It’s finally Spring! The date of Easter has always seemed to be a mystery to me… I never know when to expect it. You can surprise your friends by giving them the easy way to figure it out: it’s the first Sunday after the first full moon of the vernal equinox, remember!?
But Easter is coming up soon, and besides getting ready for work with all the Sunday Brunch desserts, I’ve been thinking about what Easter has meant to me in the past. My memories of Easter along the central coast of California involve beach-side egg hunts, church (of course), and a new pink dress with pretty shells. As a child, The Easter Bunny (maybe my mother) put together baskets for my siblings and me. The basket would be stuffed with store-bought fruit leathers, crunch bars, and chocolate truffles. These goodies all turned out to have very simple recipes which have become my favorite Easter treats, especially now that I get to fill up those baskets!
Below are some recipes for you to celebrate the Easter holiday with. Enjoy!
Strawberry Fruit Leather:
5 cups puréed organic strawberries
4 tablespoons of local honey
Juice from half a Meyer lemon
Blueberry Pear Fruit Leather:
Two cups organic blueberries
One medium-sized organic crimson pear
Two tablespoons local honey
Juice from half a Meyer lemon
For both of these recipes I went to our local Avila Barn to buy freshly picked and locally grown organic fruit along with freshly harvested honey. Local honey can help with seasonal allergies, now that spring is here and the flowers are blooming all over the Central Coast. Right now, strawberries are at all the Farmer’s Markets, but it will be a few months until the blueberries are out in full force.
Just throw all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until the mixture is very smooth and evenly colored. You can taste the mixtures along the way to decide if you would prefer more or less honey. I used a little less honey because the fruit I found was so flavorful on its own!
The easiest way to make the fruit leather is using a dehydrator. If you have one, use the silicone tray and spread the mixture evenly across its surface. Place the tray in the dehydrator on high for four to six hours. Take it out when the mixture can be pulled away from the plastic in strips and still holds together (it might still be slightly sticky).
If you do not have a dehydrator you can pour the mixture on a SILPAT (those fantastic nonstick alternatives to parchment paper) laid on a baking sheet, and then put it in the oven at 150° for about four to six hours. Again, it may be a little sticky but as it cools the fruit leather will hold together nicely.
You can cut it into strips and enjoy it right away, but it can last for a very long time if you have that kind of willpower. If you want to save some for later, place the leather in between sheets of plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. When you pull out the sheets you can let it come to room temperature then cut it into strips when you are ready to share!
Brown Rice Crispy Bars:
24 ounces chocolate chips
1 ½ cups gluten free brown rice crispy cereal
Over a double boiler melt the chocolate chips just until the mixture is smooth. It’s hard to rescue burnt chocolate, so make sure you have your cereal measured and ready to go! Stir in the rice crispy cereal until coated then remove the mixture from the heat. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and spread the mixture over it evenly. Let it cool until it is fully hardened. Cut the sheet of chocolate into whatever shape you wish!
Dark Chocolate Truffles:
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into pieces
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons confection sugar
Over medium heat, combine both of the solid chocolates and the cream. Stir every couple of minutes for the first five, and then more frequently as the mixture gets combined until it has melted smoothly together. Transfer the chocolate into a mixing bowl and leave it in the refrigerator for about an hour or so until it is harder, but not too rigid to form into a ball. Make each ball about the size of half a teaspoon; shape them and place them on a sheet pan with parchment paper to cool completely. Before serving, sprinkle both cocoa powder and powder sugar over the tops of the balls when they are completely cooled.
I hope you enjoy these recipes, and that you have a sweet start to your springtime. Enjoy the weather, the longer days, and check in with me soon for more tips on healthy baking on the Central Coast!