Sunday, March 25, 2007

Nestled In

I love spring for a multitude of reasons: fresh spring asparagus, fields of newly-bloomed flowers and cute baby bunnies. My personal seasonal highlight tends to come along in mid-March, with the annual re-release of Cadbury's Mini-Eggs.

Thin, crispy candy shells, painted in speckled pastels, encircle tiny milk-chocolate eggs. I'm certainly no candy freak, but I look forward to these with every ounce of enthusiasm my 7-year old self could possibly hope to have mustered.

While there's no shame in eating them out of hand (or out of the freezer), I'm particularly fond of making Easter nests: cookies or confections crafted into cute, kid-sized nests, and crowned with candy eggs. Many renditions utilize chow mein noodles or thumb print cookies, but that leaves out one very important component from the equation: coconut!

There are plenty of good coconut macaroon recipes out there, but this special time calls for a special recipe: I turned to Ina Garten for assistance. Egg whites, vanilla and a pinch of salt partner with equal portions coconut and sweetened condensed milk. Once in the oven, the scent of sweet coconut sneaks into the air in about 20 minutes. Ten minutes more sees them transform into tender, rich little cookies; adequate browning ensures a charmingly nest-like exterior.

If ever there was a recipe suitable for the whole family to join in, this is it. Adults can handle the whipping of egg whites and the baking of the cookies, while kids can portion out the dough, and carefully fill each finished nest with a bounty of colorful eggs.

Coconut Macaroons

adapted from Ina Garten

14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 extra-large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 12-ounce package Cadbury Mini-Eggs

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Combine coconut, condensed milk, and vanilla in bowl. Whip egg whites and salt on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until they make medium-firm peaks.
Carefully fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. Drop the batter onto sheet pans lined with parchment paper using either a 1 3/4-inch diameter ice cream scoop, or 2 teaspoons. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool briefly, then fill with eggs.

Cook's Notes: I like to press the mini-eggs into the macaroons while slightly warm and still pliable. The size of these cookies will generally hold three comfortably.


Blogger Susan said...

I didn't think coconut macaroons could be improved upon until I saw your photos! These macaroon nests simply sing Easter and springtime! Thanks for the lovely post.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Hi S'kat thanks for droping by my site. I love those candy eggs and just realised I haven't seen them in our shops this year. Clever use of them in the macaroon nests. Happy Easter

5:03 PM  
Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

My personal preference is for the little speckled robin eggs,but your macaroon nests look incredible!

6:51 PM  

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