Posts Tagged ‘coconut’

When I think of lemon bars, I think of my Grandma Betty, and her puckered lips and beaming smile after taking a bite of one of these tangy-sweet treats.  She loved to make a batch, usually with lemon jello or pudding mix, and then refrigerate them so they were cool.

Inspired by Betty, I made these bars for a recent picnic and barbecue. (h/t Bon Appetit 2004)  They’re a wonderful eggy-custardy texture on top, and the coconut in the crust makes adds a chewy, tropical dimension on the bottom.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with some red raspberries on a platter — turned out great.

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Picture the perfect chocolate chip cookie… For me, it’s thin with a slightly crisp bottom and softer top; a balanced mix of chips and nuts; and, a buttery not-too-sweet richness overall.

And after many rounds of trial and error in my kitchen, I can honestly say these might come closest to the mark. They are without doubt the best I’ve made in over a year. Hat-tip to my fabulous colleague and talented baker Susan James for this recipe, circa 1979!

Her secret is to use about a half cup less flour and sugar each than a standard cookie recipe calls for — keeping all other quantities the same — yielding a softer and wetter batter that bakes down thin to irresistible, chewy/crunchy goodness.

Susan James’ Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter

3/4 cup white sugar

3/4 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 cup oats

1 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

Unsweetened coconut, nuts and chocolate chips to taste

*Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, but watch them carefully in your oven to make sure they don’t burn.

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This cake was my baptism into the world of Bon Appetit magazine. And as I’m sure any of its devourers can attest, the surviving sister of Gourmet Magazine offers up some pretty sweet stuff (no pun intended). The January issue names this recipe among its “top desserts of the year,” and while I might not go that far, it is indeed wonderfully decadent and delicious. The cake is moist, fluffy and coconutty, laden with scattered, irregular fragments of Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate.  The top of the cake is an amazing minefield of toasted coconut, gooey chocolate and a creamy coconut glaze. I served it as a coffeecake for a brunch but it could easily have been a dessert course for a fancy dinner party.

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I love a crunchy cookie with lots of “stuff” in it — nuts, chips, oats, raisins, coconut, peanut butter… Certainly not all those things at once.  But, the combination of a few of those ingredients in a single cookie always pleases the palate. These oatmeal-coconut-chocolate chippers are crispy and hearty. Delicious with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee!  This recipe makes about 3 dozen cookies:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 stick unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1/8 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet, mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup flaked coconut

(1) Preheat oven to 350.

(2) Cream butter and sugars in a bowl until light and fluffy. Then add the egg and vanilla.

(3) Whisk dry ingredients together and then fold into the butter mixture. Add chocolate chips and coconut.

(4) Drop tablespoonfuls of dough on a cookie sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Cool cookies on a baking rack.

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And the winner is….. Billy’s Bakery !   Of all the cupcakes I tried during my year in New York City, Billy’s (184 Ninth Ave) are my favorite — particularly their fluffy coconut variety seen here. Their cake has the perfect balance of moisture and crumbliness. The inventive frostings and flavor combinations are rich and creamy but not cloyingly sweet.


As great as Billy’s cupcakes are, I always have to pick up a slice of the famous banana cake — two layers of moist, vanilla-banana cake separated by a layer of whipped cream cheese frosting, which also blankets the entire masterpiece.  It’s so tender and delicious!  My one criticism is that it could probably use some walnuts tossed in for good measure.



I’ve found that Billy’s is a great place to take a date for an after-dinner treat. (Hint, hint).  It’s just a downright warm, friendly place to hang out — and soak up the bakery smells! I also love the 1940s-style ambiance, which co-owners Marc & Wayne say is meant to evoke the “warm feeling of Grandma’s kitchen.”



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Quick: what do you do with a leftover box of cereal that you don’t like to eat for breakfast?  Grind it up and make cookies! That’s what I did with some Kellogg’s Product 19 sitting in my cabinet. I had bought the cereal on sale, but it never really caught my fancy. Crushed and mixed with sweet coconut and oats, however, the flakes of corn, rice and wheat redeem themselves: they add a unique crunchy and tasty element to these delicious cookies.


Oatmeal Coconut Cornflake Cookies

1 stick of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup white sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup crushed flaky cereal

1 cup quick oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/3 cups coconut

(1) Cream butter and sugars in large bowl until smooth. Blend in egg and vanilla.

(2) Sift together dry ingredients in a separate bowl and stir into the creamed mixture.

(3) Drop teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees.

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I don’t know about you, but this time of year I always start craving the tropics — sun, surf, and sweet coconut flavors and smells. Spring Break is quickly approaching!  And in celebration of that fact, this key lime coconut cake. (Can you guess where I’m headed for a getaway??)

This cake is dense, moist and citrusy. A sweet lime glaze is poured on top after baking, and it seeps down through the cake adding to the tang. Toasted coconut flakes provide a slightly crunchy texture on the outside and complement the tropical key lime flavor.

Recipe found in Gourmet, March 2009.

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