Easter is still a little ways away, but since I have plans for my blog for the month of April (to be revealed soon), I thought I’d share this little recipe early. It can be used as a “Spring” treat instead of a strictly Easter treat anyway. 🙂
I first came across the idea for these yummy little concoctions on a Facebook post that my mother shared, but I’ve tweaked the recipe a little. Both ways work, but I’m going to share my version because they’re delicious. 😀
Ladies and gents, I present to you: Birdy Nests!
The parts of these cute little creations are as follows:
– Sugar cookie dough
– Shredded coconut
– Frosting (type of your choosing)
– Cadbury Mini-Eggs (or suitable facsimile – I used a generic brand that I found at Walmart that taste exactly the same for about 2/3 of the price)
– Food coloring (as desired…you don’t need it, but they’ll look more like nests if you put in the little bit of extra effort)
The first step in the original recipe is to use store-bought sugar cookie dough. I could have done that, and it probably would have been a little quicker and easier, but I was like, screw it…I’ve got a cookbook! So I whipped up my own batch of dough, because dammit, I can be domestic sometimes! If you’d like to make your own (I can’t guarantee that the store-bought stuff will divide properly for the rest of this recipe), here’s the recipe I used:
Soft No-Roll Sugar Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar (**I actually didn’t have powdered sugar, so I just used 1 full cup of granulated sugar, and it came out just fine**)
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
3/8 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp milk
1/2 tbsp vanilla
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp salt
In a large bowl, beat the sugar(s), butter, oil, milk, vanilla, and egg with a mixer, or do like me and just whip the hell out of it with a spoon until it looks thoroughly mixed. Stir in the remaining ingredients until everything is nice and smooth. At this point you may wish to add some food coloring to dye the dough a pretty, Easter-y color, but I don’t necessarily suggest it. I tried to dye my dough purple, but I think the dough is just too thick for the dye to take easily. I used twice as much dye as I once used for a similarly-sized batch of cupcake mix and still I only had the faintest of colors.
Moving on, cover your dough and refrigerate for a couple of hours so that it is nice and firm and easy to work with.
While the dough is cooling, take about a quarter of a cup of granulated sugar in a bowl, and add food coloring of your choice. I did purple, to make up for the fact that the dough didn’t dye properly. Note: when you add drops of food coloring to sugar it will clump. Just smoosh the sugar with a spoon, stirring every now and then, until the color evens out. Now you’ve got pretty, colored sugar! Yay!
Once the dough has been chilled for a while, remove and divide into 24 like-sized balls. Make sure you roll the balls nice and smooth, and then roll them in the colored sugar. At this point you’re going to drop the balls into the cups of a mini-muffin pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. The mini-muffin pans make a nice size for the nests, but if you really wanted to you could divide your dough into 12 double-sized balls and use a regular-sized muffin pan. They’d be pretty damn huge though, I’m just saying.
So once you’ve rolled, sugared, and dropped all of your little sugar-cookie-dough balls into your mini muffin pan, you can pop them in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees. DO NOT squish the balls down into the pan. Just drop them in the cups and into the oven they go.
Bake your muffin-shaped-sugar-cookie concoctions for about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure that they’re not cooking too quickly. You don’t want them to start browning. They’re ready when they actually look like little muffins, popping out over the top of the muffin cups.
Remove the pan from the oven and immediately begin poking in the tops of the sugar-cookie-muffins. It should be pretty obvious what you’re doing at this point: you’re creating the nest shape. The deeper you can make the impression the better because it will make sure that everything else you’re going to add will stay in the “nest”, but don’t scald yourself. The insides of those cookies are hot! (Me smart.)
Now, this isn’t part of the recipe, but when I had my nests all nice and properly shaped, I threw them back in the oven for a couple of minutes. My reasoning was that it would help the nest shape to set. I don’t know if my reasoning was sound or not (I’m not into the whole science aspect of baking), but I can tell you that it definitely didn’t hurt. After the second time I took my pan out of the oven I immediately removed the cookie-muffins from the pan (with the help of a spoon), and placed them on a glass cutting board to cool. Reasonably, I should have put them on a wire rack, but I have to be honest here: I have never, ever owned a wire rack, so I’ve always skipped that step of every recipe ever.
Once the cookie-nests are out of the pan and cooling, it’s time to prepare the final pieces of the puzzle. First, take your shredded coconut and put about half a cup of it in a Ziploc bag. Add a couple of drops of green food coloring, squeeze most of the air out of the bag, and seal. Now just mush the bag around in your hands for a couple of minutes to spread the dye around. It might not seem like it’s working at first, but trust me, it’ll start to spread as you keep mushing.
With that done, get out your frosting. I used a store-bought container in cream cheese flavor, but this isn’t a science and I’m sure any brand, type, or flavor will do, to your liking. I also used a piping kit (I had some bags left over from my last decorating endeavor) to make things a little easier on myself, but it’s not really necessary. You just want to put a nice dollop of frosting in the indentation of each “nest”; it’ll help hold everything together. Once you’ve got a nice bit of frosting in each of your nests, take your now-green shredded coconut and sprinkle on the top of each. The result should look like one of those old Easter baskets (the kind almost no one uses anymore) with the colored “straw”. Too cute, right? But that’s not the end!
MINI-EGGS! Take your mini-eggs (or you could also use something like jelly beans or any other egg-shaped treat as you desire) and poke a couple into each nest. TA-DA! You have adorable little nests, complete with eggs, and the whole thing is deliciously edible!
As a final note, the original recipe also called for string licorice, cut into properly-sized pieces, to make the “handles” of the baskets. Since I’m calling my treats “nests” instead of “baskets”, I didn’t bother with that…also because I had bad visions of my daughter trying to carry the “baskets” by the handle and causing terrible disasters. But it is an option if you so choose!
Happy munchies! ❤