Coconut Lime Oat-y Cookies

Happy birthday to Stef and to Thidz!Lime Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies 14

Papa John and Mrs. Nice are staying with us for a couple of weeks and Papa John is a cookie fiend so I figured I’d whip up a batch of something a little bit different to keep him occupied for a while.  This recipe is adapted from one I found in Everyday Food.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line some baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk together 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.

Lime Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies 1

Then, in the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together 1 cup butter with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup packed brown sugar.

Lime Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies 2

Beat them for about 4 minutes, until fluffy and pale.

Lime Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies 3

Slide in 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons vanilla, and 1 250g package plain cream cheese (at room temperature) and beat that up as well.

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Beat in the flour mixture gradually, then mix in 1 1/2 cups dessicated coconut (you can toast this ahead of time if you wish — I didn’t).

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And 2 tablespoons freshly grated lime zest.

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Aaaand 1 1/2 cups rolled oats.

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Get that all combined.

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Use a soup spoon to dollop quantities of dough onto your baking sheet.  They won’t spread too much but leave lots of space around them in any case.  Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, for 12-14 minutes.

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Leave on the pan for a few minutes after removing from the oven so the cookies can solidify, then carefully scoop them onto a wire rack to cool completely.  Seal in an airtight container to maintain freshness.

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Make Your Own Marshmallows

Don’t be afraid.  Making your own marshmallows is surprisingly easy.  First, round up your ingredients:

2/3 cup water, divided in half

3 (1/4oz) envelopes unflavoured gelatin (or two packets of 1 tablespoon each)

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup icing sugar, for dusting

Spray the inside of an 8 x 8″ pan with vegetable oil (I used a 9 x 13″ pan and it worked out fine).  Generously coat this with icing sugar and set aside.  I took the added precaution of laying waxed paper in the bottom to make removal easier.

Pour 1/3 cup water into the bowl of an electric mixer and sprinkle the gelatin over top.  Leave to stand about 10 minutes.

In a saucepan off heat, combine the remaining 1/3 cup water with sugar, corn syrup, and salt.  Place the pan over medium heat.

Clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan (don’t let it touch the bottom) and cook the mixture without stirring it until it reads 240°F.

Brush down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water to wash away the residual sugar crystals.  Be careful — this is boiling sugar, after all.

With the mixer on low, very carefully add the hot syrup to the gelatin.

Add in the vanilla and increase the speed to medium-high.  Beat for 8-13 minutes, or until the mixture is very stiff, white, and sticky.

Spread the mixture into the prepared pan using a lightly oiled spatula.  With wet hands (and I mean SOAKING), press the batter evenly into the corners and smooth the surface.  Allow to sit for about an hour, or until the mixture is firm and cool.

Run a wet knife around the edges of the pan and turn out onto a lightly oiled surface. 

Cut the marshmallow into squares of your desired size.  Wet the knife often to make this less sticky.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl.  Toss each marshmallow in the icing sugar until completely coated.

Alternatively, you can also toss the marshmallows in unsweetened cocoa (my favourite) or toasted coconut.  You can also fold things into the marshmallow batter (like chocolate chips, dried cranberries, etc.) before you spread it into the pan.

Store the marshmallows in a single layer or in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container for up to a month.That wasn’t that hard, was it?  These were quite popular at the hockey team bake sale.

German Chocolate Cake

For my dad’s birthday back in November, he requested chocolate, and we settled on German chocolate cake for the big celebration.  German chocolate cake is not German, despite the name.  Emerging out of the heart of America in the 1950s, the recipe was actually named after Samuel German, founder of the Bakers Chocolate company.  And of course I have borrowed the recipe from my favourite American in Paris, David Lebovitz.  This cake has a few more extra steps than you’re probably used to (unless you do stuff like this all the time, in which case I bow down to you), so be prepared to devote quite a bit of time to it.  Hopefully yours will turn out a bit better than mine did.

The Cake

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Butter two 9″ round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper.  I didn’t have my handy-dandy kitchen compass (it’s still in Newfoundland) so I had to wing it.

In a double boiler or in your microwave, melt together 2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, with 2 oz unsweetened chocolate, also chopped, and 6 tablespoons water.  Set that aside and let it cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat 1 cup room temperature butter with 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar until fluffy, about five minutes.

Separate 4 eggs into two small bowls (one for the whites, one for the yolks, natch).  Beat your melted chocolate into your butter, and add your 4 egg yolks, one at a time.

In a measuring cup, sift together 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

Mix in half the dry ingredients into the creamed butter.

Add 1 cup buttermilk and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

***TIPS AND TRICKS INTERRUPTION***

If you don’t have buttermilk you can make an easy substitution here: plop a tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice (I used lemon here) into a measuring cup.

Top it up with milk to equal 1 cup.

Allow it to sit for about five minutes to curdle and you’re all set.

***END INTERRUPTION ***

Add in the rest of the dry ingredients and mix.

In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the 4 egg whites until they are at the soft peak stage. 

Beat in 1/4 cup granulated sugar and keep going until you get stiff peaks.

Fold in your egg white mixture until there’s no trace of it visible.

Divide your batter into the two prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes, until your toothpick test comes out clean.

Place the pans on racks to cool completely.

While your cakes are cooking and cooling, you can make the coconut pecan custard filling, the rum syrup, and the chocolate icing.  Mmm!

The Filling

If the oven is free, or if you had the foresight to do this ahead of time, spread 1 cup finely chopped pecans on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and toast, turning halfway through, for 10 minutes in your oven at about 400°F.  Do the same with 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut.  Allow them to cool.

In a medium saucepan, mix together 1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream), 1 cup granulated sugar, and 3 large egg yolks.

Cut 3 oz room temperature butter (that’s 6 tablespoons) into small pieces and place them in a bowl with the cooled coconut and pecans.  Okay, so my pieces aren’t that small.  Sue me.

Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom, until the custard thickens and coats the back of your spoon.

Pour the hot custard immediately into the coconut and pecan mixture and stir until the butter is melted.  Cool to room temperature.

The Syrup

In a small saucepan heat together 1 cup water and 3/4 cup granulated sugar until the sugar has completely melted and the liquid is clear.

Remove the pan from the heat and add in 2 tablespoons dark rum.  I of course used Screech.

The Icing

Chop up 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and plop it in a bowl.  Add 2 tablespoons light corn syrup and 3 tablespoons butter. [Ali’s note: I found that using corn syrup in this particular ganache made my icing runny and hard to apply.  I would probably not use it next time.]

In a small saucepan heat 1 cup heavy cream (whipping cream) until it just begins to boil.  Pour that sucker over the chocolate and let it stand for a minute.

Stir until totally smooth and let sit until it’s room temperature.

Cake Construction

Ease your cooled cakes out of the pans and peel off the parchment paper.  Using a serrated knife (like a bread knife) cut both cake layers in half horizontally. 

I also cut off the tops of my cakes to make them more level.  Lots of bubbles in this here cake.

Set the first cake layer on a cake plate.  Brush well with your rum syrup.  Don’t be shy — there’s plenty.

Spread 3/4 cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges.

Plop another cake layer on top, and then repeat the syrup and filling process, even on the top.

Use your chocolate icing all up the sides of the cake.  This will seal in all the moisture.  I tried to do the decorative piping of icing around the edges of the top, but as I said, my icing was too runny, so I ended up just dribbling it everywhere.  Make sure you use all of it, no matter what happens to its consistency.

I chilled the cake to set the icing.  If your icing is normal, then you won’t need to worry.

Serve and enjoy!

Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies

There is a new god in the pantheon and its name is COOKIE.

Holy SMOKES these are wicked good.  And I don’t even really LIKE cookies.

I was going to make cream cheese brownies to give to the Pie when he came to visit for Thanksgiving, but I figured I should probably go with something new that he hadn’t had before, and besides, I had a lot of cream cheese on hand.  What goes well with cream cheese?

Coconut, of course.  This recipe was adapted with thanks from Dawn Finicane at Vanilla Sugar (who made some adaptations of her own) and it’s fantastic.  FANTASTIC. 

(Just note that this is a two-day cookie to make.  And yeah, I doubled the recipe, as usual.)

DAY ONE:

Preheat your oven to 325°F.

Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and divide 5 cups unsweetened shredded coconut between them.  Seems like a lot, I know, but trust me on this one.

Bake for 10-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for even toasting.  When the coconut is a golden brown, take it out and let it cool.

Melt 1 1/2 cups butter and let it cool to room temperature.

Whisk together4 1/2 cups flour with 1 teaspoon baking soda and set aside.

In a large bowl, plop in two 400g packages cream cheese.

Add to this your now-cooled butter.

Use an electric mixer to cream the crap out of it.

Add 2 cups packed brown sugar, 1 cup granulated sugar, and 4 teaspoons vanilla extract and mix until thoroughly combined.

Add your flour gradually and mix at a low speed until just combined. 

Stir in your cooled coconut.

Cover the dough and chill it overnight.

DAY TWO:

Preheat your oven to 350°F and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.  For this amount of cookie dough you’ll need to use your pans several times, so I prepped four pans, to bake two at a time.

Drop the dough onto the parchment — the cookies will not expand much but might settle slightly during baking.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the edges of the cookies are set and the bottoms are light brown.  You have to be careful not to overbake these babies. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets until you can lift them without breaking them. Place on wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container until you eat them all up!

Next time I think I might add a bit of lime juice and grated lime peel to the recipe.  I think that would boost its godliness to new heights.  It will be like the creamy coconut lime cupcakes, but in cookie form.

*** Ali’s Note, 31 January 2010: I added the juice and rind of two limes to this at the cream cheese stage.  The result? OH.  MY.  DO IT.