With every new spring season comes new a fresh new beginning. The trees begin to wake up, flowers start to appear, and the daylight lingers a little bit longer each day. As Easter approaches, so does one of my favorite holiday activities: egg decorating! Though I must admit, in the past when I made whimsical displays of colorful eggs, most times they would be looked at, but never eaten. It was such a waste to throw them out at the end of the day after my guests had gone home. So this year, I am determined to make eggs that are both festive and inviting to eat. I realize the biggest deterrent is people don’t want to have to peel the eggs, getting their hands dirty and leaving a trail of crumbled shells in their wake. This recipe borrows a Chinese technique used to make Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan), a common snack found throughout China. Tea Eggs are traditionally simmered and steeped in tea to flavor, and as a result, color. I’ve adapted the process a bit – here the eggs soak in a cold color bath, which keeps the eggs from being over-cooked (there is nothing worse than a hard gray yolk!). Preparing the eggs this way allows them to be presented with the shells already peeled, which makes for easier eating. Enjoy!
You will need:
1 dozen eggs
food coloring, various colors
6 tall drinking glasses
a large baking dish, or tray
Cook the eggs:
1. Place the eggs in a medium saucepan and fill with cold water enough to cover the eggs.
2. Cover the pan and bring the eggs to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, immediately turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the hot burner.
3. Allow the eggs to remain in the hot water for 13 minutes, then place them in an ice-water bath, or rinse under cold water to cool.
Prepare the eggs:
When the eggs are cool, crack the shells by lightly striking with the back of a spoon. This is what will create the color patterns.
Color the eggs:
1. Fill each glass to about 2/3 full with water, then place into the baking dish. Add 10-15 drops of food coloring to each glass. Add more or less dye depending on how vibrant you want the finished colors to be. Feel free to mix colors!
2. Place two eggs into each glass of colored water. Top off with more water if needed so that the eggs are fully submerged.
3. Transfer the entire dish to the refrigerator and allow the eggs to soak at least 6 hours or overnight. The longer they soak, the brighter the colors will be.
After soaking, drain the eggs and peel to reveal the patterns formed from the cracked shell.
Peel the rest of the eggs and they are now ready to be marveled at and eaten!
For a more traditional approach:
After draining the eggs, place them on a paper towel and allow to dry, then arrange them in a bowl filled with a moss to create a nest. It is also fun to let your guests peel their own egg, the soft pastel shell hides the bright surprise underneath!