Easter Week: Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests

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Welcome to Day 4 of Easter Week at Smart Cookie! Did you miss a hop somewhere along the week? Then be sure to check out Day 1’s Baby Chick Lemon Mousse Cookie Cups, Day 2’s Peter Cottontail’s Carrot Cake Bars, and Day 3’s Bunny Rabbit Cauliflower Pancakes.

Would you believe I never tried Cadbury Mini Eggs before this Easter? Forgive me; I live under a rock called College. However, Easter after Easter, I heard people harping about those little eggs, and I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. Mini Eggs have a cult following; people don’t just like them; they love them and can consume an entire bag in one sitting. I myself have a passionate, all-consuming love for Cadbury Crème Eggs, so I figured the Mini Eggs couldn’t be bad if they’re made by the same UK chocolatiers.

Sign me up for the Cadbury Mini Egg Cult because I love these chocolate cuties. I don’t know if it’s against Cadbury Code for me to love Mini Eggs and Crème Eggs, because typically people are only diehards for one or the other, but I’ve got love for both. And of course, as is the case with every edible item I adore, I had to bake with the Mini Eggs. So I crafted these Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests for the occasion.DSC_3214

I know they may seem too pretty to eat with their pastel green nests and the circle of colorful eggs perched on top, but I can assure you that you’ll get over that after one bite. These macaroons are chewy, coconutty perfection. But we don’t stop there; we add a perfectly-portioned dollop of luscious caramel sauce to act as glue for those undeniably delicious Cadbury Mini Eggs. It’s like a treat within a treat.

Treatception!

I’d argue that even people who don’t like coconut would happily eat a handful of these. Don’t believe me? Ask any one of my taste testers, from my parents to my co-workers to my friends; they all loved these scrumptious spring sweets. In fact, my friend from the gym dubbed them the best coconut macaroons he’s had. Not too shabby, eh?

The colors and whimsy of these macaroons make them so fun and delightful that they’ll put a smile on anybody‘s face this Easter (o should I say anybunny’s face?). Sure, they look fancy, but they’re actually easy as pie to make. The macaroons are a quick, one-bowl deal, then you just glue on the eggs with the caramel. The only real challenge is trying not to eat a dozen at a time.DSC_3203

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. If you don’t like caramel, chocolate sauce would be equally delicious “glue.”
  2. You could split the macaroon batter into three batches and dye each batch a different color so you have multiple shades of “Easter grass.”
  3. Keep an eye on these guys in the oven. Macaroons go from done to burnt fairly quickly.
  4. You have to make the indentations in the macaroons while they’re still warm and fresh from the oven, or it won’t work.
  5. If you skip making the indentations, you’ll have nowhere to put the caramel and no way to get the eggs to stick.DSC_3169

Coconut Macaroon Easter Egg Nests
By The Smart Cookie Cook

Yield – about 18 nests (or double the recipe and make 36)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. almond extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Green food dye
  • 1 bag Cadbury Mini Eggs
  • 1 jar caramel sauce, recommended: Wegmans

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the coconut, egg whites, flour, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, salt, and food dye until well-combined and color is evenly distributed.
  3. Form mixture into balls, roughly a tablespoon’s worth each, and place on baking sheet. Flatten out slightly.
  4. Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges and set. Immediately, using something with a flat, round base (I used the bottom of an ice cream scoop handle), gently press down into the center of each macaroon, creating an indentation. Let sit for 1 minute before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.
  5. Place a small dollop of caramel sauce into the craters of each macaroon, about 1 teaspoon’s worth. Stick 2 – 4 eggs into each crater, using the caramel as glue. Store macaroons in an air-tight container.DSC_3235

Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies w/ Caramel Drizzle

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Dear Chocolate Lovers of the World,

I’m about to give you the best Christmas present you’ve ever gotten.

These Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies w/ Caramel Drizzle are what your chocolate-covered Christmas dreams are made of. We Chocoholics don’t fantasize about falling snow, mistletoe, or sparkling Christmas trees; we dream about chocolate, piles of chocolate in every form: truffles, bars, cakes, frosting, pudding, and of course, cookies. At Christmastime, you better give us chocolate lovers some seriously chocolaty cookies, or it isn’t really Christmas.

Being a chocoholic myself, I would never deprive my fellow addicts of the supremely chocolatey cookie that’s on the top of their wishlist. These Fudge Brownie Thumbprint Cookies have two intense levels of chocolate, so if the first dose doesn’t send you into a chocolate-enduced euphoria, then the second one surely will. We’ve got super fudgy, chewy brownie cookies that truly are the love child of a moist brownie and handheld cookie. Then, we imprint a little crater in the center and fill it up with rich, velvety fudge. Finally, we finish with a drizzle of sweet caramel, because why? Because we can, and it’s to die for._DSC7527

These heavenly cookies are the total package because, besides being scrumptious, they’re good-looking too. I gave them as gifts to my co-workers, along with several others treats that shall appear next week, and the first thing one of them did upon opening the box was exclaim how pretty they are. But guess what? That elegant presentation is merely a matter of punching a crater in the center of the cookies, filling with fudge, and slopping some caramel on top. It’s the prime example of a perfect holiday cookie: gorgeous, easy to make, and so gosh darn good.

A Few Tips Before You Get Cooking:

  1. The key to a perfectly fudgy cookie is not to over-bake them.
  2. Any fudge sauce will do for filling these, but the best EVER is Wegman’s Chocolate Sauce. It’s thick and rich, more like ganache. You could also make homemade ganache to fill them.
  3. The same goes for the caramel; I used Wegman’s caramel sauce. I also recommend Mrs. Richardson’s.
  4. Both the Wegmans sauces can be found in the aisle with the other ice cream toppings.
  5. Also try topping these with a sprinkle of nuts.
  6. This dough freezes great, so make it ahead and freeze then thaw and bake when you’re ready for chocolate heaven.
  7. Mix/beat as little as possible! Over-mixing ruins the fudgy texture._DSC7482

Fudge Brownie Cookie Thumbprints w/ Caramel Drizzle
Cookie base adapted from food.com

Yield – about 3 dozen

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 1-oz. unsweetened chocolate squares , melted & cooled to room temperature
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10-oz. jar fudge, chocolate sauce, or ganche – should be thick (Recommended: Wegmans Triple Chocolate Sauce)
  • 1 10-oz. jar caramel sauce (Recommended: Wegmans or Mrs. Richardson’s)

Directions:

  1. Combine sugar, oil, and melted chocolate in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium-low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add eggs and vanilla, mixing well on low speed.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Add about one-1/3 of dry mixture at a time to chocolate mixture, mixing on medium-low speed after each addition. Cover and let chill at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Shape dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Immediately after removing from the oven, use a flat circle-shaped surface (I used the bottom of a pizza cutter; you could also use a small shot glass or end of a thick spoon handle) to press a crater into the center of each cookie. If you don’t have anything that works for making the imprint, just use your fingers._DSC7496_DSC7500_DSC7503
  6. Cool on wire racks.
  7. Fill craters with fudge/chocolate sauce/ganache. You might want to microwave the fudge for less than 10 seconds just to get it fluid. Let set in freezer for a few minutes then drizzle with caramel. You can do this with a fork or use a plastic condiment dispenser. Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Keep in fridge if it’s warm out._DSC7567

Apple Pie Perfection

As promised, A cross-cut of The Clinton Cider Mill’s Apple Caramel Pie:

I apologize for torturing you with this earlier without providing you with a picture of the luscious interior. It’s easily the best apple pie I’ve had. The filling is buttery, smooth and packed with unbelievably fresh apples. The crust is flaky and delicious. A subtle hint of caramel and sprinkling of nuts take it over the top.

In case you missed it, learn all about this perfect apple pie here!


Caramel Corn with Pecans & Almonds

You know that caramel-covered popcorn that you buy in the big tin canisters with the pretty designs on the outside?

This is so much better.

Before this Caramel Corn recipe came into my sheltered life, I had never had homemade popcorn. My corn experience had mostly consisted of microwavable bags and overly buttered, calorie laden movie theater corn that, although delicious, seemed almost dangerous to eat.

I like popcorn. It’s really good. Is it my favorite thing in the world? Probably not. Although, its intoxicating smell certainly increases its allure. That’s how popcorn gets you; its buttery aroma comes wafting up your unsuspecting nostrils, and everything goes black for a few moments. When you come to again, your hands are slathered in butter and a elephant-sized portion of popcorn has disappeared.

But that’s neither here nor there. What I’m saying is that popcorn doesn’t necessarily get me excited. Well, at least not until I gave this caramel corn a try. My little cookies, let me tell you something: there is nothing in this world as wonderful as homemade caramel corn. That stuff you buy at the store is mere child’s play. You have not lived until you’ve eaten homemade caramel corn, and this recipe is the way to go.

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Thanksgiving Dessert: Personal Pumpkin Poke Cakes

When I say “personal,” I mean these cakes could easily feed two people, but why would you ever want to share? Having your own personal cake allows you to either indulge in the whole sweet treat in one fell swoop or pace it out and prolong the enjoyment. The choice is yours, my little cookies.

Regardless of how you choose to scarf ’em down, you simply must make these Personal Pumpkin Poke Cakes. They are so good, unlike anything I’ve had before. It’s a whole new pumpkin experience, which I am always happy to partake in.

The cakes are so incredibly moist, and why wouldn’t they be? You’re almost always guaranteed a moist, delicious cake when you bake with pumpkin. Then, the cakes are poked & soaked with a sweet cinnamon-caramel sauce, along with sweetened condensed milk. It’s totally indulgent, but surprisingly, not overly so. It is just sinful enough.

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