Tag Archives: coconut

Mom’s Black Forest Cherry Pie

My mother makes this no-bake Black Forest Cherry Pie. It’s good. So good, in fact, she won the pie contest at the company picnic back in the day – three years running. Until, that is, someone complained that she always won the pie contest and they told her she couldn’t enter this pie anymore. Some people are sore losers. Personally, I say if the crowd votes it Best Pie then it’s obviously a fan favorite. I can vouch that it was always a family favorite, as well.

Here’s how you can make it for your family:
1 store-bought chocolate graham cracker crust
1 package cream cheese (8-oz.) at room temperature
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups homemade whipped cream or Cool-Whip
1 can cherry pie filling (21 oz.)
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut (optional)
1/2 cup of your favorite chocolate sauce (my addition)
Additional whipped cream, for garnish

Begin by making your own whipped cream (lightly sweetened) or thawing your Cool-Whip. Next, place the softened cream cheese in a mixing bowl; beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and beat one minute more. Remove from the mixer and gently fold the prepared whipped cream or Cool-Whip into the creamed cheese mixture until well combined.

In another bowl, combine the cherry pie filling, almond extract and shredded coconut. Gently fold the pie filling mixture into the whipped cream/cream cheese mixture until thoroughly incorporated. You’ll want to work slowly and gently to keep the whipped cream mixture from deflating. Once combined, spoon the filling into the graham cracker crust and spread it to the edges.

To decorate, use a pastry bag and pipe additional whipped cream around the edges. Pop your pie into the freezer until it is completely firm, then remove from the freezer and pour your favorite chocolate sauce over the entire pie to form a thin layer on top. This is where the piped whipped cream comes in handy – it creates a nice edge to hold all that chocolate goodness in place. For the photos, I drizzled. When it came time to eat the pie, I ladled on the chocolate sauce using the “more is more” rule of chocolate saucing. I’m a baaaaad girl. :)

This pie serves 8 regular folks, 10 dainty eaters, or 4 ‘screw it – it’s the holidays’ foodies. It should be kept refrigerated and can be made in advance and frozen. Just pop it uncovered into the freezer until firm, then cover it with plastic wrap. To serve, remove it from the freezer, remove the plastic wrap and allow it to thaw at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before serving. Leftovers (if there are any) will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days. Thanks, Mom! (again)

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Mom’s Fudge Drops

Or in this case, Mom’s Fudge Balls since I rolled them. These were one of my favorite treats as a child. Mom would make them and my four sisters and I would devour them like a plague of locusts. Then we got old enough to make them ourselves so we made them all the time. And we devoured them like locust.

Mom’s Fudge Drops – no one can eat just one. I’m serious.

Anywho… did I mention this snack was always one of my favorites? Well, I made them again just so I could share them with you. Because I think you need these. No, I KNOW you need these. And while they look totally decadent, they’re really not bad. Okay, stop laughing and shaking your head. I mean it – there are whole oats in there. Old-fashioned oats. So they’re practically a health food (she says with her fingers crossed behind her back). Okay, judge for yourself then.

Mom’s Fudge Drops:
1 stick butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar (Mom used 2 cups; I use 1)
1/2 cup good quality cocoa powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth or crunchy
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups old-fashioned oats (I love Bob’s Red Mill)
1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut (optional)

Grab a large saucepan with a heavy bottom and melt the stick of butter over medium heat. While that’s melting, combine the sugar and cocoa in a small mixing bowl and whisk until well combined. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the sugar/cocoa mixture and add the milk, whisking until blended. Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to whisk until the mixture comes to a boil. Don’t walk away while this is cooking, or it will burn! Stand there and whisk it until it comes to a boil and has the texture of glossy hot fudge sauce.

Add the peanut butter and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth, then turn off the heat. Using a sturdy wooden spoon, add the old-fashioned oats and coconut, stirring until well combined. Using a cookie scoop or a metal spoon, scoop and drop onto parchment or waxed paper-lined baking sheets. Allow them to cool to room temperature. Once cool, they will still be soft and pliable. If you want to roll them into balls, now is the time. Gently roll each drop in your hands until a ball forms and put them back onto the waxed paper. Or, if you like them just fine as drops, leave them as is. Either way, pop the baking sheet into the refrigerator for about an hour to allow them to firm up completely. Once firm, you can layer them into an airtight container. These will keep in the fridge for 3-4 weeks.

If you really want to get fancy, you can roll the balls in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, ground peanuts or even graham cracker crumbs before you refrigerate them. Talk about getting dressed up for a party!

Pop a few in a plastic bag, and these make a perfect lunchbox treat for school kids or a great afternoon snack for a working girl or the perfect easy breakfast for a stay-at-home mom. At my house, they’re all mine. The Complete Package won’t touch them. And that, my friends, is what they call a win/win.

Fudge, oats, coconut & peanut butter for the win!

Now DROP me a line and let’s talk favorite childhood treats. Was yours homemade or store-bought? Do you still make them as an adult, either for yourself or for your children? And if your favorite was the ever-present never-perishable Twinkie, that’s okay too. No judging here. I grew up eating those, too. Although, for the record, I will always be a pink & fluffy Snowball kind of girl.

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Recipe: Dorie’s Baby Cakes

NanaBread's take on Dorie Greenspan's Baby Cakes


I made my first Dorie Greenspan recipe this week. That’s not a big deal for some people, but it is for me. Fancy French food intimidates me, and I think of Dorie as one of those great French cooks. She writes cookbooks, for God’s sake. Fancy, wonderful, gorgeous cookbooks. Don’t get me wrong – I love eating French food. It’s the making/baking part that freaks me out. Here’s what I learned from Dorie this week: fabulous doesn’t have to mean fussy. This recipe was beyond fabulous, and it could not have been easier. All you need is a handful of ingredients and a few pieces of the right equipment.

On Dorie’s blog this week, she posted a recipe for Almond Baby Cakes. I was intrigued. As I read it, I was amazed that so few ingredients were required. Then I got to the part where she said, “If you play around with the recipe, let me know what you do … please.” Those of you who know me know it takes very little to get me to play with my food. I have a hard enough time sticking to recipes; I’m a recipe fiddler. But when you INVITE me to mess with a recipe, well I just can’t say no. There’s something wrong with my wiring when it comes to stuff like that.

So here’s what I did to Dorie’s Baby Cakes. Instead of almonds, I chose pecans. And since I love coconut, I decided to throw some of that in there, too. Coconut and pecans go together like peas and carrots. Chocolate and peanut butter. Biscuits and gravy. And since the recipe called for a little rum, I grabbed my bottle of Parrot Bay Coconut Rum. Laugh all you want, but God help me if coconut rum & Coke over ice isn’t a little piece of paradise on a hot summer day. So armed with my collection of substitutions and one secret ingredient, here’s how my version of Dorie’s Baby Cakes went down.

The Ingredient Perp Walk - they're all guilty of being delicious

Coconut Pecan Baby Cakes:
1 cup of pecans, halves or pieces
1/2 cup of flaked, sweetened coconut
2/3 cup of granulated sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
5 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 tablespoons of coconut rum

To start, make sure you place an oven rack in the center rung of your oven and pre-heat it to 350F. Using a standard 12-count muffin pan, butter each cup of the muffin tin generously. Using parchment or waxed paper, cut a small circular piece of paper to fit the bottom of each muffin cup. (Hint: I used a small-mouth canning jar lid ring as my pattern.) Place the paper in the bottom of each cup, then generously butter the paper as well.

In a shallow baking pan, I toasted my pecans and coconut for approximately 10 minutes, or until I could smell their lovely fragrance coming from my oven. Dumping them into the food processor with 2 tablespoons of the sugar, I pulsed the pecans and coconut until they were coarsely ground, but not dust. If you have a few pea-sized chunks in there, don’t sweat it.

Using my KitchenAid stand mixer with the whisk attachment, I combined the rest of the sugar with the eggs and beat on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Turning the mixer off just long enough to add the pecan/coconut mixture, I then turned it back to medium-high and beat for one additional minute. At this point, you’ll want to stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Turning the mixer back to medium-high, I added the softened butter (you’ll want it to be super soft) one tablespoon at a time. (Note: Dorie’s recipe says to use 5 tablespoons of butter, but I softened an entire stick and lost track, stopping at 6 tablespoons. The extra tablespoon of butter didn’t seem to hurt at all, but next time I will use 5, as directed.) Once the butter is incorporated, turn the mixer to low speed and add the coconut rum, beating just until blended.

The batter will look a little curdled, just as Dorie described, so don’t panic. There’s no flour in this recipe to smooth things out, so just relax and go with it. Why? Because Dorie says so. I used a gravy ladle to spoon equal portions of batter into each of the 12 muffin cups. Each cup should end up about half-full.

Here’s where my secret ingredient came into play. It was this little can of dark chocolate-coated cocoa nibs from my friend Kirsten of Comfortably Domestic. She sent them in a box of goodies earlier this week. I’d never had them before, and my eyes just about bugged out of my head when I tried them. The nibs are crunchy, the chocolate coating is creamy, and together they are simply dreamy. SO when my baby cakes were ready to go into the oven, I sprinkled 10-12 of them on top of my cakes. I left 3 plain, just to try them without the cocoa nibs. BIG mistake. Lesson learned: next time, go all in.

Dark chocolate-coated Cocoa Nibs on top? Yes, please!

Bake the cakes on the center rack for 27-29 minutes, turning the pan halfway through the baking process. In my case, I set the first timer for 14 minutes, then turned the pan and re-set it for another 14 minutes, which turned out perfect. You’ll know they’re done when the edges are crispy brown and a toothpick comes out clean from the center. Remove the pan from the oven and invert immediately. (Hint: I used a flat cookie sheet that was a little larger than my muffin pan. Just turn the cookie sheet upside-down on the muffin pan, then grab both pans with hot pads and flip them both at the same time.)

Baby Cakes so yummy you'll just want to nibble them to death

Gently tap the muffin pan to release the cakes. Once the cakes are out of the muffin tin, give them a few minutes to cool, then remove any parchment paper that may still be stuck to the bottoms, and use a flat spatula to flip them back to their full upright positions. These are best served warm or at room temperature. Even better, serve them with homemade whipped cream spiked with a little vanilla bean paste. That stuff makes everything better, but it is BFFs with whipping cream. Plop a big spoon full on the top and go to town.

Nothing beats homemade whipped cream with vanilla bean paste

If you’re like me, don’t even bother with a plate and fork. Just blob on some whipped cream and eat it with your fingers. The toasted pecans and coconut paired with all that butter and coconut rum makes these dreamy. But the addition of the chocolate-covered cocoa nibs pushed this recipe right over the cliff. I swear I don’t know how these could get any better.

Dorie, you said to let you know if we messed with the recipe, so here’s my contribution. If you try these, I hope you’ll return the favor and let me know. Until then, I can’t thank you enough. These may be Baby Cakes, but they are absolutely HUGE in flavor. And I am totally in love with these little cuties.

Note: this recipe makes 12 baby cakes which can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days, or frozen in the same container for up to 2 months. Here’s the recipe link again in case you missed it: http://doriegreenspan.com/2012/03/im-chugging-away-on-a.html

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The Amazing Crustless Coconut Pie

I don't know how it works, but it does and it's delicious!


Yes, you heard correctly. It’s a crustless pie and it’s crazy simple to make. I first had it around 1990 or 1991 when my mother and I visited a tea room in Stafford, Texas. The tea room is long gone, but my love for this pie has never waned. If you love coconut, give this one a try and see if it doesn’t knock your socks off.

Crustless Coconut Pie:

1 14-oz. can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated)
1 1/4 cups of milk
1/2 cup of Bisquick, Pioneer or other dry baking/biscuit mix
3 whole eggs
1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons of pure vanilla extract
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Put all ingredients except for the coconut into a blender and blend on low speed for 3 minutes. Pour into a greased 10″ pie plate or casserole dish (I used a rectangle Pyrex). This will puff, so don’t fill your dish to the very top. Let it sit for 5 minutes to allow the ingredients to settle properly, then sprinkle the coconut evenly across the top.

Place on a foil-lined baking sheet with a raised edge (to prevent spills) and place in the center of the middle rack of the oven. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown, the center is slightly jiggly, and a knife inserted near the edge comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool to completely. Like a souffle, this will deflate as it cools, so don’t panic if you notice shrinkage.

Serve at room temperature for best results. Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator. Serves 6-8, depending on serving size.

Gorgeous and golden straight from the oven.

Note: This recipe was adapted from the Grateful Prayer Thankful Heart Blog who adapted it from the Favorite Brand-Name Best-Loved Recipes of All Time published in 1996 by Publications Limited. Her photo, by the way, is gorgeous. So if you want to see a spectacular photo of this pie, click on the link and be prepared to drool. My version is a cross between her recipe & my mother’s.

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Miss Pat’s Orange Slice Cookies

Buttery, chewy goodness - Miss Pat's Orange Slice Cookies

My good friend Pat made these for a holiday cookie exchange years ago. When I was digging through my recipe drawer the other day, I found it again. Oh, the memories. I remember these being so unusual, and yet so very delicious. And that’s when I decided to make them for Christmas. Right then and there. Butter set out to soften…check. Look to see if I had oats, coconut and pecans in the pantry…check. Orange slice candies anywhere? Of course not. I don’t keep these things around my house. Sure I loved them as a kid, but I can’t remember the last time I bought a bag. Good thing there’s a new Kroger around the corner from my house, huh? And by the time I get back, my butter will be soft! Timing is everything. These cookies are super easy to make and really, really delicious. You should make them. Like today. Here’s the recipe, thanks to Miss Pat.

• 2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• 1 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1-½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 package Orange Slice candies (13 ozs.)
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 cup pecans, chopped
• 2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 cup shredded coconut

Pre-heat your oven to 350F. In a large bowl, beat softened butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until combined. In a separate bowl, mix together 2 cups flour, salt and baking soda; add to butter mixture and beat to combine. Cut up orange slice candies (I cut each slice into 5 pieces) and toss them with one tablespoon of flour to keep them from sticking together. To the cookie batter mixture, add the orange slice candy pieces, chopped pecans, oats and coconut. Mix until everything is combined. The dough will be really thick. I like to use a heavy wooden spoon or my hands to mix it. I also like to use a cookie scoop so these turn out uniform in size. If you don’t have one, use a spoon to scoop up about 2 Tablespoons of dough; roll it into a ball, and place dough balls about 2″ apart on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 12-20 minutes (see note below). When the cookies start to turn a little brown around the edges, they’re done. Cool on cookie sheets for at least 10 minutes before removing them from the pan to cool. Makes 4-6 dozen, depending on how large or small you make them.

NOTE: This recipe is similar to an oatmeal or chocolate chip cookie dough, so baking time is a matter of personal preference. If you like them chewy like I do, bake them 12-15 minutes. If you like them crispy, bake them 15-20 minutes. If you want to get really fancy, you can top each cookie with a thin slice of the orange slice candies. Most importantly, get a glass of cold milk ready.

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Hanalei Sunrise Muffins

Hanalei Sunrise Muffins

Inspired by our summer vacation in Hanalei Bay, Kauai, these muffins take me back to those glorious mornings on the pier. My favorite flavors of the Hawaiian islands are included – coconut, pineapple and macadamia nuts. These start with a mix, so they embrace that laid-back Hanalei attitude. Jonah Bear loves these!

2 pkgs Martha White Pound Cake Muffin Mix (7.4 ounces each)
1 cup evaporated milk (see notes)
1 can crushed pineapple (8 ounces), drained
2 pkgs macadamia nuts (2 ounces each)
1½ cups coconut flakes, sweetened
½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat the oven to 425F. Dump all of the ingredients into a mixing bowl and stir only until dry ingredients are incorporated and no dry mix can be detected. Do not over mix muffins, or they will be chewy instead of light and fluffy. Divide batter into a greased or paper-lined muffin pan. I like to use an old fashioned ice cream scoop to get evenly-sized muffins. Bake 15-20 minutes (depending on your oven), until the muffins are golden brown on top, and a toothpick comes out clean. This makes 10-12 regular size muffins.

Note: In place of evaporated milk, you can use the juice off the crushed pineapple and enough milk to bring it to one cup. Or you can substitute almond milk or rice milk instead of evaporated milk.

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