|Bittersweet Chocolate and Toasted Coconut Nests|
It’s a fact that our palates are more sophisticated as we age, which is why young children prefer very plain foods. But for every rule of science, particularly when a kid is involved, you can find a rule breaker.
I never liked coconut when I was a kid, but if it was toasted, I was in. Especially if it was enveloped by creamy chocolate. My palate developed a preference for this semi-exotic taste combination thanks to my mother who was just slightly obsessed with these chocolate coconut stars that were about to be discontinued.
The one place where they were sold these chocolate coconut stars was at the drugstore in our local mall. So, once or twice a week, my mother would take us there in the evenings to ‘walk around and stretch our legs,’ which was really just code for ‘buy some chocolate coconut stars’, and since we were kids and my mother was generous, we needed no further convincing. There wasn’t enough money to casually shop and we rarely bought anything at the mall, but my mother always had change for a treat–an ice cream cone or a bag of pop corn–that we would enjoy while walking around. Then, just before leaving, we would stop at the drugstore and buy a bag of the coconut stars. Carefully, she’d open the bag and take three out, giving one to both my brother and myself and popping one into her mouth. We’d walk out to the parking lot and to our car, slowly letting the chocolate melt on our tongues to revel the sweet toasted coconut.
Eventually, the coconut stars would disappear forever, but my mom would never give up searching for them. We’d venture farther south and then north, to other malls. She checked the shelves of grocery stores not in our regular rotation and when we’d travel anywhere outside of a 25 mile radius, she’d think of reasons to stop at various drug stores–cold cream, batteries, aspirin–none of which we’d ever buy. Of course, we never did find them again.
The only other confectionary that came close were the bird’s nests. Every year at Easter, she’d buy us each one little chocolate and coconut bird’s nest and slip it into our Easter basket. It was my favorite treat and I’d always save it for last when I could slowly pick off the three jelly beans and then, savor the chocolate nest; it always made me think of the coconut stars.
I decided to relive my memories and make my own chocolate coconut bird’s nests. I added some realistic looking chocolate eggs, a bird and some moss to make the scene into a vignette worthy of the center of the table.
*I like to use bittersweet chocolate or dark chocolate, but use whatever makes you happy.