Tom Ross: Save the chick; eat more Peeps for Easter |

Tom Ross: Save the chick; eat more Peeps for Easter

— As you begin your holiday shopping in preparation for the secular version of Easter, please consider saying "no" to Big Candy this year.

Instead of buying bags of the same old M&M's in pastel colors, invest your hard-earned candy budget in traditional confections such as homemade chocolate bunnies, malted duck eggs, bunny corn, jelly beans and, of course, those sugar-frosted yellow, green and blue marshmallows known as Peeps.

Listen, I like my Reese's Peanut Butter Cups as much as the next chocolate junkie. But I reached my limit early Friday morning. I was channel switching between "Morning Joe" and "Mike & Mike in the Morning" at about 5:15 a.m. when an ad came on for Reese's peanut butter filled chocolate eggs in spring colors.

"That ain't Easter!" I ex­­­­claimed, a little too loudly for the time of day.

Let the gigando candy companies have Halloween — we all want to economize when we give away handfuls of candy to witches and hobgoblins. But for the love of Peter Cottontail, can we please hold Easter sacred (I mean in the secular sense of the word) for traditional candy?

Set aside your Nestle Crunch Eggs and hunt for local products this Easter.

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Audrey Zwak and her colleagues down at Fuzziwig's Candy Factory are making their own peanut butter filled chocolate eggs this week, and they're making them from high-quality chocolate bought in 20-pound bars from a traditional Italian supplier in California.

If you love your loved ones, and I think you probably do, invest in some big-time, mood-altering chocolate.

Zwak's crew pours molten milk chocolate, at just the right temperature, into molds to make their own Easter bunnies.

And it's not much different down the street at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, where Amanda Gagnebin was experimenting this week with a prototype for a caramel apple transformed into an Easter bunny. She dipped the apple in white chocolate and rolled it in grated coconut before carving a rabbit head out of a Rice Krispie Treat and dipping that in white chocolate, too.

The caramel apple Easter bunny still needs a little work, but the holiday is still a couple of weeks away. And they sell amazing solid chocolate rabbits.

Gagnebin's cohort in candy, Michelle Lichtenfels, was all about ripping open boxes of marshmallow Peeps and arranging the chicks in twos and threes on baking sheets before dipping their lower halves in white chocolate.

"They look so cute like that," she said. "They're little couples, so they don't get lonely."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

Gagnebin followed behind Lichtenfels and artfully arran­ged sprinkles in star patterns on the birds.

Now, that's what we call Easter candy.

And here's a little tip. You can roast Peeps on a stick over a charcoal grill. If you proceed with caution, the sugar on the outside of the marshmallow will caramelize just before it bursts into flames.

I know, flaming Peeps, it's not very traditional.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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