If you or someone you love is following a gluten-free and vegan diet, you know how frustrating it can be to find treats that fit the bill and still taste yummy. Every year I am at a loss when it comes to holiday treats for our son, who is gluten, dairy and egg-free. To make things more challenging yet, he can’t have artificial colors and flavors, either. If you ever read the labels in the Easter candy aisle at a store, you know there is next to nothing that fits that criteria. Who doesn’t want to make the Holidays as normal as possible? I knew it was time to come up with some goodies of my own.
Recently, while baking his favorite banana bread doughnuts, I came up with the idea to create little Easter Bunny nests. You see, I had overfilled the doughnut molds just slightly, which resulted in a nest shape when flipped over. The gears started turning immediately and I this little mishap would turn into cute little nests with the addition of a couple of simple ingredients!
For simplicity’s sake, I am creating this lovely treat from a store-bought gluten-free mix (I know). Feel free to substitute your own recipe or favorite mix.
Besides the baked doughnuts, you will need frosting or glaze as the “glue”, some flaked coconut to make it pretty and jelly beans as Easter eggs. You could substitute Jordan almonds for the eggs. At our house, we prefer to go with candy that contains no artificial colors.
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Since I am offering different variations on the bunny nests, I am not listing a single recipe. Jelly beans are generally gluten-free. Finding them without artificial colors and flavors, however, can be a bit of a challenge. Trader Joe’s has a wonderful selection of gluten-free candies that are without artificial colors and flavors. You can generally find them at your local health food store or even in the healthy food section of larger grocery store chains like Kroger.
1. Bake the doughnut nests
As I mentioned above, I opted to bake the donuts with my favorite store-bought gluten-free yellow cake mix (from Aldi). You can use it, your favorite mix or substitute a recipe like this awesome sounding one which also includes a recipe for killer chocolate frosting. How about a chocolate cake batter like this or divine carrot cake?
Since our son is also egg-free, I use “flax eggs” (1 TBS flaxseed meal + 3 TBS water for each egg) – works like a charm. !
Regardless of your choice of batter, be sure to fill the donut molds just a little more than you normally would. This will create the bottoms of your nests.
Bake according to the recipe.
Let the donuts cool and place them in the refrigerator for at least one hour after they are fully cooled to make them firm enough to decorate. You can make them a day ahead and refrigerate them overnight, well covered.
A couple more quick notes on the specific yellow bake mix I am using here:
I substitute almond milk for cow milk. It will also work well with other milk replacements, like coconut, cashew, and hemp. Instead of using three flax eggs, I prefer two, with the third egg replaced by 1/2 of a mashed banana. Substitute dairy-free buttery spread for butter, like Earth Balance. I actually use softened ghee, as it is really butter without casein laden milk solids. Use only half the “butter” and make the other half unsweetened applesauce.
The glaze has two functions. It acts as the glue for the coconut flakes and it adds another delicious layer of flavor. Just like with the cake batter above, you have several options to make this recipe your own.
Personally, I definitely prefer homemade glaze to any store-bought frosting. I have never found pre-made frosting that wasn’t full of something artificial. If you have an awesome frosting recipe go right ahead!
Here are some suggestions:
or chocolate glaze with yellow cake doughnut nests
Both of them couldn’t be any easier! Find the recipes at the bottom of the post.
A few other ideas:
Use cream cheese frosting with carrot cake nests – substitute dairy-free “cream cheese” – we love Daiya for all of our cheese substitutions.
Or create them with your favorite homemade frosting recipe in place of the glaze.
You can go as simple or inventive as you’d like!
This is always the fun part, except for eating them, that is.
Place your decorations in separate bowls and line up your cooled Easter bunny nests.
If you are using the lemon glaze recipe, stir occasionally to keep it smooth. Likewise, the chocolate glaze may have to be rewarmed to keep it easily spreadable.
Spread glaze/frosting on one nest at a time, immediately sprinkle with flaked coconut. Doing one nest at a time, after the glaze is applied, helps the flakes stick better.
You could color the coconut flakes green with natural food coloring if desired.
Once all of the nests are glazed/frosted and have their coconut flake bedding place a few jelly bean eggs in each. If you are vegan, just be sure that the jelly beans you are using are not made with beeswax, gelatin, and shellac, all of which contain animal products. While Jelly Belly brand jelly beans are not vegan, Jolly Rancher brand beans are. If you are only egg-free, use your favorite brand.
If you are not serving them until later wait to place your candy eggs to prevent discoloration.
Here’s how the three different stages look:
First the ones with lemon glaze and jelly beans
And then chocolate glazed with Jordan almonds*…
*Jordan almonds do contain artificial colors, use organic chocolate candies like Choco Nono’s as a substitute if that is a concern.
Which one do you like better? Honestly, I cannot decide!
One little trick: Place a jelly bean or a Jordan almond in the hole at the center before you glaze to keep the icing/glaze from running out.
Aren’t they just the most adorable little treats? I love how these lovely Easter Bunny nests are gluten, dairy and egg-free, but you would never know.
Love how they turned out!
As promised, here are the quick and easy glaze recipes:
Basic Lemon Glaze:
3/4 cup of confectioners sugar + about 1 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
Gradually add lemon juice to the confectioner’s sugar. You want this to be pour-able, but not runny
Quick and Easy Chocolate Glaze:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips + 1 tsp coconut oil
Gently warm chocolate chips and coconut oil in either a double boiler or microwave. Stir often until completely melted and smooth. Just like the lemon glaze, it should be pour-able, but not runny.
Holidays should be festive and fun, even if you are on a special diet. These Easter Bunny Nests certainly fit the bill. I cannot wait to see my son’s face when he sees them on the Easter dessert table again this year. He lives for sweets! With these I know that he can enjoy a special treat without the fear of infractions on his diet.
I do hope you will give them a try! This recipe has been on my mind for a long time and I am so happy I got to share it with you! If you like this recipe, be sure to join us over at the TWGL Facebook group and follow TWGL on Instagram for the latest happenings and updates.
Happy Easter from The Witty Gritty Life