When we were younger, we always knew Easter was coming when a big beautiful chocolate egg like this one appeared at home. These would come from my dad's latest trip to Geneva. Luckily for us, he had to go there a few times a year for work resulting in a steady supply of great chocolate! The bottom half of the egg would be made out of solid chocolate and the top was covered in parlines and truffels. The total was topped off with a huge bow, which my brother and I claimed/argued owership over . Now I've grown up and I know it's a pretty commercial event (especially here, with aisles of decorations) but still I can't help but get excited about the huge display of chocolate that the shops have put on.
And as Johanna is hosting this months rendition of Waiter, there's something in my ... Easter basket it only seems fitting that the first item will be chocolate. But as this isn't very exciting - to prepare that is - I also include two more Swiss traditional Easter customs/dishes. The first one is Osterfladli, a creamy custardy tart containing golden sultanas encased in a crunchy puff pastry that is eaten specially around this time. We'd had it a few times over the last few weeks in the bakeries and I was interested to make one myself. I used a recipe from my Swiss cookbook and was surprised to find that it's made using old bread. I also didn't realize it was a slightly more complex then a normal custard. But it's well worth the little bit of extra effort both for the taste and the texture. My only problem with the recipe was that I couldn't figure out how long to bake the tart for. My recipe called for a "sic" or 5 quarters of an hour?? I figured this would be 75 min? But after 1 hour the top of my tarts were very brown instead of a golden easter yellow I've seen in the shops so I took them out. They still tasted fine and weren't burnt but still. I'm not sure if this is a problem with my oven but just keep an eye on them. I was also sceptical about not baking the puff pastry blind but the long baking time made this really nice and crunchy. I just dusted the top with a little bit of sugar to hide the brown. The end result was scrummy anyway, with the occasional raisin popping up for a texture/taste change. They were even better the next day and I prefer these to the shop ones.
The second is dyed eggs. The Swiss love their eggs, on their Rosti or just as is. The whole year round you can buy boiled, dyed eggs but the last few weeks, the piles of trays have been getting bigger and more prominent in the shops, there are lots of kits for sale to paint or dye them. In addition, in the local pubs (the traditional Swiss ones) you can find little trays of them on the table that you can help yourself from and pay when you leave. This is where I first saw eggs dyed the old fashioned way. beautiful brown coloured eggs with patterns of grasses and flowers on them. So I decided to dye mine this way too. I saved some onion skins and picked some flowers. I wasn't quiet sure what to tie mine up with so I used an orange net, which gave a nice added effect in the pattern (but I guess for a clean finish some linen would be better. Then boiled them like they were normal eggs. I was quite pleased with how they turned out, although they were a bit more blurry than expected but I guess this will come with practice....and they tasted great on our walking/foraging trip today (but more about that some other time)!
Easter tart, makes 6 small ones
25g White bread (without crust)
1 egg, separated
65g coarsly chopped almonds
25g golden sultanas
175 ml cream
125g puff pastry
Heat the over to 180°C. Crumble up the bread and soak this in milk. Pour off the excess liquid and mix in a large bowl with sugar, almonds and egg yolk. Add the dried fruit to the mix. Whip the cream into soft peaks and in a seperate bowl, beat the egg whites till stiff. Fold the cream into the mixture and finally the egg whites. Roll the pastry out thinly and line 6 buttered mini quiche pans. Pour the mixture and bake for 1 hour (keep an eye on this, might need longer/shorter).