Before I can tell the story of the maple egg, I must give you some background. For many years, my mom made hand-dipped chocolates at Easter and Christmas. For weeks before either holiday, our kitchen would be filled with boiling pots of fondant and warm pots of melted chocolate. The house smelled like the oil of peppermint, cocoa powder, or vanilla extract she was using to flavor the current batch. One flavor, however, provided a particular, cloyingly sweet aroma that filled the house for days. Maple. Maple overpowered anything that came before it.
For Easter, Mom would carefully mold bunnies and crosses, and she would dip egg-shaped wads of flavored fondant in milk chocolate and decorate them with royal icing flowers. These would be sold to Dad’s co-workers and others who had placed orders. She did a booming business.
My favorites were the chocolate covered cherries. You simply can’t find cherries like the ones that Mom used to make. Hers would explode with sweet liquid as soon as you took a bite. She didn’t make those at Easter. It was dipped eggs or molded chocolate.
I loved the buttercream eggs, and the chocolate cream eggs. The peppermint was good, too, but the buttercream was my favorite.
Having explained this, I still can’t understand what I did on Saturday. A dear lady I helped recently sent me a lovely thank you note with a $30.00 gift certificate to a local candy store where they still hand-craft chocolates just like my mom did. The weather was beautiful on Saturday. I put on my running shoes (and my bunny ears) and ran the mile or so to the candy store to spend my loot.
As I approached the store, the Easter Bunny himself asked to take his picture with me. I was happy to oblige, and then I walked into the crowded shop. There, before me, were shelf upon shelf of molded chocolates that looked like they came from the same molds that Mom used to make. Alongside them were the creamy eggs dipped in chocolate, decorated with the same dainty lavender royal icing flowers that Mom used to make. I was in heaven.
The flavors, though, weren’t familiar. I found coconut and raspberry, but no buttercream or chocolate cream. Then, I saw it. The MAPLE egg. As I approached it, the sticky-sweet scent reached my brain. I filled my arms with other treats to eat and share, but I HAD to have an egg with the royal icing flower. I went back and forth between the flavors, and almost bought raspberry… but then the wave of maple hit my brain again, and I knew I had to have the maple egg.
I finished my run and put my purchases on the dresser. My husband lovingly saved me from most of the molded raspberry bunnies and the small raspberry and coconut eggs that I bought. I savored the little dark-chocolate covered marshmallow-caramel candies. Everything was delicious. The maple egg made it through Easter without being touched. The smell filled the bedroom. Monday, I thought I smelled the maple scent clinging to my clothes. When I finally arrived home from work around 8 p.m., I knew I HAD to try that maple egg. My mouth was watering.
I carried the fragrant package downstairs and got a cutting board out of the cupboard. Gently, I cut a thin slice. The fragrance filled the air. I took a small bite. The texture was wonderful. Then, as the flavor hit my taste buds, I remembered that I never cared for the maple eggs. I LOVE real maple syrup. I could drink it straight (if it wasn’t so bad for me), but I don’t like the artificial maple “flavor” that is used in confections.
Don’t get me wrong, this was a great maple egg – even better than Mom’s (don’t tell Mom I said that)… but it was still a maple egg. I went back throughout the evening for another slice, and another, thinking all the while, “I don’t even like maple eggs.” My husband had a slice too. He agreed that “it was a great maple egg, for a maple egg…”
This morning when I awoke and went to make my pot of coffee, about half the egg was still there, taunting me with it’s sticky-sweet aroma. I sat down at the computer to check my email, and the remaining chocolate-covered caramel marshmallow mini-eggs stared at me (much more to my liking than the maple egg, but still not my favorite confection from the candy store). My belly felt lousy. “No more sweets,” it begged.
I went off to work. I called my husband part way through the day and asked him to either take the remains of the egg to his study or to throw it out. He thought about it for a moment and said that he thought he would throw it out because if he was going to “spend” that many calories on something, he preferred to really enjoy it.
I asked him to stick the rest of the chocolate-covered caramel marshmallow mini-eggs in the freezer for me so they wouldn’t tempt me tonight. “Why?,” he asked. “So I can have one if I really want one sometime,” I replied. He responded, “If you really want chocolate sometime, put on your running shoes and go get your very favorite.” My husband is a very smart man.
I learned several valuable lessons from the maple egg:
1) Don’t spend your energy on things you really don’t want. When you indulge, make it worthwhile.
2) Childhood memories are powerful motivators. We will willingly endure even things we don’t enjoy to re-experience fond moments from our past.
I’m not sad that I bought the maple egg. It brought back some very precious memories. I haven’t thought about Mom’s Easter chocolates in a long time. Next time, though, I will go to the candy store to smell the maple, and I’ll bring home just a piece or two of my very favorite.