Jets & Eggs –Butter Oh Boy!

My middle son Jordan is probably a better cook than I am.  He is a Foodie with a capital F.  I can honestly say he was born that way. He has always loved food, and was interested in cooking from an early age.  He asked for family recipes as soon as he had his own kitchen and actually made them.  Not only that, he experimented and shared new ones.  Several years ago he decided to make a family recipe that we had made when the boys were young.  It was passed down to us by Jeff’s Mom, and it had been passed on to her by her Mother.  These were an Easter tradition, but he had probably never seen them made because the whole point was to make them without the kids seeing because, of course, the Easter Bunny brought them.

He had some problems with the recipe, and sent the following email out.  It’s pretty funny, at least it had most of us laughing.  I think I know what his problem was, and I’ll explain, plus I will share the recipe and step by step instructions with pictures, so hopefully you can make these without your own disaster.  Read on for Jordan’s details of making Jets and Butter Cream Eggs:

So I really only have half the experiment complete.  Let me explain…

I set out to do two batches of butter cream eggs for Easter.  It had been way too long since I had them, and I was feeling in that holiday spirit.  After reading the recipe, I noted that it called for margarine, not butter.  Being the foodie snob that I am, I couldn’t reconcile why you would use an inferior product in such a rich treat.  Thus, it was off to experts.  Needless to say, Dad does not make enough of these to be an expert, though he did share my enthusiasm for a higher quality treat.  So off to Aunt Jane, the great sage of our family recipes (and in recent years, Granddaddy’s Jet extraordinaire), who suggested that the current recipe may have been altered after Granddaddy’s first heart attack (apparently butter is not exactly good for your heart, and margarine makes a suitable substitute).  She too thought it would be possible that butter would be a better idea than margarine.

With this in mind, I decided to go for the old horse race.  Buy enough ingredients to make the recipe both ways and let my taste buds decide for me.  With thanks and love to Aunt Jane, I promised her a full write-up of my findings (thus the increasingly lengthy e-mail).

Excited by the prospect of fundamentally changing the way our family views one of their favorite Easter treats, I reviewed the recipe, decided to make a double batch of each and headed to the store.  To keep things as equal as possible, I chose Land of Lakes for both the butter and the margarine (thinking at least the quality of ingredients should be the same).  I bought the unseemly large number of bags of powdered sugar (5 bags), and splurged for the really nice bitter chocolate, Sharfen Berger (note that this chocolate is more than 3 times as expensive as the cheaper brand, but is fantastically good).  I was also fortunate enough in my last trip to Henderson to sneak out to Hidalgo’s in Longview (a great Mexican pottery, statue, furniture type store) that actually brings back real Mexican vanilla (like you get from the little shops in Mexico).  It beats vanilla extract from a tiny bottle any day.

Planning ahead, I left out the butter so that it would warm to room temperature (otherwise, creaming would be impossible).  I chose the butter test first (can you tell which one I expected to win yet?).  I started creaming it with the powdered sugar (so far so good), and adding half and half).  This continued…and continued…and continued, until I almost wore out my electric hand mixer.  No matter how much powdered sugar I added, I just couldn’t ever reach the “firm” consistency called for in the recipe.  I had already been adding, and mixing, and adding, and waiting for the mixer to cool down, for about an hour and a half.  After 3½ bags of powdered sugar, I began to think this butter thing must not be working.  I decided to employ the refrigerator to firm up the butter cream mix (which was effective, but time consuming).  After about half an hour in the fridge, I was able to start rolling the mixture into balls (yes, I was making eggs, so ½ of the batch was colored yellow, the other half left white), a couple at a time.  My hands warmed up the mixture pretty quickly, and it was apparent that there was no way this was going to be a clean experience.

After managing about 30 little yellow balls, covered in a white outer layer (this process itself probably took another 2-3 hours), I stuck them in the freezer (it was getting late on a Friday, and I was planning on bringing these with me).  I started melting the chocolate, and brought the eggs out a few at a time to drop into the chocolate.  Between trying to cover the eggs before letting them warm up and melt, and fish the eggs out of the pot with a fork, I managed about 10 great looking eggs, and 20 that looked like they had been made by Edward Scissorhands.  The chocolate covered (if you could really call them covered at this point) eggs were set up in my fridge & freezer on cookie sheets to further harden (I was slowly realizing that these would never be able to be served at room temperature) before transportation to work the following day.

How did they taste you ask?  Fantastic.  Super.  Creamy.  Better than I ever remembered.  However, I am hoping my big flaw in preparation was using too much half & half.  I guess I could have kept adding more sugar, but I was running out of bowl (and this was the largest bowl I had).  With my current batch not going exactly as planned, and few hours left before work the next morning, I opted not to give the margarine Jets a go.  I am thinking a weekend at Aunt Jane’s would provide a little firmer grasp of how the process “should” go before setting out to tackle the margarine method.

So in answer to your questions, sure – butter probably has a taste advantage, but if you don’t know what you should be looking for in the first place, it is probably wise to stick to the recipe as printed.

Aunt Jane – if you give the butter option a go, let me know how they turn out for you.  I will probably make another attempt after I finish off my freezer full of Butter cream eggs, but will try a single batch next time.

Love,

Jordan

Let’s just head over to Cook It and check out how you really SHOULD make then at Buttercream Eggs and Jets.  If you start now you can still have them for Easter morning.

Jets and peeps

Chili and Chocolate in Harmony

I think I’ve established that I like chili and chocolate.  Chili and chocolate together would be some sort of cosmic perfection.  And it is.  I have had it in several different incarnations, but the other evening we needed a dessert to take to dinner at a friend’s home.  I needed something easy to transport that didn’t have wheat (for me) and I wanted something I could blog about.

I searched the internet and found an interesting sounding recipe called Hot Chocolate Meringue Cake.  I had most of the ingredients, and it really doesn’t take that many different things.  We did have to buy extra whipping cream, and I was out of cayenne pepper ( a fluke!) but it was mostly things I usually have on hand.  Yes, I do usually have whipping cream in my fridge, don’t you?

It turned out pretty well, however, it wasn’t very easy to serve.  Fortunately these are really good friends, and we all just laughed.  It was so delicious that no one seemed to care anyway.  But, I thought, this would be easy to change a little and make it into individual servings instead of the large (and granted beautifully impressive) but difficult to serve cake.

So, go to Cook It and check out my version of Individual Hot Chocolate Meringue Kisses.

Peppermint Stick Cocoa

I know Christmas has come and gone, but cocoa is always good, right?  And peppermint is always good, and I have a feeling you can make this with any kind of candy anyway (like red hots!).  I made these for my neighbors this year, because I wasn’t up to baking, and I had found this recipe and wanted to try it.  It turned out really cute, and got good reviews, so I’m going to share it here.  I had a little leftover but I’ve run out, so I made more today and made enough to send a batch to each of the boys as well.  A few Christmases ago I gave each of the daughters in law a hot chocolate maker and frother.  I had recently discovered that two of them had been broken when they got them, but no one had wanted to hurt my feelings by telling me.  After a little searching, because Crate and Barrel was no longer  selling them, I found them here.

At any rate, it made me want to send them all some of this really good cocoa mix. And make some more for us.I made a few changes in the basic recipe, which I’ll explain.  The original is good, but I like this a little bit better.  I think you could give this as gifts, or just keep it on hand for yourself and your family.  I’m not sure about making a sugar free version, because I’m not sure if there is a suitable substitute for the chocolate chips.  I assume you could make a lower sugar version with Splenda or your sweetener of choice.  Or, you could just splurge once in awhile.

So, to see what I did, check it out on my Cook It page here.