Quick and Dirty – and Tasty – Easter project

Easter is now upon us, and I confess it kind of snuck up on me this year. I really wanted to put a crafty foot forward on this lovely spring occasion, but it’s already the big day, and there is still  SO much to do…

So while driving home from the grocery store yesterday (which was MOBBED thankyouverymuch), I had a thought. [cue the Windows 7 commercial version of me here]: A quick and dirty Easter project for us crafty last-minute-Annies! (and Alfreds if you’re reading this guys)

Chocolate egg nests!

I figure that these would make good cake or cupcake toppers, or a nice little item to put on each guest’s plate before Easter dinner. You could even put people’s names on little cards and stick them in the nests for assigned-seating occasions. For the tutorial, please continue after the jump. Happy Easter everyone!

The quick and dirty supply list:

  • Chocolate of some kind; I was lucky enough to have Wilton brand candy melts lying around from a candy-making class I took at the local Jo-Ann Fabrics a while back; However, whatever meltable pre-sweetened chocolate you have on hand, go for it; This is quick and dirty, remember?
  • Some kind of plastic sealable bag that you can snip the end off of; Again, I was lucky and had Wilton plastic pastry bags from my Wilton cake classes a few years ago; If you’ve got Ziploc bags or plastic sandwich bags though, go ahead and use ’em
  • An elastic band
  • Scissors
  • A microwavable container such as a Pyrex liquid measuring cup
  • Water to fill the above container
  • Cling wrap
  • Assorted custard cups, small dishes, shot glasses, whatever you’ve got around with a vaguely rounded bottom (in the size you want your nests to be); Whatever you’ve got sitting around, bring it to the party
  • A fridge or a freezer if you want this process to go faster
  • Cadbury Mini Eggs in the purple bag; OMG I love these things and they only sell them around Easter time; I missed out on them last year and I moped about it openly to my loved ones for days; If you’ve got any other egg-shaped or bird-shaped candies, you can use those too; Or M&Ms, whatever’s around

Step 1: Fill your Ziploc or pastry bag with some of your melting chocolate, and seal the open end with an elastic

Note: Please do not use a twist-tie with metal in it to seal the bag, you’ll be microwaving it;

Step 2: Fill your microwavable dish with water, and put your chocolate-filled pastry bag/Ziploc in the dish; Microwave for a minute or so on half power, making sure to watch that your chocolate is not overheating; Every so often, take your pastry bag out of the water – being careful not to burn yourself – and squeeze the warmed chocolate with your hands to mix it; If the chocolate is still not melted after round 1 in the microwave, try to re-heat it on half power in the water for 30 second increments until it is all mixed together

Step 3: Dry the outside of your plastic bag with a paper towel; You don’t want water to get into your chocolate and cause it to seize

Step 4: Put your melted chocolate aside for a moment while you cover the bottom of your custard cups, shot glasses, or other “molds” with cling wrap;

Note: The only item I don’t recommend using as molds are pint-style  glasses; the flat bottoms of these glasses tend to cause the melted chocolate to merge into an uninteresting pool on the bottom of the glass, and you lose the “twig” detail a bit; If this is the only type of glass that you’ve got around, don’t despair. You can always try to be creative and find other round objects around your house, or just use the glasses anyway and go with the flow; The evidence will be eaten anyway

Step 5: Snip the end from your pastry bag or plastic bag – as close to the end as you can; You want a small hole here so that the chocolate doesn’t come out too fast on you; You want the chocolate to come out in a tiny stream so as to resemble twigs

Step 6: Starting in the middle of the bottom of your custard cup, squeeze the chocolate from the bag in a swirl pattern over the cling wrap, trying to make it look as “nest-like” as you can. If any of the chocolate gets away from you, don’t worry; You can break off any unruly chocolate bits once the chocolate has hardened; Make as many of these nests as you like. I recommend making extra just in case a few of them break in the unmolding process, or, in case of them mysteriously “disappear”…

Step 7: If you’ve got some room in the fridge or the freezer, the chocolate-hardening process will happen a lot faster; If you’re in a place where the weather is particularly hot – like it was around my house today – the fridge option will probably save you a lot of frustration; If not, just leave the chocolate in the coolest, driest, safest place in your house where you feel that your little creations can rest undisturbed until the chocolate hardens again

Step 8: Once your chocolate nest has hardened, wrap the excess cling wrap over the top of it to “protect your nest” so to speak. Then put some lukewarm to moderately warm water inside your custard cup/ mold. Leave the water there for 10-15 seconds, then pour out. This will help to loosen your nest from the mold. Carefully pop the nest off the back of your mold and peel away the cling wrap; Do this quickly; You don’t want the chocolate to melt from the heat of your hands;

Now you can break off any of that excess chocolate that we talked about above in step 6; Anything that takes away from the overall look of your nest, break it off; Be ruthless; You can eat it too, so go for it ;-)

Step 9: Fill your nest with your candy of choice; I recommend the Cadbury Mini Eggs because they really look like tiny bird’s eggs, and because they are an essential Easter tradition for me; I love them in an almost unhealthy way; I can eat almost a whole bag without noticing; So stock up on these  so that you can eat however many are left over!

Note: The small nest above was made with this shot glass; This size mold is great for making cupcake-sized birds’ nests; You can only fit 3 or 4 of the candy eggs in them

Step 10: Use your creation to decorate cupcakes, “cake” cakes, place settings, centerpieces (please put them on a dish to save your tablecloth), or whatever you see fit to decorate; Or just give them to someone you think could use a treat

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial, and that you have a happy and healthy holiday with your loved ones. Holidays are about spending time with family and friends anyway, so don’t stress about perfection. Eat, drink, find some eggs, and be merry. Happy Easter!

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