Easter's message at start of spring is very sweetEaster is...


March 27, 1994|By Karol V. Menzie | Karol V. Menzie,Sun Staff Writer

Easter's message at start of spring is very sweet

Easter is a serious holiday, but it has a less-serious component that is probably as old as mankind: the welcoming of spring. The colored eggs and bunnies and chocolate bars and jelly beans and other cuddly and calorie-laden things so dear to the hearts of children are part of this aspect. Here's a roundup of some treats to help youngsters and adults make a sweet transition from winter's doldrums.

Hot cross biscuits can be made so easily you may want to have them all year

Hot cross buns are a treat associated with Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday. Here's a variation, however, from Quaker Oats, that's quick and easy.

Hot cross biscuits

Makes 1 dozen


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) margarine or butter, chilled

1/4 cup dried currants or raisins

1 teaspoon grated orange peel

3/4 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon margarine or butter, melted

2 tablespoons oats (quick or old-fashioned, uncooked)


1/3 cup powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons buttermilk

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet. In large bowl, combine first seven ingredients; mix well. Cut in margarine with pastry blender or two knives until crumbly. Stir in currants and orange peel. Add buttermilk, mixing just until moistened. Turn out onto lightly floured surface; knead gently six to eight times. Roll or pat dough to half-inch thickness. Cut with floured 2 1/2 -inch biscuit cutter. Gather dough scraps together (do not knead); reroll and cut until all dough is used. Place on prepared cookie sheet. Brush tops with melted margarine and sprinkle with remaining oats. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to wire rack; cool 3 minutes.

For icing, combine powdered sugar and buttermilk; mix well. Using a small spoon, drizzle icing on each biscuit in the shape of a cross. Serve warm.

Easter baskets don't have to be just kid stuff. Harry and David, the mail-order basket people, offer choices from $19.95 to $150. You can send flowers -- an Easter begonia on the verge of blooming for $26.95 -- or fruit, like the 60th Anniversary commemorative tin with six pounds of Royal Riviera pears for $34.95. Or, there are cheesecakes and chocolate truffles, lamb and ham, smoked salmon and smoked trout, cashews and cactus plants, deluxe dried fruits and artichokes and avocados. You can join a club and get a different treat delivered every month. For a copy of the catalog, call (800) 547-3033, or write Harry and David, P.O. Box 712, Medford, Ore. 97501. If you'd like a free copy of Harry and David's "Favorite Fruit Recipes" booklet, call (800) 547-3033.

There's always something appealing about food on a stick -- but the perennial favorites such as Popsicles, cotton candy and lollipops may have to take a back seat to a new snack from BrowniePop. It's a rich, triangle-shaped brownie-on-a-stick with a chocolate coating. Locally, look for BrowniePops at Subway shops and 7-Elevens; it may also be available in some vending machines and at some supermarkets. An informal taste test of a sample pop elicited accolades. "Very, very sweet and chocolatey," commented one taster. "This chocolate lover says it was very good," another said. And, "Quite moist and chocolatey."

Tradition reigns when it comes to Easter baskets -- colored eggs and jelly beans have got to be there. But there are some new treats out in time for inclusion this year. Chicago candy-maker Brach's, which turns out 26 million marshmallow and cream eggs for Easter, is introducing Sour Spots Jelly Bird Eggs -- jelly beans -- to complement their line of Ice Cream Parlor jelly beans (chocolate milk and banana split) and Tropical jelly beans (paradise punch, Bahama blue). The sour flavors are grape, cherry, orange, lemon and lime.

Hand-coloring eggs is always fun, but here's another hands-on treat from Brach's that kids could get a kick out of making.

Chocolate-marshmallow nests

Makes 15

12 chocolate-covered marshmallow eggs, unwrapped

3 tablespoons margarine

4 cups crispy rice cereal

1/2 cup green tinted coconut (recipe follows)

assorted jelly beans

Melt marshmallow eggs and margarine in 3-quart saucepan over low heat about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Mixture will be smooth and pull away from sides of pan. Stir in cereal until well coated. With greased hands, pinch off small handfuls of cereal mixture. Shape into 15 3-inch nests on greased baking sheet. Fill nests with tinted coconut and jelly beans. Nests will become firm and chewy when cool.

Tinted coconut

Makes 1 cup

1/2 teaspoon water

1 cup flaked loosely packed coconut

18 to 20 drops food coloring (green)

Place coconut in plastic bag. Combine water and food coloring and sprinkle over coconut. Close bag and shake to coat evenly.

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