At the recent Capital District Garden and Flower Show, I spoke to readers of this column who said they like to read about my garden gatherings and the garden-inspired treats I make. It’s still a little too early for a garden party outdoors, but it’s never too early to think about bringing the outdoors in. Maybe you would like to welcome spring by making bird-nest cookies.
The idea for this cookie came about when I was asked to bring a dessert to a party. I knew there would be a lot of people present and that a dessert that could be neatly eaten without a plate and fork would be appreciated by the hostess and the easiest for guests to handle as they mingled.
I also wanted the dessert to say “spring has arrived,” even if our tulips haven’t yet bloomed. The other requirement was that chocolate had to be involved.
As I tried to decide what to make, I spotted a robin gathering materials for a nest and was inspired to create cookies that looked like bird nests. And it was easy to do.
You’ll need the ingredients for your family’s favorite sugar cookie recipe plus a bag of chocolate chips, a small bag of flaked coconut, food coloring and small colorful jelly beans.
The first step is to color the coconut brown to resemble nesting materials. I used brown food coloring purchased at an arts and crafts store in the cake decorating supply aisle but you can make a brown by mixing equal amounts of red and green food coloring in a small bowl. All food colorings aren’t the same. Some are concentrated. Following the directions on the label.
Add about a teaspoon of water to the final color and mix to blend. Set aside.
Empty the flaked coconut into a plastic bag and pour the prepared coloring into the bag. Seal the bag and, from the outside, work it with your fingers until the coconut is colored a light brown.
An alternative to using food coloring would be to toast the coconut by spreading it on a cookie sheet and placing it in an oven preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir occasionally until the coconut turns light gold, about 25 minutes.
Next, select jelly beans you think look most like eggs and cluster the like-colored ones together. Set aside.
Then, bake a batch of sugar cookies, shaped in circles.
While the cookies are baking, melt the chocolate chips. If you have one, use a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips. I improvised and put the chips in a small pot and submerged the base into a larger pot with boiling water. Make sure none of the water gets into the melting chocolate. Two cups of chips covered 24 cookies.
When the cookies are done and still warm, generously coat the top of each one with chocolate. Immediately sprinkle the cookies with coconut and place three jelly bean “eggs” in the center of the cookie. The chocolate will hold them in place. If not, dab a little more chocolate onto the jelly bean and set it in place.
The finished cookies were a wonderful conversation starter and a harbinger of what we should be seeing outside in the weeks to come.
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Categories: Life and Arts