Easter nest and basket recipes seem to be really popular this year - I've seen a lot of cupcakes and cookies that are either topped with toasted coconut and mini eggs to resemble a bird's nest, or green coconut and jelly beans to resemble an Easter basket, both of which look absolutely adorable!
When I saw this recipe for Easter Basket Cookies from Betty Crocker, I thought it was a great idea because it looks just like a little basket and can be filled with any type of filling you like! I decided that instead of using a cookie dough to form a basket, I would take an even easier approach and use mini tart shells.
I wanted to fill the tarts with something other than a standard icing (which I hate), and since lemons always remind me of spring and Easter, I decided to fill the tarts with a light and fluffy lemon mousse.
The coconut and jelly beans were obvious choices for the top, but I had a hard time thinking of something edible to make the basket handle out of. I saw some recipes that used shoestring licorice, but I didn't really want to buy a big package of licorice that I would never eat.
Then my genius sister suggested that I use fruit bars instead:
The SunRype fruit snacks I bought were already shaped in little ropes that could easily be cut apart, and they were the perfect length for a basket handle. Plus they made for at least one (semi) healthy ingredient in these tarts! I do wish I could have found something more basket-coloured to match the tart and make it look like a complete basket, but I couldn't think of anything - if you have an idea, let me know!
Once the lemon mousse is made, assembling the baskets is super easy and really fun! Even the lemon mousse isn't difficult to make, it just takes a bit of time because you have to allow for cooling. The only hard part is not eating the whole bowl of lemon mousse with a spoon before it makes it into the tarts - it's soooo good!
The end result was these adorable little Easter baskets that I was so happy with! I love that they're bite-sized so they would make a great addition to an Easter dessert spread. The lemon mousse is creamy, fluffy, and tart, and is complemented nicely by the coconut.
I admit that jelly beans and fruit bars don't exactly go with lemon mousse tarts, but the idea is that you would pick those parts off to eat first or save to eat later (or not at all in my case, as I'm not really a fan of jelly beans!), then eat the lemon mousse tart on its own. Kids would probably have no problem eating them all together though!
If you want a more grown-up dessert to serve on Easter, or if you don't celebrate Easter, you could of course leave off the toppings and serve simple lemon mousse tarts - they're still delicious on their own!
And if you're looking for other Easter dessert ideas, I've started a Pinterest board with lots of incredible Easter treats from other blogs, so be sure to check it out!
Easter Basket Lemon Mousse Tarts
Inspired by these Easter Basket Cookies; Lemon Mousse recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, via Epicurious
Makes 18 mini tarts
For the Mousse:1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon lemon zest
3 large egg yolks
1 large egg
3/4 cup chilled whipping cream
For the Tarts:18 frozen mini-tart shells (I used one box of Tenderflake shells)
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
Green food colouring
54 small jelly beans
18 short pieces of shoestring licorice or fruit snacks for basket handles
Make the Lemon Mousse:
Whisk the sugar, lemon juice and zest, egg yolks, and egg together in a medium metal bowl. Set over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Whisk constantly until mixture thickens and thermometer inserted into mixture registers 160°F, around 5 minutes. Transfer lemon curd to a separate bowl and let cool to room temperature, then cover and chill in refrigerator until cool.
Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream on high speed in a chilled bowl until medium-firm peaks form. Gently fold 1/3 of whipped cream into chilled lemon curd, then fold in remaining whipped cream. Store in the refrigerator until ready to fill tarts.
Assemble the Easter Basket Tarts:
Bake frozen tart shells according to package directions and let cool.
Add a few drops of green food colouring and a few drops of water to a medium ziplock bag. Add the coconut, close the bag, and toss to coat the coconut evenly. Add more food colouring for a stronger green colour if desired (I used three drops and got a very light green colour, as pictured).
Use a small spoon to fill each tart shell with the lemon mousse (don’t fill too much over the edge of the tart). Sprinkle coconut on top, top with 3 jelly beans, then insert both ends of licorice or fruit bar strand into the tart to form a basket handle, as pictured below:
Keep in refrigerator until ready to serve. You may have leftover lemon mousse and coconut depending on how much you used.