Filling up your child’s Easter basket can be an expensive endeavor.
Americans will spend $2.2 billion on chocolate bunnies, jelly beans and other East candy this year, according to the National Retail Federation.
If you’re in the market for something a little more creative, why not try your hand at a few do-it-yourself Easter treats?
Some of the ones we spotted involve more crafting than cooking, and others don’t even require baking.
(Of course, on the other end of the spectrum, there are homemade marshmallow Peeps, which are pretty involved.)
Whatever your craftiness level and budget, trying some of these six treats will make your child’s basket the envy of the neighborhood:
Cake Batter Truffles
To add spring-y pizzazz, Lisa Huff of SnappyGourmet.com added nonpareil sprinkles to her cake batter and drizzled colorful chocolate on top.
Other options: A cake mix with colorful bits already mixed in, or bright sprinkles. Bonus points if you shape ‘em to look like eggs.
Butterscotch Bird Nests
Add candy Easter eggs in the middle of these no-bake nests from Food Network, which use butterscotch and pretzel sticks.
Not exactly to your taste?
Frugal Foodie has seen (and made) lots of versions, subbing in peanut butter and/or chocolate for the coating, and potato sticks or chow mein noodles for the “nest.”
Success with these homemade Peeps comes down to carefully piping out the mixture—and letting them dry overnight, writes Dede Wilson, author of “A Baker’s Guide to Holiday Candy & Confections.”
To make, line a jelly-roll pan with aluminum foil and sprinkle a cup of yellow colored sugar evenly over it.
In a small bowl, stir together 5 tablespoons of water and 2.5 teaspoons unflavored gelatin. Let sit 5 minutes to soften.
Meanwhile, combine 4 tablespoons water and 1 cup granulated sugar in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook to 238°F (soft-ball stage).
Remove from heat and whisk in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Pour into a medium-size bowl and allow it to begin to cool, whisking occasionally.
When the mix is just warm, beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until the mixture turns opaque.
Turn speed to high and beat until it is white, glossy and forms soft peaks, about 10 minutes. Beat in a quarter-teaspoon of yellow food coloring.
Now the tough part: Scrape the marshmallow into pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round tip. Hold the pastry bag perpendicular to the jelly roll pan and just above the surface.
Squeeze out marshmallow and move the bag along the pan to the body of the chick, about 3 inches long. (Wilson writes that it should “look like a teardrop with the pointed end curving up a bit.)
Taper off as you go by easing up on the pressure, and finish with an upward motion to create the “tail.” Now place the bag perpendicular and over the middle of the chick’s body.
Pipe marshmallow again, this time moving the bag toward the front of the chick, opposite the tail.
When you get to the front of the chick’s body, elevate the bag a little and pipe back along that portion a bit, and then bring the tip back up and over the top to form the head and beak.
Immediately sprinkle with more yellow colored sugar while the marshmallow is still moist.
If desired, mix a tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder with a little water to make “paint” for the eyes. Allow chicks to dry overnight, uncovered, at room temperature.
Allergy Friendly Chocolate Bunnies
“Holidays are extremely difficult for parent with children suffering from food allergies,” says Laura O. of PetiteAllergyTreats.com.
She adds, “As a parent, you feel terrible your child is left out or can’t eat the same treats passed out in school.”
To change that, she concocted this bunny from gluten-free cereal and allergy-free chocolate.
Equal parts craft project and snack, this fun recipe from Evite constructs an edible bunny out of donuts and candy pieces.
(A powdered donut hole is its tail!)
Lemon Macaroon Chicks
Chocolate chip eyes, jelly bean beaks, and coconut shavings give these cute little Food Network cookies bird-like appearance.
Frugal Foodie is a journalist based in New York City who spends her days writing about personal finance and obsessing about what she’ll have for dinner. Chat with her on Twitter through @MintFoodie.