Peep, peep, peep. Baby chicks and eggs have been associated with Springtime since ancient times. The chick, hatching out of the egg, symbolizes new life or re-birth. We usually associate Easter eggs and chicks with sweet treats. It’s time to shake things up and do something savory. Easter Chick Deviled Eggs require a little (not a lot) more work than your average deviled egg. The results are totally worth it. These little chicks are just too cute! They are also delicious and mayo-free. Yeppers. These cuties are made with ranch dressing instead of traditional mayonnaise.
Ranch dressing is an excellent alternative to traditional mayo. This recipe gets it’s bold flavor from parmesan cheese. Rich, tangy, nutty, sharp, complex, and fruity are the adjectives used to describe parmesan’s taste. I strongly suggest using fresh parmesan because of the fabulous flavor. I keep a wedge in my freezer. I don’t use it often, but I have it on-hand when a recipe calls for it. Properly stored, Parmesan cheese will maintain the best quality in the freezer for about 12 to 18 months. However, it’s not worth stressing over. If all you have is a can of grated parm that you sprinkle on spaghetti, it will work fine. Full disclosure, I’ve done it. Oh ya, I have. What dried parm lacks in flavor, the convenience and time-saving of not grating fresh cheese were worth it. Go with whatever works for you. Dijon mustard rounds out the flavor profile. If you like a little more zip or zing, add a splash of hot sauce or a sprinkle of cayenne pepper.
Six eggs need to be hard-boiled (or hard-cooked, as is the technically accurate term) and peeled. In choosing the eggs, this is the one time that fresh isn’t the best. Seriously, farm-fresh eggs are lovely, but the best eggs for this recipe are at least a week to ten days old. The pH level is very low in fresh eggs, which causes the white to stick to the shell membrane. This makes it extremely difficult to remove the shell without damaging the surface of the egg. I re-affirmed this when I hard-cooked both a fresh egg and an older egg. The older egg was a breeze to peel. The shell came off with no effort. It took forever to pick off all the shell on the fresh egg. Worse, the white stuck to the surface creating big gouges when it was removed.
This all brings me to a very important tip: Cook extra eggs! When hard cooking eggs for a recipe, always make more eggs than are needed. First, some eggs won’t survive the cooking process. Occasionally the tiny air bubble in the rounded end of an egg expands and creates pressure, causing the shell to crack. The egg is safe to eat (provide it cracked during cooking and didn’t start out with a crack). Second, when cutting the top off the egg, scooping out the yolk, or spooning the filling into the egg – it just takes a slight slip to puncture or tear the delicate cooked white. Having a back-up egg or two will go along way in keeping the Stress-O-Meter in a respectable zone.
Cutting the top third of the egg off to make the cap is a delicate process. A jagged, serrated edge looks the best, but it does require a steady hand and patience. A straight cut doesn’t have the same eye appeal, but it’s much easier. After the top is removed, the yolk needs to be scooped out. In a perfect scenario, the yolk is in a solid ball and easily nudged out in one solid piece. I love it when that happens – which, from my experience, is about half the time. When the yolk sticks or crumbles, it’s a little more work to gently remove all the yellow bits. When all the yolks are in a bowl, mix in the ranch dressing, cheese, and mustard to combine. Spoon the filling back into the white, creating a rounded mound for the cap to go on.
Carrot chips are the easiest to cut into chick feet and beaks. The chips also look the best because they have a ripple cut. I used baby carrots and did a little more cutting, but the results are the same. Small capers make great eyes and add flavor to the filling. Unfortunately, depending on the brand of paper, they may be too big, and your chicks will take on a rather disturbing profile. That happened to me, and I ended up using black peppercorns that were the perfect size. The peppercorns are edible, but they aren’t for the faint of heart. Warn your guests so they can remove them if they aren’t up to the sharp bite. After positioning the chicks on the serving tray, tuck the feet in. Peep, peep, peep. Your chicks are now ready to WOW your Easter table.
Easter Chicks Deviled EggsCourse: SidesCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
These adorable Easter Chicks are mayo-free. The ranch dressing combined with parmesan cheese and Dijon mustard creates a delicious filling that is sure to impress.
6 hard-cooked eggs, peeled
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup ranch salad dressing
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 baby carrots or carrot chips
12 small capers or pepper corns
Optional: Fresh dill sprigs
- Prep: Hard cook and peel 6 eggs (It’s best to use eggs that are a week to 10 days old.)
- Cut a thin slice from the bottom of each egg so it sits flat. Cut the top third from each egg in a serrated design to resemble a broken eggshell. (see note)
- Carefully remove yolks and place in a small bowl; mash with a fork. Add the cheese, salad dressing, mustard, and pepper; stir until well blended. Fill the egg white bottoms and add a rounded heaping spoonful to create a chick; replace tops.
- Cut 12 feet and 12 small triangles for beaks from carrots.
- Gently press the capers or peppercorns into the filling for eyes; add beaks. Place feet in front of chicks. If desired, insert a dill sprig in top of eggs for tuft of feathers, using more dill to garnish. Chill until serving.
- Eggs: Farm fresh eggs don’t make good hard-boiled eggs. It’s best to use eggs that are a week to 10 days old. Always boil more eggs than you need! Some may crack during the cooking process. Also, the cook egg white may tear or split while making a serrated top or scooping out the yolk.
- Parmesan cheese: fresh or dried will work in this recipe. Fresh is always better (there’s really no comparison when it comes to cheese), but it’s quicker and easier to use canned/dried cheese. It’s a personal choice. If using a wedge or block of fresh parmesan, it’s easier to rate or shred if it’s very cold or frozen.
- Capers: Depending on the size and firmness of the capers, you may want to use peppercorns for the eyes. The peppercorns are safe to eat, but advise guests as it is a very powerful burst of pepper.
- Alternative design: Cut the top third of the egg with a straight line cut. It’s not as impressive but it’s a lot easier and lower risk of compromising the egg white during preparation