How is it already April? Southern temps are creeping up into the 80s, everything is blooming and coming alive again, and Easter is fast approaching. Although neither Derrick nor myself is particularly religious, we look forward to Easter every year as a way to spend time with friends and family we haven’t otherwise seen since Christmas. Due to work obligations this year, we are unable to travel back to Massachusetts, so while my family gathers at my aunt’s home to celebrate, our holiday will be low-key and quiet: just the two of us and our fur babies. We plan to spend the day hiking one of North Carolina’s numerous greenways with Teddy, sipping mojitos in the garden (you can find our favorite recipe here!) and enjoying a home cooked meal.
Whether you celebrate the holiday or are just looking for fresh ideas, I’ve shared our 2023 Easter menu below with recipes, and linked a free printable that you can edit and print for your own Easter soiree!
On Our Menu This Year
A charcuterie board piled high with fresh cheeses, meats, and jams to start, followed by crispy roast duck and potatoes cooked in duck fat, glazed carrots, and finished with seasonal fruit tarts and carrot cakelettes.
Get your editable printable here. You’ll need to make a free account on Canva to make and save any changes.
Savory accompaniments such as olives, cocktail onions, dill pickles, pepperoncini, banana peppers, olive tapenade, or bruschetta
Sweet accompaniments such as fresh fruit (grapes, apples, pears, oranges, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries) and dried fruit (apricots, cherries, figs, mango)
Sweet and savory spreads: fig butter, whole ground mustard, hummus, balsamic vinegar, orange or fig marmalade, blackberry jam
Pita chips, whole grain crackers, rustic bread, toasted baguettes, mini toasts, or other cracker of choice
Fill in the gaps: vegetables (carrot sticks, celery, broccoli); dark chocolate or chocolate-covered nuts, pretzels
Choose your board depending on party size, using multiple boards if needed. Start with the cheeses. Working in odd numbers, place different types of cheeses around the board. I like the keep one side of the board savory, and the other side leaning towards sweet. Cheeses like cheddar pair well with both savory and sweet, so place towards the middle of the board.
Fold and tuck in the meats of your choice. For thicker meats (like salami), fold each piece in half and fan out like a deck of cards. For thinner meats (like prosciutto), tightly roll them up or gently fold back and forth like a ribbon.
Layer in choice of crackers and breads. I recommend offering 2-3 options, placing thinly sliced baguettes and multigrain crackers with savory, and water crackers or pita chips with sweet.
Fill the remaining gaps with savory and sweet accompaniments, pairing like foods together. For example, place briny foods, savory spreads, and nuts near salami and soppressata and cheeses like parmesan. Place fresh fruits and jams with candied nuts and brie and goat cheeses. Keep it simple, colorful, and flavorful.
I find most of my charcuterie items at Trader Joe's, Aldi or Lidl, Costco (if it's a larger party), Target, and Harris Teeter. These stores have great, fairly priced meat and cheese options, and many of them offer pre-sliced cheeses to save you some time.
TIP: Consider adding little pick labels to the different cheeses for easy identification!
Combine paprika, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Pierce the skin of the duck all over with a fork to allow the fat to drain during cooking. Rub spice mixture onto the skin of the duck. Spray the bottom of the roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray.
Peel potatoes and cube or slice into thick rounds. Layer potatoes on the bottom of the roasting pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Place the duck on a rack in the roasting pan. Optional: stuff cavity of duck with 1/2 stick of butter and garlic cloves for additional flavor. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
Spoon 1/4 cup melted butter over duck and roast for another 30 minutes. Flip it the duck and continue cooking for another 45 minutes.
Spoon remaining butter over duck and cook until golden brown, about 15 more minutes. Remove from oven and let rest. While the duck is resting, set the broiler on high. Return roasting pan with potatoes to oven and broil for 3 minutes or until browned and crispy. Serve immediately.
Feel free to experiment with this recipe! Roast duck is delicious with simple seasonings, garlic and rosemary, lemongrass, or smothered in citrus marmalade.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Peel and wash carrots. Chop most of the green tops off.
Place the peeled carrots into a bowl and drizzle olive oil with olive oil. Using clean hands, ensure carrots and remaining greens are completely covered in oil. Place oiled carrots on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake the carrots for 20 minutes, flipping them halfway through.
While the carrots are cooking, melt butter in a small bowl. Add in brown sugar and mix together until thoroughly combined. When the carrots are done, remove from oven. Spread brown sugar mixture evenly over the carrots and return to oven for an additional 5 minutes. Serve immediately.
Seasonal fruits nestled in a silky custard filling in buttery, crispy tart shells.
For the Tart Dough
1 1/2cups + 1 tbspall purpose flour
1/2cup + 1 tbsp and 1 tsppowdered sugar
8tbspunsalted butter, cubed
5 1/2tbspwhite granulated sugar
2 tbsp + 2 tspall purpose flour
2tbsp + 2 tspcornstarch
Assorted fresh fruit, sliced
2tbspapricot jelly (or other clear jelly)
For the Dough
In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and butter. Mix on the lowest setting until the butter gets broken down into smaller pieces, about one minute of mixing. Add the egg yolks one at a time, then add the heavy cream and vanilla extract.
Mix on medium (setting 4 or 6) for about two minutes or until the mixture begins to look like crumbly sand. Test the dough by stopping the mixer and pinching some sandy dough between your fingers. If it sticks to itself and forms a piece of dough, you’re ready to knead. If it’s too dry, try adding one tablespoon of heavy cream at a time to adjust. (See image for how final dough consistency should be after mixing.)
Remove the mixing bowl from the stand mixer and use your hand to form the sand into a ball of dough. I like to do this in the bowl because it’s less of a mess.
Scoop about three tablespoons of dough and use your hands to mold and flatten the dough straight into the tart molds. (Three tablespoons is about 60 grams of dough for a four-inch tart mold).
Use a fork to prick throughout the bottom of each tart mold.
Chill the tarts in the molds in the freezer for at least one hour before baking, this will prevent the dough melting too much or shrinking in the oven.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Take your tarts straight from the freezer to the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes. TIP: At around 8 minutes, check on your tarts to see if their centers are rising. If they are rising, you can open the oven and use a measuring cup to flatten the centers with a tiny bit of pressure. Continue to bake them until you see the edges begin to brown, then remove from the oven.
Remove the tart shells from the molds and cool them on a rack. The finished shells should be slightly hard to the touch. If you press the centers and they feel soft or there is some flex when you hold them up, they need to be placed back in their molds to continue baking for a few more minutes (make sure to watch these as they finish cooking).
For the Custard
While your tart shells are chilling in the freezer, you can make the custard. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar.
Sift together the flour and cornstarch. Whisk in the sifted flour and cornstarch to the egg yolk mixture.
Add the whole milk and vanilla extract into the egg yolk mixture.
Move the custard mixture into a saucepan over medium heat and constantly whisk for about one to two minutes or until it begins to thicken. TIP: You will begin to see little thick specks of custard on the bottom of the pan as it begins to thicken. Do not stop whisking at this point, but if you feel this process is going to fast you can remove the pan off the heat and whisk to blend the custard properly. Your custard is done when the consistency is similar to a thick pudding. This process should take no more than a few minutes.
Remove it from the pan and place the custard in a container to cool for at least 30 minutes before assembly. This custard can be made a day in advance and fridged.
Prepare your preferred fruit. I like to use thinly sliced strawberries and kiwis and whole blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries.
To make the glaze, add apricot jelly (or clear jelly of choice) and water in a small bowl. Microwave for about 10-15 seconds to melt the jelly slightly, and mix together using a spoon. Strain the jelly mixture.
Take one shell tart and spoon in the whipped custard cream. I like to add enough custard to fill about ¾ of the tart shell. Arrange your fruit on top however, you prefer. Brush on the apricot glaze over the fruit tart. Serve immediately.
The tart shells can be made a few days before assembly and kept in the refrigerator.
To prevent your tarts from getting soggy, brush on some glaze to the tart before adding the custard filling. This should act as a barrier.
Deliciously moist mini layered carrot cakes with homemade cream cheese frosting.
For the Carrot Cakelettes
1cupall purpose flour
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cupgranulated sugar
3/4cuplight brown sugar, loosely packed
1/4cup vegetable oil
1 1/2cupsfreshly shredded or grated carrots
For the Cream Cheese Frosting
8ozcream cheese (I use Philadelphia)
1/2cupunsalted butter, room temperature
Optional toppings: edible flowers, sugar icing carrots, chopped pecansPreheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan (approximately 13" x 9", and 1" deep sides) with baking spray, then line it with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to use.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet (half sheet pan (approximately 13" x 9", and 1" deep sides) with baking spray, then line it with parchment paper. Set aside until ready to use.
Whisk the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. (Flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt.) Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs and both sugars together. Add the oil, Greek yogurt, and vanilla. Whisk until everything is fully blended.
Slowly add the wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, whisking as you combine. Once fully blended, use a spatula fold in the grated carrots. Be careful not to overmix.
Pour the mixture into the prepared rimmed baking sheet, and bake at 350 F for 30-35 minutes, until the center is set and the cake is fully baked through.
While the cake is baking, prepare the cream cheese frosting. Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixing bowl. Use a handheld mixer to cream them together until totally blended (a couple of minutes). Beat in the vanilla and salt until combined. Add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, and beat on low until thoroughly combined.
Remove from the oven, and allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes. Transfer the cake to a wire baking rack, and cool another 20 minutes.
Once the cake is completely cooled, use a 1 1/2" biscuit cutter to cut circles out of the cake.
Spread a layer of cream cheese frosting on top of each tiny cake, and set the un-frosted side of one cake on top of the frosted part of another cake, to create two "layers" with frosting in between them.
Top the "layered" cake with grated cinnamon, chopped walnuts, or sprinkles. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate in a tightly sealed container for up to a week.
Recipe adapted from A Flavor Journal.
If you try any of these recipes, let me know in the comments! Wishing you and your family and very happy, peaceful Easter.