Why It Works
- Unsweetened desiccated coconut is crisp enough to give the nests the right texture and does not make the treats overly sweet.
- If making nests with several chocolates, starting with lighter chocolates and ending with dark chocolate allows you to use the same bowl over again without cleaning.
When you reach a certain age, it begins. Those dreaded moments when you see some of your most beloved treats simply go to hell. Maybe the candy is half the size it used to be, looks different, or just doesn't taste the same. The fact is that at some point the companies decide to cut costs and it sucks.
Lately I've had major gripes with Russell Stover. You see as much as I love Russell Stover candies (yes, I seriously do), I've been throwing 'em the stank eye because they've just about ruined two of my favorite Easter candies. The first is their chocolate-covered marshmallow rabbit. Anyone as old as I am will remember that it used to be adorable: decorated with a cute bunny face, long whiskers, and it even held an orange carrot. These days, slip it out of the foil wrapper and you'll find it's nothing more than a vaguely shaped rabbit with not a speck of decoration. At least they thought enough to put a picture on the front of the package so that you can try visualizing a bunny instead of a turd as you're eating it.
Why did you have to mess with my Easter basket, Russell?
My other gripe is with their famous chocolate coconut bird nests. For years, I remember a cute little milk chocolate nest with tiny colorful jelly bean "eggs" snuggled in the center. It also came as a white chocolate version that was tinted the palest spring mint green. A few years ago Russell decided to stop laying the jelly bean eggs. How can you have an Easter nest without eggs? After an onslaught of fellow traumatized patrons complained, the company put them back in—but only through online ordering and in certain retail stores. That's too much planning ahead for someone like me.
So I took matters into my own hands and made my own. And you know what? It's a cinch. I whipped up a triple batch of three varieties: semi-sweet, milk, and white chocolate in all of 30 minutes. My only hurdle here was figuring out how to nail the crispy coconut texture. I knew that plain sweetened shredded coconut would be too chewy, so I started by toasting the coconut before folding it into the chocolate. Nope, still not crispy enough. I hit payday after experimenting with a bag of unsweetened desiccated coconut. This was the bomb. The coconut was already dry and crisp (no toasting necessary), and the less sweet coconut balanced the sweet chocolate much better.
Forming these adorable little nests is a snap. Just spoon the mixture onto a pan, press into the center to form a crater, plop in a few jelly beans, and chill until set. And if you take it up a notch with some gourmet flavored jelly beans, well then you Easter Bunny you, you'll have totally outdone yourself—and Mr. Stover himself.
4 ounces finely chopped milk chocolate, or semi-sweet chocolate, or white chocolate (see notes)
2/3 cup unsweetened dessicated coconut
Dash green food coloring, optional (see notes)
18 to 24 small jelly beans
Line a baking sheet or large plate with parchment paper. In a heatproof bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, melt half of chocolate, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate until chocolate is completely melted and smooth.
Stir in coconut until completely combined. Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture onto prepared pan, keeping the shape as round as possible, and spacing 2 inches apart. Using the back of a 1/2 teaspoon, gently press into center of each mound to create a slight crater. Gently press 3 or 4 jelly beans into center and chill until set, about 15 minutes.
If you decide to make nests with multiple types of chocolate, start with white chocolate first, then move on to milk chocolate, then move on to dark chocolate. This will allow you to use the same bowl over again without cleaning between batches.
If making the white chocolate version: before adding coconut, add a dash of green food coloring until desired shade of green is achieved.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||11%|
|Saturated Fat 6g||30%|
|Total Carbohydrate 19g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||6%|
|Total Sugars 16g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|