Coconut Love

Oatmeal Cookies with Toasted Coconut and Bittersweet Chocolate

I can’t seem to get enough of coconut these days, as evidenced by my recent posts for Pineapple Coconut Cream Pie and Love-My-Butt-the-Way-It-Is Bars — and by several extreme closeups of the stuff found on my digital camera.

I lust it.

And I lust it even more toasted (the coconut, that is, not me).

A pile of goodness, ready to be folded into oatmeal cookie dough.

So, given my lack of self-control when it comes to the white stuff and my surplus of old-fashioned rolled oats, I decided oatmeal cookies with toasted coconut were the way to go this week. They baked up chewy (in the middle) and crisp (along the edge) and after downing a few with a glass of cold milk, these swiftly became my favorite cookies. This week, anyway.

Oatmeal Cookies with Toasted Coconut
(adapted from Ghirardelli’s recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 granulated sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups bittersweet chocolate chunks
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, toasted*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Mix in vanilla and egg until just combined.

Add flour mixture, mixing to combine.

Stir in oats.

Fold in chocolate chips.

Gently fold in toasted coconut.

Drop by rounded tablespoon — I use a 1-inch scoop (I like ’em jumbo and uniformly jumbo at that) — onto ungreased, cool-to-the-touch cookie sheets.

Dough love. (Truth be told, I give the dough balls a smoosh with the back of the scoop after placing on the cookie sheet.)

Bake for 8-11 minutes, depending on how chewy or crispy you like your cookies.

Let cool for about a minute on the cookie sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.


(*To toast coconut, spread flakes evenly on ungreased cookie sheet and bake in 375-degree oven for about 5 minutes, giving the flakes a toss every couple of minutes. Let cool completely before using in recipe.)

Ubiquitous Banana Bread

Bananas and bittersweet

Despite the fact that banana bread and banana bread recipes seem to be everywhere, all the time, I will share mine here, if for no other reason than for the sake of full disclosure: I bake a batch of banana bread at least once a month, so how could I maintain a baking/random ramblings/food love blog without a banana bread post?
Not so attractive at this point

The man in my life eats a banana every morning. Bananas are tasty and good for you, after all. Still, he can’t keep up with supply, and several mushy bananas find themselves in the deep freeze awaiting their fate at the hands of my potato masher and 350-degree oven. Some end up in muffins, others in quick bread studded with bittersweet chocolate chunks.
So, if for some inexplicable reason you can’t find your own trusty, go-to banana bread recipe, have a go at this one. It makes four (4) mini-loaves, which I find more manageable than full-size loaves for our household of two.
Banana Bread with Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks
4 large over-ripe bananas, mashed
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
scant 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup bittersweet or semi-sweet chunks (feel free to add chopped walnuts or pecans, instead of or in combination with the chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour baking tins (my mini-loaf pans are about 3 x 5 1/2 inches).
Whisk together dry ingredients. Set aside.
Mix mashed bananas with eggs, sugar and wet ingredients, combining thoroughly.
Fold wet ingredients and chocolate chunks into dry to combine, but don’t overwork your batter.
Fill prepared tins about 3/4 of the way and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Leave in pans to cool for about 5 minutes before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.
When cool, wrap in layer of plastic wrap and layer of aluminum foil. It’s best to leave them alone for about a day before scarfing. Also, these breads freeze well.
P.S. Some folks use mini-chocolate chips in their banana bread, if they use chocolate at all. This method is not for me. I like to go whole hog and prefer an infrequent burst of bittersweet to overabundant mini-chippage.

Happy Snow Day To Me

Triple Chocolate Babycake studded with bittersweet chunks

Today is a day for celebration. I did my taxes (before April 14 for the first time ever in my life). I shoveled (a lot). I was able to start the car (eventually). And while I’ve been trying to lay off chocolate in anticipation of the dark things I intend to bake for Valentine’s Day, I decided there was no harm in enjoying a few Triple Chocolate Babycakes on a blustery day of such fine accomplishment.
These cakes are small and unadorned for a reason: they are meltingly rich and a few bites will do you (not that I am anyone to judge responsible chocolate intake), and frosting would be unwelcome overkill. 
I enjoyed mine with an icy cold glass of milk, shared a few, and froze the rest.
The moist and gooey insides

Triple Chocolate Babycakes
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I used 3/4 of a Ghirardelli 70% cacao bittersweet baking bar)
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (chips work fine, too, of course)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60% cacao), coarsely chopped (chips, again, are fine)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter, use a 1/2 teaspoon salt)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Line or grease muffin tins (I used 2 standard tins — one 12-cup and one 6-cup — but filled only 16 cups).
Whisk flour, salt and baking soda together. Set aside.
Melt unsweetened chocolate and 1/2 cup of the semisweet chunks in microwave or double boiler. Set aside to cool slightly.
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, until fully incorporated.
Add melted chocolate to butter/sugar/egg mixture, mixing well.
Add flour mixture and milk to batter, alternating in a few batches. 
Fold in the bittersweet chunks and remaining semisweet chunks.
Fill prepared muffins cups about 3/4 of the way.
Bake in preheated oven for 24-26 minutes, rotating pans halfway through baking. (You can test for doneness with a cake tester / toothpick, but try to avoid any molten chunks that might throw you off. Good luck. … Really, though, the cakes will set up nicely and lose that wet look when fully cooked. Also, it’s a good rule of thumb to check them when you smell them.) 
Cool in pans about 15 minutes before releasing to wire racks to continue cooling.
Serve warm or cooled, as is or with a scoop of your favorite vanilla bean ice cream.
(Recipe makes 14-16 Triple Chocolate Babycakes, depending on the size of the tins. Babycakes freeze well.)