coconut

Chocolate Coconut Biscotti

Chocolate Coconut Biscotti

My first exposure to biscotti was at a coffee shop in Boston a few years back.  While it tasted OK, I didn’t think the price to taste ratio was worth it.  After talking with a few friends, I decided to try it again, this time buying some in the local supermarket.  Again, the price to taste ratio was out of whack.

So that my biscotti experience until I was over a friend’s house for coffee (we both enjoy a good cup of coffee…emphasis on good) and she had made some biscotti the day before.  I relayed to her my opinion of biscotti, but as this was free, I gave it a try.  Well, her biscotti changed my opinion pretty quickly.  And no, it wasn’t just because it was free.  Her biscotti had flavor and taste, whereas my previous biscotti consumption had resembled a stale sponge cake.

After doing some research, aka Google’d biscotti, I found that there are as many types/flavors of biscotti as there are pizza.  A basic biscotti is flour, baking soda, sugar, salt, and eggs.  From there you can add about a million and one different flavors and/or spices.  I’ve made probably 8-10 different types of biscotti, all of them much better than anything you can buy.

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The Daring Kitchen is a group of people from all over the world that bake/cook something new (that month’s “challenge”) in the kitchen. Part of the reason I started this blog was to force myself outside of my culinary comfort zone, so this was right up my alley. I joined as a Daring Baker (you can also join as a Daring Cook).

According to Wikipeida, Nanaimo Bars are “…a dessert of Canadian origin popular across North America. A type of chocolate no-bake square, it is named after the West-Coast city of Nanaimo, British Columbia.”  I had never heard of them, but I think I’ve seen them before in bakeries, I just haven’t paid much attention to them.  I will now though, as these are pretty tasty.

The challenge was actual two baked items: the above mentioned Nanaimo Bars, and graham crackers/wafers.  See my post/recipe here for the homemade graham crackers.

Nanaimo Bars

Bottom Layer
1 1/4 cups (5.6oz) graham cracker crumbs (from this recipe, or store-bought)
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup (1.8oz) sugar
5 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup (1.9oz) almonds, finely chopped
1 cup (4.5oz) sweetened flaked coconut (you can use unsweetened also)

Middle Layer
1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp plus 2 tsp heavy cream
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder (Such as Bird’s. Vanilla pudding mix may be substituted.)
2 cups (8.9oz) powdered sugar

Top Layer
4oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 tbsp butter

Bottom Layer: Line an 8×8″ pan with foil made into a criss-cross pattern.  Melt butter, sugar and cocoa in top of a double boiler.  Add egg and stir to cook and thicken. Remove from heat. Stir in crumbs, nuts and coconut. Press firmly into the foil lined pan (no need to grease the pan).

Middle Layer: Cream butter, then add cream, custard powder, and icing sugar beat until light in color. Spread over bottom layer.  Place in the fridge while making the top layer.

Top Layer: Melt chocolate and butter over low heat.  Cool.  Once cool, pour over middle layer and chill.

The January 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Lauren of Celiac Teen. Lauren chose Gluten-Free Graham Wafers and Nanaimo Bars as the challenge for the month. The sources she based her recipe on are 101 Cookbooks and www.nanaimo.ca.

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Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

Digging through the various coconut macroon receipes on the web, I discovered their are two basic recipes. One uses sweetened condensed milk, the other uses plain old granulated sugar.

Figuring that taking a sweet drupe (coconut), coating it with a simple syrup (the sweetened part of sweetened flaked coconut), then adding a thick sugary milk (sweetened condensed milk) would be overkill, I opted to go with the version that uses just plain sugar. However, my love of coconut and sugar led me to try option #2, which is what you see here now.

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Granola

January 14, 2010 · 0 comments Print This Post

Granola

Granola

You’re probably asking yourself: “What’s a healthy food like granola doing on this blog?”  Well, like everything else it seems, there is good granola and not-so-good granola.

My big peeve with granola is that it is supposed to be healthy, but a quick check of the ingredient labels at the local supermarket shows such evil ingredients as high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oil.  Huh?  So much for healthy.  Nothing worse than eating unhealthy, healthy food.

While both healthy and unhealthy granola can be found in just about every supermarket, there seems to be a high premium put on the healthy variety.  The premium is pretty surprising, considering granola is basically rolled oats, nuts, fruits, a little bit of sugar, and some type of oil to give it the crunch (after baking) that we expect when eating it.

I knew I could do better, so while searching around the blogosphere, I stumbled upon Adrienne’s Hungry Bruno [continued after the jump...]

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Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons

When I bought the coconut to bake the Ultimate Coconut Cake, I forgot to put it with my baking supplies…so I bought some more.  I didn’t put that away either, so guess what?  Bought even more coconut.

With all the coconut in my place, I knew I needed to find something to make that used a lot of coconut!

One of the first things that came to mind were coconut macaroons.  I love coconut, and a good coconut macaroon is nicely toasted on the outside, with a tender, but cooked, inside.  To me, the inside has to be cooked, but still tender.  I don’t want to bit into a raw ball of super sweet coconut.

Searching through the many coconut macaroon recipes that are available, I liked the looks of the one from JoyOfBaking.com.

Quick review of the coconut macaroons: yummy.  [continued after the jump...]

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Bobby Flay's Ultimate Coconut Cake

Bobby Flay’s Ultimate Coconut Cake

The Food Network’s Throwdown with Bobby Flay is either hit or miss as far as I’m concerned, all depending on what’s being made (thrown down?).  The other night, the throwdown was about coconut cake.  I’ve been known to eat coconut right out of the bag, and never pass up an opportunity for a good cake (emphasis being on the word good), so I was glued to the TV.

Bobby’s opponent makes an Ultimate Coconut Cake for the cafe he works at, and they mail order them for $100 each.  Both cakes looked yummy, however [continued after the jump...]

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