Posts Tagged ‘coconut’

Strawberry-Coconut Cheesecake

The other morning I woke up and decided that I needed to have cheesecake. I’d recently been to a party that had mini cheesecakes baked in cupcake wrappers but it didn’t quite do the trick for me. So I woke up and craved, needed a proper  cheesecake. I needed gobs of serious cream cheese laced with sugar. I need it to be fruity because fruity means “guilt-free” but chocolatey means “get on the treadmill.” And since I cancelled my gym membership for my impending room, treadmilling was not an option.

Is my thinking delusional? Nahh.

So with reckless abandon I forgot all the errands I had planned to run, did a quick scan of the world wide web, ran to the supermarket (because who keeps 3 blocks of cream cheese around?), ran to fetch my springform pan 20 minutes away, room temperaturized my cream cheese in record time (cheese in ziploc, ziploc in cold water, cold water in bowl), and made a cheesecake!

Run-on sentences are the bomb diggity.

 

This cheesecake was everything I wanted it to be. It was reminiscent of summer with the fresh strawberry topping and delicious coconut crust. The filling itself was not too dense, just how I love it. (Is it blasphemous not to love thick dense cheesecakes if I’m moving to NY?) All in all, a win.

Strawberry-Coconut Cheesecake
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, divided
  • 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, cooled (toast on foil at 400F for 5-10 minutes until browned – be careful not to burn it!)
  • 3/4 c graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/8 c sugar

For filling:

  • 24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 c sweetened cream of coconut (ie Coco Lopez)
  • 1/4 c coconut rum (ie Malibu)

For topping:

  • 2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 c strawberry jam (seedless preferred)
  • 2 tbsp water

Instructions
For crust: Preheat oven to 350F. Brush springform pan with approximately 1 tbsp melted butter. If needed, line with parchment and brush parchment with extra butter. In a medium bowl, mix together remaining butter, coconut, graham cracker crumbs, and sugar until well moistened. Press into bottom of the springform pan and bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned at the edges. Cool and reduce oven temperature to 300F.

For filling: Using an electric mixer, beat together cream cheese, butter, cornstarch, and sugar until well combined. Add eggs in one at a time, scraping and mixing completely. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut rum. Strain mixture through a sieve and pour into cooled crust. Bake in a water bath at 300F for 1 hr 40 min (epicurious had all these instructions for covering with foil etc but I omitted and had no issues). The cake should jiggle a bit when done and be browned on the edges. Once done, turn oven off, crack oven door open, and let sit in the oven for 30 minutes before taking out to cool completely in the refrigerator (5 hours or more, preferably overnight).

For topping: Simmer jam and water in a saucepan until combined. Layer strawberries atop cheesecake and brush with glaze. Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve. Can be assembled 8 hours in advance.

Do you ever crave?

Pina Colada Cake

(Pardon the horrendous picture. This is actually the only decent shot I got and I am terrible at taking pictures in restaurants!)

I’m currently in China getting chubby on dumplings and hand-pulled noodles but figured I’d leave something sweet for you to munch on while I’m gone!

I made this cake as a (surprise, surprise) last-minute decision for a friend’s birthday (originally someone else volunteered but ended up not having enough time). I simplified it by baking it in a disposable cake pan, making a whipped topping rather than buttercream, and just slathering on toppings rather than slicing out layers etc. Actually, I was under some severe time constraints so we drove all the way to the restaurant with separate components and a still-too-warm cake and I threw it all together in Boy’s trunk. Thankfully, it came together perfectly and went well with the Cuban dinner we attended for the celebrant. It was a huge hit (some even said it was better than this ice cream cake). The flavors melded and the cake was a light ending to our meal. Each individual component was full of flavor and together there could be nothing more delicious.

Pina Colada Cake
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes

Ingredients
For Brown Sugar Cake:

  • 3 3/4 c cake flour
  • 1 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 1/4 c packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 c buttermilk
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

For Pineapple Topping:

  • 1 can (20 oz) crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 vanilla bean

For Coconut Whipped Topping

  • 2 c heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/4 c confectioner’s sugar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut, for garnish

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F.

For filling: Combine pineapple, sugar, lemon juice, and the scraped vanilla seeds in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly while the sugar dissolves, 2-3 minutes. Then increase the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and almost jam-like. Cool completely before using.

For cake: Butter a 9×13″ cake pan (or 3 9″ round cake pans). If you use the 9×13″ pan, you will have extra batter for cupcakes or a 9″ round cake.

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl attached to an electric mixer. Whisk gently to combine. Add brown sugar, butter, and 1 1/2 c buttermilk and blend on low speed. Once incorporated, beat on medium 2-3 minutes or until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs with remaining 1/4 buttermilk and vanilla. Add to the batter in 3 additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl in between, just until combined. Pour 2/3 of the cake batter (you can eyeball) into the prepared cake pan, saving the rest for cupcakes or a smaller cake. (Or divide among the 3 9″ round cake pans evenly.) Bake 35-45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean (for smaller pans, adjust time accordingly). Cool completely before topping.

For whipped topping: Whip heavy cream until soft peak stage. Add confectioner’s sugar and coconut extract and continue beating until stiff peaks. Taste and add sugar/extract as needed for your coconut loving taste.

For assembly: Spread pineapple topping over cooled cake (despite not using all the cake batter in my 9×13″ cake, I still used all of the topping – it’s yummy!). Then spread shredded coconut, followed by the whipped topping. Serve and enjoy!

I wish I had more pictures but alas it was not my camera’s night.

Enjoy your week everyone!

Samoa Bars

In my reader, I have amassed quite a collection of blog posts and recipes that I’m dying to try. Unfortunately, that collection grows by the day and I can’t quite keep up. Also, when a stroke of inspiration strikes, there’s no guarantee that an appropriate recipe is already sitting in my files so I go off hunting the internet and alas the list of recipes never gets shorter.

This week, however, I was determined.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally settled on this recipe. Browned butter, chocolate, coconut, and the namesake of the hands-down best Girl Scouts cookie out there. What could go wrong? Nothing, I tell you, nothing. These bars are an exercise in moderation they’re so delicious. They can single-handedly bring a diet crashing down with the first bite of wonderful. The only thing I would change would be to do some kind of caramel drizzle over them to really get the quintessential samoa experience.

I’m drooling just thinking about it.

Samoa Bars
adapted from honey & jam

Makes one 8×8″ pan.

Ingredients

  • 10 tbsp (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 1 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 1 1/4 c sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 c bittersweet chocolate chips

Ingredients
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8 baking dish with aluminum foil.

Brown the butter in a pan over high heat. To do this, stand very close by and wait until it begins to change color and smell nutty. Take off the flame and allow the butter to cool for a few minutes until just warm. Combine with the brown and granulated sugars in a large bowl. Add in the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir with a wooden spoon. Slowly add in the flour, coconut, and chocolate chips until the flour just disappears. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth the top over. Bake 25-30 minutes. The center will still be soft but avoid overbaking. Cool completely before cutting and serving.

Clearly I was too eager to wait for these babies to cool.

Have you taken childhood favorites and changed them up?

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies

Let me tell you about these brownies.

They taste like olive oil.

Now, many recipes tout ingredients in their titles that don’t always play a huge role in the flavor category. This one doesn’t. These actually taste like olive oil with some surrounding chocolate and a helping of coconut. So if you don’t like any of those ingredients, I’m sorry but these are probably not the brownies for you.

However, if you do like any (or all) of the above ingredients, you’re going to love these! I happen to be one of those people who could (did? I’m not telling!) eat these in spoonfuls out of the pan, who finds the flavor combination both sublime and addicting. The only real problem for me is that they’re not super awesome washed down with a glass of cold milk. Milk and olive oil? Not the best duo. But olive oil and chocolate and coconut with a few grains of salt? Oh baby, come to mama!

This Week I Ate..

  • Eats Well With Others’ Chicken Enchiladas with Mashed Plantains. After a slightly panicked text message, I was reassured in replacing the red chiles with 3 chipotle peppers (with accompanying adobo sauce) and Boy and I could not love this dish any more. It was the perfect amount of spicy and the queso fresco on top completely won us over. (I used an entire 12 oz block). I wish I still had leftovers.

Olive Oil and Coconut Brownies
adapted from NY Times

Makes 16-25 brownies, depending on how you cut them.

Ingredients

  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c + 1 tbsp water, boiling
  • 1 oz unsweetened or bittersweet chocolate (I used 72%), finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 c sugar
  • 1 c + 6 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 heaping tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%), coarsely chopped
  • 1 c shredded sweetened coconut
  • extra kosher salt or fleur de sel for sprinkling

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8×8″ baking pan with foil and grease lightly with extra olive oil. Set aside.

Whisk together cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth. Add 1 oz unsweetened/bittersweet chocolate and whisk until melted and smooth. Whisk in olive oil. Whisk in egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add in sugar and whisk until completely incorporated. Switch to a spatula and fold in flour and salt until just mixed. Fold in coarsely chopped chocolate.

Pour half of the batter into the pan and smooth over. Sprinkle half the coconut over the batter. Then, in big spoonfuls, plop the rest of the batter over top the coconut and smooth over (it’s okay if it’s not perfect). Sprinkle with the remaining coconut and a good dose of sprinkling salt. Bake 25-30 minutes or until just set. Disregard the tester in this case because it won’t come out clean. Allow to cool completely on a rack.

This has been submitted to Sweets for a Saturday!

Coconut Half-Pound Cake

In all my “carpe diem”-ing, I took a small trip down to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend from school who recently moved there. And, as per my usual, I decided the morning of to bake something. Anything, so long as it was good.

I took a quick survey of my kitchen and found leftover shredded coconut and not much else. After a quick Google search, this cake was it. And I’m so glad it was because it was a definite hit among my two girlfriend and myself as we polished off half of it that afternoon. Luckily, we have large enough stomachs that it didn’t spoil our dinner. I threw in a touch of almond extract at the last minute and was told that the addition made the cake. A tender crumb, moist coconut, and the delicious idea of sprinkling some vanilla sugar over top all made the perfect afternoon snack.

Unfortunately, in all the rush, I neglected to take pictures of the cake slices. Trust me that it was delicious. Also, had I taken pictures of the inside, you’d have seen little flecks of vanilla bean because the original recipe called for it. The end result, however, didn’t exactly showcase the vanilla so I omitted that in the recipe below. If you opt out of the almond extract you may find the vanilla bean flavor present but I love the almond and coconut combination.

Note: I call this a half-pound cake because the eggs and butter are only half a pound and not the classic pound. I also think it’s a cuter title this way.

Coconut Half-Pound Cake
adapted from the Naptime Chef

Makes 1 9×5″ loaf.

Ingredients

  • 1 c (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 c granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract
  • heaping 1 c sweetened shredded coconut, divided
  • vanilla sugar

Instructions
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease a 9×5″ loaf and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs approximately one egg at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed after each addition. Add extracts and combine. On low speed, slowly add in the flour until just incorporated. Fold in 3/4 c coconut with a spatula. Pour into prepared pan and bake 45 minutes.

After 45 minutes, sprinkle remaining coconut and a good helping of vanilla sugar over loaf and continue baking another 15 minutes, or until tester comes out clean. Cool completely. Eat, eat, eat!

Lychee Coconut Sorbet

So let me tell you about Boy’s birthday extravaganza!

All-in-all the dinner was a huge success but it wasn’t without its bumps in the road. Also, if I didn’t start the night before and then start the day of at noon we would have eaten at midnight. I’m not a very organized cook. I’m definitely a much better baker.

But so it goes. He loved it anyway.

(And we all know he’d have loved anything I made – or at least said he loved it.)

First course, Momofuku’s Pork Belly Buns adapted from epicurious.

High points: They were absolutely delicious and tasted very much like the original buns that I had with Joanne. (Hi Joanne!) Assembly was quite easy as was the actually pork belly part. Plus, they make for a beautiful looking appetizer. Boy loves him some pork belly!

Low points: I couldn’t, for the life of me, get my bun dough to cooperate. The yeast wasn’t having it, the flour to water ratio seemed off, and a box of dry milk ran me $10. After several attempts, two the night before and one the day of, I ran out to the Asian store for some frozen premade buns which still tasted delicious so I highly recommend it.

Next course, Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs from No Recipes with Wilted Watercress from epicurious and jasmine rice.

High points: Everything. This was super easy to make. For the beef, you just throw everything into a pot and let it simmer away for a few hours until it’s beautifully tender and dark! I used a cheaper bottle of red wine and it came out perfect. The watercress took minutes and was a perfect side to the beef.

Low points: Nothing!

And for dessert, Lychee Coconut Sorbet from epicurious with Vermicelli Crisps from epicurious and the October Daring Bakers Challenge.

Can’t show you the Challenge dish yet but I thought I’d share the recipe for the sorbet since it was so delicious and super easy.

Lychee Coconut Sorbet
adapted from epicurious

Makes 1 pint.

Ingredients

  • 1 can lychees in syrup
  • 1/2 c well-stirred cream of coconut (Coco Lopez brand preferred; this is NOT coconut milk and NOT coconut cream)
  • juice of one lime, plus more if desired

* also need a pre-frozen ice cream maker

Instructions

Drain lychees, reserving syrup.

Combine lychees, cream of coconut, 1/4 c syrup, and lime juice in a blender until smooth. Strain to remove leftover lychee pulp and taste, adding more lime if desired. Refrigerate until cold.

Freeze in pre-frozen ice cream maker.

Vermicelli Crisps
adapted from epicurious

Ingredients

  • Dried rice vermicelli (rice-stick noodles)
  • Enough vegetable oil for 1 1/2 inches of oil in whatever vessel you are frying in
  • Powdered sugar

*also need a deep-frying or candy thermometer

Instructions

Soak noodles in cold water until pliable. (This took me about an hour.) Drain, pat dry, and spread on paper towels to air-dry for about 30 minutes.

When ready to fry, begin heating oil until thermometer reads 350F.

Gather mounds of noodles (about 1 tbsp) and pull apart slightly to form a loose tangle. Drop tangles into oil and fry until crisp. about 20 seconds. They will sink, the oil will bubble, and then the noodles will rise to the surface for the duration of frying. Use a slotted spoon to pull crisps out of oil and drain on paper towels. Dust with powdered sugar.

Dinner was a lot of work but definitely worth every bit of effort. It was a wonderful birthday for Boy!

Tune in on Wednesday to find out how the Daring Bakers October challenge went!

Cupcake Hero July [Coconut] Roundup!

Without further ado, your Cupcake Hero Roundup!

[Recipes for contestants without blogs were posted unedited on separate pages.]

Lime in the Coconut Cupcakes by Shannyn of Sugary Flower

I Dream of Marrakech: Bittersweet Chocolate Coconut Cake with a Light Orange Buttercream by Courtney of C&C Cakery

Coconut Sunrise Cupcakes: Lemon-Coconut Cupcake with Coconut-Lemon Buttercream by Amy

Midori Colada Cupcakes with Pineapple Rum Syrup and Midori Buttercream by Enjolie

Vanilla Bean Coconut Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting by Jackie of Galexi Cupcakes

Coconut and Pineapple Cupcakes by Catie of Catie’s Cakes and Cookies

The Homemade Snowball by Katherine of Missy Moodle Cupcakes

Chai Tea Coconut Cupcakes by Izzy

Mochoconut Almond Cupcakes by Amy (her second entry!)

VOTING ON THE SIDEBAR OR BELOW IS UNTIL JULY 22ND AT MIDNIGHT!!

VOTE FOR YOUR FAVORITE CUPCAKE NOW!!

You can only vote once.

Good luck to all cupcakes. They all look super fantabulous.

Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies

I love coconut.

Always have. Always will.

Perhaps it’s the tropical island heritage? My parents often tell me about how they used to climb the coconut trees back in the Philippines, shimmying up the long trunks using various methods to find their way to the top. This is my brother in Aruba on a family trip last year:

He’s a bit of a beast. By the way, Aruba is beautiful and I think everyone should go. I’d love it if you’d take me with you but I’d be happy either way. I know, I know. I’m so self-less.

Anyway, I remember a time somewhere around fifth grade when coconut was NOT cool. Did you all experience something similar? The Almond Joys and Mounds were the absolute last candy bars to go whenever we had candy passed around. I’d often get “stuck” with them because my last name is towards the end of the alphabet so the pickin’s were slim but I’d always be secretly happy. Also, because no one wanted them I could get away with taking two or three at a time. I don’t remember having many friends in fifth grade.

Luckily, however, coconuts have come back in style and are now and acceptable and welcome addition to anything! That’s probably more because of my age than a change in the times but for whatever reason I’m super happy I can now bake with coconut and everyone rejoices. Hence the two coconutty recipes this week! I added a tiny tiny bit of chocolate to pay homage to the above candy bars. I think it added to the cookie quite nicely. But I also made a few cookies without the chocolate and they were pretty yummy as well so you can go either way! Don’t add too much chocolate though or it’ll overwhelm the other flavors.

These cookies are wonderfully chewy and flavored with the perfect amount of lime. Great for spring/summer parties or what have you. I served them as a light snack while celebrating a friend’s birthday (I didn’t make the cake this time) before going out for drinks at a bar.

Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies
adapted from My Baking Addiction, originally from Rock Recipes

Makes ~ 40 cookies.

Ingredients
2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of one large lime
3 tbsp lime juice
½ c unsweetened toasted coconut [spread coconut in a thin layer on a baking sheet and toast in 350F oven fro 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally]
2 oz chopped bittersweet chocolate, optional

1/2 c sugar for rolling cookies

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until smooth and very fluffy. Add egg, vanilla extract, lime juice and lime zest. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients.

With a wooden spoon, stir in toasted coconut and chopped chocolate if using.

With your hands [the fun part!] roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and then roll in sugar. Place on lined cookie sheets about 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes before moving to wire racks.

Pina Colada Cupcakes

A change of pace.

It’s not always welcome but it’s often appreciated.

This past weekend Boy and I traveled to Washington DC to “escape” for a couple days. We had been planning the mini-trip for a month or so. I had been meticulous in picking out the best hotel we could afford and finding restaurant options and he had smiled and nodded as I blabbed on and on about all of it. We’ve done this a few times, gone away for a night or two to nearby cities and give ourselves the option to do nothing at all but also the chance to have a nice dinner at the very least. It’s always been a great experience. We catch up in a way. We leave our books behind for the most part (sitting on a bus for 4+ hours seems like a good time to study in theory but we usually end up playing Scrabble on my iTouch) and we mostly just enjoy the company. We don’t bicker per our usual state and we don’t stress. It’s a change of pace. It’s a reminder that we have other things in common besides spending more time in a hospital than we do at home and that we don’t need the excuse of being in the same school to know we can be good together. Sometimes you start to think you’re just together for the convenience of it all, you know?

This weekend was a bit hectic because we unknowingly squeezed it in between rough weeks at work. I was on call on Friday and got out around 7.30. For some reason we really wanted to see Robin Hood (two thumbs up, by the way) so I rushed to pack to make the 9.30ish showing (I live a good 30-45 minutes from the hospital in the first place and 20 minutes from the theater so that left me about 45 minutes to shower and pack), we got home past midnight and woke up at 6.00 the next morning to make our bus. And then after the fabulous weekend in DC, we got stuck in traffic on the way home Sunday night, hadn’t eaten all day, and ended up going to bed around midnight after stopping at the Rutgers grease trucks (can I get an AAAAAAAA-MEN?!) only to wake up at 6.00 the next morning for work.

Sound exhausting? It was. I don’t even think I’m caught up with sleep yet!

But it was perfect. Hit the spot. Made me feel refreshed (in our relationship. In life, I was a dead woman walking). It’s always nice to escape the familiar and explore what else is out there in the world. Even thought I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial at least a dozen times, being there with a different person on a different day still gives me the same high.

These cupcakes are just as refreshing and high-giving. They take a LITTLE more time than other cupcakes because of the filling process but they’re well worth it. Every component has something pineapple and/or coconut so the flavors really come through. It’s exactly what I imagined such a cupcake to taste like if not better than I imagined. They’re a lovely change of pace from the traditional cupcake.

Pina Colada Cupcakes
adapted from iheartcuppycakes with frosting from Simply Recipes

Makes 24.

Ingredients
For pineapple & coconut cupcake

2 2/3 c all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 c granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
16 oz crushed pineapple in juice, well drained, juice reserved
2/3 c of the reserved pineapple juice
2/3 c sweetened coconut

For coconut creme filling
1 pkg (3-1/2oz) Jello instant vanilla pudding
1 tsp coconut extract

For cream cheese frosting
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
2 – 3 c powdered sugar
1-3 tsp pineapple rum [I use Cruzan]

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

With a stand or hand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time. Add in the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the pineapple juice in 2 additions. Fold in the pineapple and coconut.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-3/4 full. Bake for about 20-22 mins or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the filling and topping.

For the filling, make pudding as directed on the box and add coconut extract.

For the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese together approximately 3 minutes on medium speed. Add rum and then slowly add powdered sugar, mixing well until desired thickness.

To assemble
Cut out a cone from the top of each cupcake. Fill with as much creme as possible and replace cone (if you aren’t lazy like me, you can trim off a bit of the cone so it sits better but really, once you frost it you can’t tell). Frost. Garnish with toasted coconut (over the stove or at 350 for 5-10 minutes.. watch it closely to prevent burning!).

Rave reviews are sure to come your way if you set these out on the table!

– Sharlene

Coconut Cookies

[[ Btw, Full Circle is hosting a giveaway with Betty Crocker and Safeway. Tell Kimmie I sent you and go enter! ]]

This past month has been a bit of an exploration in my kitchen. I’m on research elective right now which means I don’t have much to do [read: study/cram] when I get home from work which hasn’t been the case for quite some time. It’s been a refreshing change of pace and it’s allowed me the liberty to try new things and make old favorites without having to sacrifice one for the other. I’ve been able to take my time to do things properly, read recipes several times through before measuring out the flour, allow butter to soften as it should. It’s reaffirmed my absolute love for baking, for the edible science experiment that only needs a few minutes before I can dig in. Instead of only enjoying the outcomes, I’ve begun to enjoy the process. Finances have been a bit tight around here in preparation for a couple upcoming trips that deserve every penny I can save so while my baking has increased my spending has – dare I say it – done the opposite. I’ve dugdeep into the dark, hard-to-reach corners of my refrigerator, cabinets, and cupboards to find ingredients I can use to satisfy my sweet tooth. I’ve searched, thought about, edited, and searched again for recipes to complement my supplies.

I’ve quite enjoyed it. My current “stop and smell the roses” lifestyle has made me want to drop out of medical school and become a pastry chef. A chocolatier, perhaps. I visited close friends in the City (that’s NYC for those of you from other areas of the world and as far as I’m concerned no matter where I live it’ll always be NYC) this past weekend and took them to my favorite chocolatier and chocolate shop. I spent $30 precious dollars on my version of gold: rich and luscious ganaches, macarons, light mousses, and crunchy pralines. It was worth every penny. Boy and my friend even made purchases despite their extensive “complaints” and comments about “developing diabetes” while I dragged them across town. To me, the experience alone is worth the trip. All the little chocolates lined up perfectly in their crystal-clear glass displays, some neatly positioned in decorative boxes with crisp ribbons, larger hand-crafted chocolate pieces that can only be described as artwork. And all you have to do is ask for a taste and a piece is handed to you with the daintiest pair of tongs and a smile at the other end of them, full confidence that you’ll fall in love and walk out with a bag full of happiness in the form of chocolate. The confidence comes from the freshness and the simplicity of their recipes. Cacao, cream, and a little bit of banana puree can somehow become the thing you crave for days after the fact cursing yourself for not snatching up a tray for yourself. So many flavors. So little time. Such shallow pockets. I’ll leave the chocolate up to the experienced chocolatiers in the city. For me, I’ll nibble on the treats I picked up and be perfectly satisfied with these cookies.

There’s something to be said for simplifying life down to the basics. Beauty in flour, sugar, eggs, butter, and one or two extra ingredients for some *pop.* Joy in only washing one bowl instead of bowls on top of sieves on top of measuring cups and spoons on top of a whisk and a wooden spoon. Satisfaction in sitting down to eat a bite of heavenly goodness that you set out to make less than an hour ago, knowing there’s still plenty of daylight for other accomplishments.

That’s what these cookies are to me.

They may not be my version of gold but they’re pretty gosh darn tasty and even more delicious when I think about how little effort went into making them. I had a few strawberries in the fridge that I wanted to use up so I slipped them inside and the result was the perfect hint of extra goodness. Try it if you can. No need to send any royalties.

Coconut Cookies with Strawberries
adapted from Saveur

Makes 24.

Ingredients
2 c sweetened coconut flakes
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp flour
4 tbsp melted butter
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
2-3 strawberries, chopped, optional


Instructions
Preheat oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix everything in a bowl. Moisten hands to help with rolling. Roll 24 little balls of coconutty goodness as pretty as you want them. If adding strawberries, press single piece into the center of the cookie and gather all the smushed out cookie to reform a ball around the strawberry.


Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. [Mine took a little over 20.] Allow to cool and then drizzle melted chocolate or vanilla chips all over the place!

See how easy that was? No go on and use up your leftover coconut.

– Sharlene