When you were a kid, what was your favorite part about Easter? Dipping hard-boiled eggs in dye? Hunting for plastic Easter eggs full of loose change or jellybeans? Or finding and falling on your Easter basket?
All of them are enjoyable, but there’s something extra-special about the bright, cheery basket full of candy, even once you grow out of believing that it’s left by a gigantic benevolent rabbit. If you’re an adult without kids of your own, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out. You can always buy yourself a basket and fill it up, but it’s somehow both more fun and more sophisticated to make fully edible Easter baskets.
While they take many forms, they all have the same basic components—and there are various ingredients that can comprise each piece, so depending on your tastes, you can adapt any recipe by mixing and matching from the suggestions below.
This can be made out of almost anything: cake (one 9-inch round for a single big basket, or cupcakes for mini individual baskets), cookie cups, molded chocolate, puff pastry, brownies, tart shells, pie dough, bread dough. If it can be formed into strips and woven together, or baked into domed or cupped shapes, it’ll work for your purposes. In the case of large cakes, for a more basket-like effect, you can use candy to cover the outside—gently press rows of M&Ms in alternating colors into the frosting, or use Kit Kats (try the white chocolate version too), Pirouettes, or those waffle-textured sugar wafers to cover the sides. Alternatively, you can use the frosting itself to pipe on a basket weave texture (the illustrated tutorial here makes it look less intimidating than you might think)—or simply press a similar pattern into the icing with a fork. For cupcakes, consider baking them inside trimmed-flat waffle cones for extra texture, or just use vibrantly patterned cupcake liners to add visual interest.
Adding a handle is what really makes the base look like a basket; the illusion’s just not the same without one. If you’re working with pastry or bread dough, craft the handle from the same substance, but for other edible baskets, brightly colored, flexible strands of candy work well—look for Twizzlers Pull ‘n’ Peel, rainbow Airheads, Sour Punch straws, chocolate licorice, or marshmallow ropes. Soft, cream-filled caramel Cow Tales could also work. Or, you can fashion handles from fondant; this is a good choice if you’re making a large Easter basket cake in particular since you’ll need a bigger handle. Caveat: as in this example, you may need an inner core of wire to support and hold the curve in the fondant—in which case (obviously), make sure no one tries to eat it!
The Easter Grass
Ready-made edible Easter grass can be purchased online, but depending on which color you get, it tastes like green apple, strawberry, or blueberry, good to keep in mind in case you don’t want those flavors mingling with the rest of your dessert. A good homemade option is tinting shredded coconut with food coloring in any shade you like (or with spinach puree if you’re all-natural), but you can also grate some colored candy melts into fluffy shreds. Simply piping on tinted frosting works too, especially if you use a fine tip to pipe individual strands of grass.
This is the easiest part; just pile on whatever Easter candy you like: jellybeans, Peeps, small chocolate rabbits (or larger ones if you make a full-size cake), candy-coated chocolate eggs, the works. Brightly colored foil wrappers look fantastic, but if you’d rather make the whole shebang edible with no fiddling required, naked chocolate is never unappealing. For savory baskets, stick to salad, boiled eggs, and more bread inside.
Need specific recipes? Check out these edible Easter baskets of all varieties, and then hop to it—whichever kind you choose to make, you’re bound to impress somebunny…
The desserts at the top of this page are especially great for people who believe cupcakes never have the right ratio of frosting (get the recipe here), but if you’re intimidated by the basket weave pattern, this considerably easier take uses standard cupcake liners and simple frosting coated with green sugar, yet is no less adorable or delicious. You can turn out perfect edible Easter baskets no matter what your skill level, even if you otherwise qualify for Netflix’s “Nailed It”. Get the recipe.
Essentially a Rice Krispies Treats Easter basket writ large (and in Fruity Pebbles instead), any child would be delighted to find this on Easter morning, but it also makes an impressively festive centerpiece for your table that can be dismantled and eaten for dessert. Get the recipe.
Prefer cookies to cupcakes? Make these with whatever dough you like best, from chocolate chip to lemon shortbread, homemade or not. (Brownie baskets work too.) This version uses store-bought sugar cookie dough baked in mini Bundt pans, but you can make these in mini muffin tins if that’s what you’ve got. The buttercream Easter grass is easy to achieve, but also replaceable with any other edible grass you’d rather eat. Get the recipe.
These are for the truly committed, as they do require a lot of fine, borderline finicky work. But if you’re not averse to shortcuts, you can start by using halved donut holes as the basket base, and decorate away. Get the recipe.
If you’re all about healthy Easter baskets, consider carving one out of fruit. At the very least, it could be a good April Fool’s joke on your sugar-loving children (fitting since Easter happens to fall on the same date this year)—or a nice addition to your Easter brunch. Get the recipe.
Store-bought puff pastry can be woven into miniature baskets and filled with sweet or savory things as you prefer, from pastel candy eggs to the real thing. Get the recipe.
Fluted mini tart shells are easily turned into edible baskets too; you can find them in the freezer case at the grocery store or make your own (or compromise and use store-bought pie dough for free-hand pleated baskets), then fill them with whatever you like. These hide light lemon mousse under their coconut Easter grass. Get the recipe.
Probably the easiest option of all, yet still super cute (and sugary), all you need to make these are three kinds of candy and some green frosting. Get the recipe.
If you want to go big, you can make this fully edible molded chocolate basket (see the video tutorial here), but these smaller versions are probably much easier. Along the same lines, you could even make edible chocolate bowls, add candy handles to turn them into passable baskets, then fill them with Cadbury Creme Egg ice cream or no-churn Mini Chocolate Egg ice cream for Easter sundaes.
So far, we’ve focused on 3D edible Easter baskets, but if you can handle a lattice crust, a sweet Easter basket pie is a natural progression. Get the recipe.
The only way to make a bread basket better? Make it a literal bread basket. You can do this using pre-made biscuit dough if you want, or try an easier coiled method if you’re not much of a weaver, but when it comes to filling any of them, load them with salad greens, herbs, and/or sprouts, and top with hard-boiled eggs, or simply use them to hold adorable little bunny rolls (even though they’re one of the more well-circulated Pinterest fails; maybe you’ll have better luck). Get the recipe.
Eggs are an emblem of Easter, so why not turn them into little edible baskets too? Chives make a perfect handle, and if you can’t find edible flowers, just top these with microgreens, snipped herbs, or sprouts for the Easter grass effect. And then if you want to get really precious, place a tiny cooked quail egg on top of each one. Get the recipe.
Header image courtesy of Sugar Hero.