I love to bake. I can’t help myself. I love sampling the dough as I scoop and fold (tasty, tasty salmonella); I love the smell of the house after something has puffed and browned in the oven. I love the way baking gets your hands dirty (figuratively and sometimes literally), because you’re making something from its bare bones: you’re working from scratch.
My kids, whether by accident or design, are learning to love baking as well. Mostly I think it’s because anything I do that doesn’t involve scrubbing a toilet is immensely interesting to them.
Recently, we made our version of Bird’s Nest Macaroons. A macaroon is a lovely little cookie. It’s a meringue-meets-coconut treat. I originally saw these beautiful birds’ nest cookies on Lemon Tree Dwelling. Cathy’s nests were festive and looked remarkably similar to bird’s nests.
Ours… well… tasted very nice.
And here’s how it went down…
The recipe for macaroons is very simple.
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt (Cathy says to use kosher salt, which I did, but I’m not sure if it will make a huge difference)
1 pkg shredded coconut (again Cathy said to use sweetened, and I used unsweetened. It was still delish.)
For the fancy decorations:
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Eggs (I used Cadbury Mini-Eggs – jellybeans will work as well)
|Lila did almost all of the mixing for this recipe (aside from the heavy-duty whisking).|
Set the oven to 325 degrees.
Whisk together the egg whites, sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and sugar is nearly dissolved. (This can be started by a kiddo, but should be finished by an adult unless your child has Herculean strength)
Fold in the coconut until mixed completely.
And then we get to use the scoop! Hooray! The scoop!
Scoop out sticky balls of batter onto a lined cookie sheet. This recipe yielded us a strange baker’s dozen (13).
Stick the macaroons into the oven and bake for 12 minutes. Now here is where I made a mistake: after 12 minutes, take out the macaroons and flatten them with the back of a spoon. However, consider what you are making. Are you making nests? Or are you making chicken hills? I wasn’t thinking and just tamped them down lightly. It’s all fine in the end, really, but I wanted a nice little hollow for the eggs – like a nest. So use a bit of artistry when flattening them. (But don’t smash them to bits!)
Put them back in the oven for 12 more minutes or until they’re golden brown.
Ahhh… toasty little chicken hills. Perfect.
Let these little darlings sit until they’re completely cool.
Now here comes the fun part – the egg-laying! Melt your chocolate chips (you can do it in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring in between, or you can use a double-boiler if you’re patient) and get out your chocolate eggs. Then, call in the troops!
Put a healthy blob of melted chocolate in the center of your “nest”, then place two or three eggs into the liquid chocolate.
Let your creative juices flow! Be one with the chocolate! Arrange those eggs with the precision of a jeweller.
The girls worked silently – SILENTLY – for about twenty minutes. Look at Lucy’s body language here. Also, I haven’t mentioned it yet, but check out Lila’s apron. It’s a play apron, and she’s recently taken to wearing it while we cook and bake. Methinks a “Sewing Matching Aprons” project will soon be a-stewing in my project pot..
After the girls fussed over their nests, we set them up for a little photo shoot.
Now, if you’ve popped over to Cathy’s post, you’ll see that our little macaroons don’t have the wild straw-like tendrils that her nests do. It’s because of the coconut. My shredded coconut (although it was labelled exactly as per the recipe) wasn’t as long as hers was. The next time I make these, I will search for longer coconut pieces. But for now, our birds are the kind that prefer tidier nests. They’re the birds who hide lint-rollers under their wings.
Non-straggly nests aside, the girls were very impressed with their handiwork, as was I. This is an excellent recipe for little beaners, and especially at this time of year. We may give it another whirl before Easter comes!