Easter is coming - maybe you’re looking forward to eating lots of yummy Easter eggs :-) Make sure you check for certifications when you buy: child labour is very common in the cocoa industry, and both cocoa and sugar are amongst the three foods most likely to be produced with slave labour. If there’s a UTZ logo on your egg, you can be confident the cocoa was free of child or forced labour; and if there’s a Fairtrade logo you can be sure the sugar’s good, too.
Sadly, we’ve yet to see anyone making marshmallow Easter eggs with either of these certifications. But happily, they’re pretty easy to make yourself: you don’t even need any special equipment, although a sugar thermometer and electric beater do help.
Here’s how to do it:
- Spread around 4kg flour out in trays so it’s 2-3cm deep. Make 80 half-egg-shaped depressions in the flour, using either an actual egg or a spoon the size you’d like your eggs to be. This is your mould.
- Make one batch of marshmallow (see below) and spoon into the flour depressions using two dessert spoons. Leave at least 4 hours to fully set. If your household includes a cat that likes to jump on things, it’s best to cover the trays with baking trays at this point!
- Dip flat surface of marshmallows into the flour (so they’re not sticky) then brush excess flour off all surfaces with a dry pastry brush.
- melt 25g butter.
- mix in:
- 1/4 tsp vanilla essence (child labour is a big issue in the ‘real’ vanilla industry. We use Fairtrade vanilla extract from Taylor and Colledge - stocked by some PakNSave and New Worlds - but imitation essence is also fine)
- 1 drop yellow food colouring
- 1/2 cup icing sugar (we use Countdown brand as its supply chain is independently audited to check for child labour, slavery and safe working conditions)
- a little hot water, if necessary, to make a thick paste.
- Melt chocolate: if you want to use plain milk chocolate, your best option is Trade Aid milk chocolate or anything with Fairtrade certification, as these use slave-free sugar as well as cocoa. If that doesn’t work for you then look for UTZ or Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate, where at least the cocoa is slave free. You’ll need about 500g all up.
- Spread half-eggs flat-side down on a board and coat the curved side with chocolate using a knife.
- When the chocolate is set, spread out the halves flat-side up (I find egg trays particularly good for this as they support the curved side nicely). Pinch off small pieces of the ‘yolk’ paste (approx 1/8 - 1/4 tsp), shape into flat ovals and place one on each egg half. Spread melted chocolate with a knife onto the remaining halves one by one and press onto half on the egg tray. Place a small weight onto the tray when finished (e.g. an empty baking tray) until they’re set.
Gives approx 35-40 eggs. They will keep 1 week at room temperature, 1 month in the fridge, indefinitely in the freezer.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let stand to soften.
- In a smaller bowl beat whites and vanilla until they just hold stiff peaks.
- In a 3 litre heavy saucepan, cook sugar, golden syrup, water, and salt over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until sugar is dissolved.
- Increase heat to moderate and boil mixture, without stirring, until a sugar thermometer registers 115 deg C, about 4 minutes from start of boiling. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer, look for the soft ball stage.
- Remove pan from heat and pour sugar mixture over gelatin mixture, stirring until gelatin is dissolved.
- Beat the mixture until it’s white, thick and nearly tripled in volume. With a good electric stand beater, this should take about 5 minutes. It should still be a bit floppy - it it becomes very stiff it doesn’t settle into the moulds properly.
- Fold whites and vanilla into sugar mixture until just combined.
Photos of the process
Tray of flour with egg-shaped depressions, ready to use as a mould:
Moulds filled with marshmallow:
Coating the chocolate halves (in the background, you can see some halves ‘setting’ on egg trays with a baking tin on top as a weight):
Coated halves - note how the flat surface is uncoated: