Christ will rise in our hearts in a while, and until then we are preparing our homes to welcome Him, even though we are staying each at his own house this year… Just like every year, we will crack our red eggs, even if it’s through a smartphone’s or computer’s screen… Therefore, in our Easter article we will talk about red, as well as chocolate eggs, learn their history and symbolisms and we make chocolate egg-truffles with chocolate ganache, biscuits, honey and almond orgeat syrup!
In Greece we have the custom of painting red eggs on Holy Thursday. The egg, according to Greek writer Gregorios Xenopoulos, is connected to pagan customs and was a fertility symbol of some goddess of the Ancient Middle Eastern folks. From there it is said to have passed to Greeks and Jews.
For Orthodox Christians red eggs symbolise the sacrifice and blood of Christ. We read various versions of its origin. One of them says that Virgin Mary offered a basket of eggs to her Son’s guards, begging them not to torture Him. When her tears fell on the eggs, the eggs turned red.
Another version relates red eggs to another miracle. When Saint Mary Magdalene informed Roman emperor Tiberius about Christ’s Ressurection and denounced the actions of Pilate, Anna and Caiaphas against Christ, Caesar couldn’t believe in the Resurrection, stating that if some eggs turned red, only then he would believe. Saint Mary Magdalene touched the eggs and they immediately miraculously turned red. Then the emperor confessed that Christ did truly rise and punished the culprits for the Crusifixion.
It is, truly, the colour of joy, like black is the colour of sorrow. Just seeing a red egg is enough to feel something pleasant, that something joyful has come or is close. And it seems to me that this is the one reason this custom has been so much loved, generalised and preserved, no matter which miracle it originated from, which other religion it passed into ours from. It is beautiful and innocent. And it is one of the greatest children’s joys of the year!Red eggs, Gregorios Xenopoulos (translated by Eat Dessert First Greece (source)
Where did chocolate eggs, which we expected so much as kids, come from though? The first chocolate egg was produced in the 19th century, but it had a long story before becoming a sweet treat! At Cadbury’s website we read that the first Easter eggs offered as gifts were duck or hen eggs, decorated with natural dyes and charcoal. Not all eggs were so cheap though! Elsewhere we found that in a year of the 14th century in the palace of king Edward I of England 459 eggs, boiled and decorated with golden leaves, were given as gifts!
In the 17th and 18th century children’s toys shaped like eggs were manufactured. The Victorians would offer eggs made of cardboard covered in satin, filled with Easter presents and sweets. In the 19th century, according to researcher Mimi Matthews, one could find eggs made of a wide variety of materials, of wood, of satin, hand-painted and decorated with cheap lace, of china or glass, as well as sugar or chocolate.
At the end of the 19th century one of the most impressive eggs was made of wood and when opened one would find a bunch of spring flowers inside. At the time, initially in Germany and later in England and in the USA, children believed that the Easter hare brought the eggs to their baskets on Easter’s eve.
If looking for something a bit more luxurious, there are also the Fabergé eggs of the “Imperial” series, a series of 50 Easter eggs made of precious materials created at the end of the 19th and in the beginning of the 20th century by the company of Peter Carl Fabergé for the imperial family of Russia. Those eggs are considered the last commission of artworks at such an expensive price.
In 1873 the British Fry’s company produced the first chocolate eggs in the UK. The first Cadbury’s Easter eggs were launched in 1875. The two companies were later merged. The evolution of Easter eggs in the market was slow, until the technology for making chocolate flow into moulds was found.
The most important technological advances that made the mass production of chocolate eggs possible are the Dutch invention of a press that separates cocoa butter from the cocoa bean in 1828 and the production of pure cocoa by Cadbury in 1866. The process of separating pure cocoa made large quantities of cocoa butter available, which was the secret for the mass production of moulded chocolate.
The first Cadbury’s chocolate eggs were made of dark chocolate, with a smooth surface, and were filled with almonds. The decorations evolved quickly, by adapting French, German and Dutch Victorian designs. In Germany a surface that resembled crocodile skin was invented, which could disguise imperfections… The first Cadbury’s milk chocolate was launched in 1905, which increased Easter eggs’ sales and contributed to their establishment as seasonal best sellers.
It is unknown when did chocolate eggs arrive to Greece. We read that it happened possibly with the opening of large pastry shops at Panepistimiou street in Athens city center at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, when many European habits came to our country, especially to Athens.
Today, contemporary pastry approaches Easter eggs in an experimental way…
Wishing to make our own chocolate eggs we were faced with a problem. We didn’t have egg-shape moulds at home… So, we decided to follow a primitive method and make solid eggs from a chocolate truffles’ mixture, which means truffle-eggs! After all, a solid egg has more delicious chocolate than a hollow, so it’s a win-win situation!
Easter chocolate truffles with honey and orgeat syrup
Ingredients for the chocolate truffles
|Chocolate couverture||300 gr|
|Heavy cream (full fat)||250 gr|
|Honey||40 gr (2 tbs)|
|Orgeat syrup (or liqueur)||50 gr (2,5 tbs)|
|Crumbled biscuits||100 gr|
(sprinkles, powdered sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, pearls etc)
Method for making chocolate truffles
First, prepare a chocolate ganache. Chop the chocolate couverture so that it melts easily and pour it into a bowl. In a saucepan heat the heavy cream with the honey until it starts to boil, meaning until you see the first bubbles on the cream’s surface. Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate and cover the bowl with plastic wrap for one minute. Then, stir the mixture with a hand whisk until the ganache is smooth and shiny. Add the orgeat syrup (or liqueur, Amaretto for example) and stir.
Finally, add the crumbled biscuits -we processed half a package of biscuits in the blender- and mix well. Pour the mixture into a mould and put it into the refrigerator for several hours to set -we left it for 4 hours.
Τhe mixture is ready when it becomes a soft spread that can be moulded. It is best to wear gloves so that our hands’ temperature doesn’t melt the chocolate. Form eggs for egg-truffles or balls for regular truffles. Finally, coat the truffles in anything you like. We made three versions: powdered sugar and cinnamon, white chocolate sprinkles and blue pearls. Store your chocolate truffles in the refrigerator, but let them at room temperature for a while before enjoying them, so that they obtain a creamy texture.
We wish you all Happy Easter, health, love and optimism! May we all be with our loved ones next year!
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