Wednesday, April 11, 2012
COCONUT MACAROON NUTELLA NESTS
The different between professional-caliber food blogs and, well, mine is that the real ones will helpfully publish holiday recipes ahead of time, in case you should care to try them during your upcoming festivities. I just post them after I’ve tried them, which is inevitably too late to be of use to anyone until the following year, by which time we’ve all forgotten about them. Selfishness: It’s how I roll! But if you like to plan ahead, you might want to bookmark this one for Easter 2013, because it’s pretty, easy, and delicious. Or maybe you need something to do with this year’s leftover Easter basket goodies, which means I’ve caught you in time after all. Ha-HA!
I don’t usually have the energy or generosity to make themed treats, but when these cleverly designed cookies caught my eye at Two Peas and Their Pod last month, I fell in love with their cuteness. Although I rarely make them for some reason, I adore macaroons and have been on a serious coconut kick lately. I also love Nutella and miniature chocolate eggs (Cadbury mini-eggs are THE BEST), so it was a done deal.
As you might guess, these cookies are fairly rich, sugary, and sticky, making them a good thing to share with friends, especially since they probably wouldn’t freeze very well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the macaroon recipe, which differs from those I’ve made in the past in its use of sweetened condensed milk. The cookies were moist, sweet, and coconutty enough, but they seemed a bit too gooey—one of them even fell apart when I transferred it to the cooling rack. However, this may well have been due to user error. I carefully measured out my 3½ cups of coconut, which for me was the entire bag. Only after I put the cookies in the oven and reached for the discarded bag to throw it away did I see “contains 5⅓ cups” splashed across the front. D’oh! Apparently this particular bag had been extremely compressed on its journey to me. (This is why giving measurements in ounces is the best way to go!) So I used way too much coconut, and I probably could have baked the cookies longer—I like a crisper, toastier exterior than I got. But I also hate having random partially used cans of sweetened condensed milk left over in my fridge, so next time I might try the macaroon recipe from the back of the coconut bag instead.
The cookies were also enormous. Maybe this was due to my excessive use of coconut, but I don’t think so, because the photo in the original recipe makes them look about on the same scale as mine were. Sure, they’ve got to be generously sized enough to hold three candy eggs (one would look like a boob; two would still be weird, not nest-like enough), but next time still I’d try making them smaller. Their size—about as large as my palm—and the fact that the Nutella doesn’t harden like frosting, just stays its same goopy self, made them rather difficult to transport or eat gracefully. But I don’t mean to talk them down too much, because I certainly devoured my fair share without complaint, and everyone who tried them loved them.* Clearly I’m planning to make them again next year, albeit with some alterations (I’d also like to try using the dark chocolate mini-eggs, which I couldn’t find this year, in the hopes of cutting the sweetness a bit). They are really charming and fun to make, without requiring any special decorating skills (which goodness knows I don’t have). And considering that Easter is my favorite holiday, it’s nice to have a festive cookie in my repertoire.
*Just now, A wandered into the room and asked me which recipe I was writing about. When I said it was these cookies, he groaned, "Oh, those were so good!" So there's your testimonial.
⅔ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 large egg white
1½ teaspoons vanilla
⅛ teaspoon salt
3½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
About 10–12 tablespoons Nutella
30–36 small chocolate Easter egg candies (I used Cadbury Mini-Eggs)
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line one or two large baking sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
2. In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, egg white, vanilla extract, and salt. Stir until combined. Add the coconut and mix well.
3. Scoop up about 2 heaping tablespoons of the dough and place it onto the prepared baking sheet. Form into the shape of a bird nest, pressing down the center with your thumb.
4. Bake cookies for 17 to 20 minutes, or until slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven and press your thumb down in the center of the nests again. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes or until they are firm and set. Remove with a spatula onto a cooling rack. Cool completely.
5. Place about a tablespoon of Nutella in the center of each nest. Place 3 egg candies in the center of the nest.
Time: 1 hour
Leftover potential: OK. I wouldn’t freeze these, but they should last in an airtight container at room temperature for a few days.