This customizable cookie ‘nests’ are an easy way to please the whole family. Instead of making up a few different cookie doughs so everyone can have their fav, just make one base dough and then pick sugar, chocolate or peanut butter cookie add-ins. Swirl together multiple flavors for extra cookie excitement. Fill the baked cups with whatever egg-shaped candy you prefer. Read on for step-by-step instructions and today’s history lesson all about Easter traditions.
Easter, also called Pasch or Resurrection Sunday, is a Christian holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. This story is described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible as having occurred on the third day of his burial after having been crucified by the Romans at Calvary in 30AD. The word ‘Easter’ is is believed to be derived from the name of a goddess Eostre. A 7th century English monk, Bede, wrote that an English month corresponding to April was named Ēosturmōnaþ or ‘Month of Eostre’ after a pagan goddess. Easter is a moveable feast, meaning it does not fall on the same date every year. There was a lot of controversy among early Christians about how to calculate the date until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 AD made it standard. Easter now occurs on the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or soonest after March 21st. So complicated! Just Google the date every year.
Easter is celebrated slightly differently among the different Christian churches. However, it generally involves a special Sunday service with specific readings. It is a popular time for lilies, candle lighting services, processions, communion, baptisms and baptismal vow renewals. There is usually a festive, celebratory tone and an emphasis on the idea of renewal, especially since it takes place around springtime. Some churches will hold vigils to reflect the biblical account of women waiting at Christ’s tomb for him to rise. Generally, these vigils occur outdoors at sunrise.
Easter eggs originated with the early Christians of Mesopotamia who stained eggs red to represent the blood of the crucified Christ. The egg is also a symbol of new life and of Christ’s empty tomb. 19th century Russians started exchanging orantely decorated, even jewel-encrusted, Easter eggs. Since Easter has also come to be celebrated as a secular holiday, Easter eggs are now dyed for less dreary reasons and may be substituted with chocolate or candy-filled eggs. The cutesy spring flowers, chicks, lambs and baby animals thing is probably related to the Christian idea of Easter as a time for renewal. The secular tradition took off and now includes coloring hard-boiled eggs, giving baskets of candy and egg hunts.
As far as the Easter bunny… Well, it’s complicated. 13th century pagan Germans worshipped Eostre as a spring and fertility goddess. Remember her from earlier? Her animal symbol was a rabbit. Rabbits have long been considered a fertility symbol because of their crazy fast breeding skills. Through a phenomenon known as superfetation, female hares can conceive a second litter of babies while still pregnant with the first! The hare became a popular motif in medieval Christian churches because, at this time, it was believed that hares were hermaphrodites who could reproduce without loss of virginity. Because of this, they were associated with the Virgin Mary. Later, German Lutherans would come up with the ‘Osterhase’ or ‘Easter Hare’ who functioned like Santa Claus, judging the obedience of children and leaving eggs for the good, obedient ones. This special hare actually laid his own colorful eggs and then hid them. Or would that be her? German immigrants to America brought the idea of the Easter Bunny with them in the 1700s. People began making nests for the Bunny to lay his eggs in. Eventually, these nests became baskets and the Bunny’s deliveries began to include chocolate, candy and other small gifts.
Adorable Easter Treats!
Easter Cookie Nests: 1 Dough, 3 Ways
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
*This recipe makes about 32 total cookies of 3 different flavors. If you’d rather them be all one flavor, simply triple the ingredients for one of the flavors below.
Sugar + Jellybeans:
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup jelly beans
Peanut Butter + Reese’s:
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
½ cup Reese’s Pieces eggs
Chocolate + Malted Milk:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
¼ cup Whopper’s Robin eggs
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease 24-cup mini muffin tin.
Sift or whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar.
Beat in eggs, one at a time.
Beat in vanilla.
Mix in flour mixture until just combined.
Divide dough into 3 equal size balls.
Add 3 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon vanilla to one ball. (sugar cookie flavor)
Add peanut butter to second ball. (peanut butter flavor)
Add 3 tablespoons butter and cocoa to third ball. (chocolate flavor)
*To make the marbled baskets, combine two doughs of choice. Do not blend them together completely. Swirl and fold together ‘strips’ of dough to achieve a marbled look.
Shape tablespoons of dough into balls.
Place one ball into each muffin cup.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 2-3 minutes.
Create well in center of each cookie with a shot glass or liquid measurement medicine cup.
Allow to cool 20 minutes.
Gently reform wells, if necessary.
Fill sugar cookie cups with jelly beans, peanut butter cookie cups with Reese’s Pieces eggs and chocolate cookie cups with Whopper’s and Hershey’s eggs.