Friday, April 2, 2010

Chocolate Macaroon Bird’s Nest Cookies

Here are my favorite Easter candies in no particular order:
  1. Yellow or orange jelly beans (and never, ever black)
  2. Chocolate bunnies (solid not hollow)
  3. Reese's peanut butter eggs (I like anything with peanut butter.)
  4. Marshmallow Peeps (I like them stale and chewy.)
  5. Cadbury mini-eggs (I have to be very careful not to eat the whole bag at once.)
Easter only comes around once a year, I had to stock up.  And since it's so close to Easter, all of it was on sale at the grocery store. Lucky me!

However, I decided to use some self restraint. I would buy only one thing now, and then raid the kids' Easter baskets in a few days. I also decided to justify my purchase by finding some way to use the candy in a recipe and post it on my blog. I thought it was a great idea, but I knew Katie would give me the one eyebrow raised look.

I pondered over the candy trying to decide which would work in a recipe. The Reese's peanut butter eggs could work well in a cookie or cheesecake, but after cutting them up, they wouldn't be very Easter-y. Same with the chocolate bunnies. And, I couldn't think of anything to do with a Peep chick or bunny.

So, there I was contemplating between the jelly beans and the Cadbury mini-eggs. Hmm... Then, I remembered seeing something somewhere long ago–little nests made from coconut with jelly bean eggs inside. That was it, but I was in the mood for chocolate, so I grabbed a bag of the mini-eggs.

I used a chocolate macaroon recipe for the nests. My five year-old, Tomas, was my sous chef. He did exceptionally well except for when I tried teaching him how to crack an egg. We had a couple of casualties. Tomas was an expert in shaping the nests and making sure each nest had three different colored eggs.

Tomas also helped me deliver the treats to coworkers and students at the office. He was very proud of his creations as he received many "oohs" and "aahs." And, I was very proud of my little baking buddy.

I think they turned out rather well, don't you?

I just wish I had a stale Peeps chick to sit on the nest.

Chocolate Macaroom Bird's Nest Cookies
  • 4 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup melted semisweet chocolate chips
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2 14-oz. bags of shredded coconut
  • 1 10-oz. bag Cadbury mini eggs
Preheat oven to 300°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper or use Silpat sheets.
Melt chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second increments. Set aside.

Separate eggs and put in a mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl. Beat egg whites on high until stiff. Add salt, vanilla extract, powdered sugar, sweetened condensed milk and chocolate. Beat until mixed. Transfer to a large bowl and add coconut. Stir together until mixed. I like to use my hands.

Scoop ¼ cup sized mounds onto cookie sheet. I use a large ice cream scoop. Wet fingers to prevent sticking and form a nest.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. If you have your racks set on the upper and lower thirds of the oven, you can do two baking sheets at a time, but you should rotate sheets halfway through baking. Cool for 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring to wire rack.
Add Cadbury mini-eggs to the nests. These are only available at Easter time. You could easily substitute jelly beans, M&Ms, or other egg shaped candy.

Yield: 18-24 cookies

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