Coconut shortbread nests filled with chocolate salted caramel and mini Easter eggs. These cute little cookies are perfect for spring!
I don’t know about you, but I get anxious when holidays roll around. Despite what you see here on Life Made Simple, I’m not the most creative person when it comes to cutesy holiday-themed desserts. I really have to force myself to think out of the box, and that usually takes weeks, sometimes even months for me to do (#truth). These cookies are like a classic macaroon only with a shortbread base. They’re slightly more sturdy and have way more crunch! I filled them with homemade chocolate salted caramel and mini chocolate eggs.
To start, you’ll want to make the shortbread cookie dough. It’s SUPER simple and only requires 5 ingredients. If you’ve never made shortbread before, you don’t need eggs or leaveners, so don’t be too shocked when you can’t find them in the recipe! P.S. you can find my two favorite/easy shortbread recipes here & here.
The dough is quite firm and a little on the crumbly side. You’ll need a tablespoon to portion out the dough, then using your hands, you’ll roll it into a ball.
Roll each dough ball into “egg wash,” then into the coconut. Roll or press the coconut onto the dough to help it stick. Flyaways may get extra crispy, so do your best to avoid them. Place them on a cookie sheet, indent them with your finger, then pop them into the freezer to chill for a good 10 minutes. You want the dough (butter) to be nice and cold so the cookies don’t spread in the oven.
Bake for 11 minutes, then remove them from the oven and re-indent cookies. I like to use the back of a measuring spoon to do this or the thick wooden end of a spatula. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 8 minutes longer or until the coconut is golden brown and cookies are fully set.
While the cookies are cooling make the filling. If you’re nervous about making homemade caramel sauce, don’t be! I promise you can do it! Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with a silicone brush and cold water. Swirl the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber (this generally takes about 8-10 minutes). Do NOT let it go past this state. Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil so be careful! Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and stir to combine. EASY!
Fill each cookie with the caramel sauce, then add the chocolate eggs. You can add a sprinkle of sea salt if you want, it’s totally optional.
While these cookies do require a bit of extra work, they’re definitely worth it! You’ll most likely have extra caramel sauce leftover, which means you can either double the base recipe (if you plan on taking these to a party or big dinner) OR you can drizzle it on top of just about anything- think browned butter chocolate chip skillet cookie, chocolate molten lava cakes, or brownie fudge swirl ice cream. Yummm!
Coconut Chocolate Salted Caramel Nests Recipe
For the cookies:
- 1 c. 2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into tablespoons
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher sea salt
- 1 tsp. coconut extract
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 c. sweetened shredded coconut
For the chocolate salted caramel:
- 1 c. granulated sugar
- 2 tbsp. water
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1/2 c. heavy cream - at room temperature (or slightly warmed in a microwave)
- 2 tbsp. 1 ounce; 28 grams unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces and very soft
- 1/4 tsp. fleur de sel or a good-size pinch of fine sea salt
- 2 oz. semisweet chocolate - chopped
For the topping:
- Small easter egg chocolates - m&m's work well
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or baking mats, set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter, sugar, salt and coconut extract. Turn mixing speed on low, then gradually turn it up to medium. Mix just until combined, about 1 minute. With mixing speed on low, gradually add the flour, mix just until combined.
- Add egg to a small mixing bowl and whisk. Add coconut to a medium mixing bowl.
- Using a tablespoon, scoop the dough one at a time and shape into balls. Roll each dough ball in the egg, then in coconut, press to help the coconut stick. Transfer cookies to prepared sheets, placing them 2 inches apart. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each ball of dough. Transfer the baking sheet to freezer and for 10 minutes.
- Place in oven and bake for 11 minutes, then remove from the oven and re-indent cookies. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for 8 minutes longer or until the coconut is golden brown and cookies are set. Remove from the oven and let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- To make the caramel topping: put a small bowl of cold water and a pastry brush (preferably silicone) near the stovetop.
- Put the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small saucepan or skillet and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Allow the ingredients to bubble away, brushing down the sides of the pan with cold water if there are spatters and swirling the pan a couple of times once you start seeing some color, until the caramel turns a pale to medium amber (this generally takes about 8-10 minutes). Lower the heat, stand away from the pan and add the cream, followed by the butter and salt — ingredients that might cause the caramel to roil. Remove the pan from the heat, drop in the chocolate and stir to combine.
- Fill each cookie with the caramel sauce, then add the chocolate eggs. Let the cookies set for 20 minutes before serving or storing.
- Don't want use chocolate salted caramel? Here's my recipe for classic salted caramel sauce!