I managed to avoid the lure of the chocolate covered, chow mein noodle nests, while we were reading about robins, but then, just about the time we ran out of Whopper Cake, this book came in from the library - Julia M. Usher's Cookie Swap, Creative Treats to Share Throughout the Year.
It's filled with all sorts of upscale, and impossible to make takes on everyday cookies, all photographed so beautifully by Steve Adams, that even though you know it will be a disaster in your own kitchen you just have to try to make them. Which, is how I found myself at the store looking for kataifi (shredded phyllo dough). Of course, that would be a lot to ask of a market in our tiny town. I was actually pretty surprised to find plain old phyllo dough.
I've never tried anything with the paper thin, pastry dough before, so I naively thought I might be able to shred it myself. Once I opened the package (of which, I only needed half), I quickly realized I would have to settle for slicing it into thinnish ribbons. Oh, and I should mention that phyllo dough needs overnight to thaw, before it can be used. So, if you're going to try this, plan ahead.
I tossed the ribbons in a bath of 1/4 cup melted butter, mixed with 1/4 cup sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. I tweaked the recipe from the book enough, that I feel okay sharing the amounts. If you like to bake, I'd still suggest taking a look at Cookie Swap - the pictures alone, make it an inspiring coffee table book.
I divided the dough strips into 24 greased muffin cups, trying to make nest like indents in the middle, and then baked them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes.
Then, I prepared a cream cheese filling similar to what is in the book, by creaming 1 package of cream cheese with 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and 2 eggs.
I took the dough nests from the oven at the end of the 15 minutes, and turned the oven down to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I sprinkled a few chopped hazelnuts into the bottom of each nest, and spooned in about 1 tablespoon of the cream cheese filling, and popped them back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
I removed the filled nests from the pans, as soon as they came out of the oven, and allowed them to cool completely before topping them with a few blue jelly bean "eggs".
And, don't be fooled by their light, pastry-like appearance, either. They are quite tasty, but they pack as hefty a sugar laden punch, as their more common, chocolate chow mein cousins - just in a more Martha Stewart kind of way.
It's great to be a homeschooler.