Coconut Cream Bars: REDUX

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The problem with this blog is that people I work with READ it. And then they EXPECT me to bring them baked goods. And then when I DO, they demand MORE. So sometimes I have to make things AGAIN. So these I’ve made before, and they were awesome. And I brought some to work. And one of the ladies I work with send me a calendar invitation for her birthday (which was MONTHS away) with instructions for me to make these for her (again). And so that’s what I did. I tweaked the recipe a little bit to add some more flavour, and I think I like them better than the originals. Conveniently they’re also Papa John’s favourite and his birthday is coming up …

Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with waxed paper and spray it as well. Set that aside. In a large bowl, dump in 20oz shredded unsweetened coconut, and 14oz sweetened condensed milk. I like to stand there and stare while the milk ever-so-slowly comes out of the can.

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Now here’s where I changed things up a little bit. I have some genuine Caribbean coconut extract that I added in for more flavour (I tipped in about 2 teaspoons) and then I decided to add a hint of orange by pouring in about 2 tablespoons Cointreau. I recommend doing it just for the subtlety of the flavour over the straight sugar taste you got before with the original recipe.

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I was actually amazed at how thick the coconut extract was – it was more of a syrup.

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Anyway, stir that up, together with 2 cups icing sugar, until you have a lovely gooey coconutty paste.

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Smooth that into your baking pan and level the top. Freeze that for a couple hours.

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When you’re nearly ready to go, melt up about 24oz chocolate of your choice – I used half dark, half milk in this batch. It’s also useful to do the chocolate in a couple of batches, adding more unmelted stuff to the mix as you run out.

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Let that cool a bit, and slice up your coconut goo into squares.

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Then start dipping! Remember that the cooler your chocolate is, the faster it will set, so act accordingly. Sprinkle the tops of each bar with more bits of coconut before the chocolate sets – for decoration.

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My chocolate was cooler (because it’s February and this is Canada) than last time so it set a little messier and less smooth than the previous version, but they’re still super tasty!

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Boozy Cookie Croutons

Biscotti 30

… Otherwise known as BISCOTTI.  If you WANT to call it that. Cait likes to make biscotti every year and this year she dragged me over to make it for her help her out and learn a few things. We doubled our recipe but we were making a billion, so I’ll give you the single recipe here, which produces one heckuva lotta biscotti.

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Start with your dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder.  We were also making a gluten-free version for Cait’s sister Jul so we did the same recipe again with the Robin Hood ready to go gluten-free flour.

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In a larger bowl, cream together 1/2 cup room temperature butter and 3/4 cup granulated sugar.

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Add to that 2 eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and mix until well combined.  If you had an electric mixer this would be an easier task, but I only had my trusty wooden spoon.

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Finely grate the zest of 2 oranges (eat the oranges because you need vitamin C this time of year) and plop that into the mix, together with 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier or other orange liqueur.

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Slowly add your flour mix into your wet mix, then add in about a cup of your nut of choice and some chocolate chips (again, probably about a cup — we just dumped the package in).

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At this point stirring becomes next to impossible, so I made Cait take over and she kneaded the dough into submission.

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The gluten-free version was even tougher and she had to wrestle it to the floor in order to get some leverage.  We ended up adding a whole lotta extra booze to the GF version just to moisten it.  Whoops.

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Form your dough into a happy ball and chuck it in the fridge to chill out for about 20 minutes.  While this is going on you can preheat your oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

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When the dough is chilled, separate it into several little tubes.

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Roll the tubes out into long rectangles about 3/4″ thick and 4″ wide.  Our GF ones were a little thicker.

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Place as many rectangles as you can fit on your baking trays (don’t worry, they’re not going to expand too much) and chuck them in the oven for 30 minutes to bake.

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When they’re ready, set them out to cool for 5-10 minutes.  Turn your oven down to 300°F.

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Using a sharp bread knife and a downwards cut, slice your biscotti into 1″ wide pieces.

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The GF ones began their structural crumble at this point.

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Tip your biscotti pieces until they’re cut-side-up and bake them for a further 30 minutes.  Let cool to room temperature before storing or serving.

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The gluten-free ones, made with the Robin Hood gluten-free flour, did not turn out as well.  To boost cohesion, we ended up dumping a huge amount of Grand Marnier into the mix.  I think in retrospect, I would have used an extra egg, and I would have made my own flour mix.  I think in this one I would have employed a bit of coconut flour, which I like for its relative stickiness, as well as some xanthan gum for its gluey properties.

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We packed them up in festive baggies!

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