Five years ago, I was living in Southern France with a host family. Their four-year-old son was very excited to paint eggs for Easter. Like most kids in the US, I grew up dyeing hard boiled eggs, which were eaten within a few days. I was very curious when my host mom pulled out a set of shadow boxes, holding an eggs her sons had painted each year for Easter. How could she save eggs year after year without them rotting? The answer was by only saving the shells. My host family showed me how to drain, clean and prepare eggs to paint. Once dry, everyone picked their favorite egg for the shadow box, and the rest were displayed around the house. I so enjoyed this twist on a familiar tradition that I brought it home and painted eggshells with my family for Easter the next year. I’ve always broken and discarded eggshells, and the idea of carefully preserving them was foreign and intriguing. What other unexpected ways could I use eggshells?
Would you have ever believed that eggshells make terrific cupcake molds? At first glance, these eggs look like hard boiled eggs decorated for Easter. Crack them open, and they are full of cake! Magic. Do you remember being a kid a getting completely caught up in the magic and wonderment of every holiday? These cake-filled eggs bring me right back to those days.
I tested my eggs-periment (sorry, not sorry for the really bad pun) last spring on my husband. He was so surprised and excited about his half-dozen Funfetti cake eggs, but could not figure out how I’d managed to create them.
I hate to waste food, so I had to plan ahead to make a dozen egg cakes. I made quiche for lunch and omelettes for breakfast to use one dozen eggs. You can also prepare eggshells in advance and save them in the fridge for a few days so you don’t have to try to use all your eggs in one day. Keep in mind that most cakes call for an egg or two, so save an egg for your cake recipe.
Be very careful when handling your eggshells! They are very fragile and will break if dropped or squeezed. Also, remember that until your egg cakes are baked, your eggshells contain traces of raw egg. Clean all of your materials and wipe down surfaces to prevent contamination.
- 12 eggs (or desired number)
- Pushpin or needle
- Piping Bag
- Muffin Tin
- Aluminum Foil
- Cake Batter (prepared according to your favorite recipe)
- Using a clean needle or pushpin, poke a small hole in each end of the egg.
- Widen the pinhole on the bottom (wider end) of the egg. I used a fork to widen the hole. The hole needs to be large enough to fit the tip of a piping bag.
- Drain contents of egg. Puncture the egg's membrane with a toothpick and empty the contents into a bowl.
- Rinse eggshells thoroughly in cold water.
- Soak eggshells in saltwater for 30 minutes. Drain and let air dry. You'll need to fill each egg with saltwater so it will sink. See all the white specks in the bottom of the bowl? They are tiny pieces of membrane that you don't want in your egg cakes.
- Optional- Dye eggs. Since these eggs will act as molds for your cake, any dye method needs to be food-safe. I opted for food coloring and mixed 1 tsp white vinegar, 1/2 cup boiling water and 20 drops of food coloring for each color. After dyeing eggs to your desired color, drain and let dry completely. Be sure there is no remaining dye inside the eggshell.
- Prepare cake batter according to your desired recipe. I decided to use a boxed lemon cake mix instead of making something from scratch.
- Set prepared eggshells in a muffin pan. Use tinfoil to form rings or "nests" to get your eggs to stand upright.
- Fill eggshells 3/4 full with cake batter. Instead of a piping bag, I used a decorator tool designed for icing. It looks like a caulking gun for frosting, and was very effective for filling the eggshells. You can also spoon batter into a plastic bag and trim off a corner to make your own piping bag. Spoon remaining batter into another muffin pan (bake times may be different for egg cakes and cupcakes).
- Bake according to your recipe's instructions for cupcakes. You may have to reduce the bake time by a few minutes as the eggshells are smaller than standard cupcakes.
- Let cool. If any batter overflowed during baking, wipe off with a damp paper towel.
- Once cooled, crack, peel and enjoy.
Having trouble removing the egg from the shell? Make sure the egg membrane is punctured, and try to shake the egg up and down over your bowl. It will take a few seconds for the egg to drain completely.
Use the tines of a metal fork to remove larger egg pieces from the shell, as pictured. Tapping the shell will create tiny pieces that may fall into the egg, which are difficult to remove.
Stand eggs upright to drain and dry fully. Hollowed egg shells can be balanced with the large hole down on a wire cooling rack, which allows for more effective drying. Dyed eggs should be completely dry before filling with batter.
Does the vinegar in the dye bath affect the taste of the cake? Nope. The vinegar smell is completely gone once the shell is dry, and you cannot taste it at all in the cake.
I hope you enjoy sharing these fun egg cakes with your family and friends this Easter!