Easter eggs can be enjoyed year-round.
While at the Atari gaming company, Steve Wright coined the phrase in 1980 to refer to hidden messages or jokes in video games, according to writer Bill Bradley at huffpost.com.
Movies are also popular for the technique of planting clues with meanings and connections outside the plot.
The Easter egg can be as simple as a film director or producer making a brief appearance in the movie. Think Alfred Hitchcock in many of his films and comic book writer and publisher Stan Lee in the Marvel movies.
Examples of more elaborate Easter eggs abound too. The carpet pattern in sinister Sid’s bedroom in the Pixar animated movie “Toy Story” matches the flooring in the haunted hotel in “The Shining.”
But, the concept of Easter eggs is not knew. Clues, notes and items of interest can be tucked in tangible things too.
As a cookbook collector, I occasionally find inside vintage books recipe newspaper clippings or scratch paper with scribbled notes on how to make a dish. Those are in effect Easter eggs, pointing to dishes of note.
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A recent addition to my collection is “The Modern Family Cook Book” (1964 edition, originally published in 1942) by nutritionist Meta Given (1888-1981). An aunt who loves to “go junking” recently paid 50 cents for the 632- page hardback book and passed it along to me.
Inside the cookbook were two chocolate cake recipes clipped from newspapers. The book’s previous owner is a cook after my own heart.
The clippings are from the Nov. 1, 1998 edition of the “Houston Chronicle,” and one is for a cake that remains popular today: Died-and-Went-to-Heaven Chocolate Cake, attributed to EatingWell.
Since its founding in 1990, EatingWell has evolved from a magazine focused on healthy eating and sustainable food sources to a digital publication at eatingwell.com.
EatingWell calls the Died-and-Went-to-Heaven Chocolate Cake recipe published in the March/April 1995 edition “foolproof,” making it “one of our most popular recipes.” The staff also recommends using Dutch-process cocoa for a deeper chocolate flavor.
A cup of strong black coffee makes the Bundt cake moist and enriches the cocoa, and using buttermilk gives the cake a little tang.
The cake and icing call for a cup each of three different sugars. “Eating well” can sometimes mean being indulgent.
Giving the recipe’s decades-long success, I did not make any changes. I did, however, add optional cooking instructions for making the Bundt cake into about 60 miniature chocolate cupcakes.
The smaller size makes the dessert easier to pack for lunches and share with others. Eating one cupcake also seems less indulgent than a whole slice of cake.
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Share your favorite recipes or food-related historical recollections by emailing Laura Gutschke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EatingWell’s Died-and-Went-to-Heaven Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot, strong black coffee
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons buttermilk, or low-fat milk
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 12-cup Bundt pan or coat it with nonstick cooking spray. Dust the pan with flour, invert and shake out the excess.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, white sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add buttermilk, brown sugar, eggs, oil and vanilla; beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Whisk in hot coffee until completely incorporated. (The batter will be quite thin.)
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes; remove from the pan and let cool completely.
4. To make icing: In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough of the buttermilk or milk to make a thick but pourable icing. Set the cake on a serving plate and drizzle the icing over the top. Yields 16 servings.
Nutritional information per serving: 240 calories; protein 3.7 g; carbohydrates 47.6 g; dietary fiber 1.9 g; sugars 34.5 g; fat 5 g; saturated fat 0.9 g; cholesterol 24 mg; sodium 361.7 mg. Exchanges: 3 other carbohydrate, 1 fat
Instructions for miniature cupcakes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup miniature cupcake/muffin baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. If using a nonstick baking dish, dusting the pan with flour is not necessary. Make the batter as directed for a Bundt cake. Pour batter into cupcake cups until 3/4 full. Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cupcakes are cooked through. Let cupcakes cool in pan 1-2 minutes, then empty onto rack to come to room temperature. Enjoy as is, or make icing to drizzle on top.
Laura Gutschke is a general assignment reporter and food columnist and manages online content for the Reporter-News. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.