Food & Drink

Easter treats that keep the focus on the meaning of the holiday

In the Kitchen With Nina: Traditional recipes and kid-friendly favorites

Easter sugar cookies are made using a cross-shaped cookie cutter or by hand at the home of Nina Swan-Kohler in Robins on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The cookies are decorated using candy melting wafers in bright colors and multicolored sugar and sprinkles. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Easter sugar cookies are made using a cross-shaped cookie cutter or by hand at the home of Nina Swan-Kohler in Robins on Thursday, March 15, 2018. The cookies are decorated using candy melting wafers in bright colors and multicolored sugar and sprinkles. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
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If you go shopping these days, you may think Easter is all about bunnies and candy and eggs. But as a Christian, I like to focus on the real meaning of Easter — the Christian observance and belief that Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, then rose again three days later. That one event changed all of history from that day forward.

Even though bunnies are cute as can be, I like to prepare foods during this season of Lent and Easter that cause us to reflect on our faith in Christ.

I want to share some of my favorite foods to prepare and serve at Easter and the days leading up to it. I personally love hot cross buns, spiced sweet yeast buns made with currants or raisins, marked with a cross on top and traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The buns mark the end of Lent in different parts of world. Hot cross buns have meaning attached to them, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial.

Folklore states that friends who give one another hot cross buns every year are said to remain friends for life. Sounds like a tradition I’d like to start. How about you?

Resurrection rolls have become a new favorite Easter tradition for Christian families to make and bake with their kids or grandkids (or nieces or nephews). They are a creative way to tell the story of Jesus’ burial and resurrection.

This is a good way to share the story with your children while baking.

First, gather the ingredients and preheat the oven. Then ask the kids and other family members to join you in the kitchen. Read John 19 in the New Testament while the oven is preheating.

Unroll the puff pastry dough. Explain this is like the cloth they wrapped Jesus in.

Give your child a marshmallow and explain that it represents Jesus. It is white and pure because Jesus was without sin.

Roll the marshmallow in melted butter. This symbolizes the embalming oils.

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Next roll the marshmallow in the cinnamon and sugar mixture. This is like the spices used to prepare his body for burial.

Finally, wrap the marshmallow in the pastry dough, making sure to pinch the dough together securely on the sides. This represents how they wrapped Jesus’ body.

Repeat with each marshmallow, place the rolls in the oven (symbolizing the tomb) and bake.

While the rolls are baking, read John 20:1-18.

Remove the rolls from the oven when done. When they’re cool enough to handle, let your children open one and discover what happened to the marshmallow. It will have disappeared. This signifies how Jesus has been resurrected.

I also like to use white and pastel colored candy melts to decorate foods for Easter. They are so easy to use, they look pretty, and they taste great. I have provided three easy-to-make, kid-friendly recipes for you to make with (or for) your loved ones.

The first recipe is my Crispy Easter Cross “Cake.” It’s not really a cake, but it is shaped like one. It’s basically a giant gourmet crispy rice and marshmallow treat shaped into a cross and then decorated with white candy melts and sprinkles.

Enjoy these recipes and have fun with the children in your life celebrating the truth about Easter.

 

Resurrection Rolls

 
  • 1 package (17.5 ounces) puff pastry (2 sheets) (Pepperidge Farm recommended)
  • Egg Wash: 1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • 18 large marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to Convection-Bake 375° F. Unwrap 1 sheet of puff pastry. Roll out to 12x12 inches. Cut into 9 squares. Make egg wash by whisking together egg white and water. Brush on all edges of each square; set aside. In a small shallow bowl, combine sugar, cinnamon and cardamom; set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, melt butter; set aside. Dip each marshmallow in butter, then in sugar mixture.

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Place in center of each square of pastry, bring corners together in the center, carefully sealing all edges.

Place each pastry on a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. Repeat with remaining pastry sheet, etc. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes 18 rolls.

Easter Snack Mix

 

Makes 16 servings. The is my new favorite Easter Snack Mix.

  • 1 (10.5 ounces) bag Muddy Buddies snack mix (any flavor)
  • 2 cups pretzels
  • 2 cups bunny-shaped cereal, optional
  • 2 cups cocktail peanuts
  • 1 cup each pastel candy-coated chocolate candies, peanuts and caramels
  • 1/2 cup each of 4 or 5 pastel colors of candy melts (yellow, lavender, pink, green and blue)
  • Pastel sprinkles or nonpareils

Spread Muddy Buddies, pretzels, cereal, peanuts and candy on a large parchment-lined baking sheet. Meanwhile, place candy coating in re-sealable plastic bags; microwave on 50% power until melted (about 2 minutes). Once melted, drizzle over snack mix. Top with sprinkles, coarse sugar or nonpareils. Refrigerate until set. Gently break up the mixture into bite-sized chunks. Serve and enjoy!

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

 

Easter (Roll-Out) Sugar Cookies

 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Candy Melts (pastel colors) (see note)

In large mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, baking powder and salt; beat on low speed to combine. Refrigerate dough (covered) for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350º. On surface dusted with additional flour, roll out half of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use cookie cutters to cut out crosses or other Easter shapes as desired. Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough. Meanwhile, melt candy chips; decorate cookies or drizzle over cooled cookies. Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies, depending on size of cutter.

Note: You can also use decorator frosting or royal icing to decorate the cookies.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler 

Hot Cross Buns

 

Bread Machine Recipe. Makes 24 Hot Cross Buns.

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (SAF-Instant recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2/3 cup currants or raisins
  • Egg Wash: 1 egg white plus 1 tablespoon water, whisked together

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Measure milk in 1-cup glass measure. Microwave on High for 1 minute. Place ingredients in bread-machine container in order listed except currants and egg white. Place container inside machine and press button for Dough cycle (about 2 hours). Bread machine will signal when ready to add optional ingredients (about 25 to 45 minutes after beginning process); add currants. Let bread machine complete the cycle. Punch down dough and remove from container onto floured surface or bread board. Cover with cloth. Let rest 10 minutes. Meanwhile spray baking sheet with cooking spray or line with parchment paper. Cut dough into 24 pieces. Shape portions into smooth balls. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Cover; let rise until nearly doubled in size (about 30 to 45 minutes). Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut a cross on top of each bun. In small bowl, make egg wash by whisking together egg white and water. Brush egg wash over tops of each bun. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly. Meanwhile, in small bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, butter, milk and vanilla until smooth. (Add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is drizzling consistency.) Pipe icing into cross on top of each bun. Serve warm.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

 

 

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Crispy Easter Cross “Cake”

 

Makes about 12 servings.

  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1 package (10 ounces) miniature marshmallows (5 1/2 cups)
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal
  • White or assorted colors of candy melts
  • Nonpareils, sprinkles or coarse sugar

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until it turns brown (about 5 minutes). Meanwhile, place marshmallows in large microwave-safe bowl. Pour butter over top; stir to coat. Microwave on HIGH for 1 minute; stir until smooth. Add cereal; stir until well coated. Using buttered spatula press mixture into cross-shaped pan coated with cooking spray (or shape freehand on parchment paper). Invert pan to remove and place on a platter. Meanwhile, place candy coating in re-sealable plastic bags; microwave on 50 percent power until melted (about 2 minutes). Once melted, drizzle over top of cake. Top with sprinkles or coarse sugar. Chill to set. Cut into serving size pieces.

Source: Nina Swan-Kohler

 

l Nina Swan-Kohler is a home economist, culinary professional, recipe developer, cookbook author and cooking school director/instructor. She teaches cooking classes in her Robins home. To get a copy of her cooking class schedule or for more information, email nina@cookingwithnina.net or visit www.cookingwithnina.net

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