Q: Years ago, I had a recipe that, with a few minor changes made different kinds of Easter eggs - butter cream, peanut butter, coconut, etc. These are not heart-healthy recipes but once-a-year type fare. I no longer have that recipe. Any suggestions?

- John E.

A: Well, I guess we'll just have to ask the Easter Bunny. But you know, I've always had a hard time with that concept.

Santa Claus I get. In fact, this year, after I wrote to him, I was worried that he might not have received my letter since everyone else probably e-mailed or text-messaged him. But I came down the stairs on Christmas morning, and there was that high-def TV that I was wishing for. (Somehow, though, my credit card company messed up and a rather large charge from the appliance store ended up on my December statement.) Regardless. Santa Claus I get.

The Tooth Fairy I get. Lose a tooth, have a crater in your mouth where it used to be, and you should be compensated. Place that tooth under your pillow, the Tooth Fairy comes and leaves 50 cents.

(Well, I got 50 cents when I was a child, but somehow my kids got a lot more. Inflation, they said.)

But a multi-colored, egg-laying rabbit that leaves a basket of gifts, yet forgets to put all the eggs in the basket so you spend the better part of a nice spring afternoon looking all over your yard for them? This I don't get.

(To those of you out there who are saying, "Dude, that's not the only thing you don't get," the line forms right outside my door.)

Anyway, your question prompted me to do some research. When I learned that the Easter Bunny and Easter eggs were much older than Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, I was surprised.

In fact, certain Easter traditions, including the Easter egg, evolved from prehistoric pagan rituals welcoming spring. The very early Christians who spread the faith across Europe wisely included some existing traditions as they converted other cultures.

The concept of the Easter Bunny originates from a pagan festival called Eastre, which celebrated a goddess by the same name. Eastre's worldly symbol was - drum roll please - the rabbit!

The Easter Bunny was introduced to the New World by the Pennsylvania Dutch, who brought the folklore from Germany.

I know your question wasn't about the Easter Bunny, but now you have some background about your candy Easter eggs. Like fairy tales, a lot of these customs had some basis in fact, but through the years became traditional lore.

So, John, if you are a good boy and find the glass slipper, help put Humpty Dumpty back together again and plant the magic bean outside your window so you can climb it to kiss Snow White, then you're worthy of the magical Easter egg recipes.

How are they magical? Well, once I give them to you I'll stop talking, which some people say is too good to be true. *

CHOCOLATE CHERRY NUT EGGS

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

cup evaporated milk

1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

cup chopped nuts pecans

cup chopped cherries, drained

pound good dark chocolate for dipping

Melt the chocolate chips and milk over low heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the powdered sugar, pecans and cherries. Mix well. Chill until cold enough to handle.

Shape into 1-inch eggs and place on waxed-paper-covered cookie sheets. Refrigerate until firm. Melt the dark chocolate and allow to cool until a small amount placed just below your lower lip feels slightly warm. Dip the eggsin the chocolate and place on waxed-paper-covered cookie sheets to let chocolate harden.Keep refrigerated.

COCONUT EGGS 1/2 cup unsalted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)

6 cups powdered sugar

cup flaked coconut

pound good dark chocolate for dipping

Cream butter, vanilla and salt in an electric mixer. Blend in the milk until smooth, add sugar and mix well. Add the coconut and blend well.

Shape into egg shapes and place on waxed-paper-covered cookie sheets. Chill overnight. Dip eggs into chocolate coatingusing the same method as for Chocolate Cherry Nut Eggs. Store in refrigerator.

PEANUT BUTTER EGGS

cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy

1 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

pound good dark chocolate for dipping

Cream all ingredients together with an electric mixer. Roll into egg shapes and place in the refrigerator to firm up, as above. Melt the chocolate and repeat dipping process as above.