Coconut Lemon Macaroon Bird Nests

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Sometime around second grade, I decided to start “collecting” things. I can’t remember if I had read about collections in a book, been inspired by a friend, or if it was just what the cool kids did, but for some reason or another I got it in my head that I needed to start a collection. Of something. Of anything. Two weeks later I had a desk drawer filled with about 100 shiny Wrigley’s gum wrappers, 3 of those fancy little plastic toothpicks you get from a restaurant, 2 tiny “pizza tables” (the white plastic things that separate pizza from the top of the box, which happen to make marvelous doll house tables), a handful of bouncy balls, and about 50 Bazooka bubblegum comics. Apparently it’s much easier to beg your parents for a pack of gum every time you go to the store than to accumulate a satisfactory amount of pizza tables. Collections are definitely a “quantity vs. quality” kind of deal…you can have a million foil gum wrappers and gloat about the nice big collection you have, or you can have two preciously rare pizza tables that are technically called a pair, not a collection. Whatever, I was happy.

I quickly outgrew my “collection” phase for the trivial gum wrappers, bouncy balls, etc. (quite possibly because of the day my dog snuck into my room and used her supersonic beagle nose to scout out what she thought was a delectable pile of gum-scented chewing material), but I hung on to some of my more prized collections. Like my bird nests, for instance.

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Bird nests fell into the “quality” type of collection. Ever since my brother and I were tiny, we were constantly on the lookout for empty fallen bird nests to study, treasure, and place on a shelf in our living room. Whenever we were lucky enough to come across an idolized bird nest, we would speculate as to what type of bird used to live in it, how many baby birds had hatched in it, and where they’d all flown off to. Now I’m not quite sure if our nests had such happy stories behind them…*ahem*…but we sure did love our nest collection.

When I saw these adorable little nest cookies on Two Peas and Their Pod, one of my favorite blogs, I knew I had to make them! We’re talking sweet, chewy lemon-coconut macaroon “nests” filled with lemon curd and jelly bean “eggs”…what more can you want in a springtime treat? The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and I have a plateful of bird nest cookies in the fridge….life is good. 🙂 Happy Easter Weekend, everyone!

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Coconut Lemon Macaroon Bird Nests

Yield: 1 dozen cookies

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1 tsp fresh lemon zest

Pinch of salt

3 & 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

To decorate:

1 cup store-bought or homemade lemon curd

36 jelly beans

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with silicon baking mats or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt until smooth. Stir in the coconut until well-combined.

Scoop the mixture into about 2-inch balls and place on prepared cookie sheets. With damp fingers, form the dough into “nest” shapes by using your thumbs to make an imprint in the center of each cookie. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden-brown. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before removing to a rack.

When the cookies are completely cool, fill each “nest” with about 1 Tbs lemon curd. Press 2 or 3 jelly beans into each nest. Store the cookies in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

(Recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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