Homemade chocolate Easter eggs
Forget big plastic boxes and cheap chocolate - make your own homemade Easter eggs for maximum taste (and fun!).
Equipment and preparation: You will need 8 x small egg moulds - (available from specialist kitchen shops)
Polish the inside of each mould with a piece of paper kitchen towel. Then dampen a piece of kitchen towel with a little flavourless oil, sunflower will do, and polish the inside of each mould with the oil. This ensures a highly polished finish to the chocolate and also helps to release the set chocolate from the mould.
It is essential to temper the chocolate - this is a method of heating and cooling chocolate for coating or moulding. The heating and cooling separates the cocoa solids and ensures the set chocolate will have a high gloss and smooth finish. To temper the chocolate you will need a cooking thermometer, a heat-proof bowl and saucepan of hot water. Break the chocolate into small, even pieces and melt gently in a bowl over a saucepan of hot, not boiling, water. Place the thermometer into the chocolate and heat until it reaches 43C/110F. Take off the heat and cool to 35C/95F. Now it is ready to use.
Pour spoonfuls of the chocolate into each mould. Swirl around until coated, use the pastry brush if necessary and then remove excess chocolate. Leave to set, flat side down on a surface, like a large tray, covered in greaseproof paper. Fill each mould in the same way. You will have to repeat the process another two or three times to build up a good layer of chocolate in each mould. Wait for about 20 minutes for the chocolate to set in between layers. Draw a clean ruler or the flat edge of a knife across the chocolate to ensure a clean edge every time you add a layer. This is important so that the two sides of the egg stick together evenly. Leave to chill in a larder or cool place until set.
Carefully un-mould the egg halves and place on a clean surface taking care not to handle the chocolate too much as it will start to melt from the heat of your hands.
To stick the two edges of an egg together, heat a baking sheet and then place the edges of two halves on it for a few seconds, then gently push the edges together.
To decorate the eggs, sit an egg in a glass or small cup and use as a stand while you pipe your desired message on the egg. You can wrap your eggs in cellophane wrap and label them to give away or place them in a basket and offer them to guests.