Toasted Coconut Chocolate Cookies

Last weekend I was home in Indy and spending the day with my mom at home. She wasn’t feeling well, so I decided to bake while we spent time together! She had a recipe for some Chocolate Coconut cookies she found and was really wanting to try them, and luckily we had all of the ingredients!
I can’t wait until I have a big kitchen where I can have all kinds of baking ingredients and cooking tools on hand at all time. My kitchen now is pretty tiny and the more ingredients/tools I keep buying the smaller it seems to become. The cookies were fairly simple to make and turns out they are delicious!
My mom told me about a trick she read somewhere about how to make your cookies extra fluffy and to give them great shape. Once your dough is made, cover and put in the refrigerator over night. When you take out the next day to bake, the dough should rise perfectly in the oven and it will be easier to give them a good shape before baking!
We were instantly craving the cookies, so I didn’t wait, but next time I will try it out and let you know if it makes a difference. I took them to my Grandparent’s for Sunday dinner and everyone loved them. My Grandma even said they may be her favorite cookie so far, so I am sure I will be making these more often!
Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Preheat oven to 350º – Makes about 20 cookies
1 cup flaked sweetened coconut
4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
Cooking Spray
Put coconut in a small baking pan (in a single layer) and toast in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown and stir once. Remove from oven and let cool.
Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl and blend with whisk. Set aside.
Place brown sugar and softened butter into a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until well blended. Beat in vanilla and egg. Add the flour mixture and beat on a low-speed until everything is combined. Stir in the coconut and the chocolate.
Cover the mixture and leave in the refrigerator over night. This helps to make the dough stick together and will make your cookies fluffier when you bake them.
When ready, put dough onto baking sheets (spray is optional) about an inch apart. Bake at 350º for 10 minutes.
Enjoy!

Last night I made dinner for some of my friends to celebrate their birthday’s. They are all starting to turn 25 and it is making everyone a little on edge…25 used to seem so old, but I don’t feel old and I don’t think they seem old…hopefully I will say the same thing when we are all turning 30! Anyway, I made Edamame Risotto so stayed tuned for that AMAZING and fairly easy recipe!

Baking Binge

So, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to cook on Sunday.  It started off as a really pretty day and I had every intention of baking a lasagna, but I went to brunch with my friends and ended up sitting in a cute French restaurant, drinking Mimosas, and watching it pouring rain outside.  It turned out to be a wonderful Sunday, but the time to cook got away from me.

I must have really needed a good “cook” because last night I came home from work and decided to bake something.  Well, I decided to make shortbread, but when I put that in the oven, I still wasn’t satisfied, so I decided to make Peanut Butter cookies too! I was a little nervous about the Shortbread cookies because I had never made them and had no idea what they were supposed to look or feel like.  It seemed way too simple…and I assumed I did it wrong.  Basically, you mix the butter, salt, sugar and flour in a bowl until it forms a dough.  But the dough doesn’t really feel like dough because it isn’t sticky and it kind of falls apart. It’s very crumbly.  Then you just spread it in a pan, poke it with a fork a few times, and put it in the oven for about 45 minutes at 300°.

The Shortbread right out of the oven with sugar sprinkled on it!

The Shortbread cookies turned out really good!  As soon as they come out of the oven,  sprinkle them with sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes.  Then, slice into pieces (I did triangles, but you can do whatever you want) and serve!  Nikki’s mom, who is a professional baker, apparently cut them into hearts for Valentines Day and spread different preserves on them! I am beyond happy to report that they were a success and everyone got to enjoy some.  Nikki added some Blackberry preserve to hers and it was the perfect combination!

The Finished Product!

Shortbread with Blackberry Preserve!

While the Shortbread cookies were baking, I started on the Peanut Butter cookies.  I didn’t have all of the necessary ingredients (oats & crunchy peanut butter), but I decided I could create my own version of the recipe and use regular peanut butter and chocolate chips instead of oats.  I think that is more fun anyway!  I also did not have a sifter for my flour, sugar, and salt. I knew from baking with my mom that sifting really does make a difference when baking and you shouldn’t just dump the ingredients into your mixture.  I got creative in the kitchen and put the ingredients into a pasta strainer and shook it over a mixing bowl, then added the ingredients to my batter.  It worked perfectly!

Perfect Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I baked the cookies for about 15-20 minutes at 350° and let them cool for about 10 minutes before serving.  They were yummy.  I love peanut butter.  I love chocolate.  And I loved these cookies.  It is probably not a good thing that I now know how to bake my favorite combination of sweets!  I am glad I was feeling restless last night and decided to be productive.  It’s always a good feeling when you come home from work and get so much accomplished!  I even went and looked at a few apartments after work because I am moving in August!

This weekend I am heading back to Indianapolis (yes, I do go home every other weekend and it will continue this way until after my sister’s wedding apparently), to go to the annual Holy Rosary Italian Street Festival.  The festival started the year I was born, and I have been in attendance ever since.  Both sides of my family run the dessert booths and have so much fun spending the weekend together.  Over the years I have had to train myself to not try all the desserts…but when you love sweets and Italian food…this place is not safe for your waist line!  Keep your fingers crossed it doesn’t get rained out and if you are in the area check it out!

Scrape It Don’t Shake It!!

So I had a few things planned for my Easter activities, but they all unfortunately fell through.  The weather here in Chicago was SO nice, I couldn’t bring myself to stay inside after work coloring Easter eggs…so that never happened.  I was so flustered while packing Thursday night to go home, I  forgot to pack my recipes of inspiration for holiday flare and was unable to find them online in time to make them for everyone.  SO, instead, I went with second best.  I made an Italian Cream Cake and a Carrot Cake with cream cheese icing.

Let me tell you, I am so glad I did not find the recipes in time because I learned so much while baking with my mom (actually I did the baking, prepping, and cleaning while she did the directing and watching).  Similar to my first kitchen adventure when I was making dinner for my cousins, I learned a few things in the kitchen.

1. there is a difference between a wet measure and a dry measure.  How was I suppose to know that?  Who tells you these things?  It’s not like I had baking class in high school (thanks a lot Brebeuf…useless).  I asked my mom how she knew this little fact and she had no clue.  So here I am telling all of you – there is a difference.

2.  Do not shake off the extra flour when measuring.  You have to scrape it off the top or it will make your cake heavy.  Do not shake off the baking soda or the baking powder either.  You MUST scrape it off.  Ok, seriously?   That just seems absurd to me…what is a little shake going to do?  Apparently, a lot.  So don’t shake…scrape!

3. When the directions say combined and sift….you should always combined the ingredients in the sifter and THEN sift.  Sifting one at a time is not correct.  Adding all together without sifting is not correct and if it says combined into wet ingredients…combined together first then add.  DO NOT add one at a time.  Good thing I have baking 101 right in my own home kitchen thanks to my mother.

4. I don’t know how people bake without high-tech tools.  I could never accomplish what I did without the Kitchen Aid Pro.  That thing is a God Send.

5. When filling your cake pans, use a measuring cup and put about 2 cups in each round pan in order to make your cakes even after baking.

I was so grateful to learn all of these things over the weekend, so I hope you are equally as intrigued and appreciative!  My cakes turned out fabulous.  I was able to share a piece of the Italian Cream Cake with my sister before it was too late.  The cake was gone within 30 minutes after lunch (my family usually hides pieces of this cake to take home with them – it is a coveted dessert in the Bayt family!).  The carrot cake was taken to my mom’s family and I tasted a little bite of it.

I don’t usually choose carrot cake as my dessert option.  I was always freaked out by the fact that it had carrots in it and in my mind carrots ≠ dessert.  But in the cakes defense…it tastes nothing like carrots and was actually really good.

It was nice being able to spend the day baking with my mom, but it was exhausting….I was glad to finally be done and head out to my friends to watch the Butler game!  Sad ending last night, but so proud of them!