It's very easy to pick up traditional Easter candies at your local store, but it's so much more fun to make them from scratch! Any of these projects can be an enjoyable and educational experience for kids, and homemade treats are a perfectly personal gift. And they're tasty, too.
Yes, you can make your own marshmallow Peeps. It's just a matter of decorating your homemade marshmallows. Kathleen at Twig & Thistle takes it from there. Add your color before the marshmallow sets. Cut them out with cookie cutters, dampen slightly, and roll in colored sugar. Don't forget little candies for the eyes! An alternate method from Serious Eats uses a whipped marshmallow mixture that you can squeeze into the classic Peep chick shape. It takes a steady hand and a little practice.
2. Cadbury Creme Eggs
Cadbury eggs seem complicated, with a yolk and white that looks like a chicken egg but tastes like heaven. However, this recipe from Instructables breaks it down into steps that you can accomplish. The yellow and white filling are the same thick fondant you can mold with your hands. The chocolate covering is the delicate part, and even if the result is less-than-picturesque, it will taste delicious.
3. Giant Cadbury Creme Egg
Once you've conquered the Cadbury Creme Egg, you may as well make the leap to the giant Cadbury egg. The process requires more ingredients and a bigger mold, but the rewards will be greater as well. The guys who made this 8-inch tall egg also made their own foil wrapper!
4. Chocolate Bunny
Making a chocolate rabbit is just a matter of following instructions for melting chocolate and using a bunny mold. You can make your bunny solid, or let the chocolate cool enough to be a little stiff, then paint the inside of the mold with a even layer to make a hollow bunny, like the chefs in the video. Chocolate Easter eggs are made the same way.
Many chocolate Easter eggs are made of malted milk balls, or what we know by the name brand of Whoppers. The simple part of making them at home is mixing chocolate with malted milk powder and rolling into balls. Dipping them in chocolate afterward is kind of tricky, but it's a skill worth practicing. The reviews of the recipe say these are better than Whoppers.
6. Tootsie Rolls
Traditional Tootsie Rolls are relatively inexpensive and plentiful, so you won't save any money by making your own. But the homemade versions are tasty and softer than the store-bought kind. Allrecipes has an extremely easy version, (pictured) with a list of ingredients and simple instructions: "Mix all ingredients together. Knead like you would for bread. Roll into rope shapes and cut into desired lengths." Right, no cooking at all! A slightly more complex recipe that does involve a bit of cooking yields rolls very close in texture to the original.
7. Pop Rocks
I really wanted to find a recipe for homemade jelly beans to complete the traditional Easter basket, but found nothing that really approximated the jelly beans we know and love. However, we can substitute Pop Rocks, because we have a recipe! These directions at Instructables yield a candy that relies on citric acid and baking soda to create the fizzy sensation on your tongue. And don't forget your hammer!
Talented as individuals and magnificent as a team, the Marx Brothers conquered every medium from the vaudeville stage to the silver screen. Today, we’re tipping our hats (and tooting our horns) to Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, and Gummo—on the 50th anniversary of Groucho's passing.
1. A RUNAWAY MULE INSPIRED THEM TO TAKE A STAB AT COMEDY.
Julius, Milton, and Arthur Marx originally aspired to be professional singers. In 1907, the boys joined a group called “The Three Nightingales.” Managed by their mother, Minnie, the ensemble performed covers of popular songs in theaters all over the country. As Nightingales, the brothers enjoyed some moderate success, but they might never have found their true calling if it weren’t for an unruly equid. During a 1907 gig at the Nacogdoches Opera House in East Texas, someone interrupted the performance by barging in and shouting “Mule’s loose!” Immediately, the crowd raced out to watch the newly-liberated animal. Back inside, Julius seethed. Furious at having lost the spotlight, he skewered his audience upon their return. “The jackass is the finest flower of Tex-ass!” he shouted, among many other ad-libbed jabs. Rather than boo, the patrons roared with laughter. Word of his wit soon spread and demand for these Marx brothers grew.
2. THEY RECEIVED THEIR STAGE NAMES DURING A POKER GAME.
In May of 1914, the five Marxes were playing cards with standup comedian Art Fisher. Inspired by a popular comic strip character known as “Sherlocko the Monk,” he decided that the boys could use some new nicknames. Leonard’s was a no-brainer. Given his girl-crazy, “chick-chasing” lifestyle, Fisher dubbed him “Chicko” (later, this was shortened to “Chico”). Arthur loved playing the harp and thus became “Harpo.” An affinity for soft gumshoes earned Milton the alias “Gummo.” Finally, Julius was both cynical and often seen wearing a “grouch bag”—wherein he’d store small objects like marbles and candy—around his neck. Thus, “Groucho” was born. For the record, nobody knows how Herbert Marx came to be known as “Zeppo.”
3. GROUCHO WORE HIS TRADEMARK GREASEPAINT MUSTACHE BECAUSE HE HATED MORE REALISTIC MODELS.
Michael Ochs Archives/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Phony, glue-on facial hair can be a pain to remove and reapply, so Groucho would simply paint a ‘stache and some exaggerated eyebrows onto his face. However, the mustache he later rocked as the host of his famous quiz show You Bet Your Life was 100 percent real.
4. HARPO WAS A SELF-TAUGHT HARPIST.
Without any formal training (or the ability to read sheet music), the second-oldest Marx brother developed a unique style that he never stopped improving upon. “Dad really loved playing the harp, and he did it constantly,” his son, Bill Marx, wrote. “Maybe the first multi-tasker ever, he even had a harp in the bathroom so he could play when he sat on the toilet!”
5. THE VERY FIRST MARX BROTHERS MOVIE WAS NEVER RELEASED.
Financed by Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and a handful of other investors, Humor Risk was filmed in 1921. Accounts differ, but most scholars agree that the silent picture—which would have served as the family’s cinematic debut—never saw completion. Despite this, an early screening of the work-in-progress was reportedly held in the Bronx. When Humor Risk failed to impress there, production halted. By Marx Brothers standards, it would’ve been an unusual flick, with Harpo playing a heroic detective opposite a villainous Groucho character.
6. GUMMO AND ZEPPO BECAME TALENT AGENTS.
World War I forced Gummo to quit the stage. Following his return, the veteran decided that performing was no longer for him and instead started a raincoat business. Zeppo—the youngest brother—then assumed Gummo’s role as the troupe’s straight-talking foil. A brilliant businessman, Zeppo eventually break away to found the talent agency Zeppo Marx Inc., which grew into Hollywood’s third-largest, representing superstars like Clark Gable, Lucille Ball, and—of course—the other three Marx Brothers. Gummo, who joined the company in 1935, was charged with handling Groucho, Harpo, and Chico’s needs.
7. CHICO ONCE LAUNCHED A BIG BAND GROUP.
Chico took advantage of an extended break between Marx brothers movies to realize a lifelong dream. A few months before The Big Store hit cinemas in 1941, he co-founded the Chico Marx Orchestra: a swinging jazz band that lasted until July of 1943. Short-lived as the group was, however, it still managed to recruit some amazing talent—including singer/composer Mel Tormé, who would go on to help write the “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” in 1945.
8. THEY TESTED OUT NEW MATERIAL FOR A NIGHT AT THE OPERA IN FRONT OF LIVE AUDIENCES.
With the script still being drafted, MGM made the inspired choice to let the brothers perform key scenes in such places as Seattle, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. Once a given joke was made, the Marxes meticulously timed the ensuing laughter, which let them know exactly how much silence to leave after repeating the gag on film. According to Harpo, this had the added benefit of shortening A Night at the Opera’s production period. “We didn’t have to rehearse,” he explained. “[We just] got onto the set and let the cameras roll.”
9. GROUCHO TEMPORARILY HOSTED THE TONIGHT SHOW.
Jack Paar bid the job farewell on March 29, 1962. Months before their star’s departure, NBC offered Paar’s Tonight Show seat to Groucho, who had established himself as a razor-sharp, well-liked host during You Bet Your Life’s 14-year run. Though Marx turned the network down, he later served as a guest host for two weeks while Johnny Carson prepared to take over the gig. When Carson finally made his Tonight Show debut on October 1, it was Groucho who introduced him.
10. SPY MAGAZINE USED A MARX BROTHERS MOVIE TO PRANK U.S. CONGRESSMEN.
Duck Soup takes place in Freedonia, a fictional country over which the eccentric Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho) presides. In 1993, 60 years after the movie’s release, this imaginary nation made headlines by embarrassing some real-life politicians. Staffers from Spy got in touch with around 20 freshmen in the House of Representatives, asking some variation on the question “Do you approve of what we’re doing to stop ethnic cleansing in Freedonia?” A few lawmakers took the bait. Representative Corrine Brown (D-Florida) professed to approve of America’s presence in Freedonia, saying “I think all of those situations are very, very sad, and I just think we need to take action to assist the people.” Across the aisle, Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) concurred. “Yeah,” he said, “it’s a different situation than the Middle East.”
As a recurring feature, our team combs the Web and shares some amazing Amazon deals we’ve turned up. Here’s what caught our eye today, August 19.
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