A Year of Holidays: Eastertime Treats

A review of Hot Cross Buns, Krispy Easter Eggs and Easter Cookies from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

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Eastertime Treats

Happy Easter Monday everyone!  I actually made these on Good Friday & Easter Sunday but completely forgot to post about them…whoops!  Guess I got too busy doing nothing while stuck in quarantine.

This section of The Pioneer Woman’s cookbook contains three recipes: Hot Cross Buns, Krispy Easter Eggs, and Easter Cookies.  All of these recipes are available on her website as well!

I was hoping to make these for my friend’s annual Easter brunch, but of course that was cancelled along with every other event right now.  So instead, my husband and I enjoyed these sugary treats together at home.

Good Friday

I made the Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, because that’s when they are traditionally made and eaten.  I cut this recipe in half because we’re only two people, and even that was still too much!  If you follow the recipe on her website instead of in the cookbook, she’s already cut the recipe in half for you.

Milk, canola oil and sugar are combined and heated over the stove.  Once cooled to warm (not hot), yeast and flour are mixed in.  The dough is then set aside to rise, with a tower or the lid covering the mixture.

Next step is to add more flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to the dough (mixing thoroughly), and separately mix up sugar with the spices to create a cinnamon sugar.  In the cookbook she also includes cardamom, nutmeg and allspice in this mixture.

The dough is rolled into a rectangle on a floured surface, and some of the cinnamon-sugar mix is sprinkled over top along with half the raisins.  The dough is then folded over itself and flattened into a rectangle again, sprinkled with cinnamon-sugar and raisins again, and then folded over again.  I did notice online she does this a third time – that might help make sure everything is thoroughly incorporated, as I was left with some “bald” spots.

Chunks of dough are pinched off and carefully formed into a smooth ball (as best you can), and then placed on a prepared baking sheet.  They are covered with a dish towel and left to rise for 30 minutes…I had to give mine a little over an hour because our apartment is cold so they took longer to rise!

The buns are then brushed with an egg wash (in the cookbook she mixes with heavy cream, but on the website it’s milk) and baked until golden brown.

For the icing, egg white, powdered sugar, and a little bit of milk are combined.  The icing shouldn’t be applied until the buns are completely cooled!  At this point, put in an icing bag or ziploc bag and cut the tip, then pipe the icing on top in a cross shape.

My icing was too thin, so I should have added powdered sugar, but her instructions differ in the cookbook than on the website.  On the website it says to make sure the icing is nice and thick, but in the book it says to make sure it’s not too thick.  Either way, it worked out fine and the buns looked and tasted great!

Easter Sunday

I started by making the dough for the sugar cookies (I cut this recipe in half).  Shortening, sugar, and orange zest are mixed together, and then eggs and vanilla are added.  Flour, baking powder and salt are tossed in next.  Once thoroughly combined, the mixture is flattened into a disc and put in the fridge for an hour.

While the dough was chilling, I moved on to the Krispy Easter Eggs.  They start off pretty much the same as regular Rice Krispie treats – melt butter on stove, add marshmallows and cook until melted, then remove from heat and toss in the Rice Krispies / crispy rice cereal.

This is where things change – a plastic egg is sprayed with cooking spray, and both halves are filled with the cereal mixture.  A chocolate egg or other Easter candy is added to the middle, and then the plastic egg pieces are pressed together firmly.  The krispy egg is removed right away, sprinkled with Easter-colored sprinkles, and set in an egg carton.

I ran into a few challenges with this recipe.  My plastic egg must have been too large, because the eggs turned out huge!  They didn’t fit well together in the carton.  Also, the first egg I made fell apart.  I think the mixture was still a little too warm, OR I didn’t put enough of the krispy mix into the egg.  You really do need to fill it all the way…a little over the top even…before pressing the plastic egg pieces together.  The mixture also got more and more difficult to work with toward the last few eggs.  It was cooling and getting stiffer, so it didn’t stick as well as the first several.  They still were a lot of fun, though!

Once ready to use, the Easter Cookie dough is flattened out and cut with cookie cutters.  I wasn’t able to find any Easter cutters in the grocery store, and Amazon wouldn’t send me any until the end of the month, so I used my Valentine’s Day heart cutter, my Christmas bell (cut the sides to make it more like a tulip, though they admittedly didn’t look great), and I hand-cut some eggs.

The cookies are baked and then left to cool completely before frosting.

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The frosting is a mixture of butter, sugar and cream.  Make sure you beat well so it’s fluffy!  I chose to add some color to mine using food coloring, but it’s not necessary if you don’t want.  And then decorate the cookies with the icing and sprinkles!

Taste: 9/10 for Hot Cross Buns, 10/10 for Krispy Easter Eggs & Easter Cookies

20200410_163125I’ve never actually had hot cross buns before, but this is pretty much what I imagined.  They’re like slightly sweeter dinner buns.  My husband didn’t like the raisins very much, but that’s apparently a very common ingredient from what I’ve read.

The Krispy Egg Treats were delicious!  Basically tastes exactly like Rice Krispie Squares, but with a chocolatey-surprise in the middle!  The chocolate also melted a little bit in the first few which made them even tastier.

And the Easter Cookies were my personal favorite!  The buttercream icing is to die for!  And the cookies are soft and buttery.  I would 100% make these again!20200411_172410

Difficulty: Average

I would say all recipes had about average difficulty level.  You’re working with dough for the hot cross buns, and it’s not easy to get the raisins and cinnamon-sugar spread evenly throughout.  Nor is it easy to make the buns nice and smooth.

20200411_132519For the Krispy Egg Treats, having a second hand to help out (and more than one plastic egg!) would be helpful.  That way you can move more quickly and prevent the mixture from hardening and becoming difficult to work with toward the end.  I also suggest choosing smaller plastic eggs or a wider egg carton so they fit nicely in the carton.

The Easter cookies weren’t too challenging, but you will need to monitor the oven closely to make sure the cookies don’t brown.  Otherwise they won’t be as light and fluffy.  You also need to make sure you  thoroughly mix the frosting so it’s fluffy.

Cost: Average

There are a lot of ingredients involved, but luckily many are common items found in your pantry or fridge.

The most difficult ingredient to find at this very moment will probably be the active dry yeast for hot cross buns, since it seems to be sold out everywhere!

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