Cinnamon Spiced Espresso Glazed Granola

 

I have so many recipes that I’ve done over the last year or so that were the healthy dessert and breakfast type I made for my family but never got around to blogging and I’m so excited to revisit and remake them in order to share with you all! I was OBSESSED with this granola recipe last fall and actually ended up giving out bags of it for Christmas with other homemade goodies such as handsoap, etc.

 

It was very well received and I plan on doing something similar this year for gifts! You can package it so pretty and this stuff lasts in an airtight container for a very long time! What I really love is how some of my favorite flavors combine in this…you’ve got fall with the cinnamon and nutmeg, a nice kick from the espresso powder and a hint of chocolate from the coffee beans! It’s just soooooo good! My kids LOVE it but for obvious reasons (hello, caffeine!) I limit their intake. 😀 It’s great over yogurt, with my Pumpkin Spice Dessert Dip or just in a bowl with some nice cold, almond milk!

Give it a try! I think you’ll love it. 🙂

Cinnamon Spiced Espresso Glazed Granola
 
Ingredients
  • 6 c. Regular Rolled Oats
  • 2 c. Unsweetened Coconut Flakes
  • 1 ½ c. Toasted Pecan Halves
  • 1 c. Pistachios
  • 1 ½ c. Raw Pumpkin Seeds/Pepitas
  • ½ c. Wheat Germ (I use ground flaxseed if I don't have wheat germ)
  • 1 c. Fruit Juice Sweetened Dried Cranberries
  • 1 c. Golden Raisins (or use another cup of dried cranberries)
  • ½ c. Coconut Oil, melted
  • 1 ½ c. Agave
  • 3 T. Instant Espresso Powder (feel free to use more for more of the coffee flavor--I actually like about ⅓ cup!)
  • 2 t. Cinnamon
  • ½ t. Nutmeg
  • 2 t. Sea Salt
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1-2 c. Dark Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans (I get grain sweetened ones) or Dark Chocolate Chunks (preferably stevia sweetened, etc)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray two large baking sheets with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the oats, coconut flakes, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, cranberries and golden raisins. Toss well.
  3. In another medium bowl, combine melted coconut oil, agave, espresso powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Whisk together until well combined.
  4. Pour the coconut oil mixture over the dry oat mixture and stir to fully combine. I stir for at least 3-5 minutes to ensure everything is well coated.
  5. Divide the granola between the two baking sheets and spread evenly. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes so the granola will get evenly toasted.
  6. Remove from the oven and let cool 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, spray the bottom of a flat 1 cup measuring cup or a flat bottomed glass with cooking spray. Press the granola into the pan using the bottom of the measure cup so that you have a flat slab of granola.
  7. Let the granola sit for one hour to cool and harden.
  8. After an hour break the granola up into clusters and stir in chocolate covered coffee beans or dark chocolate chunks.

 

 

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Coconut Rum Dark Devil’s Food Layer Cake

Cake Slice

 

Cake

A couple of months ago our Gourmet Cooking Club was Caribbean themed and I made these AMAZING Jerk Salmon Tostadas with Grilled Pineapple Peach Coconut Salsa along with a little layer cake.  Ok, it wasn’t a little cake…it was freaking huge!  Kind of on accident.  I wanted to make a four-layer cake so I just thought, oh I’ll double this cake recipe and have four layers!  Well, this is a GREAT idea if you want a cake the size of Mt. Vesuvius.  Seriously, I had two layers of this cake stacked and  was getting worried.  It was big.  Too big.  I then remembered that in the past when I wanted a four layer cake, I just made two cakes and SPLIT THEM IN HALF.  Oh, right.  Needless to say I pressed on and managed to get all four layers stacked, filled and frosted without any major mishaps.  But enough about that, you just want to know how it tasted right?  Of course you do!

Cake Close

I wanted to incorporate Caribbean flavors into the cake so coconut and rum seemed like a no brainer but I wanted to have a little twist so I thought chocolate cake would be perfect.  This devil’s food cake is probably one of the best cakes I’ve ever had.  The original recipe is from Sally’s Baking Addiciton.  I just swapped in some dark cocoa for the light and upped the amount of vanilla a little.  The coconut filling reminded me of a Mounds bar and the coconut frosting was perfect.  My only complaint is that my rum simple syrup really got lost and didn’t come through like I wanted it to.  I thought I had really put enough rum in the syrup (and by enough I mean A LOT more than the recipe called for) and I brushed it pretty generously over each layer, but I couldn’t taste it that well which was a total bummer!  However, I still LOVED this cake and would definitely make it again, especially the devil’s food cake part.  Divine.

Cake Cherries

Enjoy!

Coconut Rum Dark Devil's Food Layer Cake
 
Ingredients
For the Cake*
  • 3½ c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 3½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • ¾ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • ¾ c. Special Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 2 t. Baking Powder
  • 4 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 t. Salt
  • 2 c. Buttermilk
  • 1 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 c. Freshly Brewed Strong Hot Coffee
  • *Note: The ingredient amounts listed are because I doubled the original recipe to get 4, 9-inch cakes. It made a HUGE layered cake. It may be more manageable to halve the recipe for 2, 9-inch cakes and then split those in half horizontally in order to make four layers.
For the Rum Simple Syrup
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Sugar
  • ¼ c., plus 2 T. Water
  • ½ c., plus 2 T. Spiced Rum
For the Coconut Filling
  • 21 oz. Sweetened, Shredded Coconut (1½, 14 oz. Bags)
  • 21 oz. Sweetened Condensed Milk (1½, 14 oz. Cans)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
For the Coconut Buttercream
  • 4½ Sticks Unsalted Butter, slightly softened
  • ⅓ c., plus 3 T. Cream of Coconut (in the can by the drink mixers in the liquor section)
  • ½ c., plus 1 T. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • 7½ c. Powdered Sugar
  • 2 T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 T. Coconut Extract
Other
  • 2 c. Toasted Coconut (for garnish, if desired)
Instructions
For the Dark Devil's Food Cake
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease, flour and line with parchment paper four, 9-inch round cake pans.
  2. Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powders, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Set aside
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla on medium speed until combined. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients with the mixer on low. Add the coffee. The batter will be VERY thin. This is ok.
  4. Pour the batter in to prepared baking pans and bake for 23-27 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes took about 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely before assembling cake. Or if you are making the cake in stages, allow the layers to cool for about 10 minutes, flip out of pans and remove parchment paper and wrap in foil. Store in freezer until ready to thaw and use. This will yield a SUPER moist cake.
For the Rum Simple Syrup
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar with the water and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is completely dissolved. This will only take a couple of minutes. Let cool completely, then stir in the rum.
For the Coconut Filling
  1. In a large bowl, combine coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the Coconut Buttercream
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, salt, cream of coconut and heavy whipping cream on medium-high speed. Turn to low and gradually beat in powdered sugar. Beat in vanilla and coconut extracts.
To Assembly Cake
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or serving plate. Brush with ⅓ of the rum simple syrup. Spoon on ⅓ of the coconut filling and spread evenly. Repeat with second and third layers. Place fourth cake layer on top and spread a thin layer of crumb coat icing over entire cake. Place in the refrigerator until firm. Remove and finish frosting entire cake with the buttercream. Garnish with toasted coconut. Optional: I dipped maraschino cherries in white chocolate and toasted coconut and used them to decorate the top of the cake.
Notes
Serves 12-16.

 

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Brown Butter Oatmeal Blondies with White Chocolate and Coconut

Brown Butter Blondies White Choc Coconut

When I’m in a time crunch (which is OFTEN these days with a one year old!) but REALLY want to bake, I think “ok, what can I throw in a pan and just bake all at once?!”  Obviously brownies come to mind immediately but sometimes I want something that doesn’t involve chocolate.  Crazy, I know!  Blondies are great for curing that sweet craving and take no time at all.  These particular blondies are deliciously rich and chewy.  They start with browned butter (YUM) and finish with loads of oats, white chocolate and shredded, sweetened coconut.  Doesn’t that just sound amazing?!  I enjoyed one (ok, two) of these with a steaming cup of coffee!  I highly recommend you do the same. 🙂

Enjoy!

Brown Butter Oatmeal Blondies with White Chocolate and Coconut
 
Ingredients
  • ½ c. Unsalted Butter
  • ½ c. Sugar
  • ½ c. Light Brown Sugar, packed
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 1 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • ½ t. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1 c. Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 c. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1 c. Sweetened, Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and 8x8 baking pan. Brown the butter in a pan over medium heat until it just begins to turn brown, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until well combined. Add the egg and vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Gently stir in oats, chocolate chips and coconut. Pour batter into pan and press until it's even in the pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely and cut into squares.
Notes
Makes 16.

Brown Butter Blondie White Choc Coconut

 

 

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Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding 1

So, who isn’t thinking about losing weight and looking hot in a two-piece right now?!  I for sure am thinking about it more and more as the weather warms up and summer gets closer.  And since I don’t have quite as much time to exercise right now (who knew babies could be so demanding?!) I am watching my diet like a hawk and definitely limiting my sugar intake.  Which led me to this recipe for Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding.  Did you know you could make pudding with chia seeds??  I love it!  Once this mixture sets overnight, the chia seeds plump up and thicken and you’ve got cold, creamy, good-for-you pudding!  I made mine with lite coconut milk but you could use almond milk if you’d like and even use a different fruit besides mango.  Very versatile!  And DELICIOUS.  Great guilt-free treat!

Enjoy!

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding 2

Recipe Source:  Skinny Taste

Coconut Mango Chia Seed Pudding
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c. Lite Coconut Milk
  • ¼ c. Chia Seeds
  • ¼ c. Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut
  • 1T. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 2 T. Agave (or honey/sweetener of choice)
  • 1 Ripe Mango, chopped
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Cover and let sit in refrigerator for 5-6 hours or overnight. Serve chilled.
Notes
Serves 2.

 

 

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7-Layer Bars

7-Layer Bars

Believe it or not, I have never made 7-Layer Bars.  Shocking, right?!  I’ve always really enjoyed them at parties and church functions but just never made them myself.  And I’m not sure why because wow, they are easy and delicious (duh).  I thought they’d be a great Superbowl dessert and believe it or not, that blessed event is right around the corner.  So it’s time to start planning your menu people!  It’s all about the food.  At least for me it is…I could kind of care less about football.  Sorry, it’s true.

7 Layer Bars

Ok, let’s get to the bars.  The recipe I used called for a potato chip crust which I thought would give it a more salty component but I didn’t notice it much.  So I might add in 1/4 teaspoon or so of salt to the potato chip mixture next time I make them.  Just fyi.  And traditionally the crust is graham cracker so feel free to swap out the potato chips for graham cracker crumbs and follow the recipe accordingly.  I’m not sure which I prefer more.  The potato chip crust actually turned out kind of chewy which I love but I also adore graham cracker crusts so…yeah.  Flip a coin?  Anyway, this recipe is fabulous, you can’t mess it up and it really is super easy and great for parties.  Try them!

Oh and if you want some more Superbowl sweets ideas, check out these past blog posts here and here!   I’ll have another great Superbowl recipe later this week for puppy chow–with a twist!  If you like booze, you’re gonna love it.  And even if you don’t like booze, you’re gonna love it.  Seriously.  Stay tuned!

7-Layer Bars
 
Ingredients
  • 3 c. Regular, Salted Potato Chips, crushed
  • 1½ sticks Unsalted Butter, melted
  • 4 T. Granulated Sugar
  • 12 oz. (2 c.) pkg. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • 12 oz. (2 c. ) pkg. Butterscotch Chips
  • 12 oz. (2 c. ) pkg. White Chocolate Chips
  • 1½ c. Walnuts, coarsely chopped and toasted
  • 3 c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut, toasted
  • 2, 14 oz. Cans Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease 9x13 pan.
  2. Combine potato chips, sugar and melted butter. Press into the bottom of the pan.
  3. Top the crust with the following ingredients, in order: semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, walnuts and coconut. Combine the sweetened condensed milk with vanilla and pour over the layers.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool completely. Cut into squares and store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 18 squares.

 

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Quinoa Coconut Macaroons

I made macaroons for the first time not once, but TWICE a couple of weeks ago.   And that’s macaroons, not macarons (which I love dearly).  There is sometimes confusion as to which is which, so this article might help clear things up for you if you are not sure on the differences.  Not saying you don’t know because I am certain my blog readers are dessert aficianados and semi-experts on all things sweet, but just in case…

Ok.  Back to the macaroons.  With two o’s.

The first version of macaroon I made was the healthified Quinoa Coconut Macaroon.  Totally yummy.  Could eat all of them in one sitting.  They are decidedly not like a regular macaroon but they are delicious nonetheless.  Jeremy even liked them and he despises coconut (so sad).  I like that they have protein from the quinoa.  Isn’t it amazing what you can put quinoa in?!  Of course, I had to add a bit of pure vanilla and almond extract.  Makes all the difference, in my opinion.

Later this week I’ll have a little blog post about my sister’s baby shower and the fun, themed dessert table I got to do which included the typical macaroons, along with the recipe!

Enjoy!

Quinoa Coconut Macaroons
 
Ingredients
  • 6 T. Egg Whites (I used 3 large eggs for this)
  • ¼ c. Light Agave (or honey)
  • 1½ c. Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 1 c. Cooked Quinoa (I used quinoa cooked in light, organic coconut milk for even more coconut flavor)
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla Extract
  • ½ t. Pure Almond Extract
  • Pinch of Salt
Instructions
  1. Combine the egg whites and agave in a small saucepan. Over very low heat, whisk the eggs and agave until creamy and warm. Heating the eggs will temper them which will create a nice, crispy cookie exterior. Test with your finger--if they are warm to the touch, they are tempered.
  2. Put the quinoa, coconut and salt in a large bowl and mix in the egg and agave mixture. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Chill in the fridge for at least two hours.
  3. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop or melon baller, scoop the mixture onto the baking sheet. I actually used a 2 Tablespoon measuring spoon and pressed the mixture VERY firmly against the side of the bowl as I scooped it out and then knocked it against the pan quickly and firmly to get the mixture out. If it starts to fall apart a bit, press it together with your fingers otherwise it will not stick together while baking.
  5. Bake in the center of the oven for 15 minutes until the cookies are nice and golden brown. Let them cool for at least 10 minutes or until completely cool. Store in an air-tight container.
Notes
Makes 16 cookies.

 

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Bakery Review – Sara Sara Cupcakes in Oklahoma City

Jeremy and I took a whirlwind trip to Oklahoma City this weekend.  The original purpose of the trip was to visit a little candy shop I have been eyeing online for what seems like forever called Pinkitzel.  From what I had seen of their website, this place seemed like a candy lovers dream and their decor was right up my alley–pink, white, black and Rococo everywhere!!  I was absolutely in love.  I had to go.  NOW.  So we decided to do it and after realizing it would take nearly 5 hours to make the drive, we booked a hotel.  Well, at least I thought we had booked a hotel. Jeremy surprised me by booking a B&B just outside of the Tulsa area.  It was so sweet…I think I’ll keep him. 😉

So knowing that we didn’t have to rush back and could just do whatever on Saturday, I immediately looked up other places around OKC we could get our sugar fix at.  I found a few cupcake places and narrowed it down to one and then also discovered another candy shop and a chocolate shop.  Fun!

We set out early (5:30!) Saturday morning and made it just in time for our first destination to open up.  Sara Sara Cupcakes is located in an old, historic party of Oklahoma City…and it is SO ADORABLE.  The house is quite aged, probably built in the early 1900’s which of course only adds to the charm.  They’ve painted the doors pink and the inside is totally white and clean/modern looking.  I loved it.

 As for the cupcakes, they were HUGE which made sense since they were $3.59 each.  I kind of freaked out about the price (however would I be able to try  my regular half dozen?!), but then I was informed that on that day they were 3 for $9…not bad!

So it was decision time…I hate this part!  I am HORRIBLE at making decisions, especially when it comes to dessert and I was struggling.  I can’t tell you how many times the employees at these places stare at me like I’m crazy while I stand in front of their bakery cases looking constipated and Jeremy is flitting around taking pictures.  Yeah…we probably look insane.  But oh well, all in the name of research!  So I managed to decide, with some input from Jeremy, and we came up with the following delightful cupcakes:  Coconut Cream, Crimson & Cream and Judge Joe Cannon.  I will say up front that these cupcakes are delicious and straightforward.  They were all homey and just good.  Nothing fancy or over the top.  Cake and frosting.  That being said, here’s the breakdown of each one.

Our least favorite was the Crimson & Cream.  And not because it was bad!  It definitely was not bad, it was just not our favorite.  The red velvet cake was the perfect buttermilk, red velvet cake…so moist and the cocoa was just barely noticeable.  Like red velvet should be.  Topped with a delicious, not-too-sweet cream cheese frosting and chocolate shavings.  We liked it a lot.

Our next favorite was the Judge Joe Cannon, a banana cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chunks of Snickers.  I personally LOVED this banana cupcake because it was actually a super thick and dense banana bread.  Oh, it was soooo good.  However, the frosting was totally a let down…it was not a buttercream but more like a whipped topping that was greasy and slightly grainy.  I was really bummed about it because I loved the cake part so much.

And our absolute favorite was the Coconut Cream.   A delicious and moist chocolate cake topped with a milk chocolate frosting and yummy toasted coconut.  Loved it.

 

 Such a great start to the weekend!  If you are in the area, definitely pick up some cupcakes from them!

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Honey Almond Date Balls

Memorial Day weekend is coming, bringing with it lots and lots and LOTS of food.  And I don’t know what it’s like where you’re at, but here it’s in the 90s already!  And you know what that means…pools.  And lakes.  And…bikinis.  Yes, it’s already swimsuit season!  Yikes!  Are you ready?!?  It kinda snuck up on me, I gotta admit, but I am trying to incorporate more and more natural sweets (as in honey, fruits, etc) into our diet so we don’t look like the michelin man when we bare it all at the first water-type event this year.  Of course, can’t do anything about the whiteness (trying to avoid that pesky skin caner) but we CAN do something about the shape of our bodies and our overall health!

(Sorry, little peptalk for myself there.  Ahem.  Ok, back to the recipe…)

If you are watching what goes in your mouth this weekend (like me and my husband) and are kinda scared about the next 72 hours of festivities and merriment, may I suggest these Honey Almond Date Balls as a sweet and healthy alternative?  You might want to double or triple the batch because once people taste them, they will want more.  Seriously.  Jeremy doesn’t even like coconut and he LOVES these things.  I left the recipe alone for the most part except instead of rolling the balls in more almonds, I rolled them in unsweetened coconut.

We love ’em.

We’ve made a double batch for this weekend.

We’re ready to battle the crazy food war.

BRING IT.

Original recipe by David Lieberman

Honey Almond Date Balls
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Raw Almonds (do 2 cups if you plan on rolling the balls in almonds)
  • 2 c. Pitted Dates, preferably Medjool
  • ¼ c. Raw Honey
  • ⅓ c. Dried, Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grind almonds in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until fragrant and a shade darker.
  3. Roughly chop dates and add to food processor. Pulse until finely chopped and dates form a ball. Remove from processor to a bowl. And the almonds and honey to the dates. Mix together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Using a damp washcloth to dampen your hands periodically, for the mixture into 1" balls and roll in the coconut.
  5. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for a few days or transfer to the fridge and they will keep for a couple of weeks.
Notes
Makes 25 balls.

 

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Lemon Coconut Cream Scones

Have I mentioned that all I did in DC was eat and shop?  Well, it was.  And part of that eating included these AMAZING scones that Joelle made while I was staying with her.  I had one bite and knew I was doomed.  They are light, soft, flaky…just…amazing.  They are seriously the best scones I have had yet.

Now she made hers a maple flavor which I loved and will most likely do the next time I make these, but I wanted to do something a little “springy-er” so I chose a yummy lemon and coconut combination.  I figured with Easter coming up, these would make the perfect sweet addition to a brunch or even a delicious Easter dinner dessert.

These scones are also unique because of what’s in the recipe..or should I say what’s NOT in the recipe.  They are totally void of eggs and butter!  I had to double check with Joelle to make sure I was reading the recipe right.  Interesting!  And one important thing about these scones–you do NOT want to overbake them (I learned the hard way ugh).  In fact, you want to UNDERBAKE them.  If they start to get brown around the edges, then they’ve baked too long.  The perfect time is somewhere around 16-17 minutes so start checking them around 15 minutes.  They’ll probably still look just slightly not cooked on top in the middle but that’s ok..they’re done, trust me!

Oh and did I mention these take about 10 minutes to throw together?  Gotta love that!

Lemon Coconut Cream Scones
 
Ingredients
Scones
  • 3 c. Bread Flour
  • ½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 2 T. Baking Powder
  • ½ t. Salt
  • ½ c. Heavy Whipping Cream
  • 1½ c. Cream of Coconut (NOT coconut milk. Look for it in the alcohol section at your store; it should be in with the drink mixers.)
  • ½ t. Coconut Extract
  • Zest of one Large Lemon
Glaze
  • ¼ c. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice (2 large lemons)
  • 1 c. Powdered Sugar
  • ½ c. Toasted Coconut (toast sweetened coconut on a baking sheet in oven at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes)
Instructions
  1. Line a 9x9 pan with foil, letting the ends hang over like "handles".
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and then pour in the heavy cream, cream of coconut, coconut extract and lemon zest. Mix the batter together, by hand, with a wooden spoon until just moist. (I used my hands at the end to get all the flour mixed in.) Pour the batter into the foil lined pan and press into an even layer. Cover the dough with another layer of foil and smooth the top.
  3. Freeze overnight. In the morning, let it set out for about 20 minutes. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Place on a cutting board and carefully peel away the foil linings. You can slice them however you like; I cut diagonal and then straight across and then cut some of the slightly larger pieces in half for triangles.
  4. Bake for 15-17 minutes, checking often to make sure they don't brown around the edges. Let them cool on the pans for a couple of minutes and then move them to a wire rack to cool completely. Top with glaze (see below).
Lemon Glaze
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together lemon juice and coconut. Top each cooled scones with a small spoonful of lemon glaze, sprinkle with toasted coconut and let sit out until glaze has dried and hardened slightly.
Notes
Makes 25 scones.

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Homemade Coconut Cake

Believe it or not, I have never made a homemade coconut cake and honestly, I have no idea why!  I love coconut in anything so I’m not sure what took me so long to get around to it.  Thankfully, I made some baking resolutions this year and classic recipes was one of my goals for the year.  This cake was the first step to meeting that goal and what a delicious resolution it turned out to be!  I wasn’t sure what recipe to use so I simply googled “coconut cake” and the first thing to pop up was a Paula Deen recipe that had LOTS of good reviews so I thought, why not?  I’ve not made alot of her recipes but I know her Ooey Gooey Butter Cake is one of my favorites so I thought I’d give the coconut cake a shot.

Initially, I had some reservations about this recipe.  First, the cake recipe itself called for self-rising flour which I thought was odd since self-rising flour is typically used for biscuits and such.  Second, the filling was a sour cream and sugar mixture which in my mind wouldn’t be nearly as good as the fluffy, whipped cream like filling that seems to be in all coconut cakes.  And third, the 7-Minute Frosting recipe was new to me and sounded somewhat complicated so I was tempted to just do a typical buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

But I decided NO. I would try my hardest not to make any changes…and that is HARD for me to do.  But I have to say I am SO glad I didn’t change things…this cake was delicious!  Not the coconut cake I had in my mind necessarily but still soooo yummy and good.  The cake itself was tender and soft, although it was a little crumbly but overall I liked it and it was kind of a cross between a white and yellow cake.  I have to admit that I LOVED the filling.  I mean, I could have just eaten it with a spoon.  It seeped down into the cake an made it very moist.  I would only change the amount of coconut in it, maybe increase it to one cup because I would have liked more coconut between the layers.  And finally the frosting turned out to not be complicated to make AT ALL and I loved that it was similar to marshmallow creme but infinitely better!  What I really loved about the frosting was how easily it went on the cake–I was a little scared because it was so gooey and sticky.  But surprisingly not hard to work with at all.

All in all, this was a great first-ever homemade coconut cake.  My in-laws loved it which made me VERY happy and my mother-in-law said it reminded her of her mom’s coconut cake and I thought that was awesome!  Can’t wait for my next classic cake recipe!

Enjoy!

First Homemade Coconut Cake
 
Ingredients
Cake
  • 1 c. (2 sticks) Unsalted Butter, room temperature
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Eggs
  • 3 c. Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 c. Milk (she suggested coconut milk but I had whole milk so I used that)
  • 1 T. Pure Vanilla
  • 2 t. Coconut Extract
Coconut Filling
  • ¾ c. Sugar
  • 1 c. Sour Cream
  • 4 T. Milk
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • ½ c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut
7-Minute Frosting
  • 1½ c. Granulated Sugar
  • 1 T. White Corn Syrup
  • ⅛ t. Salt
  • ⅓ c. Cold Water
  • 2 Egg Whites
  • 2 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 3 c. Flaked, Sweetened Coconut
Instructions
For the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 3, 9-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and continue to beat on medium-high speed for 6-8 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Add vanilla and continue to beat until just mixed. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Level batter in each pan by holding pan 3 or 4 inches above counter, then dropping it flat onto counter. Do this several times to release air bubbles and assure you of a more level cake. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes (mine took about 27) or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 5 to 10 minutes and then invert cakes onto cooling rack and let cool completely (I actually cooled mine completely in the pans...inside my refrigerator. 🙂 I was in a hurry.).
For the Coconut Filling
  1. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, sour cream, milk and vanilla until sugar is completely dissolved. Add coconut and stir to combine.
To Assemble the Cake
  1. Place one cake layer on a cake stand or large plate. (I like to torte the top of my cakes to get them even but this is not a must if you prefer not to do it) Poke holes in cake approximately 1-inch apart with the end of a wooden spoon or chopsticks (which is what I used) until entire cake has been poked. Spread with ⅓ of the filling mixture. Top with second layer, repeat process. Top with last layer and repeat process again. Place in refrigerator while you make the frosting.
For the 7-Minute Frosting
  1. In a stainless steel bowl over a large saucepan of simmering water (fill saucepan about halfway, you don't want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl), place the egg whites, sugar, corn syrup, salt and cold water. With a handheld electric mixer beat the mixture for 4 minutes on low speed. Increase the speed to high and continue to beat for another 6-7 minutes or until the icing is shiny and satiny with soft peaks. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract and continue to beat on high speed for another 3-4 minutes or until the frosting is thick.
  2. Frost cake immediately. It is easiest to start by frosting the top of the cake first and then working the frosting down the sides. Press the 3 cups of coconut onto the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 20.

 

 

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Orange Slice Cake

I just had to get in one last recipe before Christmas is over and this cake was the perfect one to share.  This is a cake that my Grandma used to make and I first had it a couple of years ago when my Aunt Tammy made it for a family get-together.  Can I just say, this cake totally blew my mind?  I kid you not.  It was so incredibly moist and bursting at the seams with all kinds of good stuff…dates, coconut, orange slice candy and pecans.  It had an orange glaze all over it that had soaked into the cake and made it out-of-this-world amazing.  AMAZING.

I started craving it a couple of days ago.  At first I tried to ignore the craving, telling myself I already had enough to make and bake, but it just got more and more persistent.  So I thought ok, I’ll see if I can find the recipe, but no such luck. Not meant to be.  And then my mom emailed me a recipe for Orange Slice Loaf.  Hmmm, that might work.  But before I settled on that one I hopped onto allrecipes.com and sure enough, found a recipe for an Orange Slice Cake. I figured between the two recipes, I could probably come up with something VERY similar to my grandmother’s.  So I finally gave in, went and bought everything and made the dang cake!  How did it turn out?  Umm, awesome.  If I do say so myself.  Just like Grandma’s!

Now the good thing about this cake is that it gets better with time as it sits in the fridge and soaks up all the orange glaze goodness, so if you make it now, by the time Sunday rolls around it will be complete and total perfection!  Give it a try, I think you’ll love it!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Orange Slice Cake
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c. Unsalted Butter
  • 2 c. Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Large Eggs
  • 1 t. Pure Vanilla
  • 4 c. All-Purpose Flour, divided
  • ½ t. Salt
  • 1½ c. Buttermilk
  • 1 t. Baking Soda
  • 2 T. Orange Zest
  • 1 lb. Orange Slice Candy, chopped (I used my kitchen scissors to cut each piece into 4 small pieces)
  • 1 lb. (2 c.) Dates, finely chopped
  • 2 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut
  • 1½ c. Pecans, toasted and chopped
  • 1 c. Orange Juice
  • 2 c. Powdered Sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla. Dissolve baking soda in the buttermilk and set aside. Whisk together 3½ cups of the flour and the salt. Add the flour to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the flour.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the orange slice candy, coconut and dates. Toss with ½ cup of the flour. Add to the batter and thoroughly combine. Fold in chopped pecans.
  4. Pour the batter into the tube pan. Bake for 3 hours. Whisk together the orange juice and powdered sugar. Heat the juice mixture for 30 seconds in the microwave just before applying to the cake. As soon as the cake comes from the oven, poke a few holes in it with a chopstick or other pointy object and begin spooning the orange juice mixture over the cake. It will take several times of spooning it over the cake for it to soak in. Just apply some of the juice, let it soak for a few minutes and then do more. Let the cake cool completely and then put in the fridge until ready to serve.
Notes
Serves 18

 

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Healthy (yes, healthy!) Fall Inspired Desserts

Believe it or not, there are some people on diets this time of year.  Yes, DIETS, preparing/starving themselves for the two month long eat-o-rama that begins around mid-November and doesn’t stop until somewhere around the new year.  I myself believe in moderation and balance and try to get plenty of exercise and eat an overall healthy diet (I definitely do NOT believe in starvation and “diet” trends).  And I am most certainly planning on indulging during the holidays but in moderation.

So, for those more health-conscious readers out there like myself, I thought I would provide you with some healthy dessert options for you to bring to those family get-togethers.  Some are most definitely more healthy than others; there are low-fat, low-calorie, high-protein, low-sugar, etc.  Options!  That’s what I’m all about. 🙂  I’ll definitely be testing a couple (the Date Bars and Honey-Almond Cake are calling my name!) to see if they are worthy of the upcoming family festivities. I’ll post my results!

Pumpkin Spice Whoopie Pies

Chocolate Accordion Bread

Sweet Potato Cinnamon Bundt Cake with Orange Glaze

Pumpkin Rice Pudding (Scroll a just over half-way down the page to see the recipe.)

Chocolate Cupcakes

Sunny Oat-Date Bars

Apple Dumpling Cinnamon Rolls

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bars

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Coconut Cookies

Flourless Honey Almond Cake

Pumpkin Sesame Cookies

Chocolate Torte

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Tommy Bahamas (aka dessert overload)


Triple Chocolate Cake
Four layers of moist chocolate cake, chocolate
ganache frosting and topped with a mocha mousse
whipped cream.

In the past when we’ve vacationed in Florida, we’ve tended to eat at the same restaurants that we know and like.  I really wanted to go to some new places on this visit and looked up some restaurants that had good reviews.  One of those was Tommy Bahamas.  It had about 4.5 out of 5 stars and people couldn’t say enough good things about it, despite the fact that it was a chain.  So we tried it and wow, what amazing food!  We had a variety of things from fish tacos to coconut shrimp, chicken and cuban sandwiches to ahi tuna salad.  Of course after we had our fill of all this food, we decided to splurge on desserts (oh, I should mention that it wasn’t just me and Jeremy on this trip…there were six of us so we had plenty of people to help us pig out).


Key West Key Lime Pie
The real deal! Fresh and tart, made with real key limes.

These desserts were all made-from-scratch and absolutely delicious!  We couldn’t pick just one or two so we chose all except one, which was four desserts.  I thought my favorite would be the Key Lime Pie and while it was absolutely delicious, the Triple Chocolate Cake ended up the #1 dessert on my list and I think everyone else felt the same way.  It was divine!  The chocolate cake reminded me of wacky cake and the mousse was thick and not too sweet, just pure chocolate goodness.  Oh, you’re wondering what a wacky cake is?  Hmmm, well it’s a chocolate cake that is made a little differently than most chocolate cakes.  Not to worry, I’ll make one and do a post on it in the near future.  Purely for educational purposes, of course.


Blackbeard’s Butterscotch
Creamy, rich, vanilla & scotch whiskey flavored
pudding with chocolate ganache, “from scratch”
caramel sauce & fresh whipped cream.

The Pina Colada cake was also delicious…I loved the toasted coconut and hint of rum that had soaked into the cake layers.  And the Blackbeard’s Butterscotch was the first time I had butterscotch pudding not made from a box and wow, awesome.  I’m already looking up recipes so I can recreate it at home.


Piña Colada Cake
Moist vanilla layer cake with Myers Dark Rum,
chopped pineapple, white chocolate mousse &
toasted coconut.

They have restaurants in a few different states so click here to see if one is near you and visit immediately!  And unless you go with a group, try not to order all the desserts at once….

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Almond Joy Truffles

Homemade candy is one of my all-time favorite things to make.  I started making my own candy at home about 5 or 6 years ago and have loved it ever since.  In the beginning, I even took a couple of classes through a local college in town, which was a lot of fun and I definitely managed to pick up some good tips that I still use to this day.  Part of what I love about making candy (and even baking) is that there really is a science behind it…ingredients have to be weighed and measured properly, mixing of ingredients has to occur in a certain pattern and temperatures have to be just right to get the kind of candy you want, whether soft, chewy, hard, etc.

It all sounds kind of intimidating at first but all it takes is a little reading and testing out a few recipes and before you know it you’ll be making your own homemade caramel, marshmallows, peanut brittle or whatever candy you crave and impressing everyone you know!

So today I’m sharing a very simple recipe for Almond Joy Truffles.  This was one of the first things I made in my candy making class years ago and I still love it.  These little coconut bites taste just like the candy bar you can get in your local grocery store…only without all the extra junk they tend to put in.  I put toasted almond slivers on top of mine but if you’re not a nut fan, sprinkle them with toasted coconut or drizzle with white chocolate.  Very pretty and tasty.  Enjoy!

Almond Joy Truffles
Author: 
Category: Homemade Candy
25 pcs
 
Ingredients
  • 2½ c. Dessicated (Unsweetened) Coconut
  • ¾ c. Light Corn Syrup
  • 1 lb. Good Quality Milk or Dark Chocolate Coating
  • Slivered Almonds, toasted (or toasted coconut, white chocolate, etc)
Instructions
  1. Place coconut in a medium bowl. Bring the corn syrup to a boil over high heat. Pour the corn syrup over the coconut and gently mix to coat. Let this sit for at least one hour.
  2. Melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave at 20 second intervals, stirring between each time until completely smooth and melted. Roll the coconut into small balls and dip in the chocolate. Top immediately with one almond sliver (or whatever you are using) and let dry completely on foil.

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Sugar, Spice & Everything Nice Cookies

Last night I really wanted to make some cookies but had no desire to 1. make ANOTHER trip to Wal-mart and 2. spend money.  So I thought ok, what do I have in my kitchen?  Raisins and oats…Raisin Oatmeal Cookies!  Probably not that exciting for many people, but I happen to love them.  So I hopped online and found this highly-rated recipe from Allrecipes.com for Beth’s Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.  I quickly got to work figuring out how I wanted to change the recipe.  I guess I can’t leave good enough alone; it’s seriously an issue.

Anyway, as I gathered my ingredients I also found nearly empty bags of chocolate chips and coconut.  And then it hit me that I had walnuts in my freezer!  Yep, it was all going in the cookie!  And then things really got crazy…I decided to use CAKE flour!  See, I did some research and found that cake flour has a very low percentage of protein which lends to the tender quality it gives cakes.  So I figured by subbing some for the AP flour, I might get a little bit softer cookie.  Did it work?  I think so but I honestly would need to do a side by side comparison to be 100% sure how much of a difference it made.  They puffed up nice and big right out of the oven but definitely deflated a bit when cooled.

Regardless, the cookies were delicious, very buttery, slightly chewy around the edges and soft inside.  The flavor reminded me of Chai, which I happen to love!  The only change I might make is reducing the cloves to 1/4 t.  It was just a teensy bit too pronounced for my taste.  And I do believe soaking the raisins makes all the difference!  I will definitely do that from now on.  Feel free to play with the ingredients like I did–you never know what wonderful creation you’ll come up with!

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice Cookies

1/4 c. (1/2 stick) Unsalted Butter, softened

3/4 c. Shortening

1 c. Packed Light Brown Sugar

1/2 c. White Sugar

2 Eggs

2 t. Pure Vanilla Extract

1 c. AP Flour (or 1 1/2 c. if using all AP Flour)

1/2 c. + 1 T. Cake Flour

1 t. Baking soda

1 1/2 t. Ground Cinnamon

1/2 t. Ground Cloves

1/2 t. Salt

2 c. Quick Oats

1 c. Raisins, soaked in 1 c. spiced rum for 2+ hours (or warm water) and drained

3/4 c. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

3/4 c. Sweetened Flaked Coconut, toasted

1/2 c. Walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a mixer, cream together the butter, shortening, brown sugar and white sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy about 3 minutes.  Add eggs one at a time and then vanilla.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour(s), baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Add to the butter/sugar mixture and thoroughly combine.  Stir in the oats, raisins, chocolate chips, toasted coconut and walnuts.  Drop onto the baking sheets with a 2-inch scoop.

Bake 9 minutes, rotating pans and switching racks half-way through.  Let cool on pans for 2 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.

Makes 45 cookies.

TIP:  For just about anything “toasted” (such as coconut and nuts) all you need to do is spread it in a single, even layer on a baking pan and pop into a 350 degree oven for 6-7 minutes.  Easy!

 

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Sugar Leaf Bakery

There is a cute little bakery in Branson, MO that I have been DYING to try for a few years, called Sugar Leaf Bakery.   This past weekend I was finally able to stop in!  I had heard from both family and friends that they had great baked goods and fabulous wedding cakes.  The day that Jeremy and I went they had German Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie, Coconut Cake, Carrot Cake, Turtle Cheesecake and an assortment of delicious looking cookies.  So hard to choose!

For me, it was a toss up between the Key Lime Pie and the Coconut Cake but because I had heard they had amazing Coconut Cake, I went with that.  And oh my, was it good.  The cake was moist and dense and the coconut filling was super gooey.  It was all covered in a light whipped cream frosting and toasted coconut.  It had a great balance of flavors and wasn’t sickening sweet so that was nice.  I also got a jumbo snickerdoodle cookie that was chewy, cinnamony and delicious.

As for Jeremy, he apparently was filling the whole caramel/chocolate thing because he got a massive slice of Turtle Cheesecake and a Turtle cookie.  And I have to admit, he chose well.  The cheesecake was a dream.  Seriously.  First, you had a thick layer of chocolate cookie crust which was filled with the creamiest, smoothest vanilla cheesecake filling I think I have ever had.  The cheesecake filling had shavings of dark chocolate all through it and finally the whole thing was topped with a layer of caramel and drizzled with chocolate.  After the first bite I wanted to yank the plate away from him and scarf the whole thing down.  But I refrained.  I have to say, it was probably the best cheesecake I’ve ever had.   And I always thought I made fairly good cheesecake but this one definitely inspired me to improve on my own recipe.  The Turtle cookie was great also…a nice thick chewy chocolate cookie with a pool of caramel in the middle, sprinkled with chopped pecans.  Mmmmmmm!

They also had great looking salads, soup, paninis and other sandwiches.  We are already planning to go back and try lunch sometime and I fully intend to have a slice of that Key Lime Pie!  Do NOT miss this place if you’re in the Branson area–you are definitely in for a treat!

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