Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Make Candy Bird's Nests! Kiddo Friendly!

A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song. -Chinese Proverb

This recipe is so much fun! This is such a great recipe to make with your kiddos, whether you are a parent, teacher, caregiver, babysitter, or a big kid yourself. There are lots of things that your children can help with, like mixing the nests, molding the bird's nests, spreading the chocolate, and decorating with jelly beans. Just be sure that you let your ingredients cool before you or your child start messing with them with your hands. 

Happy Spring 'Peanut Butter & Chocolate Granola Cereal Bird's Nests'
recipes makes 16 nests

What you will need:

  • 2 cups granola (I used Nutty Steph's Vermont Granola)
  • 2 cups of your favorite cereal (I used Erewhon's Crispy Brown Rice & Trader Joe's O's)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup vegan cane sugar
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter (think about texture when choosing cereal and pb, it makes your nests more beautiful)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
  • splash of almond milk
  • About 80 of your favorite vegan jelly beans, about 1/4 of the bag 
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter, for hand buttering (I used Earth balance. Great for hand buttering!)
  • 1/3 cup measuring cup for molding nests with
  • baking sheet lined with parchment paper (I always use If You Care brand)

What you will need to do:

In a large mixing bowl, combine granola and cereal. In a saucepan on low heat, melt maple syrup and cane sugar until smooth, then add peanut butter. Continue mixing until smooth and well combined. Remove from heat and let sit for a few moments so that your mixture is not too hot to handle. Butter your fingers and hands with the vegan butter. Pour sugary peanut butter mixture into your granola and cereal bowl. Mix and mash with your hands until it seems good enough for forming nests with. Take your 1/3 cup measuring cup and scoop some mixture, indent the middle with your finger, packing down into the cup, then tip cup over in the palm of your hand, placing the indent-side up on your parchment paper. Once you make all of your nests, place in the freezer to set while you melt chocolate chips and almond milk in a saucepan on low heat, making a thick ganache and let it cool for a little bit. Decorate the tops of the nests by spreading chocolate on top with a spoon (when ganache is cool enough to work with), and placing jelly beans on top. Place these in the freezer (or refrigerator for longer) for a moment or two to set, then enjoy! You can also color shredded coconut and place these on a serving dish for a pretty presentation. 

Or you can use shredded brussels sprouts for "grass" like I did!

This is also a great opportunity to talk to your children about nature. You can make this a fun activity about nature. If it is a nice day outside, maybe take your nests, chocolate, and jelly beans outside to decorate them on your deck while you look at birds and nature together. Or you may want to talk to your children about birds and tell them some nature facts like, "There are about 9,865 species of birds alive today.". Or, "The largest bird egg produced is by the Ostrich, and it can measure up to 9 inches long.". You may also want to talk to your children about how birds start their families by laying eggs and caring for their babies in their nests once they grow out of the eggs. Starting this respect and understanding for nature early, makes it easier when your children grow and wonder why you don't eat eggs in your household. You can then refer back to your discussions about animals and their lives. Knowledge is power! Talk with your children and you will be surprised on how they will come to their own conclusions about this. In the end, no one really wants to hurt another living being. If you provide alternatives, eating animal products seems like an odd concept and outside of the norm. Making these fun and yummy bird's nests, offers a great chance to have a thoughtful discussion about nature and possibly observe nature while you are doing so. If you are making and decorating these nests indoors, later on you may want to take some outside with you and enjoy them with your child in the park. These can also be a fun Easter dessert. Enjoy!

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