Though the evolution of the colored-egg-carrying rabbit around Eastertide appears to be somewhat murky in its folkloric roots, the funky hare that brings eggs in baskets every year has certainly been adopted by many families as tradition (should I have possibly titled this article the Funky Rabbit instead of the Funky Chicken?). As a kid, though I thought it very strange that a rabbit would celebrate Easter by passing out brightly colored eggs, I accepted it mostly without question since this rabbit also came bearing other gifts. After all, who was I to question this magical creature that brought me gold coin chocolates and jelly beans? I satisfied myself using the only knowledge I had of Easter bunnies – the Cadbury commercial. I saw the same Cadbury egg commercial every year – the one that STILL runs now – and assumed the rabbit must have tried out for the part and landed the job because of his fast, hoppity talent (he needed to pass out those eggs to thousands of children, right?). Since then, I’ve read slightly more on the origins of the Easter bunny (here’s a quick short read from History on Easter symbols), and I’m still not sure if there is a clear answer. Yet, I still love to use the tradition to connect and have fun with my daughter. Eggs certainly are a symbol of new life, and we’re seeing new life spring up all around us as the days get longer and the weather becomes warmer.
Lately, my toddler is loving everything tie-dye, so we used this very simple whipped cream method of dyeing eggs to achieve vibrant, multicolored results! I like this method because it does not use dyeing in hot water. That’s a big plus for allowing more involvement with enthusiastic toddlers that could potentially be burned using hot water to dye eggs. Instead, it uses Cool Whip and gel food coloring, which is a little less messy for a toddler helper (easy for a little one to stick a toothpick in the dye and then stick it in the Cool Whip and swirl).
Cool whip (about one tub for 12 eggs)
Gel food coloring
White vinegar (optional)
Muffin pan or cups
- Boil the eggs. I love a soft boil, but since my toddler was handling these, I went for a medium-boil (yolks still a little bit jammy). For this, I bring my water to a rolling boil, then turn it down slightly so the boiling water doesn’t break the eggs as I place them in the pot. Using a slotted spoon, I drop each egg gently into the pot, making sure all eggs are fully covered in the water. I turn the heat up until the water is simmering again, but not a rolling boil (to prevent the eggs from cracking).
- I kept my eggs boiling for eight minutes (it seems long, but the high altitude here in Flagstaff means more cooking time), then I pull them out with the slotted spoon and gently place them into an ice water bath to stop the cooking process.
- After the eggs have cooled, dry them off well.
- OPTIONAL STEP: Soak the eggs in white vinegar for 5-10 minutes to achieve brighter colors on the dyed eggs. Dry them off well.
- Fill each well of the muffin pan about 3/4 full with Cool Whip (I used off-brand and it worked just fine).
- Add 3-4 drops of gel food coloring to each well of Cool Whip. I used 2-3 colors in each well, but mostly stuck with two colors for each egg. I also let my daughter pick most of the colors, which means we ended up with a lot of purple, pink, and blue tie-dye!
- Gently swirl the colors around in the Cool Whip using a toothpick or knife, but do it in moderation! Too much swirling will mix the colors together instead of yielding a pretty contrast of colors.
- Take the dried eggs and gently place (or aggressively plop, if you are a toddler!) one in each well of Cool Whip, pressing down until they are about halfway in. Let them sit 10-15 minutes. Then roll them over so the other half is covered and wait another 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, you can cut time by rolling them right at the beginning, just make sure that the eggs are completely covered in the swirled Cool Whip.
- Pull the eggs out and gently rinse off the Cool Whip under cold water, then pat dry and VOILA! Tie-dyed eggs! Time to do the funky rabbit dance!
I put a baking tray down under my muffin cups to contain any stray dye and whipped cream – helpful for me especially because my counters are dark and it’s hard to see if dye gets anywhere until it’s already on someone’s clothes!
Have some wet towels at the ready in case of rogue food dye! OR get ready to lick dyed whipped cream off your fingers and see whose tongue becomes the craziest color!
Most of all, have fun and find some joy in this slightly messy tradition that helps to remind us of the new life springing up all around!
PEACE, LOVE, and JOY!