Homemade Thin Mints

Posted on March 19, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts |

Say hello to my second batch of homemade girl scout cookies, HELLO!!

Last week I posted Samoas/Caramel DeLites, my FAVORITE!

This year I decided no more buying girl scout cookies. They are pumped with chemicals and preservatives, hence the waxy coating on the outside. And they are cookies, just cookies. Which means I can for sure make them. And thin mints don’t seem that hard. Cookies and chocolate coating, not too difficult. So I went exploring for a thin mint recipe. I didn’t have to go far before I found one on 101 Cookbooks. Of course Heidi has made them! She makes great vegetarian recipes and also desserts so I knew it was a trusted recipe.

In the recipe it says to roll out the dough on a floured surface and use a cookie cutter to cut out circles. I got lazy (I really just hate cleaning up paste-y flour from my counter tops). So I divided the dough into 2 balls. Rolled each ball into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick and wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for about an hour. Then I just cut slices of the log to make the cookie disks.
*When you do this, roll the log every 2 or 3 slices. This will prevent 1 edge of the cookies from becoming flat. It will help keep a rounded log/cookie.

No, the cookies weren’t all the exact size or perfectly round like a true thin mint or like they would be if I used cookie cutters. But let’s be honest, we eat these things by the dozen so we don’t even have time to notice the small imperfections. Well, at least I don’t If I was giving these away as a gift to someone, I may take the time to roll them out and use a cookie cutter. But for the purpose of quickly inhaling them because they smell so wonderful, perfection is obsolete.

Recipe From 101 Cookbooks

Just go to her website and follow the directions exactly. When it comes to the part where you can roll the dough in a ball and place it in the freezer, this is when you can roll it into the log and freeze it for slicing. Either way, these cookies will fill your house with a fantastic chocolate, butter, mint aroma. To-Die-For!!!!

Oh, and my pictures suck. I have become so much better at food photography. Not to be confused though, I am by NO MEANS calling myself a good photographer. I have just improved.

For how impressive these are in taste, the pictures sure don’t capture it. But oh well, what can I do? Oh, I can make them again, REAL soon and take better pictures. Done and Done!

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Samoas/Caramel DeLites- PHO Free!

Posted on March 12, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts |

I am a little crazy, nutty, koo-koo, eccentric, out there, off my rocker, whatever you like to call it…I can go off on tangents and never quite find my way back.

Like partially hydrogenated oils. There isn’t 1 redeeming quality about them. Yes, they preserve food, but I don’t consider that a redeeming quality.

For the last few years my husband and I have been slowly eliminating Partially Hydrogenated Oils (PHOs) from our diet. Slowly is the key word here. Many foods that we really like have PHOs in them; so one by one we are eliminating those from our lives. Graham Crackers, Saltines, CoffeeMate creamer, and girl scout cookies, just to name a few. This was the first year I said absolutely, 100% will I NEVER eat another girl scout cookie. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I know they taste good. I KNOW. But instead of buying them, I will just make them.

I am a huge advocate for homemade goods anyway; breads, ice cream, yogurt…So why not make homemade Samoas, and maybe Thin Mints soon as well…

Do you take a stand on anything? Even if it doesn’t make sense to other people? Or seems wacky, crazy, or inconvenient? I encourage you to take a stand for something you believe in. Do it, don’t worry about what people will say. Someone will always be for you and someone will always be against you. Do it, Do it, Do it.

Come on, these look a million times better then the processed version, and they don’t even have the chocolate on them yet.

As I browsed some food blogs to find a recipe for the Samoas/Caramel DeLites, I came across the one I settled on. She did a great job of documenting her cookie making procedures through pictures, a REALLY good job.

Recipe Adapted from Home Cooking in Montana
Makes about 3 – 4 dozen cookies, depending on the size of them obviously

1 cup butter, soft
1/2 cup sugar
2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
up to 2 tbsp milk (I only had to add 1 tbsp)

In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt at a low speed, followed by the vanilla and milk, adding in the milk as needed to make the dough come together without being sticky (it’s possible you might not need to add milk at all). The dough should come together into a soft, not-too-sticky ball. Add in a bit of extra flour if your dough is very sticky. Place dough unto a plastic wrap and from into a log (about 2 inch in diameter). Refrigerate overnight or for a few hours until hard.
Preheat oven to 350F.

Unwrap cookie dough and cut into 1/4 inch or slightly thicker slices. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet.

I know these don’t have the holes in the center. We tried to do that, but it just wasn’t working. Not 1 person made a comment about holes not being there. The comments that were made involved words like, “yum, insane, delicious, wonderful, unbelievable.” You get the point. So don’t sweat it if you don’t put holes in the middle of your cookie.

Bake for only about 10 minutes, until edges are lightly golden.
*You may need to cook them slightly longer or shorter depending on your oven temperature, so pay close attention so you don’t burn them.
Cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

3 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)
12-oz good-quality chewy caramels (I made homemade caramel and used about 2 cups worth)
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp milk
12 oz. dark or semisweet chocolate (you might need more chocolate)
vegetable oil (for thinning the chocolate)

Preheat oven to 300. Spread coconut evenly on a parchment-lined baking sheet (preferably one with sides) and toast 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until coconut is golden. You don’t want burned coconut! Cool on baking sheet, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

Unwrap the caramels and place in a large microwave-safe bowl with milk and salt.
Cook on high for 3-4 minutes, stopping to stir a few times to help the caramel melt. When smooth, fold in toasted coconut with a spatula.
*If you are using homemade caramel, melt it in the microwave with the 3 tbsp milk for less then a minute and then stir in the toasted coconut.

Using the a small spatula, spoon or fork, spread topping on cooled cookies, using about 2-3 tsp per cookie. Reheat caramel for a few seconds in the microwave if it gets too firm to work with.

While topping sets up, melt chocolate and vegetable oil in a double boiler.
*You will probably need a couple tablespoons of vegetable oil.

Dip the base of each cookie into the chocolate and place on a clean piece of parchment paper (place the parchment paper on a cookie sheet). Using a spoon, drizzle finished cookies with chocolate. Let chocolate set completely before storing in an airtight container.
*You can put the cookie sheet with the cookies on it in the freezer for them to harden quickly (less then 10 minutes), or in the refrigerator (about an hour).

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Orange Almond Cake- Flourless/Gluten Free

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts, Fruit |

I know there are traditional Easter desserts. Well, I am assuming there are. In my family we don’t really have food traditions. Except that we eat. Our holiday food traditions are to eat.Food. But what kind of food is always a surprise. Sometimes we have turkey, ham, stuffed peppers, filet, chicken. And for dessert pumpkin pie is on the Thanksgiving table. But that is really the only dessert that is consistent with a holiday. So for Easter there isn’t a particular dessert that we have been anticipating all year. A few years ago I made Banana Cream Cheesecake. Last year I made a Chocolate Heath Bar Oreo trifle. And this year, I think I am going to go with this cake…

Last night I taught a cooking class at my house and we made the Orange Almond Cake. I saw this cake on some food blogs and it sounded amazing and that’s when I decided I have to try it before I commit to making it for Easter. Perfect, cooking class students can be the guinea pigs. The theme of the class was ‘Easter Brunch.’ One of my friends is gluten free, and I wanted to make a dessert that uses seasonal produce and is gluten free but didn’t require a fancy flour (rice, soy, etc…). We can all find almonds in our grocery store which means anyone can make this cake by grinding up almonds in their food processor. I happen to be fortunate enough to live near 400 specialty grocery stores that carry almond flour so I don’t have to grind almonds, I just measure out the pre-ground almond flour. Anyway… The ‘students’ in the class went for it and made the cake. They whipped the egg yolks and threw the egg whites in the stand mixer and let it go to town creating the peaks on the whites. Then we just folded the mixtures together, poured it in the pan and plopped it in the oven. Easy. Seriously, it’s not complicated at all.

The step in this cake that really can’t be forgotten is the time for the cake to chill after it bakes. When the eggs bake they puff up a little and when you chill it is helps the eggs become dense and rich. The texture of the cake, after it chills for at least 8 hours, is almost like cheesecake. Not quite as dense because it doesn’t have the cream cheese, but similar. The orange is such a refreshing flavor. And the almond meal gives it a deep rich taste and texture. The chocolate ganache on top, well, that’s just delicious on top of anything.

I am happy to say that everyone in the class enjoyed the cake, even though it didn’t have time to chill before they dug in. And I am also excited for Easter, when this cake will be made again.


3 medium oranges or 2 large naval oranges
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup ground whole almonds
1 tsp baking powder
*optional spices: 2 tsp cardamom or 2 tsp cinnamon

Place the washed, whole and unpeeled fruit in water to cover, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 1½ hours or until soft, adding more water when necessary. Drain the oranges, cut into quarters, discard any major pips, and puree the fruit in a food-processor, then cool to room temperature.

Heat the oven to 350F.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl until pale. Beat in the oranges, almonds, and baking powder.

Beat the egg whites until soft peak and fold gently into the mixture.

Pour into a 9″ spring form cake pan and bake for an hour, until firm to the touch (cover with foil if over-browning). Cool in the pan and chill overnight.
*The batter can be poured almost to the top of the pan, it doesn’t rise very much.

Pour chocolate ganache over the whole cake and put it in the fridge for 10 minutes to let the chocolate firm up a little..

Chocolate Ganache

8 oz bittersweet chocolate. chopped finely
1/2 cup heavy cream

Place ingredients in a metal bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Allow the chocolate to melt, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl from the double boiler when it is almost, but not quite, melted. Set the glaze aside to finish melting, stirring once or twice until perfectly smooth. When the glaze is smooth and shiny, pour it over the cake to cover it completely or partially. Chill the cake in the fridge for 10 minutes to set the glaze before removing it from the rack.

Laura commented on my blog abotu this cake.

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Chocolate Chip Cheesecake

Posted on February 25, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts |

This post is WAY late. I made this on Valentine’s Day. We had church that night and I promised a few people a wonderful cheesecake if they came (when there is a holiday people use that as an excuse not to come to church, so bribing is the best way I have found to get them to come).

The first time I made cheesecake I was so nervous. It seemed so difficult and potentially temperamental. But I really really really enjoy cheesecake so I had to go for it. I will never forget my first cheesecake attempt/success. Oreo; oreo crust and plain cheesecake with big chunks of oreos in the cheesecake. MMMM, It was soo good. And then my second cheesecake was White Chocolate Raspberry. (I worked at the Cheesecake Factory during college, so I got first hand exposure to lots of different flavors). After those 2 I felt pretty good about my cheesecake making ability and started to experiment even more. I have made many many cheesecakes over the few years since college. But this is my first one with a chocolate ganache on top. I don’t know how I will ever be able to enjoy cheesecake without it now. It pushed this over the edge of great into freaking awesome.

Something I really like about making cheesecake is that you can use low fat ingredients. I always use low fat cream cheese and sour cream. Because you use so much sugar and eggs, you will never know you are cutting some of the fat. And I KNOW other people won’t either. Because those folks I bribed at church, they devoured this thing and had no idea!

For the crust
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 crackers: 1 bag)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
32 ounces (4 blocks) low fat cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 whole extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream, low fat
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi sweet)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the crust, combine the graham crackers and melted butter in a bowl until moistened. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. With your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and about 1-inch up the sides. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool to room temperature.

Raise the oven temperature to 450 degrees F.

To make the filling, cream the cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well. Scrape down the bowl and beater, as necessary. With the mixer on low, add the sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in the chocolate chips. Pour into the cooled crust.

Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the oven temperature down to 225 degrees and bake for another 1 hour and 15 minutes (DO NOT open the oven door when you lower the temperature. Trust you oven, and KNOW that your cheesecake is not burning after 15 minutes). Turn the oven off and open the door wide. The cake will not be completely set in the center. Allow the cake to sit in the oven with the door open for 30 minutes. Take the cake out of the oven and allow it to sit at room temperature for another 2 to 3 hours, until completely cooled. Wrap and refrigerate overnight.
*Lowering the temperature and letting it cook for a little longer allows it to cook all the way through without browning it or making too many cracks in the top. Turning off the oven and letting the cake sit inside with the door cracked is a great trick to continue cooking it, but it won’t brown or burn.

Remove the cake from the springform pan by carefully running a hot knife around the outside of the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the springform pan for serving.

To make the topping, heat the heavy cream and chocolate chips in a double boiler over low heat. Once the chocolate has melted and is stirred in, remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool. Allow it too cool to room temperature. It will thicken as it cools. But you will still be able to pour it onto the cheesecake. Carefully pour the ganache into the middle of the cheesecake and spread it to the outside, leaving about 1/4 of an inch space from the edge. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I cut a piece of the cheesecake for its ‘photoshoot’ about an hour before church on Valentine’s night. As I was taking pictures I thought it would be great to have a picture of a bite of the cheesecake. And then another bite, and another, and oh crap, I ate the entire slice. And then I proceeded to eat more. I literally ate about 1/8 of the entire cake by the time it was all over. It was good stuff!

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Chocolate Cake with Mascarpone Buttercream

Posted on February 22, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts |

When I bake I try to bake something with someone in mind. I do this with the intention of giving that person what I bake. Good grief if I ate all of what I baked, my new name would be fat girl in a fat body. Granted, I have been blessed with a fast metabolism (a little too fast at times thanks to Grave’s Disease) and I also LOVE to exercise.

I like to ask my future ‘baked good receiver’ what their top 3 favorite desserts are. That way I can get an idea of what they like or what they don’t like. I don’t usually bake something exactly from that list. I modify it a tiny bit to add my own flair. For instance, my friend from childhood (we have known each other for 22 years) loves chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. So I took that and ran with it.

Chocolate Cake
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup applesauce
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Mascarpone Buttercream
1 stick butter, room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tbsp kahlua
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter for about 1 minute. Add the buttercream and mix for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Add the kahlua and vanilla.

Chocolate Ganache
1/3 cup half and half (You can use heavy cream, and then just use a little less chocolate)
1 cup milk chocolate, chopped

Chocolate Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray non stick spray in 2 (8-inch) round cake pans.

With a whisk, mix the flours, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into until combined and any lumps are broken up. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients while whisking. Add the coffee and whisk just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

When the ganache has cooled, pour it over the top of the cake, slowly. You can speed the hardening process of the ganache by putting it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.

I cut out a piece (A really large piece, since we were sharing you know) for my husband and I to enjoy. His words exactly, “This is the best chocolate cake and frosting you have ever made…(He eats another bite) This is the best frosting I have ever had.” I had to agree with him. This frosting, holy freaking cow, out of the world. For me, this frosting made the cake. Without it, it would have been just plain chocolate cake. But the mascarpone just took it to another level.

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Vegan Chocolate Cake

Posted on February 15, 2010. Filed under: Cake, Chocolate, Desserts |

I am not a vegan, nor will I ever be. I do eat animal products often: eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt. I am not a vegetarian either, I am just not a big meat eater. It grosses me out. I primarily eat fruits and vegetables and I am always drawn to recipes that focus on them. And a baked good that has avocado in it? Freaking awesome.
Did I say Avocado in cake?
YES I DID! Keep tracking with me…
I am not a crazy avocado lover like some people. Yes, I do enjoy it, but I have friends who will slice one in half and go to town on it. I don’t do that. But I do like it on sandwiches, burgers, dips, and salads. Since I do like them and I LOVE chocolate cake, why not try a recipe that combines the 2?

A few months ago my friend Bonnie made this cake. I was pumped on it because I have such a sensitive stomach to dairy and this had no dairy!!!! That was the first reason I was excited to try the cake. Then I tried it. I know I said, “This is the best chocolate cake I have ever had.” And I am not lying, it is my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It is super moist and rich, but not heavy where you can taste the oil on your lips. It is almost a tiny bit nutty. I think the fat from the avocado adds a nutty flavor. The frosting is interesting, to say the least.

Occasionally I teach cooking classes at my house. Just to a small group of people, usually about 6 people. This time some girls from my bible study came over to learn how to add fruits and vegetables into EVERY part of their meal, including dessert. As we were making the cake they were all somewhat skeptical about how it would turn out. Seriously, avocado? I just kept saying, ‘Trust me!’ The mini bundt cakes came out of the oven and they were all surprised that it rose like a normal cake and even looked like a normal chocolate cake. And then we started making the frosting. At this point they decided to call the frosting ‘guacamole butter cream.’ After you try the recipe, you will see why. They sort of all concluded that the cake was great, one girl even agreed with me that it might be the best chocolate cake she had ever had. But the guacamole butter cream was maybe a little too ‘interesting’ for their taste. It is good, but very interesting.

makes 2 8-inch rounds or 24 cupcakes
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
6 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (You can usb applesauce)
1/2 cup soft avocado, well mashed, about 1 medium avocado
1 cup water
1 cup raspberry juice (you can sub this for water or use any kind of berry juice)
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 8 or cupcake tins. Set aside.

Sift together all of the dry ingredients except the sugar. Set that aside too.

Mix all the wet ingredients together in a bowl, including the super mashed avocado.

Add sugar into the wet mix and stir.

Mix the wet with the dry all at once, and beat with a whisk (by hand) until smooth.

Pour batter into a greased cake tins. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes (17 minutes for cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cakes cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto cooling racks to cool completely before frosting with avocado butter cream.

Avocado Buttercream Frosting
8 ounces of avocado meat, about 2 small to medium, very ripe avocados
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 pound powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Peel and pit the soft avocados. It’s important to use the ripest avocados you can get your hands on. If the avocados have brown spots in the meat, avoid those spots when you scoop the meat into the bowl.

Place the avocado meat into a food processor. Add lemon juice and pulse the avocado until slightly lightened in color and smooth, about 2-3 minutes.

Add the powdered sugar a little at a time and beat. Add vanilla extract until combined. If your not using the frosting right away, store in the refrigerator. Don’t worry. It won’t turn brown!

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Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Posted on February 14, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies, Desserts, Holidays |

Every holiday there are tons of really cute and sometimes really fancy decorated sugar cookies floating around the food blog world. I always get a little jealous of how well people can decorate their baked goods. Is it that they have the right tools, or a really steady hand, or a combination of both? I am really not a good cookie or cake decorator. I can make a mean cake and some mean frosting to go on it, but let’s face it, I will never win a contest for making a lovely layer cake with sparkly fondant or showcase my perfectly crafter sugar cookies.

With that being said, it doesn’t mean I don’t try. Conversation hearts are the Valentine’s Day candy that seem to be recognized by everyone. And sugar cookies are a cookie that everyone will admit to liking. So why not combine the 2? Oh, and add some chocolate for good measure.

A very flavorful cookie, but not overly rich. They are more like milk chocolate then dark chocolate. I will be baking these more often!

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

Preheat oven at 350 degrees. Whisk dry flour, salt and baking powder in bowl and set aside. Mix butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla and cocoa in mixer. Gradually add flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least one hour.

Roll out cookie dough on floured counter. Cut into desired shapes, brushing extra deposits of flour off the top. (It does disappear once baked, though, so don’t overly fret if they go into the oven looking white.) Bake on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 8 to 11 minutes (the former for 1/8-inch thick cookies, the latter for 1/4-inch cookies) until the edges are firm and the centers are slightly soft and puffed.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I decorated them with the store bought writing icing. Using a royal icing would be perfect to make these really pretty!

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie

Posted on February 8, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Desserts |

Confession: I haven’t made a homemade pastry pie crust since I have been seriously into baking. Pathetic. I felt like a pathetic looser. How can I call myself a baker? So, I knew I HAD to do it ASAP. I know I am not a pathetic looser. And especially after how good this crust turned out, I am for sure NOT a pathetic looser. I am a winner.

I first had to decide what kind of pie would go into a chocolate pie crust. Why a chocolate pie crust instead of a normal, standard, traditional pie crust? Because I can never make anything normally the first time. I always have to add this or that, and change it up just a tad.

Filling choices I was contemplating: banana, peanut butter, cherry, coconut cream? So many choices. I had never made a coconut cream pie before. And coconut and chocolate, fantastic combo. Samoas, the girl scout cookie, ya, I love those. Coconut, chocolate, caramel, mmmm. So I thought about those cookies as I was inventing my pie. I wanted to add a layer of caramel, but I ran out of time. So I guess I will have to make the pie again and add caramel, crying shame I tell you. You know what else would be great in this pie? A layer of slices bananas on the bottom. Seriously, I HAVE to make this pie again because I have so many ideas on how to kick it up to an even higher notch.

*After I tasted the pie I decided to descibe it as chocolate covered Hawaiian Tropic. You know, the sunscreen we wear during the summer? I love that stuff. I wear that brand just because of the way it smells. Sometimes in the sumemr I wear the sunscreen as lotion because I love it so much.

Pie Crust
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup coco powder
1 stick butter, chilled
1 tbsp cold water
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar

Coconut Filling: Adapted from the Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen cookbook
For the coconut pastry cream:
2 cups milk (I used 1%)
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

Whip Cream
2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup coco powder

For the Pie Crust:
Mix the flour, sugar, coco powder and salt in a large bowl. With pastry blender or two knives (you can even just use your hands), cut in the butter until mixture is size of small peas. Gradually sprinkle the cold water over mixture, blending well.

Form the mixture into a ball that is about 1 inch thick, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the chilled ball into a circle 1″ larger than 9″ baking pie pan.
*As you are rolling the dough keeping lifting it up to make sure it doesn’t stick to the surface. A dd more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Press into the pie pan; prick bottom and sides with fork.

Bake at 400 degrees F. for 12-15 minutes or until golden; cool completely before filling.
*The pie crust can be made a day ahead of time and stored at room temperate.

For the coconut pastry cream:
Combine the milk and coconut in a medium saucepan. Add the vanilla extract to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring about 1/3 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more.

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools. When the pastry cream is cold, fill the prebaked pie shell with it, smoothing the surface.

For the whipped cream:
In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar, vanilla, and coco powder on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Spoon the whip cream over the filled pie shell. Garnish with chocolate shavings. Slice and serve.

Some commentary from my husband about the pie:

“It is not overly sweet”
“The crust is the best part”
“You have to try this pie, it is the best one she has made”

My husband is REAL supportive!

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Brownies – The healthy-er version

Posted on February 5, 2010. Filed under: Chocolate, Desserts |

A friend of mine wondered if there was some sort of healthier chocolate cake or brownie recipe out there. She was craving chocolate, but is trying to eat a little healthier. Let’s be honest, no dessert, well no dessert worth calling dessert, can ever be called healthy. If you want a healthy dessert, have a bowl of fruit. Anyway, I wanted to try and make a healthier version of brownies. Something with a little less fat, a little less sugar and add some whole wheat. I went for it. I looked at a few recipes online to get some ideas of ways to make brownies using only 1 bowl, but also to get some ideas on what low fat ingredients can go into brownies to keep them moist. Sour cream, perfect.

Sometimes I bake things and no one wants seconds. I try to just chalk it up to the fact that they are probably trying to be good and only eat one. But maybe it tasted like poop and I am just too biased to tell. Even though these brownies have a label as ‘healthy-er’ everyone took some home. I didn’t even have to prompt them to take them home. They all asked if it would be okay to take some home. I made them for for Jaclyn’s birthday. Her birthday fell on the same night as bible study, and she still came. Commitment, with a capital C.

The texture. Brownies generally fall into 2 categories: cake like or fudgy. These are more on the cakey side. They are still denser then cake, but definitely not fudgy. I just thought I would throw that in there so you can anticipate what you might bake.

*The lighting at night is always bad, that’s why these pictures look sort of weird. But I am not good enough yet at adjusting all of that from the computer.

Makes 24 smaller brownies, 20 medium, or 16 large brownies
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened coco powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp instant coffee granules
4 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
3/4 cup light sour cream
1 cup chocolate chunks, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 inch glass or metal pan.

In a large bowl mix the eggs, oil, sugar, sour cream, coffee granules, and vanilla extract.

In another bowl sift the flours, baking powder, salt and coco powder together. Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture. I used a whisk and mixed it for about 2 minutes. I made sure every little bit was mixed together.

Pour into the pan, sprinkle with the chocolate chunks and bake for about 45 minutes. Until a knife inserted comes out almost completely clean.
* I find that with brownies if I let them bake until the knife comes out clean, then they start to burn and get dry. So I take them out just before that and let them cool in the pan. the cooling time in the pan allows whatever isn’t completely set in the middle to sort of continue baking. At least that is the case with this brownie recipe.

Cool in the pan then invert onto a wire rack. I then re-invert it onto a cutting board and cut the brownies into squares. This is the only brownie recipe I have made where the entire pan will flip out of the pan easily and not fall apart.

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Christmas Cookies

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Chocolate, Cookies |

I love being resourceful. I have so much peppermint flavored stuff in my baking cabinet (yes, I have an entire cabinet dedicated to it) that has been accumulating this Christmas baking season. And since Christmas is, well, tomorrow, I thought it would be perfect to try and use up some of the peppermint goods before the season is over. So I made 2 types of cookies. Both using the same basic dough recipe.

On the first batch I used Hershey’s candy cane kisses. They are so cute and festive I couldn’t pass them up at the store. And paired with the chocolate peppermint dough, mmmm, they are delish! Make the dough the same way, but roll small balls of dough and bake the small balls for 15 minutes. As soon as you take them out of the oven put the kiss in the middle. Let them cool completely (The kiss melts, but will keep its shape if it stays still).

The second batch I crushed some peppermint bark and used that in place of the chips in the recipe. After the cookies baked I sprinkle some leftover peppermint bark on top of the cookies. These would be so good as an ice cream sandwich!!!!

I still have an urge to bake more Christmas cookies. But I also really need to start prepping Christmas dinner. What to do, what to do. BOTH? Husband may severely dislike me, but you know I will try to accomplish all of it.

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