Vi La Papa!
Every Easter for as long as I can remember, the Nordgren clan has been the recipient of a rare treasure from the Rutherford Congregational Church of beautiful Rutherford, New Jersey. This is a gift so popular, so coveted that there’s a waiting list multiple people deep. I’m not kidding. Even better than that, if the person on the waiting list dies the spot on the list is grandfathered down to the next of kin, who is henceforth responsible for picking up these tiny little treasures lest they forfeit their spot on this uberexclusive roster. Unbelievable but true, people in the know about these little treasures nearly fight to the bloody death to get their hands on them. I’m talking about chocolate covered coconut easter eggs.
“Hold up a minute here,” You may think. “People go this apeshit over candy coconut eggs? Eggs made from coconut?? These things aren’t like a papal visit of the Shroud of Turin or something. Are they really that incredible?”
Completely. These coconut Easter eggs aren’t some run of the mill, rinky dink Almond Joy candies here. These eggs are a dense wonderland of candy delight unlike anything that you’ve ever had before. The coconut is so densely packed it nearly denies being bitten and is surrounded by a dark chocolate shell so thick that it practically shoves your teeth out of the way to avoid getting to it. No way are your Chester the Molar-esters getting anywhere near that sweet coconut goodness, not on that chocolate shell’s watch!
The flavor of each egg is so pure and clean it needs nothing more than a few moments of your time to excite your entire palate. My portion of the coconut eggs are the best part of the Easter candy season in my opinion, made only more precious by the difficulty in which they are obtained.
But I’m not from The Garden State. How did I get on the list for some of these top shelf candies?
Simple. In my family, my grandmother Erna had signed up for four dozen orbs somewhere around 60 or 70 years ago when my father’s family was living in the area . Back then the RCC didn’t have a strict cap on their coconut egg production (currently 15,600), so a newcomer to the area could just sidle right up and put her name down for four dozen of the suckers without breaking a sweat or raising an eyebrow. Every year from then on out until her death in 1990, Erna picked up her eggs and distributed them between her children’s easter baskets. The coconut eggs became a time honored Nordgren tradition.
After her passing to the sweet hereafter, the easter egg pickup was bestowed to my Uncle John and Aunt Maryann who have distributed the eggs to the entire family across the country ever since. As I live 2500 miles away from my parents, I now get 6 sent to me and the other six go to my parents. As far as I’m concerned, I’m kind of a big thing in the Easter candy department.
Anyways, over the years my father and I (separately) have tried to recreate those eggs so that we could enjoy them all year long rather than stingily doling out half an egg here or there after dinner for weeks on end. Each recipe that we tried failed more miserably than the last. On some, the fondant was too goopy to use. On others, the amalgam was too dry to form into an egg shape. On most of them they were the Godzilla of aching tooth sweetness. Sullenly, we gave up trying and just accepted that the RCC Coconut Eggs were a recipe that the congregants were taking to the grave.
That was until this year. Much like releasing the sword from the stone, the internet has provided me the answer as to why the homemade versions of these coconut eggs were failing so miserably. We had failed to use a mashed potato as one of the key components.
Yes, a potato. La papa. Potatoes are the glue that hold those magical candy Easter traditions together. I know, right?
My father is probably sitting there agog right now. I, 2500 miles away, am sitting behind my computer screen smugly, wondering how the RCC ladies like me now. Ha HAH!
Coconut Candy Easter Eggs
-3/4 cup unseasoned mashed potato, cooled completely (6 ounces)
-2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
-about 6 cups powdered sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1 pinch salt
-12 ounces dark chocolate
-1 Tablespoon grapeseed or canola oil
1. In a bowl, combine the potato, coconut, vanilla and salt. Blend thoroughly.
2. Next, start mixing the powdered sugar 1 cup at a time. You will notice that the sugar causes the potato to exude liquid. Keep adding the sugar until a thick consistency is achieved and the taste is to your liking. (The coconut will also absorb some moisture, so don’t use more than 6 cups.)
3. Wrap and refrigerate the potato coconut filling overnight.
4. The next day, allow the filling to come to room temperature before molding it into egg shapes with your hands or a mold. Place the molded eggs onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and refrigerate as the coating heats.
5. Over a double boiler, combine the chocolate and the oil. Heat the chocolate to 115 degrees over simmering (NOT BOILING) water.
6. Remove the eggs from the fridge. Dip each egg in the chocolate and return them to the parchment lined cookie sheet.
7. Allow the chocolate shells to dry overnight before wrapping them in tissue paper.