Last, but not least, on my Easter Menu this year will be the two desserts I made last year. They are so uniquely “Easter Desserts” that I think they are going to become my signature Easter dessert recipes.
A sweet and light Easter Meringue with a tart Lemon Filling…
…and an Empty Tomb Chocolate Cake with Dark Fudge Frosting…
Do you sometimes feel you have to come up with something new, different and exciting to make when we have friends or family over? I think a lot of people would be happy with your signature recipe–a delicious dish you’ve made before that everyone loves. Why not make it again? These recipes are definitely my signature recipes for Easter. They are so festive–and just about yell, “Happy Easter!”
Follow the general instructions for making a meringue (what are found at the end of this post) and then shape the meringue into a cross on a well-greased or parchment-lined baking sheet like this:
First, place dollops of meringue on the baking sheet…
…then use a spoon or spatula to push it out into the shape of a cross…
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure the edges are “built up” and the center is indented to hold the Lemon Filling after it’s baked…
It’s challenging keeping my [gas] oven at a low enough temperature to bake a meringue! I didn’t do this when we took the photos but I now try to stay near the oven while my meringues bakes. I always keep an oven thermometer inside my oven to I see what the real temperature is inside. Oven thermometers are very inexpensive–and help you to see if your thermostat is adjusted correctly. If you don’t have one, get one! Today if possible! Oven temperatures vary tremendously–when you see the actual temperature, you can turn the thermostat up or down so that the actual temperature is what you need. Click here to find a great oven thermometer–and some of my other favorite kitchen gadgets.
The other option for an Easter dessert is the Empty Tomb Cake. It’s simple to make, using just an oven-safe bowl and a small cake pan. I like to use chocolate cake since it makes the cake look like a tomb carved from a rock. My Moist Chocolate Cake is so easy and quick…and the fudge frosting is not overly sweet.
I pour half of the cake batter into a greased glass or metal mixing bowl, and the other half into a greased round or square cake pan. Bake the cake pan for 20-25 minutes at 350Â° F (180Â° C) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn upside down on a wire cooling rack.
The bowl–which will eventually actually be the tomb–will need to bake for at least 50-60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. After removing it from the oven, loosen the edges with a knife and cool on a wire rack. Once cool, trim the bowl-shaped cake so that it is flat and can set on top of the base.Â (See photo left.)
While it’s cooling, you can mix up the Fudge Frosting. Place the larger cake on a platter and frost completely.
Cut an opening from the side of the bowl-cake, trying to save the “hunk” to be the stone, rolled away from the tomb. Place the bowl-cake on top of the frosted flat cake. Frost the bowl-cake completely. I chose to not frost the “stone” just to make it contrast a little from the “tomb” but perhaps you’d rather frost it. If you like, you can decorate the cake a little–or a lot!Â Herbs are safe/non-poisonous decorations. I used some raspberries to add a little color…Â Violets are often available in the spring, as are some flowers from herbs. If using other flowers, be sure to check that they are not poisonous!
Have fun making one–or both–of these Easter desserts! Now you’ve got the know-how…below are the recipes.
Have a blessed Easter!
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
- 3 egg whites
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar (optional)
- 3/4 C. (185 g) very fine sugar
- 2 tsp. white vinegar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 1/4 C. (310 g) sugar
- 4 T. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 1/4 C. (310 ml) water
- 2 T. butter
- 2 tsp. grated lemon peel
- 1/3 C. (100 ml) fresh lemon juice
- Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add the salt and cream of tartar, if using it. (See General Instructions for Making Meringues below for details.)
- Continue beating until the whites have soft peaks when you lift the beaters out of the mixture.
- Add the sugar 1 T. at a time and continue beating until the meringue holds very stiff peaks when you lift out the beater. Test the mixture by rubbing a little bit between your thumb and finger; if it feels at all gritty, continue beating until it feels very smooth.
- Add the vinegar and the vanilla. Beat just to combine.
- The meringue can be formed into a variety of shapes, including a cross for Easter.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees F (95 degrees C) for about 1 hour. Place the baking sheet in the center of your oven, keeping a close watch on the oven temperature. You will probably need to rotate the baking sheet occasionally for more even baking. When the meringue is light brown and crisp, turn off the oven and leave it in the oven for at least an hour, or overnight to finish drying.
- Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in saucepan. Stir in cold water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and simmer 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice. Cool completely before using. It's best to put the Lemon Filling in the meringue at the last minute, otherwise the meringue will absorb the moisture from the lemon filling and get soggy.
- Garnish with lemon roses, fresh flowers such as violets, fresh strawberries or raspberries,twists of lemon and mint leaves, or a dollop of whipped cream if desired.
More about Meringues
- Meringues are easier to make and turn out better if the weather is dry, not humid.
- It’s easier to separate cold eggs, but they beat up higher if they are at room temperature. The solution? Separate the eggs while they’re cold, then set them aside until they warm up a bit before beating them.
- Always use a glass, stainless steel or copper bowl to beat the egg whites, never plastic. Residual grease on a plastic bowl can hinder them beating up stiff. Even just a little egg yolk or grease in your egg white mixture hinders them becoming stiff.
- It’s best to separate the eggs one at a time into a small bowl or cup before adding it to your bowl for beating. This way if the egg doesn’t separate easily and you get a little yolk in it, you can keep it in the fridge for another recipe but don’t try to salvage the white for a meringue.
- I’ve made many meringues without cream of tartar which turn out fine. In fact, the Easter Meringue pictured here was made without it. The purpose of cream of tartar is to stabilize the mixture and give it more volume. However, if you don’t have cream of tartar, you can still make a meringue, it just might have a bit less volume.
- You need very fine sugar for a good meringue. If your sugar is not very fine, process some in a blender or food processor so that you have a smooth meringue.
- You need a VERY low oven temperature for meringues! I highly recommend an oven thermometer–not only for meringues but for everyday use. Stay close to your oven and if the temperature goes too high, open the oven door to lower the temperature. I sometimes prop my oven door open a bit with a wooden spoon. If the temperature is too high, it will not only brown too much the meringue will dry and set too quickly.
Making Lemon Roses
- Use a sharp knife to cut the peel away from the lemon, making it as thin and as long as possible.
- Beginning with one end, roll up the peel into a flower.
- If your strip broke into two pieces, you can generally still make a rose by just adding the second strip to the first.
- Place the completed roses into a cup of uncooked rice to keep their shape until used as garnish.
- 3 C. (375 g) flour
- 2 C. (500 g) sugar (you can cut this back
- to 1 Â½ C. if you prefer things less sweet)
- 1/2 C. (40 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 T. vinegar
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 2/3 C. (150 ml) oil
- 2 C. (500 ml) water
- Combine all ingredients and beat only until there are no more lumps.
- Pour batter into a greased 9X13-inch (23X33 cm), two 8-inch (20 cm) or 9-inch (23 cm) pans, or cupcake tins.
- Bake 25-35 minutes at 350° F (180° C) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn upside down on a wire cooling rack and remove from pan(s), if desired. Or allow to cool and frost right in the pan.
- 6 T. butter, softened
- 4 C. (320 g) powdered sugar (if you donâ€™t have any, make your own by putting 1 C.at a time in a blender or food processor)
- 1 C. (80 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 6 T. hot water or strong coffee (You can add 3-4 tsp.of instant decaffeinated coffee powder to the hot water; it helps cut the sweetness and gives a mocha flavor.)
- Cream together the butter, powdered sugar, cocoa.
- Add 4 T. hot water or coffee, then the remaining 2 T., one at a time, as needed, until smooth and soft enough to spread.