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Area churches get busy making peanut butter eggs for Easter

Mar. 20, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- From Huntington to Hurricane, W.Va., and in between, peanut butter Easter eggs dipped in chocolate are irresistible to many.

Volunteers, members and neighbors of Trinity Church of God in Huntington and Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church in Hurricane arrange their schedules to join the long egg-making process to complete before Easter.

The idea of making chocolate peanut butter Easter eggs was initiated at the Huntington church about six years ago, when Ken Toler became its pastor.

Toler had helped his mother with this for about 20 years, so he shared his mother's recipe with the church.

"It's a long process," said Vickie Thomas, youth director, along with her husband, Kelly, at Trinity Church of God for two years. "It's not as simple as one might think."

Molds are not used for the homemade treats. Individuals do the shaping into egg forms, refrigerate a couple minutes and dip in chocolate.

"We started on Feb. 25 and finished March 5," she said.

Working long days - from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. - the dedicated six- or seven-member group usually could make 900 eggs in one day. A total of 3,700 were made this year, down from last year's 4,500.

Members of the youth group, which meets at 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays for dinner and 6:30 p.m. for class, sell the finished product. So far this year, they have sold at Proctorville, Ohio, Kroger and Barboursville Walmart with more scheduled before Easter.

The cost is $1 per egg. Proceeds help children participate in a one-week International Youth Convention trip, with the next one planned in 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.

To place an order, call 304-360-6734. Delivery is available. To arrange pick-up, call the church office, 304-522-7314.

As a project of the Ruth Byrd Circle, a young mother's circle of United Methodist Women, Easter egg construction began in 1969 at the home of Karen Lilly, organizer and current mixer for the annual project at Forrest Burdette United Methodist Church, Hurricane.

"The eggs were made in the home of one of the members for three years," said Lilly.

"When sales increased, the project was scheduled at the church and other members of the UMW were recruited," she said. "There were a couple of other years when the church was being remodeled that other ladies volunteered their homes.

"There were a few years when I could not participate due to my work schedule but have been involved for the last 20 years," Lilly commented.

Many volunteers are needed in the process, including molders, dippers, mixers, kitchen help, decorators, those filling the containers and those cleaning up. During the process, each volunteer may assist in one or more areas working from two to eight or 10 hours daily in an assembly line.

"We work hard but we have a good time," said 88-year-old Evelyn Warner.

The more hands in the mix make the job lighter and more fun.

"We look forward all year to the fun and fellowship," said Priscilla Simmons. "Many hands make light work."

At one time, 20 to 30 women were involved with the project. Since 2009, more than 60 male and female attendees, who may bring a neighbor or friend, have participated.

"We have good fellowship and 'lots of love' goes into all the Easter eggs," said Patsy Neumeyer.

Half-pound eggs in vanilla, coconut, cherry nut, maple nut and peanut butter are available at $3.50 each. Proceeds benefit mission projects around the globe, within West Virginia and locally.

In 2012, 2007 chocolate peanut butter eggs were made.

"Peanut butter is the biggest seller," noted Lilly.

Since record-keeping began 19 years ago, 34,404 Easter eggs have been logged.

Although more than 2,000 eggs were prepared in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, 2010 was the best year with 2,891 eggs, according to Lilly.

To order, call 304-562-2053. Pick up is available during the Spring Festival Saturday, March 23, at the church, 2848 Putnam Ave., or from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. before Thursday, March 28.

This recipe is from "Taste of Home's Holiday and Celebrations Cookbook:"

PEANUT BUTTER EGGS

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 (17.3-ounce) jar creamy peanut butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 (2-pound) package confectioners' sugar

2 cups flaked coconut, optional

6 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup shortening

In large bowl, beat first four ingredients until smooth. Beat in sugar. Stir in coconut if desired. Form rounded tablespoonfuls into egg shapes. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Chill 30 minutes. In microwave-safe bowl or heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip eggs until coated; place on waxed paper to harden.

For more decorative eggs, place about 1/4 cup melted chocolate in small plastic bag. Cut hole in corner of bag; pipe chocolate over tops of eggs. Store in refrigerator.

This recipe is provided by "Country Woman:"

CHOCOLATE EASTER EGGS

2 (3.4-ounce) packages cook-and-serve pudding mix

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

5-6 cups confectioners' sugar

2 cups peanut butter

4 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 teaspoons shortening

Assorted decorating icings and cake decorator candy flowers

In large saucepan, combine first three ingredients. Cook; stir over medium heat until mixture comes to boil. Cook; stir 1-2 minutes longer or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in sugar and peanut butter. Cool slightly. Shape 1/2 cupfuls into egg shapes. Place on waxed paper-lined baking sheet; refrigerate until set. In microwave or heavy saucepan, melt chocolate chips and shortening; stir until smooth. Dip eggs in chocolate; allow excess to drip off. Return eggs to waxed paper to set. Decorate with icings and candies as desired. Store in airtight container.

This recipe is from "Cooks.com:"

CHERRY NUT EASTER EGGS

1/2 cup milk

1/2 stick butter

2 (3-ounce) packages vanilla pudding and pie filling (not instant)

1 (9-ounce) jar maraschino cherries

1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts

1 to 2 pounds confectioners' sugar

1 pound chocolate, melted

Cut cherries in half; drain well on paper towels. Cook first three ingredients in medium saucepan on low heat until well blended and thick. Remove from stove; add cherries, nuts and enough sugar to make thick consistency. Form mixture into 8 to 10 egg shapes with hands coated in butter. Place on wax paper covered cookie sheet. Chill several hours until firm. Melt chocolate being careful not to scorch it. Frost egg with melted chocolate. Decorate with icing or candies of choice.

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