Part of the fun of any celebration, is taking it to new heights and in different directions. This Easter, if you’re skipping sugar, or just wanting to mix it up a little, embrace the Mexican tradition of cascarones, otherwise known as confetti Easter eggs.
The word ‘cascarones’ comes from ‘cáscara’, the Spanish word for ‘shell’, but these cute little eggs didn’t originate in Europe at all. They reportedly started out life in China where they were filled with expensive powdered perfume, and given as gifts to wealthy women. The traditional way to use a cascarón is to squeeze the shell until it shatters above another’s head, so the perfume would have been a sweet and expensive hair treatment! Today, cascarones are filled with colourful confetti.
Cascarones arrived in Italy from China when the explorer Marco Polo returned home with them from his travels. They were so popular, the Spanish embraced them, too, and from Spain, the tradition moved on to Mexico. Nowadays, cascarones are most popular in the south western states of the USA.
Cascarones are often used as fundraisers, with groups of (usually) women, gathering together throughout the year to makes hundreds of them for sale. When folk get them home – the sugar-free, confetti-filled Easter treats make for a bundle of fun!
If you like making cascarones (see our instructions, below), they can be used at other times of the year, as well. Seen as a sign of affection and good-luck when shattered, they can also be enjoyed at birthdays and anniversaries. Filled with pink or blue confetti, and with the shell dyed in a neutral colour, they can be a novel way of delighting guests at a baby’s gender-reveal party.
How to make cascarones
You will need:
- a teaspoon
- kitchen towels
- kitchen tongs
- an egg carton
- a kitchen funnel
- party confetti
- a glue stick
- coloured tissue paper
- protective plastic sheet to work on (a plastic tablecloth is perfect)
- 3-4 different coloured liquid dyes (available from craft shops)
- 3-4 glass jars
- free-range hens eggs (white shelled eggs are best as they will produce brighter shells when dyed)
What to do:
Lay your protective plastic sheet over your work station to protect surfaces. Mix your dyes according to instructions, one colour in each glass jar. Tap the top of each egg with your teaspoon to create a hole the size of a 20 cent piece. Drain the egg out the shells (if you strain out the shell, the eggs can be used in cooking). Rinse out the egg shells in fresh water. Place them upside down on the kitchen towels to dry.
As each shell dries, pop it into a chosen jar of dye, using your kitchen tongs. Leave the shells in the dye until they have absorbed the colour. Take them out, draining the dye back into its jar. Place the shells in the egg carton, hole side up, to dry.
When the dyed egg shells are completely dry, use your kitchen funnel to fill them with party confetti. Cut squares of matching or contrasting tissue paper large enough to cover the holes in the shells. Carefully glue around the outer edge of the hole with your glue stick. Place a square of tissue paper over each hole, smoothing it onto the shell (adding more glue if necessary).
You’ve done it! Now you can gift your cascarones to family and friends, or use them yourself (just be sure to keep the vacuum cleaner handy). Have fun!