It's that time of year again! There are little green buds on the trees, flowers in the garden and the mornings are light and bright. The shops are full of chocolate eggs of every shape and size, covered in colourful foil - waiting to be hidden in the back garden and hunted down by eager children! Looking at Easter eggs these days makes me feel wonderfully nostalgic - I loved coming down to breakfast on Easter Sunday and seeing my Easter eggs all laid out on the table. The smell of milk chocolate takes me right back to those lovely mornings!
I can't imagine eating a great big slab of milk chocolate now though - can you imagine the headache? These days I like my chocolate dark, bitter and preferably organic!
One of my favourite moments from our trip to Paris a couple of weeks ago was walking along the Rue des Martyrs early on the Saturday and Sunday mornings, looking in the windows of all the sweet little boulangeries. As well as freshly bakes croissants, pain au chocolat and baguettes, nearly all of the shops we passed had beautiful displays of dark chocolate Easter eggs! In fact they didn't just have Easter eggs but hens, ducks, sheep and even a lobster - all made out of beautiful dark chocolate!
The Easter goodies looked absolutely mouthwatering and tres chic, wrapped up in clear cellophane and tied with ribbon! The prices were eye watering though so I decided to have a go myself and you can too!
I cheated slightly and tempered my chocolate for the first layer only - for the second layer and for the white chocolate I just set it over a pan of simmering water and let it rip. You would never notice though because the outside looks as shiny as can be!
- Chocolate mould (I ordered my Easter bunny mould from Squires Kitchen but you could also try ebay)
- Thermometer (I used a home brew thermometer but you can buy fancy chocolate thermometers at Lakeland!)
- Large heatproof bowl set over a pan of water (make sure the bowl is spotlessly clean and doesn't come into contact with the water)
- Pastry brush
- Organic dark chocolate 70% cocoa solids (around 250g - 300g depending on how decadent you're feeling)
- Organic white chocolate (to add some contrasting white chocolate accents if you fancy)
Step 1: Break your white chocolate into cubes and place it in a clean bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Once melted, use a pastry brush to brush it onto any parts of the bunny that you want to be white. You can spread it on thickly for an opaque finish or more thinly for a feathery effect!
Step 2: While the white chocolate sets, it's time to temper your dark chocolate! After much Googling I found this awesome tutorial by David Lebovitz to be the most clear and concise method:
1) Break your chocolate into cubes and place two thirds of it in a heat proof bowl set over a pan containing a couple of inches of water (I found it easier to control the temperature by starting with a pan of cold water and heating it up super slowly on the lowest setting). Slowly heat the pan of water - as your chocolate begins to melt you'll need to watch your thermometer like a hawk. You want to bring it up to 46-49C / 115-120F.
2) Once your chocolate has reached the optimum temperature and has all melted, remove the bowl from the heat and allow it to cool for a minute or so. Drop the rest of your dark chocolate (this is known as the 'seed chocolate') into the bowl and stir it gently whilst it continues to cool (this helps those magic beta crystals form!). You want it to cool down to around 27C / 80F.
3) By the time mine was sufficiently cool all my seed chocolate had melted but if yours hasn't, just fish it out with a clean teaspoon
4) Be zen as you place the bowl back over your pan of water and gently re-heat it to between 31-32C / 88-91F exactly. Watch that thermometer carefully and remember it might carry on rising for a few seconds after you whip the bowl of the heat so try to judge accordingly. If your chocolate goes over 32C or 91F then you'll have to start the whole process again, except you now have no seed chocolate left so...
Your chocolate is now fully tempered and ready to roll!
Step 3: Take your freshly tempered chocolate and brush a thin layer over the inside of your two moulds. It will start to harden quite quickly so work fast! Once you're finished make a cup of tea and put your feet up for 30 mins or so while it sets completely.
Step 4: Re-heat your chocolate ready for the second layer! If you watch it carefully and don't let it get above 32C or 91F then it will still be tempered but don't worry too much if you blow it - no one will see this layer until they're eating the chocolate bunny and by that stage they definitely won't care. Pop the two halves of your bunny mould into the fridge for 5 minutes and then spread a second layer of chocolate on, nice and thickly. I found it helpful to spread some extra chocolate round the rim of the moulds to make it easier when you come to join the two halves together. Don't worry if it gets messy and you have chocolate spilling over the edge - we'll get rid of that in the next step. Leave to harden completely - this will take 2 - 3 hours.
Step 5: Take a big sharp knife and cut away any excess chocolate that's spilled over the edges of the mould. Chocolate shrinks slightly as it cools and if you turn your moulds over you might see that the chocolate has already started to come away from the plastic in places. Give it a gentle helping hand by pressing it slightly from the outside and your two bunny halves should plop right out onto the work surface.
Step 6: Heat your dark chocolate one last time and spread a nice thick layer around the rim on one half of your bunny. Carefully bring the two halves to meet each other and make sure the bunny is aligned right the way round. Leave it to cool on it's side for an hour or so and you're all done!
I love that you can make a chocolate Easter bunny (or any fun shape of your choosing) at home! You could have fun dreaming up your own fillings - what about edible confetti and a little hand written note, or perhaps an engagement ring if you're thinking of popping the question? You could blow someones mind with a totally unexpected filling or just make their day with more chocolates!
If you give it a try do let me know how you get on! I'm going to do my best to make my bunny last until Easter Sunday but I'm not making any promises...