Secrets from the bunny’s basket

Mumbai Mirror – India

… communities as clients. For instance, a long standing order comes from a Parsi lady whose daughters are allergic to food colour. So every …

Secrets from the bunny’s basket

The first thing to hit you as soon as you enter Carol Kapoor’s cottage on Hill road, Bandra, is the aroma of roasting cashew nuts and almond essence along with dark chocolate that simmers slowly in a pan nearby while the marzipan dough cools on the side-table. Carol, well-known in the community for her busy kitchen, is engrossed completing her Easter egg orders. She has been in business for over 40 years.

She starts by kneading together powdered sugar, cashew nuts, egg whites with rose water in a pan, making sure to stir it carefully with a wooden ladle. “Traditionally, marzipan should be made with almonds but since it is an expensive option, people prefer to substitute it with cashew nuts,” she explains. As soon as the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, she transfers it to a marble topped table to cool. After kneading the dough, she starts colouring the different sections — baby pink, pale yellow and light green — after which they will be ready to shape. She plays around with a small piece of yellow dough, painstakingly shaping and moulding it in all the right places, and before you can say “bunny” the piece of dough has turned into a little chick. She then proceeds to paint the eyes, beak and feathers with food colour.

Similarly the remaining bits of dough are transformed into traditional Easter bunnies, bonnets and eggs filled with nuts, coconut and fruit. “Except for the chocolate ones, I never use the moulds that you get in the market. I prefer to shape them myself,” she says. “What’s ironical is that I can’t even draw a straight line on paper.”

Next, Carol starts her chocolate batch. She melts a variety of cooking chocolate — dark, sweet and white — in a double boiler. “Once this step is done, you simply pour it into the moulds,” she instructs. Finally, comes the packing and she uses cane baskets, cellophane paper and multicoloured ribbons to decorate the eggs before they are ready to be sent out.

Carol only starts making the eggs a week before Easter. Any sooner and the marzipan will get hard and crumbly. And since many of the eggs are sent outside the city, she wants to make sure that they get to their respective locations as fresh as possible.

The demand for these eggs is not restricted only to the Catholic community. “I have people from different communities as clients. For instance, a long standing order comes from a Parsi lady whose daughters are allergic to food colour. So every year I do a batch of white marzipan eggs for her,” says Carol.

Over the years, her client base has extended beyond Bandra. She parts with a few family secrets.

Marzipan Eggs

Ingredients: 250 gm cashew nuts; 500 gm sugar; 1/2 cup rose water; 2 egg whites; food colouring of your choice.

Method: Powder the sugar and cashew nuts in a blender. Mix the sugar, cashew nuts and egg whites in a non-stick pan, stirring with a wooden spoon. Add the rose water. When the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, take it off the flame. Let it cool for a while. When cool, knead the mixture to form a dough. Separate into small balls, colour each with food colour and either shape by hand or put in a mould.

Chocolate Eggs

Put equal quantities of dark cooking chocolate, sweet chocolate and white chocolate separately in a double boiler. When each melts, remove from pan, allow to cool. Add nuts or fruit or coconut and put in moulds. Refrigerate, when hardened, then remove from mould.