Like most holidays, Easter to me is another excuse to gather around family and eat. We did the usual basket hunt in the morning, sometimes with Pillsbury biscuits baked into the shape of a bunny with raisin eyes and a cherry nose. A Honey-baked ham was usually on the docket and my aunt's trip to the local bakery to buy pastel challah. When sliced, each strand of the braided bread revealed a different color, like those of the RIT dyed Easter eggs. But for nearly a decade it has become another "all hands on deck" day at work.
There's a joke about the busiest days in a restaurant being New Years Eve, Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. I really don't think there's a punchline, unless you work in the kitchen and you become the punchline. But I would rank Easter Brunch up there.
When I think of Easter now, I think of the memorable Easter brunch when the power went out during the last turn. The hoods stopped drawing air above the wood fired grill and the dining room began to fill with smoke. Dishwashers obviously didn't work, nor did refrigeration, leading us to bail out our fridges and wash EVERY single utensil and dish by hand. All the chefs banded together and laughed to keep from crying.
But back in pastry land...I enjoy getting a little tongue in cheek with holiday dessert items. Over the years, a few were so awesome that I circled back to them. The photos don't do them justice, but I'll try to explain the method to my madness.
I used to LOVE peeps as a kid. Now as an adult, I realize it's the stale, firm but chewy ones that I preferred. They're kind of nasty, but simple. I figured..."I can do that!" In fact, I tried piping a little chick with freshly made marshmallow. I don't know what it looked like, because it wasn't recognizable. But I thought...you can't get more Easter than a rabbit! So the "homie" was born. More colors evolved over the years. But I stuck with the elderflower flavoring and coconut nest of grass.
Another winner was the carrot cake ice cream sandwich.
Follow my train of thought for a second...
But how do you take a spin on carrot cake? Keeping it recognizable, but elevate it to restaurant caliber? Take your favorite ginger-laced carrot cake recipe, and sandwich it with rum raisin swirled cream cheese ice cream ...obviously.
The tiny carrots I candied were almost cuter than the homies.
It's fun to find inspiration for the holidays and create new traditions to weave into the old.