March 18, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

My family and I went out for brunch a few weeks ago (maybe months, I can't remember) and for dessert they ordered a piece of coconut cream pie. Everyone almost had a stroke over how delicious it was. So of course I had to make one even better!

I took this pie to our family dinner tonight and everyone basically licked their plates to make sure they didn't miss one crumb! It's a bit time consuming, but if you're really look for a coconut cream pie that will knock your socks off, this is totally worth it!

Coconut Cream Pie
Yield: Makes 8 servings

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons chilled solid vegetable shortening, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons (or more) ice water

1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract

2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
For crust:

Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor. Add butter and shortening; using on/off turns, cut in until mixture resembles coarse meal. Drizzle 4 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more ice water by teaspoonfuls if dough is dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic. Chill 1 hour.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of plastic wrap to 14-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Fold overhang under. Crimp edges decoratively. Pierce bottom of crust all over with fork. Freeze crust 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep frozen.)
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 20 minutes. Remove weights and foil. Bake until golden and set, about 10 minutes. Cool. (Crust can be made 1 day ahead. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand at room temperature.)

For filling:

Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl. Bring coconut milk and coconut to simmer in medium saucepan over medium heat. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return to same saucepan; cook until pastry cream thickens and boils, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and coconut extracts. Transfer pastry cream to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent formation of skin. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day. Transfer filling to crust. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the top of the custard; chill overnight.

For topping:

Toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.
Using electric mixer, beat cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream all over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve cold.
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March 15, 2012

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies

I saw a picture on Pinterest of a cookie using crushed Easter candy recently and I haven't been able to stop thinking about it. So today on the way home I decided I had to try this since I haven't baked in like 5 days! The insanity ;)

All I did was use my all-time favorite cookie base and add crushed candy. Not very brilliant, but very tasty! I only used 8 oz of the candy, but you could definitely get away with using the entire bag. I wish I had because those last candies somehow magically disappeard ;) Don't judge me! I put the candies in a plastic bag and crushed them with a heavy pot... because I don't own a rolling pin.

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies
yields approximately 18 cookies


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 oz Cadbury mini eggs (from a 10 oz bag), crushed

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. You want to bake these on the middle rack position in your oven, so arrange the racks accoringly. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or use a nonstick pan. Do no spray them with nonstick cooking spray bc it will turn brown in the oven and cause the bottoms of the cookies to burn a bit.

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

3. Mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended and the sugar is disolved (appx 5 minutes in the mixer). Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the crushed candies. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

4. Roll 2 ounces (2 heaping tablespoons) of dough into a ball. Use the technique from Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies to for the dough. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart. I put 6 on a large cookie sheet.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges just start to harden yet the centers are still slightly underdone, 8-10 minutes. DO NOT overbake. Start checking hte cookies at 8 minutes and then recheck in 1 minute intervals until the edges have just started to brown. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 10 minues then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
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Baby's 1st Birthday Cake

      I got my first "official" cake order a few weeks ago. A former co-worker of mine has an adorable little girl that was (and now is) turning 1. She asked me if I could make a strawberry cake and make the icing "Tiffany blue." So of course I said yes, and then panicked because... what if I ruined it? What if it came out lopsided? That's happened more than once to me! But I said yes, so I had to do it. And it turned out: PERFECT!

      I used the cake recipe from Glen's birthday cake I made in October. I had to double the recipe to get 5 layers. It made 6 but that was too tall and I needed to "quality check."

      Since she wanted a colored icing I used the buttercream icing recipe from my Sugar Cookie Bars II. I used Wilton Sky Blue food coloring to tint it a pale blue, then used Wilton Teal food coloring until I got the color I was looking for. I had to make 2 recipes of the icing for the blue. I made 1 recipe of icing for the white piping work.

      Friday night I baked the cakes, let them cool and then wrapped them in plastic wrap and put them in the fridge overnight. Saturday afternoon I made the first batch of blue icing and assembled the cake and then "crumb coated" it and put it in the fridge for an hour. Then I made the second batch of icing and put the top coat on. I put the cake in the fridge overnight.

      Sunday morning I did the piping work and then put it in the freezer for 2 hours so it would stay cold on the 30 minute drive to the party. Note to self: charge for delivery ;)

This is how it turned out:

The amazing dessert table Chelsea set up!

The cake :)

This was a LOT of work, but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Chelsea said the cake was a big hit and I'm glad I was able to be a part of a little girl's 1st birthday :)
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March 6, 2012

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup

Perfect for a cold and/or rainy day! Or, if you're not feeling so great :) This recipe is easily adaptable. If you have peas... throw them in. Extra carrots? Toss them in too. Mine sometimes ends up with an entire bag of baby carrots.

Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup


16 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
1 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces

1/2 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced

1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley


Combine chicken broth and chicken in heavy large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Cool chicken and broth slightly. Discard skin and bones from chicken. Cut chicken meat into bite-size pieces and reserve. Spoon fat off top of chicken broth.

Return broth to simmer. Add onion, carrots and celery. Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover chicken meat and broth separately and refrigerate. Bring broth to boil before continuing.)

Spray a heavy large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Add mushrooms to broth; stir in noodles, parsley and reserved chicken. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
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March 2, 2012

Sugar Cookies Bars II

I keep seeing frosted sugar cookie bar recipes all over the food blogs I'm obsessed with and Pinterest (my newest addiction) and I had made them once before here. I wasn't a huge fan to be honest, so I really had no intention of ever making them again, but I promised my friend Jenna I would make her the dessert of her choice for her baby shower, and she requested these.

So I tweaked the frosting recipe a bit and baked them in smaller batches and.... I LOVED THEM!! Instead of using a cookie sheet I baked the recipe in two 8x8 pans (I tasted one batch for "quality control" and the other was for Jenna) and used just butter instead of a butter/shortening mix in the frosting. Y-U-M-M-Y!

Sugar cookie bars


For the cookie bars:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon sallt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

For the frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
5 tablespoons milk (I used heavy cream)
Food coloring, as desired
Sprinkles, for garnish, optional


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Grease a 10 x 15 inch jelly roll pan (or two 8 x 8 inch baking pans); set aside.

3. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the
butter and sugar on medium speed (4 on my Kitchen-Aid) until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

4. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each additioin.

5. Add the vanilla.

6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda.

7. Reduce the mixer to low speed, and slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Mix until thorougly combined.

8. Using a rubber spatula (or damp hands), pat the dough into the prepared sheet (or divide between the two pans).

9. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. They should be light golden brown.  They will not look done in the middle, so make sure to use the toothpick test.

10. Cool completely.

For the frosting:

1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

2. Add the vanilla and salt, mixing well.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually add the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, until thoroughyl combined.

4. Add the milk/cream until smooth and spreading consistency. You may need more or less than 5 tablespoons to get the right consistency. Just eyeball it. :)

5. Add your desired amount of food color and mix until incorporated.

6. Frost and decorate the cooled cookie bars.

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