30 Mar The ultimate Easter egg
By Don Bingham
With Christmas, New Year’s and Valentine celebrations behind us for another year, the beauty of Easter is fast approaching. Oh, the childhood memories of the basket, hunting eggs after church, and the delicious Easter lunch, usually ham. It was also the time for the new outfit. In former generations, it included hats and gloves to coordinate with the ladies’ spring frocks and new shirts, ties and suit coats for the guys.
As my personal delight grew in all things Easter and pastel, I always managed to find the old movie “Easter Parade” and watch at least the final scenes of exquisite ladies and gentlemen parading down the avenue, hoping their new ensembles would be seen in the “rotogravure.”
And I cannot reflect on Easters past without remembering the incredible church choirs, the Good Friday Services, and the sobering truths of the real meaning for the Christian faith of the cross and the resurrection. Churches were filled with Easter lillies, crosses draped in purple and white fabric, and robed choirs – all combined to complete the morning service with Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” from “The Messiah” and “I Know that My Redeemer Liveth” having been sung by a local and very talented soprano.
In my childhood days, the local schools would dismiss on Fridays for those who were Catholic to attend Good Friday services in the local church. In my mind at least, I was Catholic for the opportunity to get out of school for the day, not having any clue of the true joy and delight of celebrating the glorious truth of the meaning of the beautiful service.
Among my favorite chocolate Easter memories would be the year Nancy and I took cooking classes at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. This grand hotel and resort remains, to this day, an amazing icon of beauty, elegance, and charm with incredible cuisine. It was the Easter season and their in–house candy shop featured enormous chocolate eggs, decorated with royal icing flowers, swags, and drapes on the outside in Easter colors with chocolate candies on the inside – all truffles and chocolate confectioneries to be enjoyed once the large egg was opened. The vision of this remains vivid in the culinary files of my mind. Remembering this amazing chocolate feast, I ordered another egg wonder the following year, paying the price for the egg and for the shipping. The egg arrived in pieces, but it was still so exhilarating!
Another fond, delicious food memory is that of this chocolate wonder called Boule de Neige. It is a decadent, dense, chocolate dessert that originally came from another cooking school called The Cloister Resort that we attended while studying with Chef Nathalie Dupree in Sea Island, Ga. The French translation is chocolate snowball. We adapted it for the Easter season dessert offering, and the ultimate chocolate Easter egg was born. The recipe is slightly intimidating, but for those who are determined culinary artists, it’s worth every ounce of energy and effort to produce. Have a blessed Easter from the Bingham family!
Boule de Neige
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature,
each cut into 6 pieces
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon cognac or rum
1 cup heavy cream (or more as color choices demand for egg decoration)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons cognac or rum
jelly beans, coconut, food coloring
Line a 5–cup mold or souffle dish with double thickness of foil. Place the chocolate, broken into pieces, and the sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Turn it on and off four times to get the mixture started, then let the machine run until the chocolate is finely chopped. With the machine running, add boiling water through the feed tube. Let the machine run until the mixture is thoroughly mixed and the chocolate is melted. Add butter and process until the butter is blended completely into chocolate. Add eggs and the cognac or rum. Let the machine run 10 seconds. Pour the mixture into a prepared mold and bake at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes until a thick crust has formed on top. The mixture will recede as it cools. Let it cool. Wrap it airtight and refrigerate. It will keep up to two weeks and may also be frozen.
To serve: Peel off the foil (the mixture will look sticky and irregular). Whip the cream until thick with an electric mixer, sweeten and flavor. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a medium size star tube; cover the mold, bottom side down, completely with rosettes so no chocolate shows. Chill until served. Cut into small slices. Makes 8-12 servings.
For Easter egg: Double the whipped cream mixture. Spread whipped cream evenly over the egg-shaped chocolate mixture (mixture must be cold to shape). Divide the remaining whipped cream into various pastel colors for piping decorations on the egg.