29 March 2013

Páscoa = Easter = Candy

Easter as an expat can be a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, there are new traditions and treats to try on for size. Here in Portugal, I fight through the crowds at the grocery store to buy almonds. Chocolate almonds, jordan almonds, candied almonds, you name it. There is no Easter in Lisbon without covered almonds, Easter bread with an egg on top of it, and a big piece of lamb. (But mostly-- almonds.)

Alas, here is the double edge I mentioned: as much as I enjoy almonds, the Easter candy of my own youth is nowhere to be found. In particular, do you know what they don't have? Peanut butter eggs.

Easter without peanut butter eggs. It looks sad, as I am typing it.

So what is a girl to do but figure out how to make her own? And in the meantime, why don't I give these almonds a try?

(Bonus: all three recipes are insanely simple.)

Peanut Butter Eggs

This recipe is so easy it is ridiculous that I haven't been making my own in various shapes for many years now. Little bells in December, tiny pumpkins for Halloween, shapeless delicious treats for your typical Saturday movie night on the couch... yum all around! There is no cooking at all, just strategic freezing. And the taste is smooth and delicious, even better than the packaged ones I so long for.

makes 25 eggs

1/2 pound powdered sugar
1 stick of butter, softened
3/4 cup of peanut butter
3/4 pound of good dark chocolate

1. Mix together the first three ingredients in a bowl.
2. Shape the mixture into little flattened eggs. Put in the freezer for an hour or so to firm them up before covering in chocolate.
3. Melt your chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave. Take the eggs out of the freezer and dip them in the chocolate, trying to work quickly to get a thin coating on each egg. When the chocolate is mostly firm, transfer to the freezer to set.
4. Store refrigerated or in the freezer in a sealed container for as long as you can resist them... (or no more than a week.)

Chocolate Almond Bark

Errr, to call this a recipe is a bit wrong. It is (again) incredibly easy to make, and only requires a bit of toasting, melting, and refrigerating. But the home-toasted goodness and the little sprinkle of cinnamon into the super dark chocolate makes this an adult candy I will be making for years to come.

makes 2 cups of bark

2 cups almonds, skin on
2 bars of good quality dark chocolate
1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1. Toast the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a medium oven, until they become fragrant.
2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler, and mix in the cinnamon.
3. Toss the almonds in the chocolate and spread in a single layer on baking/parchment paper. Refrigerate for about an hour.
4. Remove from the fridge and crack into pieces. Store in a sealed container in the fridge for as long as you can resist eating it all.

Candied Almonds

These are actually better than the store bought version, mainly because they will not break your teeth when you bite into them. Also, in keeping with the easter candy theme-- SO easy. No candy thermometers, no "techniques" or special equipment. Do you have a saucepan and a cookie sheet? You are good to go. The sprinkle of sea salt over these makes them absolutely irresistible.

makes 2 cups of almonds

1/2 cup of sugar
2 tbsp of water
2 cups of almonds

1. Toast the almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a medium heat oven. Meanwhile, put the sugar and the water in a small saucepan over a medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. After that, leave it for a few minutes until it comes to a boil.
2. Remove the almonds from the oven when they are fragrant. Once the sugar comes to a boil, take it off the heat and stir in the almonds.
3. Put the almonds on a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Put them back in the oven for about 20 minutes, tossing around every 5 minutes or so. They are done when the sugar is golden and crackly.
4. Cool and store in an airtight container for as long as you can resist them.

Happy Easter to all, and I hope that wherever you are, you are indulging in your favorite candy, friends, and family.

No comments:

Post a Comment