Friday, February 23, 2018

Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies

I’ve been stuck in a rut of making bar cookies lately, and while I have several more that I want to try, I decided that I would try something different this week. I had planned to make these before, but the inspiration wasn’t there when it was time to bake. Since I had all of the ingredients and wanted to get out of the rut, now was the time to make them.

These cookies don’t require all that many ingredients. The dough is different in that it has butter and cream cheese, but no eggs. Don’t skip the step of toasting the coconut, it makes all the difference! Besides, it will make your kitchen smell divine. I was making the dough and things were going great and then I read in the original recipe “Refrigerate overnight” I figured that was fairly symbolic of my week, where things haven’t gone quite as planned. Oh well.

I ended up refrigerating the dough for about 2 hours, and it worked out just fine. I made these cookies a little larger than usual, they don’t spread at all, and I didn’t want the cookies to be too small. I love the buttery flavor of the toasted coconut, and the cream cheese adds a slight tang. The only thing that I would change is perhaps adding some nuts, as the richness of the cookies needs some crunch. The toasted coconut adds a slight crunch, but they need a little more.

Coconut Cream Cheese Cookies
2-1/2 cups shredded coconut
2 cups + 3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, melted
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Toast the coconut: preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the coconut on a baking sheets. Toast for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. (Turn off the oven)

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In a large mixer bowl, beat the melted butter and cream cheese on low until combined. Add the sugar and brown sugar and mix on medium until smooth. Gradually add the flour mixture, with the mixer running on low. Stir in the toasted coconut. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.

Drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, using about 1-1/2 tablespoons for each cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until cookies are set and are slightly golden. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe from Vanilla Sugar Blog

Friday, February 16, 2018

Butter Tart Squares

My planning this week for baking didn’t quite work as planned. I had a different cookie to bake, but I just wasn’t inspired by it by the time it was time to bake. That happens sometimes, which is why having a well-stocked kitchen is a good thing. I usually have in mind some back up recipe, but this week I didn’t even make that! I had pinned this recipe recently, and this is the recipe that spoke to me this week.

The butter tart is a traditional Canadian treat, pastry topped with a buttery, brown sugar topping. I’ve been watching the winter Olympics, and since I usually watch Olympic coverage on the Canadian station that we get here, the Olympics make me think of Canada. A bit of a strange connection I suppose, but the mind works in mysterious ways.

These bars are basically butter and brown sugar with a couple of other ingredients thrown in. You don’t have to use a mixer to make these, but I ended up using the mixer to cut in the butter and to mix the filling. I never have the best luck with cutting in butter by hand, so I rely on the work of the mixer. It’s hard to know exactly when the bars are done; sugar browns quickly. The topping is bubbly when you take it out of the oven but will set as the bars cool. I forgot to spray my pan with nonstick spray, but that didn’t matter once I got the edges loose. These cookies are very sweet and sticky!

Butter Tart Squares
1 cup cold butter, cubed
¼ cup powdered sugar
2 cups flour

1/2 cup butter, melted
3 cups packed brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9” x 13” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Make the shortbread crust: in a large bowl, combine the butter cubes, powdered sugar, and flour. Cut the butter into the ingredients with a pastry cutter until the mixture is crumbly and holds together when pressed. Spread the crumbs into the prepared pan and press into an even layer.

Bake for 10 minutes. Make the filling while the crust is baking.

Make the filling: in the same large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar. Whisk or stir until incorporated. Add the eggs, vinegar, and vanilla and mix until the filling is smooth. When the crust comes out of the oven, pour the filling on top of the hot crust.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, until the filling is set. Cool before cutting into bars.

Recipe from The Recipe Rebel

Friday, February 9, 2018

Blonde Nanaimo Bars

I make cookies for everyone at work and bring them every Friday. While my cookies are well known in my close work group, other folks don’t necessarily know about my cookie baking skills. Occasionally, I have a meeting where I will bring cookies or something like that. I had a meeting where somehow the conversation turned to Nanaimo Bars. I mentioned that I love to make Nanaimo bars and have made several varieties. I said I would make them when we had another meeting.

Now, this became a dilemma for me; I’ve made and posted Nanaimo Bars and I don’t typically post the same thing more than once. I could find a variation, but then what if they were disappointing? My solution was to make this variation, the blonde Nanaimo bar, and then also make the classic bars. In the photo you can see both varieties.

I was intrigued by this blonde variation. Usually, variations change up the filling by adding extra flavors. This recipe is different in that the base omits the cocoa powder and uses brown sugar rather than regular sugar. Of course, the topping is white chocolate. I love the base; the toasted coconut and brown sugar give the base a lovely buttery flavor. The topping was tricky, as it cracked to pieces when I cut the bars. I had refrigerated them for just a few minutes, as the recipe stated, but that didn’t work so well! These are quite sweet, and very rich, so cut them in fairly small bars.

Blonde Nanaimo Bars
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup pecan pieces, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup butter, room temperature
 3 tablespoons Bird's Custard Powder
 3 tablespoons milk
 3 cups powdered sugar

1 cup chopped white chocolate
1 tablespoon shortening

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread the coconut in a baking pan and bake until toasted, about 10 minutes. Stir frequently so that the coconut doesn’t brown. Allow to cool slightly.

Line a 9” x 9" square pan with foil.

Make the base: in a medium saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar over medium low heat, stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat and add the graham cracker crumbs, pecans, toasted coconut and the beaten egg. Stir until combined. Press into the base of the prepared pan. Refrigerate while making the filling.

Make the filling: in a large mixer bowl, beat the butter, custard powder, and milk on medium until combined. Slowly add the powdered sugar, while the mixer is running on low. Spread the filling over the base and refrigerate for at least and hour.

Make the topping: in a microwaveable bowl, combine the white chocolate and shortening. Microwave, in 30 second increments, stirring frequently. When the mixture looks half melted, allow the chocolate to sit for 2 minutes, allowing the residual heat to assist in the melting process. Continue microwaving and stirring until the mixture is smooth. Spread the chocolate over the bars.

Allow the chocolate to set before cutting into bars.

Recipe from Food Pusher