Easter eggs can be enjoyed all year round.
While working for game company Atari, Steve Wright coined the phrase in 1980 to refer to hidden messages or jokes in video games, according to writer Bill Bradley on huffpost.com.
Films are also popular for the technique of planting clues with meanings and connections outside of the plot.
The easter egg can be as simple as a director or producer making a cameo in the movie. Think Alfred Hitchcock in many of his movies and comic book writer and editor Stan Lee in the Marvel movies.
Examples of more elaborate Easter eggs also abound. The carpet pattern in Sid’s spooky bedroom in the Pixar animated film “Toy Story” matches the floor of the haunted hotel in “The Shining.”
But, the concept of Easter eggs is not known. Clues, notes, and items of interest may also be hidden within tangible objects.
As a cookbook collector, I sometimes find inside vintage books newspaper clippings of recipes or scrap paper with scribbled notes on how to prepare a dish. These are actually Easter eggs, pointing to some notable dishes.
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 “junking” recently paid 50 cents for the 632-page hardcover book and passed it on to me.
Inside the cookbook were two chocolate cake recipes taken from newspapers. The previous owner of the book is a cook after my heart.
The clippings are from the November 1, 1998 edition of the “Houston Chronicle”, and one concerns a cake that remains popular today: the dead and gone to heaven chocolate cake, attributed to EatingWell.
Since its creation in 1990, Eat well evolved from a magazine focused on healthy eating and sustainable food sources to a digital publication on eatingwell.com.
EatingWell calls the recipe for dead and gone to heaven chocolate cake published in the March/April 1995 issue “foolproof”, making it “one of our most popular recipes”. The staff also recommend using Dutch cocoa for a deeper chocolate flavor.
A cup of strong black coffee makes the Bundt cake moist and enriches the cocoa, and the use of buttermilk gives the cake a little zest.
Cake and frosting require one cup of three different sugars each. “Eating well” can sometimes mean being indulgent.
Given the success of the recipe for decades, I made no changes. I have, however, added optional baking instructions to turn the Bundt cake into about 60 miniature chocolate cupcakes.
The small size makes the dessert easier to pack for lunches and share with others. Eating a cupcake also seems less forgiving than a whole slice of cake.
Share your favorite recipes or historic food-related memories by emailing Laura Gutschke at email@example.com.
EatingWell Dead and Gone to Heaven Chocolate Cake
(Courtesy of EatingWell.com)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot, strong black coffee
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons buttermilk or low fat milk
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly oil a 12-cup Bundt pan or coat with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle the pan with flour, flip and shake off 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 hot coffee until fully incorporated. (Dough will be quite thin.)
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from skillet and let cool completely.
4. To make the frosting: In a small bowl, whisk together the icing sugar, vanilla and enough buttermilk or milk to make a thick but pourable frosting. Place the cake on a serving platter and pour the frosting on top. Makes 16 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 240 calories; protein 3.7g; carbs 47.6g; dietary fiber 1.9 g; sugars 34.5g; fat 5 g; saturated fat 0.9 g; cholesterol 24mg; sodium 361.7mg. Exchanges: 3 other carbohydrates, 1 lipid
Instructions for miniature cupcakes: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 12-cup miniature cupcake/muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray. If you are using a non-stick baking dish, it is not necessary to dust the pan with flour. Prepare the batter as directed for a Bundt cake. Pour the batter into cupcake molds up to 3/4 full. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, until the cupcakes are cooked through. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 1-2 minutes, then empty them onto a wire rack to come to room temperature. Enjoy as is or make frosting to drizzle on top.
Laura Gutschke is a generalist journalist and food columnist and manages the online content of the Reporter-News. If you value local news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.