The idea of the Easter Bunny was imported to America by the Pennsylvania Dutch.
Sometime after World War II when automated mass production made the confection
readily available, Americans began to include molded chocolate bunnies in their
children's Easter baskets.
Instead of purchasing chocolate bunnies for
Easter baskets this year, create and decorate your own molded bunnies by
following the quick and easy steps provided by CIA Chef Peter Greweling. "Make
sure to use tempered chocolate when you pour it into the molds. When chocolate
is optimally tempered, it contracts the most when it sets. If it is either
untempered, or is tempered but cold and thick, it will not shrink sufficiently
and will not release from the mold."*
Until recently, chocolate molds were always made of
steel and lined with tin to provide a smooth surface. These metal molds are no
longer made but are still widely available. Today's molds are made from plastics
and range from flimsy inexpensive molds to rigid polycarbonate molds that should
last for generations. The inexpensive molds work, but will not last as long as
the polycarbonate molds. A variety of chocolate molds are available in specialty
stores. The crucial thing to remember is that chocolate makes a mirror image of
whatever it sets on, so take care to keep your mold shiny and smooth. If it is
scratched, dented, or pitted, then every chocolate that comes out of that mold
will exhibit those same defects.
As far as cleaning molds, Chef Greweling
cautions that you never use anything abrasive on the interior of the molds, and
never put them in the dishwasher. His rule of thumb: if you would not use it on
your skin, do not use it on the molds.
You can paint white or milk
chocolate into sections of the bunny molds to enhance the appearance of a
specific part such as the eyes or a backpack as Chef Greweling demonstrates in
the following video. You can also decorate your bunnies with royal icing and
novelty candies, and tie a brightly colored ribbon bow around the
You'll find these instructions and a variety of recipes in The
Culinary Institute of America's Chocolates and Confections at Home
(2010, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.) cookbook available at bookstores or online.
* Chef's note: To find out how to properly temper chocolate, see
Chef Greweling's video Chocolate Dipped Anything.