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Chocolate Easter baskets

These delicate, edible baskets will make a pleasing addition to your Easter table.

By Carol RamosThe Pastry Chef's Baking / April 22, 2011

Chocolate covered pretzel sticks formed into baskets and filled with mini Cadbury eggs will delight your Easter guests.

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As Easter draws near, you might be busy putting together the Easter ham and its fixings, dyeing Easter eggs or cleaning the house for Easter company. In the midst of all that, if you want something quick and simple to make with your kids or just for something pretty to put at individual places on the company table, try this simple recipe for chocolate Easter baskets from "A Year in Chocolate" by Alice Medrich.

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If you like chocolate covered pretzels, here's a way to have your, er, basket and eat it, too. Although I think my version is more accurately called "birds' nests" rather than baskets, just in appearance.

I only wanted small "baskets" but instead of using the wax paper method like Medrich's instructions say to do, I formed these in cupcake paper liners so they'd be easier to shape. A couple of tips to make this easier: First, break up some of the pretzel sticks so you have them in varying lengths. It'll make the baskets easier to make and not too big. Second, do not let the melted chocolate get too cold. It's OK to combine it with the pretzels while the chocolate is still warm and to start forming the baskets. If the chocolate gets too cold, it'll clump on the pretzels and be more difficult to work with. If that happens, simply warm it up very, very slightly until it's more liquid and easier to work with again.

Please, please, please use good, high quality chocolate. Since there are only 2 ingredients in the baskets, you should buy the chocolate you would most enjoy eating on your pretzels. A 3.5-ounce bar of Valrhona is $2.99 at Trader Joe's and a similar-size bar of Lindt or Godiva costs even less at Target and sometimes CVS – trust me, it's worth the money to buy good chocolate. Three ounces of chocolate only made four baskets for me so you might want to double the recipe if you need more. I didn't measure out the pretzel sticks but simply mixed enough in until all the pretzels were coated. Once the chocolate has set, carefully peel away the cupcake liners and fill the nests with your favorite Easter candy – jelly beans, chocolate eggs, pastel M&Ms, etc. My favorites are Cadbury mini eggs and I think the only reason I made the baskets was so I could have an excuse to eat the mini eggs.

For anyone who's worked with chocolate, you'll know one risk of melting and cooling chocolate is what's known as chocolate "bloom." That's the grayish/white stuff (aka cocoa butter) that rises to the surface of your chocolate once it cools and re-solidifes. You can avoid it a couple of ways. The first and most foolproof way is to temper your chocolate properly. That means when you melt it, you bring the chocolate to a certain temperature (there are different temps for dark, milk and white chocolate but generally around 113 degrees F.) then cool it down to a certain temperature (again, there are different "working temps", depending on the type of chocolate you're using but think somewhere in the mid- to high 80s F.) before working with it.

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