Bird Nest Cupcakes
- For meringue birds, allow egg whites to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large mixing bowl beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl). Add granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating on high speed until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight) and sugar is almost dissolved. Beat in vanilla.
- Transfer meringue to a decorating bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round decorating tip. Pipe meringue in teardrop shapes onto the prepared baking sheet to resemble birds. Bake about 1 hour or until meringues appear dry and are firm when lightly touched. Turn off oven. Let meringues stand in the closed oven about 1 hour or until cool and crisp.
- Place almonds in a shallow dish. Spoon Browned Butter Frosting into a decorating bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round decorating tip. For each nest, pipe frosting in a ring around the top of each cupcake. Carefully dip frosted cupcake in almonds, turning to coat.
- Pipe a small mound of frosting into the center of each nest; gently press a meringue bird into frosting. For a beak, use a dab of frosting to attach a small piece of slivered almond onto bird. Using a toothpick, add dots of melted chocolate for the eyes.
From the Test Kitchen
Decorating bags 1/2-inch round decorating tips
To toast almonds, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a shallow baking pan with parchment paper. Spread almonds in the prepared pan. Bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring once.
Browned Butter Frosting
- In a small saucepan heat butter over low heat until melted. Continue heating until butter turns a light golden brown. Remove from heat.
- In a large mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, 4 tablespoons of the milk, and the vanilla. Add browned butter. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined. Beat on medium to high speed, adding enough of the remaining 1 tablespoon milk, if necessary, to reach spreading consistency. Makes about 3 cups.