has wire-like tines. Another trick is to use a plastic fork with the middle tines removed. (I didn’t figure this out until after my first batch.)
Allow chocolate to harden and store in covered containers in a cool place. Finished peanut butter eggs can be refrigerated or frozen, and they keep well. But if your house is like mine…not for long!
Enjoy, and have a blessed Easter. He is risen!