How to Make Royal Icing Nests

These little nests will beautifully display candy Easter eggs and other small treats. They solidify to a hard candy finish to create a delicate, porcelain-like look.

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Yield: 3 cups of icing; 10 nests, depending on how much you inflate the balloons

Make the Icing

Ingredients:

4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/4-1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon clear flavoring extract (lemon, orange, almond, clear vanilla)

Directions:

1. In bowl of an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, stir confectioners' sugar and meringue powder on low speed until combined. Note: Not all meringue powder is the same. Be sure to read directions on back of meringue powder container for suggested amounts.
2. Add water (1/4 cup first and add more as needed) and beat on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form, about 5 to 7 minutes.
3. Add flavoring and beat on low until combined.
4. Use icing immediately or drape a damp tea towel over mixing bowl to prevent icing
from drying out. Note: Royal icing should be used immediately or transferred to airtight containers and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and stir before using.

Make the Nests

Ingredients:

1 recipe royal icing, stiff peak, placed in a piping bag with round piping tip
10 latex balloons
about 2 cups toasted coconut
30 candy-coated chocolate eggs

Directions:

1. Inflate balloons to an approximate 3 1/2-inch diameter and tie off. Place upright on an egg crate or in tops of a few plastic tumblers (Image 1).
2. Pipe icing over top third of balloon (Image 2, 3). Make many circular passes around balloon while piping until top is covered in icing. Note: Don't overload top with icing. Pipe until balloon is just covered with icing.
3. Leave to dry at least 24 hours. The icing will dry to a hard candy matte finish.
4. When nests are completely dry, snip balloon at tie-off with scissors, allowing air to escape slowly. The balloon will pull away from sides of nest revealing a bowl-shaped cavity.
5. Line nests with toasted coconut (make sure coconut has completely cooled) and place 3 chocolate eggs inside (Image 4).

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