Earlier this month a friend invited me to join her in taking a Ukrainian Egg decorating class. The class was offered at Pomeroy Living History Farm. I was intrigued. I always enjoy visiting Pomeroy Farm and Ukrainian Pysanka Eggs are beautiful. What’s more the art of Pysanka has a certain exotic appeal. The process involves imprinting a pattern rich with tradition and symbolism onto a delicate eggshell by layering dyes and soft fragrant beeswax heated over the flame of a candle. Even the description offers a certain romantic mystique!
Yet despite the mystique, the beauty and the sense of adventure, I know that I don't need another obsession. Life is short and my focus is already divided between a myriad of responsibilities and interests. Lately I would rather try to wrap my mind around the practice of simplicity than learn a new hobby. I want to focus on what is truly most important to me, to learn more about my passions and to find fewer objects to carry with me on life's journey. While Ukrainian Eggs are fragile they are generally created with the hope that they will be preserved and treasured for generations to come and the idea of creating beautiful eggs to keep and treasure seemed like a step in the wrong direction.
In the end, I did decide to go. It seems my curiosity and the mystique won out over my yearning for simplicity. I enjoyed the experience and I decorated a Ukrainian Egg.
I learned a lot during my introduction to the art of Pysanky. I also enjoyed spending the afternoon with my friend and the other talented women in the class. I enjoyed the opportunity to see the eggs our instructor had made and collected. I was also fascinated by some interesting bits of information she shared. Did you know that you don't have to blow the contents out of the eggshell to preserve it? In time the egg inside will dry out and the egg will become noticeably lighter. This happens gradually, and occasionally the process goes wrong, the eggshell leaks and smells, it can even explode, but for the most part the center simply dries out and the beautifully decorated shell lasts indefinitely.
Yet what I really gleaned from the Ukrainian Egg class was the inspiration to use my own skills to create beautiful but edible treats to share this Easter. Aside from photography, dough and icing are my creative medium of choice. I have been creating with these media since I was a little girl and I value the traditions and memories associated with making and decorating cookies and candy.
So, while I enjoyed learning about Ukrainian eggs, by the time we were finishing my mind had already wandered to other pursuits like taking photos of the occasion and thinking of how to decorate Peanut Butter Fudge Eggs for my family's Easter baskets.
Peanut Butter Fudge Eggs
What you will need:
1 recipe of Peanut Butter Fudge
1 recipe of Fast-Cook Chocolate Fondant (recipe below)
1/2 recipe Royal Icing (recipe in February 2008 archive under Sugar Cookies)
Prepare Peanut Butter Fudge as directed in my December post.
When the fudge is smooth and creamy, instead of pouring it into a pan, scoop the fudge into egg shaped molds, if you are using them.
If you don't have egg shaped molds, or would rather not use them, simply shape the fudge into eggs by hand using 1/2 cup to 1 1/2 cups of fudge for each egg, depending on what size egg you desire. Place the shaped fudge on wax paper to set. When the fudge has set carefully shake and pry the eggs from the molds, if necessary.
While fudge sets, prepare Fast-Cook Chocolate Fondant.
Fast-Cook Chocolate Fondant
from "Homemade Candy" by the editors of Farm Journal
1 pound confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift together confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder.
Combine half of the sifted mixture with the butter and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. Cook this mixture over low heat until it boils evenly. Stir in the remaining confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder mixture along with the vanilla. Remove from heat, stirring just until mixture holds together.
Pour immediately into a greased 8-inch pan. Allow mixture to cool just until it can be comfortably handled. Knead several times until smooth. Roll out the fondant with a rolling pin to a 1/4 inch thickness.
Note: white spots in the fondant pictured were caused by not sifting the confectioners' sugar. Be sure to sift the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder if you want smooth fondant.
Place cooled peanut butter fudge egg on the fondant, top side down. Cut a piece from the fondant that is large enough to cover the fudge egg. Roll the fondant around the egg, smoothing it from the top toward the bottom and trimming away excess fondant. Fit together and smooth the seams with your thumbs and fingertips until the fondant is smoothly fitted around the egg and the seams are sealed at the bottom and sides.
Repeat with remaining eggs, kneading and re-rolling the fondant scraps as needed.
Store leftover fondant in plastic wrap.
To decorate, prepare one half recipe of Royal Icing. (The recipe can be found near the bottom of my February post for Sugar Cookies.)
Add 1/4 teaspoon of lemon extract along with other ingredients in mixer bowl if desired. (This was recommended after I posted the recipe and does improve the flavor of the icing.)
When the icing is fluffy, divide it into several small containers and tint icing green, pink, blue and yellow. Keep the icing covered with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel as Royal Icing dries out quickly. Put each color of icing into a pastry bag and pipe flowers or other decorations on the chocolate fondant covering the eggs as desired.
Allow the icing to dry completely. Present as Easter gifts to family and friends.