For when there’s a little mountain of chocolate Easter eggs and you realise healthy stuff is required, I offer you these scrumptious cookie nests!!! They’re filled with healthy stuff: homemade cashew butter, date caramel and marzipan eggs. But you can let a few little chocolate eggs slip in there. Tee hee. It is Easter. And when it’s not Easter you can fill them with anything (within reason): ricotta, chocolate ganache, nuts… The cookie nests are made with ground almonds, maple syrup and coconut oil and are positively bursting with flavour from the cinnamon, cardamom and mixed spice. The nests are slightly chewy, moist and so delicious you don’t need to fill them – they can simply be cookies. Addiction to testing the various nest prototypes was inevitable. Luckily there were three test batches otherwise no filling would have occurred! If you’d like a healthy naturally vegan, glutenfree and refined sugar free very easy-to-make treat don’t hesitate to give these cinnamon spiced cookie nests a go! But don’t come near mine… er just kidding. 🙂
RECIPE – for 24 mini cookie nests (using a 24-hole mini muffin tin) or 24 biscuits
These are adapted from the cinnamon cookie recipe in Melissa Sharp’s Modern Baker book. Mine are a little less sweet with some added cardamom. I invented the fillings based on earlier recipes and worked out a way to make cookie nests: partially bake, make holes then continue baking. Melissa Sharp says these cookies are the most popular in her bakery and I can understand why. So even if you don’t make the nests I’d suggest making the cookies. They’re downright yummilicious!
Pre-heat oven to 175°C/350°F (fan-assisted) or 195°C/380°F (static, non-convection oven). Use vegan spread/butter to lightly grease a 24-hole mini muffin tin or large baking tray.
- 90g/6 tablespoons pure organic coconut oil (can reduce to 80g/5 and 1/2 tbsp)
- 240g/2 and 1/2 cups ground almonds (extra yummy if you grind your own in a processor)
- 2 teaspoons (4g) ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp (1g) mixed spice
- 1/2 tsp (1g) ground green cardamon, optional and to taste
- 1/2 tsp (3g) sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)
- 80g/4 tbsp pure maple syrup (can use between 70-90g/3 and 1/2 – 4 and 1/2 tbsp)
- Melt the coconut oil on low heat.
- Mix the dry ingredients in a medium-sized/large bowl.
- Stir in the maple syrup and melted coconut oil until well combined.
- Spoon 1 slightly-rounded tablespoon of the mixture in each mini muffin tin.
- Bake around 8-9 minutes until golden but not done. Take out of the oven and make a hole in each mound with a spoon or knife handle.
- Put back in oven and bake a further 2-3 minutes (Note: I baked the earlier prototypes longer and they were slightly crisper but I like baking them less for a bit more moisture and chew).
Take out of oven when golden brown. Allow to cool 5-10 minutes in the tin then use the point of a sharp knife to gently prise the cookie nests out. Cool on a wire rack to harden a bit before filling.
Cookie version: make mounds with 1 slightly-rounded tablespoon of mixture and flatten to 1cm high. You can top with an almond or pecan/walnut half. Bake 10-13 minutes (making a hole after 8 minutes if you like).
Be careful if trying to make a hole in a cookie shape – they crack more easily (but can be pressed back together again).
Cookie nest fillings
Cashew butter (or any nut butter from a health food store):
- 125g/scant 1 cup raw unsalted cashew nuts
- 1/2 tablespoon nut or vegetable oil, like canola or olive oil (I used macadamia oil)
- scant 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 1/8 tsp fine sea salt
Process cashews until ground fine. Add the oil, salt and lemon juice. Grind for 5 minutes or more until you have a ‘butter’ or paste. It will be quite solid but delicious. Taste to check and add more salt if needed. Add more oil it you’d like it more spreadable. Refrigerate (keeps about a week in an airtight container).
- 100g/1 cup stoned dates
- 1 tablespoon peanut/almond butter (unsweetened from your healthfood store)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 5 good pinches of salt, or more (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional, to taste)
- 1/2 tbsp maple syrup and 1 tbsp cold water, optional (add if your mixture seems too thick)
Cover the dates in water and soak 1-2 hours until softened. Follow the instructions in the illustration below.
- 100g/1 cup ground almonds (plus an extra 20g or more if necessary)
- pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon bitter almond essence, optional (or pure vanilla extract)
- OPTIONAL: 1 tspn matcha powder (put a little first to test the colour) or freeze-dried raspberry pieces/cocoa powder/natural food colourings, etc.
Combine the almonds and salt then stir in the maple syrup and bitter almond essence if using. Knead to make a paste and add a little more ground almonds if too soft and sticky. If using different flavours don’t add the matcha at the beginning – divide into different batches at the end to add various flavourings or colouring.
Other filling options
Peanut butter, nuts, dried fruit, chocolate ganache, cream cheese or ricotta, crumbled carrot cake, marzipan carrots in crumbled oreo cookies and chocolate cake, etc. etc. Any other ideas?
Fill cooled nests with 1/4 – 1/2 tsp nut butter and press down. Spoon in 1/2 – 1 tsp date caramel and use the back of the spoon to spread nicely. Top with marzipan or chocolate eggs.
Eating and storing
Can be eaten immediately or even before filling. Lol. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container (a sealed glass jar is great). Once filled they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 day or so then in the fridge a few days, probably more – they’re still delicious when softer.
Here are more Easter recipes from the archives for a little inspiration:
Hard to choose. Thinking of making glutenfree or lower gluten hot cross buns next… What are you baking for Easter?
Just sharing my little cookie nests with this week’s Easter Free from Fridays at Le Coin de Mel where you can see some yummy free-from treats!
Might even take some into work to share! Let’s have a quick nibble of a healthy cinnamon spiced almond and maple syrup cookie nest or two…
So addictive. 😉
Farewell dear reader! Wishing you a lovely run-up to Easter with yummy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x
P.S. A little message in advance…! And if you don’t celebrate Easter please substitute the word ‘eating’ for ‘Easter’ …