Chocolate-coated tradition Eggs: Since 1959, a group of women have gathered each year in a Magothy Beach church basement to prepare the popular Easter eggs sold in their annual fund-raiser.

March 14, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

McDonald's doesn't have anything on the Ladies Guild of Magothy Chelsea Community Lutheran Church -- even if both are serving up quarter-pounders.

The church women's quarter-pounders are chocolate-covered Easter eggs, and they deliver.

About 10 guild members will be mixing friendship with rich ingredients Thursday and Friday in the basement of the church in Pasadena's Magothy Beach community, producing this year's fund-raising eggs.

They will be continuing a tradition almost four decades old. Since 1959, the women have sold their Easter eggs to a faithful cadre of regular buyers as well as new customers, and they give the profits to the church for renovation projects.

"It's kind of an old art that they're keeping alive," said the Rev. John G. Lynch of Cape St. Claire, the church pastor, who often buys half-pound peanut butter-flavored eggs. "The stuff is really tasty. Manufactured goods just can't match it."

The women who do it have a secret technique. "We've almost gotten it down to a science now because we've been doing it so long," said Patsy Lou Newton, 57, of Chelsea Beach, the guild president.

No one will tell the exact ingredients that go into the eggs, which come in sizes ranging from a quarter-pound for $1.50 to a full one-pound egg for $5. They say the project begins with their putting on casual clothes and latex gloves and assembling the raw materials including powdered sugar, margarine and vanilla flavoring.

"And then they have a couple other secret things they put in there," Newton said slyly.

The fillings will be flavored with coconut, chocolate, peanut butter -- or extra vanilla for the original butter cream version.

Next, the women mold the mixtures into egg shapes, weigh them and set them on covered trays to harden overnight. The next day they return and dip the eggs twice in a mixture of melted dark chocolate and then a small amount of paraffin wax to coat the eggs with a one-eighth-inch thickness when dry. Finally, the finished eggs are wrapped in colored plastic and boxed.

People who have placed orders pick them up March 22. "If they can't come get them, we will deliver them," said Ann Buckel, a church and guild member since 1962.

Once in a while, minor problems occur. An egg or two has ended up on the floor; once, they ran out of paraffin wax and the chocolate ran off the eggs, exposing the filling. On another occasion, the guild tried to save money by using an inexpensive brand of peanut butter. "But they were oily, so we said, 'The heck with that,' " Newton recalled.

But most of the time, things go smoothly.

"It's two days of fellowship," said Annie Webb, another longtime member. "We've been church friends, some of us, for as much as 40 years."

The first time she got involved in the Easter tradition she was pregrant with her daughter, who is now in her late 30s, she said.

Last year's sales brought in $900 in profits. In the past, the money has been used to pay for a photocopier and repairs to the Sunday school and to supplement the church treasury.

This time the money will be used for a new coat of paint and repairs to the front entrance, Buckel said.

To place an Easter egg order, call Ann Buckel at 410-255-4049.

Pub Date: 3/14/97

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