Earlier I made Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs. I really enjoyed making them but realize, of course, how complicated they were. I am clearly a crazy person. Here is something similar but much easier to make. To sum up: dyed eggshells filled with candy and/or toys and sealed at the bottom with paper.
You will need:
- enough time to let dyed eggs dry overnight
- one dozen eggs (or however many you’d like to make)
- boxes of both regular and neon McCormick food coloring
- assorted candies or toys small enough to fit into an egg
- mini muffin papers, or paper nut party cups, or regular paper, or big roundish stickers
- a cookie cooling rack, or skewers stuck in some styrofoam, or six sets of takeout chopsticks stuck in a vase (for drying the dyed eggs upside down)
Handy but not necessary:
- an egg topper or a Dremel
These are a re-do of surprise eggs I made ages ago. (I think that was one of the first tutorials I put on this site.) I took inspiration from both Kinder Eggs and Cascarones, eggshells filled with confetti usually cracked over the head of a friends or family. (Note: some of the images below were reused from my earlier tutorial, so they might look familiar.)
Emptying the eggs
To prepare the eggshells I followed Martha’s Stewarts instructions for making chocolate filled real eggshells. I didn’t have a Dremel so I used an inexpensive egg topper to cut the bottoms of the eggs.
This egg topper isn’t the best tool for the job and often leaves jagged edges. If you don’t have this you can use a pushpin to carefully crack an opening, and I’ve seen mention of using nail scissors to carefully cut a tidy hole. Really though, you don’t need to worry about beauty here as we’ll be gluing something over the edges of the opening at the end.
Sterilizing the eggs
This again is from Martha Stewart’s instructions. I carefully rinsed out each eggshell, using a finger to scrape away the last bit of the egg white that is attached inside. Submerge in a large pot (I could fit a dozen eggs in a 4-quart pot) and bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Skim foam from the top as it appears, if you forget about the pot it will cook into a weird stiff foam.
To cool the shells lift them them one by one from the pot, letting the hot water run out, and submerge them into a bowl of cool water. If you just fill the pot with cold water the boiling water will linger inside the eggshell, so be careful. (Go on, ask me how I learned that.)
Set them upright on a cookie cooling rack or a kitchen towel to drain and dry a bit while you’re preparing to dye. (I found eggs taken right from water and put into dye didn’t do as well. I could be wrong.)
Dyeing the eggs
Since I find empty eggshells too delicate to decorate after sterilizing I wanted color to be the main attraction, so I spent time finding the right number of food color drops to create really vibrant color. I wasn’t necessarily going for a rainbow but that’s what I came up with.
You might also consider doing all the eggshells one color and using candies that coordinate well. (Oh man, am I really suggesting you coordinate your eggshells to your candy? I am, but it’s pleasantly striking in the chaotic world of color that is Easter decorations. I show an example below.)
You’ll want to dye the eggs in a non-reactive (not metal) container. I used Pyrex measuring cups and porcelain mugs. Don’t agitate the eggs, I learned the hard way that this makes them blotchy, instead just turn them over about half way through the dyeing time.
These instructions are for the familiar McCormick food coloring you can find in any grocery store, one box of regular colors and one box of neon colors. Each below will cover one egg at a time, you can either double the ingredients or let a second egg soak just a bit longer.
For each of these I used:
- 2 Tablespoons white vinegar
- 1 cup just-boiled water
- 10 minutes of soaking, turning the egg over half way through (15 minutes where noted)
- 10 drops neon pink
- 1 drop neon purple
- 2 drops red
- 20 drops yellow
- 5 drops red
- soak for 15 minutes
- 15 drops yellow
- 2 drops neon green
- soak for 15 minutes
- 20 drops neon green
- 2 drops neon blue
- 1 drop green
- soak for 15 minutes
- 6 drops neon blue
- 1 drop blue
- 7 drops neon blue
- 5 drops neon pink
- 10 drops neon pink
- 2 drops neon purple
If you’d like to make your own colors know that I found starting with neon colors and adding regular colors to tone those down worked the best in most cases for me.
I used skewers to lower and lift the eggs out of the dye. I let them dry by hanging them on more skewers stuck in a styrofoam cone I had in the house. I dabbed with paper towels to catch drips.
You could also simply set them on your cookie cooling rack, or hang them off of takeout chopsticks that have been arranged in a vase, anything that will allow them to drip downwards and have lots of airflow so they can dry. Last tip? Wear your least favorite black clothes, the drops of food coloring seem to get everywhere.
Filling the eggs
If your eggs are for kids I suggest buying slightly larger candies that will be easy to separate from the shards of eggshell, maybe sticking to wrapped candies. It can be frustrating to pick shards out of everything. (Though, egghshells are edible, as my father always liked to remind me.)
If you’re making these for adults (may I suggest those who are cubicle bound?) there are a number of surprisingly delicious and itty bitty candies I found while making the previous version, these are my favorites:
- Valrhona Perles Craquant (bb-sized dark chocolate around crunchy centers, found near the fancy cheeses at Whole Foods, you should use these on everything)
- dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds from Trader Joe’s
- chocolate and candy coated sunflower seeds
- those tiny peanut butter cups also from Trader Joe’s
- Robin’s egg blue candy coated caramels from The Confectionery in Seattle (I found similar versions at Peet’s coffee thanks to a tip from somebody on Twitter).
One candy I wish I’d found are the tiny wrapped hard candies called Glitterati, made by Chipurnoi. They are available in bulk online, but I’ve seen them in smaller bags at Trader Joe’s around Christmastime.
The easiest way to make it a bit more elegant is to stick to three colors. My favorite was to dye the eggshells to match (well, almost match) some Robin’s egg blue caramels. Then I only used gold and dark chocolate candies inside. Keeping it to these three colors made for a nice presentation. You could do the same with silver. And metallic Jordan almonds may be cliche at weddings but I still find them pretty/shiny and very worthy of using here.
You could also fit small toys or gifts inside. For my previous eggs I made miniature crepe paper flower corsages and found small pipe cleaner chicks. I was also thinking about folding small fortune tellers to slip inside.
Sealing the eggs
I found the easiest thing to do was to use a mini baking cup, cut it down to about half the height, and glue it on. If you don’t want to trouble with cutting down the baking cup you can just use it as is. If I’d had the time I would have sought out baking cups that are more colorful.
You can also trim and use nut (or souffle) cups, or just some paper.
In Paris I saw these, which appear to be simply covered with a sticker:
I like to include a “Crack Me” message. You could write on the egg using a colored marker, or put a sticker on it. I printed out this little message to include with the eggs and simply tucked it in the glued down cover:
And now one can open the egg by either cracking it, or just tearing off the paper base. Cracking it is way more fun.
Chocolate Easter Surprise Eggs, I put layers of chocolate on the inside to be like a Kinder Surprise egg and also included small toys. They, uh, take a bit longer to make.