If you’re like me, you’re ready to shout “welcome, spring!” Anticipation of sunny skies and warm weather invites us to celebrate this year’s March arrival of Easter.

Playing Easter bunny this year? Let me share some of my tips for making Easter special, festive and fun:
• Short on time? Look for Easter shapes of fresh refrigerated cookie dough in the dairy section; bake as directed-my favorite is the pink bunnies!-and arrange in an easy centerpiece for your Easter table. Or nestle a few cookies in Easter baskets along with a variety of fudge.
• Homemade treats are especially welcome in Easter baskets; try this sure-to-please fudge, in several flavor variations. It’s super-easy to make and I promise it will disappear.
• Bring the outdoors in with a few pots of early-blooming bulbs like narcissus, crocus and hyacinth.
• Place fuzzy pussy willow boughs in vase or container without water if you don’t want them to bloom.
• Kids love to color and decorate hard-cooked eggs. If weather allows and the grass is green, host an Easter egg hunt in the yard.

For more springtime-fresh, easy Easter decorating and baking ideas, visit http://VeryBestBaking.com.

Toll Hose Easter Basket Fudge
Makes 24 servings – 2 pieces per serving

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fluid-ounce can) NESTLÉ CARNATION Evaporated Milk
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Decorator icing (optional)
Jelly beans (optional)

LINE 8-inch-square baking pan with foil.

COMBINE sugar, evaporated milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

STIR in marshmallows, morsels, nuts and vanilla extract. Stir vigorously for 1 minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared pan; refrigerate until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 squares. Top squares with icing and jelly beans.

FOR MILK CHOCOLATE FUDGE:
Substitute 1 3/4 cups (11.5-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Milk Chocolate Morsels for Semi-Sweet Morsels.

FOR BUTTERSCOTCH FUDGE:
Substitute 1 2/3 cups (11-ounce package) NESTLÉ TOLL HOUSE Butterscotch Morsels for Semi-Sweet Morsels.

Nutrition Information per serving: 140 calories; 40 calories from fat; 4.5 g total fat; 2.5 g saturated fat; 5 mg cholesterol; 40 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 21 g sugars; 1 g protein

Jenny Harper is Senior Culinary Specialist for the Nestlé Test Kitchens and VeryBestBaking.com.


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