DIY Sugar Rush: 7 Recipes for Homemade Easter Candy
Easter baskets filled with homemade candy aren’t just for people who cannot buy commercially made candy for dietary reasons. Anyone can get in on the candy making action for the ultimate DIY Easter basket. To get you started — and all hopped up on sugar — here are seven recipes.
1. Reese’s Easter Eggs
Something Swanky‘s DIY Reese’s eggs are so easy, you may find it difficult not to make a batch at any time of the year — whether Easter is just around the corner or not.
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 3/4 cups creamy peanut butter (use Reese’s brand for the most authentic taste)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons milk
- 16 ounces Candiquik (or melting chocolate wafers)
Directions: In a medium large bowl, beat together the peanut butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until a smooth “dough” forms. Use a cookie scoop to portion out balls of the filling. Shape each ball into an egg-like shape and place it on a lined (parchment, foil, wax paper, silicone) baking sheet. Place sheet in the freezer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the chocolate according to manufacturer’s directions. Prepare a counter top for placing the dipped eggs on by lining it with parchment, wax paper, foil, or a silicone mat. Remove peanut butter eggs from the freezer. One at a time, drop them into the chocolate. Use a fork to cover the top in chocolate. Slip the fork underneath the egg and let excess chocolate drip off the fork. Slide the egg onto prepared counter top to cool and harden before eating.
There are actually two ways to make your own marshmallow peeps. The first is from Martha Stewart, and you start with a recipe for marshmallows that can be piped like icing, and royal icing for decorating. You’ll also need: a rimmed baking sheet or several small bowls; fine crystal colored sugar or turbinado sugar; luster dust or sparkle dust (optional); and a piping bag and tips.
- 2 large egg whites, or more to thin icing
- 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar, or more to thicken icing
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 3 drops glycerin
- 1 unflavored gelatin (2½ teaspoons)
- 1/3 cup cold water, for gelatin, plus 1/4 cup for syrup
- 1 cup sugar
Directions: For the icing, beat the whites until stiff but not dry. Add sugar, lemon juice, and glycerin (if using); beat for 1 minute more. If icing is too thick, add more egg whites; if it is too thin, add more sugar. The icing may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To make the marshmallow, in the bowl of an electric mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup cold water. Allow gelatin to soften, about 5 minutes. In a small saucepan, combine 1/4 cup water and sugar, and stir over medium-high heat until sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and place a candy thermometer into sugar water; wipe sides of pan with a wet brush if sugar crystals have splattered up.
Boil sugar until temperature reaches the soft-ball stage (238 degrees Fahrenheit.) Remove syrup from heat; add to softened gelatin. Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, hand-stir the mixture a few minutes to cool; place bowl on the mixer stand. Beat on medium high with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form and the marshmallow mixture holds shape, 8 to 10 minutes.
Transfer marshmallow mixture to a large (14-inch) pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch (No. 11 Ateco) tip. Pipe an oval shape onto sugar, about 1 inch wide, tapering the end and pulling upward to finish with the tail. For the head, pipe a mound on the end opposite the tail, about the width of the body, pushing toward the tail and up. Pull away from the head to form the beak.
Immediately sprinkle sugar over the entire surface of the chick. Allow a few minutes for the shape to set. Pipe on royal-icing eyes with a No. 1 Ateco icing tip; lift chick out of sugar with a spoon or small offset spatula. Place in a parchment-lined airtight container until ready to serve, or for up to 2 weeks.
2.5. Peeps Redux
If piping marshmallows doesn’t sound appealing, 52 Kitchen Adventures explains how to use a mold, or cookie cutters to get bunny and chick marshmallow shapes for Easter.
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin (2 1/2 teaspoons)
- 1/3 cup cold water, plus 1/4 cup
- 1 cup sugar
- Colored sugar (or make your own with food coloring and sugar)
- Cocoa powder and water (optional; for eyes and nose)
Directions: Lightly coat a silicone mold or small pan with non-stick spray. In a small saucepan, combine 1/3 cup cold water and sugar. Whisk together over medium heat. Once sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and cook until mixture reaches softball stage (between 235-240 degrees Fahrenheit.)
While sugar mixture is boiling, sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup cold water in a large, deep heatproof bowl (a stand mixer bowl is perfect for this.) Let stand for about 1 minute, until it softens. Once the syrup reaches softball stage, remove from heat. Turn mixer on low and carefully pour hot syrup into into gelatin, avoiding the beaters and sides of the bowl. Increase to medium-high speed and beat for 8-10 minutes, until mixture thickens, turns white and can hold soft peaks. Immediately and quickly spoon into prepared mold or pan (the mixture will set quickly so don’t wait long.)
If you used a pan, cut desired shapes out of marshmallow with lightly greased cookie cutters. If you used a mold, wait a few minutes and then pop them out of the mold.
Drop marshmallows onto a plate covered with colored sugar and move them around to coat each side. To make eyes and nose, sprinkle some cocoa powder on a clean plate. Dip a toothpick in water and then dip wet tip into cocoa. Dab dots onto sugar covered marshmallow.
3. Milky Way Candy Bars
But after all those marshmallows, you may want something chocolatey, and Beantown Baker has just the recipe. Milky Way bars aren’t traditionally thought of like peeps or Reese’s eggs might be, but who is going to say no to a homemade chocolate bar?
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 (8 ounces) tub frozen whipped topping, thawed
- Kraft caramels, unwrapped
- 2 cups milk chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions: Line an 8 or 9-inch square pan with wax paper. In a medium bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave at fifty percent power, or use a double boiler.
Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat melted chocolate for about 30 seconds. Add whipped topping to melted chocolate and beat until well combined and fluffy, 30-60 seconds more. Spread chocolate mixture evenly into prepared pan (if mixture is too stiff, press into pan with lightly dampened hands.) Place in freezer for 30 minutes.
Remove pan from freezer and turn chocolate mixture onto a cutting board; cut into one-inch squares. Return squares to freezer for another 15-20 minutes. Melt the caramels according to package instructions (or make your own!) Allow caramel to cool slightly. Spread a small amount of caramel on top of each square of the chocolate mixture. Return squares to freezer for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt milk chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and stir until well combined. Dip frozen chocolate squares into melted chocolate to coat. Place on wax paper to set. Keep chocolates in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
4. Tootsie Rolls
The most difficult aspect of Kumquat‘s tootsie rolls probably is the 20 minutes you have to wait while the pieces set in the refrigerator — well, that or trying not to eat all of them before giving the candy out in your DIY Easter baskets.
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons tapioca starch
- 9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon soft butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 drop orange oil (optional)
Directions: Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until a thick dough forms. Allow to rest 10 minutes on parchment paper on a baking sheet.
Cut mixture into fourths. Roll each fourth into a long rope about 3/4-inch in diameter. Cut each rope into 3-inch pieces. Chill pieces for 20 minutes. Wrap in candy wrappers or in pieces of wax paper. Store in fridge. Yield: about 2 dozen.
5. Salt Water Taffy
You’ll need a strong desire to play with your food to make salt water taffy at home. Cupcake Project put rainbow colored nonpareils in the taffy to make it funfetti, but the bright colors are totally Easter appropriate too!
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2/3 cup light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter + extra for buttering a baking dish, your hands, and scissors
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (or 1 tablespoon vanilla plus the seeds from a vanilla bean)
- Rainbow nonpareils to taste
Directions: Thoroughly butter a small baking dish and set aside. Place sugar, cornstarch, corn syrup, butter, water, and salt in a medium-sized saucepan on medium-high heat. Mix thoroughly.
Heat until the mixture reaches 255 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer and immediately remove from the heat. Note: If you read other salt water taffy recipes, you’ll see a range of temperatures. The higher the temperature, the harder the taffy will be. The 255 degrees Fahrenheit makes a candy that holds its shape but dissolves in your mouth.
Mix vanilla bean paste into hot taffy. Pour the hot taffy into the buttered baking dish. Cover taffy with a layer of nonpareils. When the taffy is cool enough, butter your hands, form a big taffy ball, and begin to stretch and pull. Imagine you are a kid with bubble gum in your mouth, pulling a piece of it way out, rejoining it to the ball, and then pulling again (but, if you can resist, don’t put any in your mouth yet – the taffy will be much better after the pull.)
Keep doing this for about 15 minutes. Salt water taffy recipes always call for pulling. Pulling the taffy aerates it, which makes it softer and more chewy. As you pull, you’ll notice that the color of the taffy becomes significantly lighter. You’ll also notice that the taffy will get much tougher to pull. When your arms get really tired and it starts to feel like you are using one of those exercise stretch bands, you’re done. Don’t stress about doing it right. Just have fun!
Do one last pull to make the taffy into a long rope with the thickness that you’d like your final product to be. Butter a pair of scissors (be careful not to cut yourself.) Cut the taffy into bite-sized pieces, and wrap in wax paper.
6. Gluten-Free Red Cherry Licorice
Gluten Free on a Shoestring advises having a candy thermometer to make gluten-free red cherry licorice, because it ensures you’ll get the cooking time just right.
- 1/2 cup (70 g) high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour (any of my favorite blends will do)
- 1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cherry flavoring oil (LorAnn brand is gluten-free)
- Red gel food coloring, as desired (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- 8 tablespoons (112 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
- 8 tablespoons (168 g) light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup (156 g) sweetened condensed milk
- 4 tablespoons (84 g) Lyle’s golden syrup (can substitute an equal amount honey or molasses)
Directions: Grease well a 9-inch square baking dish with butter or vegetable shortening, and set it aside. Assemble your ingredients next to the stovetop. In a small bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum and salt, and whisk to combine well. Set the flavoring oil and a measuring spoon, plus the food coloring, to the side, within arm’s reach.
In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, place the butter, sugar, corn syrup, sweetened condensed milk, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or honey or molasses.) Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches a boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat to medium so the mixture maintains a slow boil, and continue to cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer. Any higher and the butter will burn. Any lower and the licorice won’t hard enough as it cools.
Remove the mixture from the heat and add the flour mixture. Working quickly, mix everything well. Add the flavoring oil and food coloring, and mix well once again.
Pour the candy into the prepared baking dish, and shake it back and forth so that it is in an even layer. Place the baking dish in the refrigerator and chill for 30 minutes. Remove the baking dish from the refrigerator and, with a thin spatula or other thin kitchen implement, remove the candy in one piece from the baking dish onto a flat surface. With kitchen shears, cut the square of candy in half, and then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Twist the strips at both ends to create the traditional licorice spiral. Allow to sit at room temperature until slightly hardened, and serve.
7. Tequila Lollipops
Kids shouldn’t have all the fun with DIY Easter baskets, and with Leann Bakes, they don’t have to. Make these tequila lollipops for an adults-only Easter candy treat.
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tequila
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons golden syrup (or, corn syrup)
- Dash of salt
Directions: Prepare a baking pan with a silicone mat, and a handful of lollipop sticks. Set aside. (Alt: you can use a lollipop mold.) In a medium pot, combine the tequila, water, sugar, syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve all the sugar and salt. Heat to mixture to just 300 degrees Fahrenheit (use a candy thermometer), but don’t stir it. And don’t taste it or touch it with your body (it burns.)
Remove from heat, and quickly stir in the remaining tablespoon of tequila. Working quickly, drop a tablespoon of the mixture at a time onto the silicone mat in small circles. Insert the lollipop sticks, giving a quick turn to coat evenly. Allow to cool completely before removing to store in an air tight container.