Sweet treats that are easy to make

NewsdayApril 16, 2014 

If you’ve eaten chocolate eggs from your Easter basket for breakfast and snacked on jelly beans for lunch, you might wonder if it’s necessary to make a dessert for Easter dinner. Necessary? Not really. But if you settle for some leftover Peeps, you are missing an opportunity to fully celebrate one of the sweetest holidays of the year.

Americans buy almost as much candy for Easter as they do for Halloween, about 120 million pounds annually. The exchange of chocolates and other sweets to celebrate the holiday began in the 19th century, when advances in mass production made these treats affordable. But the tradition of marking the holiday with sugar goes back to the 12th century, when European monks began to distribute hot cross buns to the poor on Good Friday. So something handmade is even more time-honored than something from a factory.

My favorite Easter desserts contain the fresh flavors of spring: carrot, honey, coconut, lemon. They’re also quick and easy to make. A frozen honey mousse comes together in less than 30 minutes, and can be made up to three days in advance. Oatmeal-carrot squares take no more work than a pan of brownies. And marshmallow pops are so simple that I can delegate them to the children while I fuss with the ham or leg of lamb.

Frozen Honey Mousse with Apricot Compote For the mousse:

 •  4 large egg yolks

 •  1/2 cup honey

 •  1 cups heavy cream

 •  1 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped

For the compote:

 •  1/2 cup dried apricots, sliced

 •  1/2 cup water

 •  2 tablespoons honey

Make mousse: Put 2 inches water into a small saucepan and bring to a bare simmer. Combine yolks and honey in a stainless steel bowl and place on top of water, making sure that bowl doesn’t touch water. Heat, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened and lighter in color, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and whip with whisk attachment of an electric mixer until completely cool, 7 to 10 minutes.

In another bowl, whip cream until soft peaks form. In three separate additions, gently fold whipped cream into honey mixture, taking care not to deflate cream. Fold in almonds. Spoon mousse into 6 dessert goblets and freeze until firm, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Make compote: Combine apricots, water, and 2 tablespoons honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until fruit is soft but not falling apart, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature.

Remove mousse cups from freezer, spoon some apricot compote over each portion, and serve. Marshmallow Pops  •  12 marshmallows

 •  6 ounces milk or dark chocolate, finely chopped

 •  Sprinkles, nonpareils, and/or other Easter sugar decors

Push a lollipop stick into each marshmallow. Have ready several tall glasses or a piece of Styrofoam and a rimmed baking sheet. Place chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until almost melted (do not over-heat). Whisk to melt unmelted bits of chocolate.

One at a time, dip marshmallows in chocolate, letting excess drip back into bowl. Working over rimmed baking sheet to catch excess decorations, sprinkle with sprinkles, nonpareils, and/or other Easter sugar decors. Stand pops in glasses or stick into Styrofoam and allow chocolate to set, about 30 minutes, before serving. Lemon Madeleines  •  2 large eggs

 •  1/2 cup sugar

 •  1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 •  1/8 teaspoon salt

 •  1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

 •  2 teaspoons baking powder

 •  1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

 •  1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

 •  1 tablespoon lemon juice

 •  Confectioners’ sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-cavity madeleine pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and salt until frothy, about 1 minute.

Gently fold flour and baking powder into egg mixture until just incorporated. Fold in cooled butter, zest, and juice.

Use a large spoon or small ladle to fill cavities 2/3 full. Bake until golden and well-risen, 10 to 13 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately invert pan onto wire rack to release cookies. Serve warm or at room temperature, dusting with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Yield: Serves 6 Yield: 12 pops Yield: 12 cookies

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