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Gluten-Free Tuesday: Peanut Butter Eggs

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[Photographs: Elizabeth Barbone]

Here's a question I ask each year when Easter candy hits the shelves: why are regular Reese's peanut butter cups gluten-free but the seasonal shapes, like eggs, not gluten-free? While I'm sure it has something to do with how the seasonal items are shaped, the whiny part of me just wants to say, "Whhhhhhhy?!?!" Because even though I can count on one hand how many times I eat peanut butter cups during the year, I love those peanut butter-filled eggs.

So, instead whining and spending yet another Easter without one of my favorite candies, I decided to make a batch myself. It may not be quite as easy as picking up an egg or two at CVS, but the process isn't hard—it just requires the right tools and a little time.

Unlike homemade peanut butter cups, which can be made in a muffin pan, homemade peanut butter eggs require a candy mold. This doesn't need to be an expensive investment; the mold I used cost about three dollars. After selecting your mold—a harder process than you'd think, there are lots of choices!—select your chocolate. I like milk chocolate, but dark or white work well, too. And if you don't want to temper chocolate, select a high quality confectionery coating. Some coatings, like the ones sold at craft stores, taste waxy and aren't gluten-free. Merckens' coatings, my preferred brand, tastes very similar to a Hershey's kiss-level chocolate.

After you've selected your chocolate and egg mold, you're ready to make a batch! Er, almost. The filling, a dough made with peanut butter, confectioner's sugar, and butter, tastes better after ripening for about two days. So stir the filling together, throw it into the refrigerator, and forget about it. Okay, fine. Maybe sample it before you throw it into the fridge. You'll notice it's a little sweet. After the ingredients have a chance to mingle for two days, the sweetness settles down and the filling tastes very similar to a Reese's peanut butter cup.

Finally, it's time to make some candy! Here's how to make the eggs:

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Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set the candy mold instead the pan. Don't grease the mold. Next, place your tempered chocolate or melted confectionery coating into a pastry bag.

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Fill each cavity about 2/3 of the way with chocolate.

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Turn the mold over onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Shake and rotate the mold. The melted chocolate should coat each cavity. After shaking out the excess chocolate, inspect each cavity. If there are any bare spots, dot a little melted chocolate onto them with either a small brush or your fingertip.

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Quickly sweep a metal spatula across the mold. This clears excess chocolate from the edges of the mold. After you do this, the mold might look smeared with chocolate.That's fine. The thin chocolate breaks easily away from the finished eggs.

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Allow the chocolate to set up, but don't refrigerate it to speed the process. The finished chocolate looks flat and almost fudgy.

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Pat your filling into the cavity; the amount will depend on the size of your mold) To prevent it from sticking to your finger, dip your finger into a little powdered sugar beforehand.

You want the peanut butter filling to be about 1/8-inch below the edge of the mold. If the peanut butter filling sits too high, it's hard to seal the mold, so you're better off having too little filling than too much.

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Place more chocolate into your piping bag. Cap each mold. The easiest way to do this is to go slow, using a zigzag pattern. STOP before the mold is fully capped.When you tap the mold, the small space you left will fill in. If it doesn't, just go back and add more chocolate. If you overfill, though, the chocolate will ooze past the edges of mold.

Chill for about 10 minutes.

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Carefully remove the eggs from the mold. They usually fall out pretty easily.

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Don't whack the mold or you'll break the egg, like I did here! (Cook's treat, right?)

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If you want, melt a little chocolate and drizzle it over the finished eggs.

That's it!

About the author: Elizabeth Barbone of GlutenFreeBaking.com joins us every Tuesday with a new gluten-free recipe. She is the author of Easy Gluten-Free Baking. and "How to Cook Gluten-Free".

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