An Easter recipe of egg-citing chocolate bliss

April 14, 2001|By JACQUES KELLY

JUST THIS past Thursday night, in a humid Baltimore spring when there's just enough heat and rain to make you feel clammy, my father and I were driving up Guilford Avenue under a canopy of pink cherry trees. It was April, and Easter was squarely on the horizon.

The blush of heat mixed with spring dampness, ideal weather for smearing chocolate all over your hands and lips. It was in this season that the homemade buttercream eggs appeared in the vegetable keeper of the ice box.

Actually, I was twice blessed in this department. There were two sets of eggs, one made by one grandmother who lived on Guilford Avenue. And there was a rival set confected by my other grandmother who lived on Poultney Street in South Baltimore.

Both cooks used the same general recipe, but like all home cooking, each was as different a product as Esskay and Goetze.

The eggs did not last long. They made the best commercial versions wilt because theirs were full of all the ingredients the food meanies say you shouldn't touch. And under the rules of grandmother Lily Rose's kitchen, it was also one of the last times she reached for her boxes of baking chocolate. Once the heat of the spring and summer set in, she declared chocolate out of bounds.

But, for Easter, she gave the Bakers baking chocolate squares one final season blast. And what a chocolate fix it was.

I recently wrote of my recollections of Lily Rose's no-milk macaroni and cheese casserole, a dish that appeared on the Easter table.

Many friends have challenged my recollection of that dish, which I often make and know to be tasty. To prove that point, I went digging through the kitchen drawer to find the written recipe. It was missing, but in the frenzy of searching, I found another food formula, carefully inscribed by Dorothy Croswell, the ever-vigilant neighbor who, in the 1950s, observed my grandmother's cooking.

Here's the recipe titled Lily's Easter Eggs: "One pound butter (no margarine) at room temperature. Two pounds confectioners sugar. Mix well and shape into three-inch eggs. Cover with wax paper and refrigerate.

In a double boiler melt four ounces Bakers semi-sweet chocolate and four ounces cooking chocolate or eight ounces cooking chocolate.

Dip eggs with two forks. Drip over pot. Slide on wax paper-covered tray. Keep refrigerated."

I'll make a few observations. She forgot a tablespoon of vanilla - don't you.

Do not use unsalted butter. The taste of salt helps make these little chocolate mountains taste better. As the text of the recipe implies, the maker can use a mixture of semi-sweet or regular cooking chocolate. This is to say, the cook has to make a determination of whether the eaters want a sharp, dark chocolate taste or a less biting version. I'll leave this to anyone who tackles this mess.

Another tip. Do not overindulge. These treats are mightily addictive and off-the-charts rich. Slice the chilled eggs with a knife and consume like pats of butter.

Also, wrap them in wax paper or you'll have a mess on your hands, which you'll have on your hands anyway. What good is a humid Baltimore April chocolate egg fix without the incriminating evidence of a satisfied sweet tooth?

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