For the past three years, my younger sister-in-law and I have been trying to make the bulk of the Easter basket candy ourselves. We have a lot of fun doing it, and the candy is all the more special. Here are the recipes we've used, if you'd like to give it a shot too!
This is a tried and true recipe! It's definitely a favorite. We don't reserve it for just Easter either.
Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs
This recipe is a keeper too. The pictures and technique are so helpful. We feel like candy making pros by the end of it! While we usually follow the original marshmallow recipe, this year I realized we were running low in corn syrup. So, we opted for this marshmallow recipe instead, minus the orange and upping the vanilla to one tablespoon. I think it might win out. Oh, and can I just say I am completely converted to Ghirardelli chocolate melting wafers? We've used generic brands in the past, but the Ghirardelli chocolate went on like a dream this year. Thin, smooth, and easy to work with. Plus, it's going to taste better too! (We used Ghirardelli on the Twix this year as well.)
We also took half the marshmallow eggs when they were done setting, brushed them with water using a pastry brush, and rolled them in yellow dusting sugar (food process granulated sugar with a couple drops of yellow food dye). We got peeps! Much easier than this peep recipe which we completely failed at last year. (Maria, however, nailed it first shot. I think we didn't let the marshmallows get firm enough before piping. And, I might add, our piping skills aren't spectacular.)
Peanut Butter Cups
These are a given. But, honestly, we've tried a different recipe each year. There are a ton of recipes out there, all fairly similar. This year we used this recipe, but I may prefer this one from a previous Easter. It is less sweet and not so outrageous in proportions.
We were a bit lazy this year and didn't bother to make sure the peanut butter was perfectly enclosed within the chocolate, hence the "layered" look. (No painting the sides of the liners like we did following this recipe one year. A genius idea we messed up, because we stupidly washed the paintbrushes right before using. Major chocolate seize!) But, hey, layering saved time! And they will taste just as good, right?
This supposedly is a Polish Easter tradition. I never had it before, but it looked awfully tasty! We decided to give it a go this year. In Poland, it is referred to as "cake," but Americans would definitely consider it more of a tart. After beginning the recipe, it hit me that it's not too far off from Twix, but nobody is complaining here!
Also, making our own dulce de leche? Way too cool. And so easy!
*UPDATE: I'm not sure whether it was due to the upped extract amount, but these turned out to be very, very sticky. They are disconcertingly hard on the teeth. I'm going to try a different recipe next year.*
I've used this recipe before to drizzle flowers and other shapes to decorate cakes. It is super easy and yields a decent batch of lollipops. Plus, you don't need an accurate candy thermometer. Huge bonus! Moreover, nothing is more popular with my daughter Edith than lollipops, go figure.
Note: we didn't have any oil based extracts on hand, so I used regular strawberry extract, upping the quantity to one tablespoon. Next time, I'll try harder to invest in the stronger strength extract. I think the flavor will be much improved. Besides, the alcohol vapor when I added the regular extract to the hot sugar mixture was pretty intense. But, Edith didn't seem to care too much when she tested the finished product.
Fruit jelly candy
We made these gumdrops last year. They were a cinch, but turned out a tad rubbery. We probably should have tried them again to perfect them, especially as they were still much enjoyed. But, I wasn't crazy about them in general. My ideal for this sort of candy is close to those citrus fruit wedges -- sugary crust on the outside, with a softer, more jelly-like inside. If the recipe used real fruit, too, instead of just extracts, that would be a huge bonus as well. So this year, we tried this recipe. Unfortunately, they didn't set nearly enough. After the 48 hours of air drying, they were still too soft. Way too soft. Delicious tasting, but not what we were aiming for. We scraped them back to a pot, heated the mixture up, and added more pectin (2 tsp). That seemed to help, though maybe another teaspoon would've been even better. Anyways, this was our biggest dud, and our quest for the ideal fruit jelly candy continues!
(We actually tripled the batch this year. I got so frustrated with them not setting, that I salvaged only half with additional pectin. The other half I saved by putting it into a jar and calling it "jelly" :) It's unsurprisingly tasty on toast.)