Black-Bottom Coconut Bars

This past week, I forget which day, Johanna brought in some of the yummy fruit salad that she makes. I don't remember all the details, but it uses both shredded coconut and coconut jelly. It's great. So that put me in the mood for more coconut, despite Dave not liking it. Rarely ever do I do anything with coconut, so I actually had to ask someone where it was in Whole Foods. LOL

Two nights ago, while searching for ideas on what to make today, I wound up on Martha Stewart's website (as a sidenote, her name is the one that I can't say without slipping back into my Massachusetts accent: Mah-tha Stew-aht) and came across these. Of course, mine didn't come out so nice-looking, but it's okay.

I'm pleased enough with the taste. The brownie base is delicious, but I feel the coconut part could use some more... oomph to the flavor. I'm not sure what to add, but I feel like it's missing something. As for my GP's (Guinea Pigs; they deserve to be capitalized lol), I feel quite sure that Henelyne will dance a little when she tries one. Have yet to make something that hasn't elicited that reaction! :D

Chocolate Base:
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup sugar
¼ tsp. salt
1 large egg
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup all-purpose flour

Coconut Topping:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling

For chocolate base:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang).

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake at 375F for about 10-15 minutes, or just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan. Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping:
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling).

Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut.

Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into bars.


Toffee-Almond Blondies

It was a few months ago when I first tried almond butter. It was at Whole Foods, one of their free samples, and I was just blown away. Unfortunately, it was like $12 for a jar, and, well, I work in retail. That explains everything.

Two weeks ago, one lazy Saturday morning, Dave and I, in our travels, went over to Piazza's in Palo Alto, where I discovered 8 ounces of almond butter for $3.99. Perfect.

Instead of hunting down a brand new recipe to try, I went with the recipe from the pb blondies from a few weeks ago. (Okay, so I did search, but with no luck) The almond butter had some crunch to it, where I would rather prefer smooth. But the finished product came out very good. I found some toffee bits floating around and added some of those in there, too. The bars would be good with or without them, it's up to you. :)

1 cup all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
½ cup almond butter
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
¼-½ cup toffee bits (optional)

Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

Cream butter, almond butter, and sugars until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Stir in toffee bits, if using. Spread into pan.

Bake at 325F for 30-35 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out mostly clean. Let cool before cutting into bars.


Cadbury Cupcakes

This month's Master Baker ingredient was a bit more diverse: Easter candy.

For me, my ultimate Easter candy are the Mini Eggs. Simple, but delightful, I stretch that bag out for as long as I possibly can. The Cadbury Cream Egg is number two. As a kid, I wasn't a big fan of it. I think the goo was a bit disturbing for me. But something changed as I got older and soon that goo was a happy-goo. And why does that sentence sound so very wrong? LOL

Anyways! When I found out the ingredient, I knew I wanted to work with either the Cream Egg or Mini-Eggs. Anything else would just be... it just wouldn't be. I proposed both to Dave and my beloved Guinea Pigs this idea: What if I could make a cupcake with an egg in the center? Which led to the main question: How?

I baked a batch of yellow cupcakes last Saturday and put four eggs into the uncooked batter. Wasn't sure how the egg and the goo would respond to the oven. Thankfully, the oven didn't explode. ;) But, upon the undressing of the cupcake, the bottom came off with the liner, revealing a still somewhat egg-shaped piece of chocolate. But it was empty. The goo escaped, giving the bottom of the cupcake an odd orange tint. Back to the drawing board.

Long story short, the image of a chocolate cupcake with the egg inside came to mind. Lacking the eggs for the Devil's Food Cupcakes, I went with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World's chocolate cupcakes, then hollowed out a bit of the center to place the egg in. I went with the mascarpone frosting because, oh, it's like satin on my tongue. :)

So, onto the next important part: the pictures. :)

1 cup milk
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup applesauce
1½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup flour
1/3 cup cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin tins with paper liners.

Whisk together the milk and vinegar, and set aside to let curdle. Add the sugar, applesauce, and vanilla to milk mixture and beat until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients. Add in two batches to wet ingredients and beat well-mixed. Pour into liners, 3/4s full.

Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes.

8 oz. mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
¼ cup butter, at room temperature
2-2½ cups sifted powdered sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract

In an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until combined. Add more sugar, if needed, for desired consistancy.

Using a knife (or spoon), remove a small piece of the center of the cupcake. Insert Cadbury Egg. Cover with frosting.


Thin Mint Cheesecake

Yes, it's that glorious time of the year. The one that people near and far look forward to, pine for, dream of. It's up there with Christmas, Halloween, and birthdays. Yep, you know what I'm talking about: the Girl Scouts are selling their cookies again.

My absolute favorite is the Samoa. Even as a kid, where a lot of kids shy away from coconut, that was just the ultimate. The Thin Mint comes in at a close second. The only thing I don't like about it is that it can get stuck in your teeth.

I came across a recipe on Baking Bites a few weeks ago, involving a no-bake cheesecake with a Thin Mint crust. That looked decent enough, but I'm not a huge fan of no-bake's. So I just went with a basic cheesecake recipe and added some chopped up pieces of cookie into the batter itself, for a cookies and cream affect.

We tried some when Dave got home from work. Not bad. I would prefer a stronger minty taste, rather than just getting the majority of the mint from the crust. Or even more of a chocolate-y taste. Maybe a chocolate cheesecake with the added cookies? We'll see if I can pick up another box. All of my guinea pigs are looking forward to this one, and I hope they'll be pleased. :)

1½ cups crushed Thin Mints (or you could do a bit more to cover some of the sides)
2 Tbsp. butter

3 pkg. cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
3 eggs
At least half a roll of cookies, cut up or crushed, to stir into batter

Preheat oven to 350F (325F if using a darker pan)

Combine crushed cookies and butter. Press onto the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, beating until combined. Gently stir in cookie crumbles. Pour onto cooled crust.

Bake at 350F(/325F) for 40-50 minutes until center is nearly set. Let cool in pan. Refrigerate for at least four hours before serving.

Cupcakes Spectacular

I'm posting this now in hopes of making the deadline. Arfi, of HomeMadeS, who is hosting the Cupcake Spectacular responded to my email with a positive answer: Yes, I could use a cupcake that I made about two weeks, so long as I posted it in a new post. Good deal!

Seeing as I don't currently know what time it is in New Zealand, I'm posting this hurriedly, just in case. :D

Devil's Food Cupcakes!

½ cup boiling water
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flour
½ + 1/8 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

½ cup butter, softened
10 Tbsp. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs

In a bowl, whisk boiling water into cocoa until smooth. Add in milk and vanilla; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in batches, alternating with cocoa mixture; beginning and ending with the flour. Fill liners about halfway full.

Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Heat the cream until boiling, then pour over chocolate, stirring to melt, adding the corn syrup. Dip each cupcake into ganache upside down to get a good coating on it.


Honey Blondies

If it weren't for the hideous-looking apple butterscotch bars, I wouldn't have made these. But for some reason, the butterscotch chips I sprinkled on top, as directed... they stayed put in the oven, but upon cooling, half of them sank. So I have bars with sinkholes. Not pretty.

So I started searching, knowing that I had a bear of honey in the cabinet that I hadn't used. Finally came across this on the National Honey Board website. The picture looked decent, the recipe easy enough, so why not, right?

Oh, have I mentioned that I'm not a big fan of honey, simply because I never really had it growing up? Or at least not that I can remember. So I don't know what I expected, but these are... different. They seem a bit bland, and almost have a cornbread-like texture. Dave agrees. Two of my guinea pigs get them tomorrow, so we'll see.

On a happy note! I found almond butter at a decent price AND I bought Girl Scout Cookies today. Oh, yes. Happy day, indeed. Add blue skies, sun, and 68 degree temperatures... does it get any better? :)

1 cup honey
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.

Cream butter and honey until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour and baking powder; mix until combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spread into pan.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely. Cut into squares.


Devil's Food Cake

On Thursday, the 6th, it's Johanna's birthday. She's my best friend, my partner in crime, completely the Rachel to my Monica. She returns stuff, and I'm very... organized. :)

So when she asked for a cake version of the cupcakes I made last week (was it last week?), of course I agreed. And then went searching for a cake recipe version, since I lack the confidence still in judging times versus pan size. Anyways, I found a good recipe and halved it, since there wasn't any way that I could get a layer cake into work without injury to myself or the cake.

I'm very happy to report that the soon-to-be-birthday girl enjoyed her cake and did share it with others. Tasted just like the cupcakes, including the desire for a glass of milk afterwards. :) And for the frosting, I just used the remaining ganache from the cupcakes of last week. Went simple for decorating, since I know Jo's picky about sprinkles, so I just used all the jimmies I had left for the outer rim, and sprinkled some colored sugar over the center. All were pleased. :D

Happy Birthday, Jo! <3

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. salt
5½ Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 large egg
½ tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup warm water

Preheat oven to 325F. Line the bottom of an 8 inch cake pan with parchment paper, grease and dust the sides with flour.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar at medium speed until mixture becomes pale and well blended. Add the cocoa powder and beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Beat in egg, followed by vanilla.

Add the flour mixture and warm water, alternately, to the butter mixture; starting and ending with the flour. Pour batter into prepared pans.

Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes. Unmold cake and let cool completely before frosting.


Blueberry Muffins

When I woke up yesterday morning, I had no idea what I was going to be baking. I left it up to fate. Well, not fate, but more of what was on sale at Whole Foods. :) But after all the chocolate of last week, I knew it would involve fruit. Blueberries were two pints for $5, and that was the best price for fruit that I like. (The ten-pound bag of oranges we bought today is certainly not for me lol)

This is another request recipe. Dave, upon hearing that I bought blueberries, went, "Ooh! Blueberry muffins!", in a way that made me picture him as a kid. ;)

I found this one over at AllRecipes. With over 1800 reviews, I figured it'd do well. The only thing I changed was the quantity, upping it to 12.

I think they're a bit on the greasy side. If I make them again, I'd definitely substitute applesauce for the oil, and see what difference that makes. Dave's pleased. He feels that a good blueberry muffin should be a bit greasy. *raises eyebrow* The streusel topping is nice and crisp, and I added some ginger and nutmeg for the fun of it. :) But yes, 'twas yummy and is a nice change for breakfast.

As a side note, this is my 100th post! All together now: "Awww!" :D

2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup and 2 Tbsp. white sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ cup vegetable oil
2 egg
½ cup milk
1½ cups fresh blueberries

3/4 cup white sugar
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup and 2 Tbsp. butter, cubed
2¼ tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Pour vegetable oil into a 1-cup measuring glass; add eggs and milk to fill glass. Pour into flour mixture and mix. Gently fold in blueberries. Fill muffin cups to the top.

For streusel, mix together sugar, flour, butter, and cinnamon. Mix with fork and then sprinkle over muffins.

Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.