Easter is coming! It’s time to decide what the Easter Bunny will bring your little ones! Of course, we all know that as parents of children with food allergies, this is no easy feat, what with all the allergen warnings on those darn bunnies. Depending on the allergies you manage, it can be next to impossible to find safe chocolate at your local store.
There are plenty of wonderful companies that sell allergy-friendly chocolate online. When you spend your money there, you are supporting some great businesses and the people behind them. If you’ve ever thought about another option, I’m here to give you one:
Make your own!
You might think this is out of your league, but it really isn’t too difficult. If you can follow basic directions for melting chocolate, you can make a simple bunny or lollipop. If you’ve got a little more time, you can make a bunny from a two-sided mold. And if you want to get fancy, you can make your own SAFE white chocolate and even add colored accents to your chocolates. Ready? Let’s get started!
BASIC MOLDED CHOCOLATE
- Microwave safe bowl
- Easter-themed chocolate or candy molds (don’t forget the sticks if you’re doing lollies!)
- Safe chocolate for your family or you make your own white chocolate.
Your local craft supply store may have some chocolate molds, especially if they have a confectionary department. If you have a local candy/cake supply shop, they may have a larger selection. Then there’s the internet—an Amazon search for “Easter Bunny candy molds” yields hundreds of results. (I do recommend you hold off on the two-foot-tall bunny until next year—give yourself the chance to practice first!)
Before you begin, make sure there’s space in your freezer for your mold. If using a flexible mold, place it on a cookie sheet and make sure you have space for that, too. Make sure it will stay level in the freezer.
If your chocolate comes in bars or chunks, chop it into roughly chip-sized pieces. Use a serrated knife to shave down the edge of your bar, and then break any large pieces into smaller ones. You don’t need to chop if you’re starting with chips.
Start by measuring the amount of chocolate that you’ll need. Use a scale if your mold tells you how much it holds, and give yourself an extra ounce for good measure. If your mold doesn’t provide a number, fill it with chocolate chips, dump them into a bowl, and then fill the mold with chips again. This will probably yield a bit more chocolate than you need, but better to have too much than too little. (You don’t mind making a little extra chocolate disappear, do you? I didn’t think so.)
Now you want to melt and temper your chocolate. Tempering is an important step in making chocolate; it encourages the fat crystals to “line up” in a way that looks pretty (meaning it has a nice shine and doesn’t “bloom”) and also gives it a nice “snap” when you break it. The chocolate you have is already tempered, but it will lose that when it melts. The science is complicated, but there’s an easy way to do it.
Place most of your chocolate (3/4 to 7/8 of it) into a microwave-safe bowl, leaving the rest out for later. Heat your chocolate on 50% power for 15 seconds. Stir, let it sit for a minute, and stir again. Then repeat a good 10-15 times. It is a bit slow, but you don’t want to rush the process. At first it won’t seem like much is happening, but the chocolate will melt, and you won’t burn it this way.
Once your chocolate is all the way melted, add your reserved chocolate to the bowl and start stirring. What you’re doing is “seeding” the chocolate. You’re telling the melted chocolate “here’s a blueprint for how you want your fat crystals to line up.” The new chocolate also cools the melted chocolate, which is part of the tempering process. If the new chocolate doesn’t all melt you can heat it a little more, but do it for 5 second intervals at 50% power. Don’t overdo it or you’ll lose the “seed.” As soon as all the chocolate is smooth, you’re ready to pour.
You can use a spoon to fill your molds, particularly if you’re using a flat mold, but I like the control of a piping bag. I don’t do anything fancy—just a plain zip-top bag opened into a mug. Once full, snip off the corner.
Carefully pipe the chocolate into your molds. If you’re using a larger mold, stop when it’s halfway full and gently tap the mold on the table a few times to encourage air bubbles to rise to the surface. Then fill the mold the rest of the way and tap some more. If you’re making lollies, insert a stick into the cavity and turn it so it gets fully coated with chocolate.
Don’t rush, but don’t go too slow either. The ears didn’t come out right on my first bunnies because the chocolate was too hard by the time I filled them.
Carefully move your mold to the freezer. It will only need 5-15 minutes for a small or thin mold, 20-30 minutes for medium thickness, and 45 minutes to 1 hour for a thick, solid bunny. It’s ready if you can press on the back/bottom of the chocolate and it doesn’t give. This is NOT something you want to place in the freezer and forget about—you don’t want it getting cold enough to attract condensation. Water is the enemy of chocolate.
If you’re making a two-sided mold, the melting/tempering process is the same. You’ll buy your mold flat and will need a sturdy pair of scissors or shears to cut out the pieces.
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A HOLLOW BUNNY
Leave about 1/2 inch of flat plastic all the way around the bunny. Fill one half of the bunny completely with melted chocolate. Then line up the two halves of the mold and clamp them together. (Binder clips are commonly recommended. Clamp close together to minimize chocolate seeping into the seams.) Shake the mold to cover all surfaces with chocolate and place on one side in the freezer. After 5 minutes, shake it again and place it on its other side. Repeat this process every 10 minutes or so until all chocolate is hardened (this makes the walls as evenly thick as you can manage.)
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE A SOLID BUNNY
Leave 1/2 inch of flat plastic on all the sides of your mold EXCEPT the bottom. Cut the bottom right up to the mold, and make a semicircular hole in the bottom of both halves, so that you’ll have a 1/2 to 3/4 inch hole in the bottom of the mold when both halves are together.
Clamp the empty mold together, again with binder clips (or utility clips, in my case.) Prop up your bunny so that the hole in the bottom is pointing upward. Fill with melted chocolate, stopping once or twice to tap the mold and remove air bubbles. (You DEFINITELY want a piping bag to fill a solid bunny mold.)
Carefully move your mold to the freezer, keeping the bunny’s bottom up. Prop the mold up with other freezer items to hold this position as it hardens.
Regardless of mold shape or size, the chocolate will “pull back” from the mold when it is ready. The mold will have a “frosty” look to it, as there will be a tiny bit of air between the mold and the chocolate. Unclamp the mold (if necessary) and remove the top piece. Then carefully turn the mold over and in many cases the chocolate will fall right out into your hand. If it sticks, gently flex the mold until the chocolate pops out.
If too much chocolate seeped into the seam of a two-piece mold, or if you overfilled a flat mold, you can easily correct this once the chocolate is cool. Use a paring knife to gently trim away any excess chocolate. Chocolate is very sensitive to the heat of your hand though, so run your hands under cold water before handling for an extended period. You can even use a paper towel as an insulating layer between you and the chocolate.
If you have a bunny or other shape that needs to stand up but the bottom isn’t flat, this is easily fixed. Place a cookie sheet on your stovetop and turn the burner on low. Once it’s warm, stand your bunny on the cookie sheet and rub it back and forth a few times to flatten the bottom. Stand it on parchment or freezer paper for a few minutes to re-harden.
One of my bunnies bloomed, I’m not sure why. (The whitish stuff on the leftmost bunny is either sugar or fat that is separating from the bunny.) I probably heated that batch of chocolate too much when the seed chocolate wasn’t melting. Remember to be gentle with your chocolate! But you know the beauty of this? I can just melt him down again, properly temper him, and make him again before Easter arrives. You will have a beautiful assortment of chocolates that you know is safe for your kiddo, because you made them yourself.
Comment here with pictures of your creations. I'd love to see what the Easter Bunny brings!
Eileen Rhoadarmer will never own a small purse, as she carries epinephrine, Benadryl, and inhalers for three people (herself included.) This life led her to co-create Allergy Superheroes, an empowering line of allergy awareness gear to protect allergic superheroes when they’re saving the world on their own. She blogs about food, allergies, and life at 2nd Gen Allergy Mom. Her KFA username is 2ndGenAllergyMom.