Browsing Tag


Coconut Caramel Blondies

February 15, 2012

Happy ‘Day After Valentine’s Day,’ everyone! How did you spend yesterday? Joe and I aren’t much for fighting the crowds of people on February 14th. Instead, we opted to take Nutmeg on a walk when we got home, make dinner together (salmon, asparagus, garlic rye toast) and watch The Biggest Loser. Pretty great night if you ask me!

Now moving on to matters related to blondies…

Working for a publishing company, magazines, bookazines and cookbooks are never in short supply. All the new publications land on our administrative assistant’s desk, which I frequently scan. A couple weeks ago, I found a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication called ‘Our Best Desserts’. If you can get your hands on a copy, I highly suggest doing so.

And as usual, the recipe I made first was dependent on the ingredients I had on hand. But since I was short on pecans, I swapped them for slivered almonds. And since ice cream was lurking in our freezer, it got tossed into the mix, too. I’ve yet to find a dessert that doesn’t taste better with ice cream.

I served these blondies when Joe’s parents were visiting a couple weeks ago, and they were a huge hit. Although you can’t see from the photos, there are marshmallows stirred into the batter for extra chew, and the coconut, butter, brown sugar, and almond mixture you press into the pan before the batter makes for a caramelized, chewy crust underneath the actual blondies.

Oh, and did I mention that these bars actually taste better as the days go by? Well, they do. I was able to slip a bar into Joe’s lunch for about a week without feeling like the flavor or texture suffered. Which is a major win in my book.

Coconut Caramel Blondies
Adapted from Our Best Desserts bookazine

*1/3 cup butter, softened
*1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
*3/4 cup slivered almonds
*2/3 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*1 cup packed brown sugar
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*3 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
*1/2 cup tiny marshmallows
*Vanilla ice cream (optional)

*Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Set aside. In a small saucepan, heat the 1/3 cup butter over medium high heat until melted. Stir in the coconut, almonds and 2/3 cup brown sugar. Press mixture evenly onto bottom of prepared pan. Set aside.
*In a large bowl, beat the 1/2 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the 1 cup brown sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until combined, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat until combined. Beat in flour until combined. Stir in the marshmallows until they are completely coated with the batter. Carefully spread mixture over the coconut layer.
*Bake about 25 to 28 minutes or until top is evenly brown. Center may jiggle slightly when gently shaken. Cool in pan on wire rack. Cut into bars. If desired, serve with ice cream.

Happy Baking!

Candied Almonds

August 19, 2010

Greetings from Florida! No, I’m not posting from a beach. In fact, I’m posting from a hotel room while preparing for a full day of work tomorrow. But not to worry, I took a few photos before I left this morning of a recipe I’ve been dying to share with you all.

Although I hope there are plenty of other good reasons why J. enjoys dating me, I think there is one thing that definitely tops the ‘cool’ list. When we first started dating, the concept that he could pick out a food he enjoys and ask me if I can figure out how to make it. Some of the items on this list?

*Texas Roadhouse Rolls with Cinnamon Butter
*Homemade Salted Nut Rolls
*Candied Almonds
*Green Goddess Salad Dressing

You can best believe you will see all these recipes on the pages of Espresso and Cream eventually, but today we are here to talk candied almonds. When J. traveled to Europe in January to study WWII history, he ate a lot of really awesome food. Awesome food like candied almonds sold on the street, sold in paper cones, just begging to be consumed.

Turns out, they are super easy to make, too! Give them a try, the recipe only requires four ingredients and has one step in the instructions. Doesn’t get much easier than that! Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to get some shut eye before my busy day! 

Candied Almonds
Courtesy of All Recipes 

*1/2 cup water
*1 cup sugar
*1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
*2 cups whole almonds

1. Combine the water, sugar, and cinnamon in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil; add the almonds. Cook and stir the mixture until the liquid evaporates and leaves a syrup-like coating on the almonds. Pour the almonds onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. Separate almonds using forks. Allow to cool about 15 minutes. 
*Note: Make sure all the liquid completely evaporates. It will start to be slightly grainy and sand-like in texture and stick to the almonds when all the liquid is evaporated. 

Happy Cooking!


Almond Sandwich Cookies

May 23, 2010

At this moment, I would love nothing more than to write words beautiful enough to do these cookies justice, but right now the only words coming to my head are exhaustion and sleep-deprivation. Graduation weekends and the celebration of new beginnings and memories past bring about excitement, sadness, joy, and pure lack of sleep. This weekend J. graduated from college and today I managed to sneak away to a coffee shop so I could stop, and breathe, and take a minute to think about something as simple and beautiful as a light almond sandwich cookie filled with cream.

Consider this recipe part one of a two part series – a contrast of sorts in light and dark. Last week I played with two versions of what started out as a homemade Oreo. Much like the Homemade Pop Tarts of a few weeks back, there is something incredibly fun and nostalgic about making your own version of a treat you’ve been eating from the package since childhood. Part of the beauty is the ability to customize in whatever way you see fit. Me? I’m a vanilla sort of girl. 

So in this case, my version of a homemade Oreo takes the form of Almond Sandwich Cookies. These cookies are light, crispy, and incredibly sweet, especially when filled with an Oreo-like cream, so proceed with caution when making them. I found one of my smallest cookie cutters was the perfect size, allowing me to finish a cook in no more than a couple bites. And for both taste and nostalgic value, always serve with a glass of milk.

 Almond Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Retro Desserts from Wayne Brachman via Smitten Kitchen
(Printable Recipe)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup sugar
10 Tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
2 tsp. almond extract 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 Tbsp. milk

*Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 350°F.
*In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
*Transfer dough to a lightly-floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Using a cookie cutter (I used a flower-shaped cutter) slice cookies and place on baking sheet. Bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden around the edges. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to cooling rack and cool completely.

*To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar, almond extract, and milk. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
*To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, (I just used a zip lock bag with the end snipped off) pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.

Happy Baking!


Almond-Date Energy Bites

April 7, 2010

One of my favorite energy/health bars out there is the Lara Bar. They are gluten free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, and kosher, but that’s not why I love them. My reasons are much simpler – they taste amazing and every bar contains five or fewer ingredients. If you’ve ever taken a look at some of the health bars out there, you have probably noticed that some look like a short novel, which makes Lara Bars’ five-ingredient feat even more amazing. 

But the simplicity of these bars, and the $2/bar price tag, got me thinking how easy it would be to make something similar. And it was, though I made a few adjustments in both ingredients and shape for simplicity’s sake. Instead of making bars, I rolled the mixture into tablespoon-sized balls and rolled them in sesame seeds for a little extra crunch. 
Once you get this recipe down, which shouldn’t take long, I can imagine a whole host of variations, like substituting walnuts for almonds, adding in raisins, or substituting almond butter for the peanut butter for those with peanut allergies. I’ve been eating these little energy bites atop my yogurt at breakfast and taking a couple along for a mid-afternoon snack at work and can safely say they both taste great and provide a little extra energy throughout the day.  

Almond-Date Energy Bites 

*10 oz. whole dates
*6 oz. slivered almonds
*1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
*1 Tbsp. honey 
*1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Sesame seeds, cocoa powder, or graham cracker crumbs 
*In a food processor, process the dates and almonds until mixture is finely ground into even ‘crumbs’ (3-5 minutes). 
*Add the peanut butter, honey, and ground cinnamon and process until the ingredients are evenly combined. 
*Scoop out the mixture by heaping tablespoons and shape into balls. Then, roll the balls in the sesame seeds, cocoa powder, or graham cracker crumbs. 
Happy Cooking!

Homemade Cranberry-Almond Granola

January 14, 2010

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for specialty grocery stores and the health-food sections of regular grocery stores. Countless hours of my life have been spent wandering through isles, transfixed by pretty packaging and obscure, high-quality ingredients. There are many instances when I believe it’s worth the splurge. Cheese, seafood, olive oil, certain cuts of meat? Totally worth the splurge.

But no matter where I buy my groceries, the absurdly high price of granola (even the cheapest option) never ceases to amaze me. I mean, you’re basically paying for oats, mixed with some sort of sweetener, typically honey, with a few nuts and dried fruits tossed in. Companies give this granola all types of labels: “Protein Packed” “Antioxidant Rich” “A Full Serving of Fruit!” Truth be told, if you know one basic granola recipe, you can customize it to fit your needs.

Start with the recipe listed here, but don’t get caught up in the fruit and nuts I added. If you want a few more antioxidants, add some dried blueberries to the mix, for additional protein just bump up the nuts. Need a few more omega-3s in your diet? Try walnuts! (I think you get the picture) Basically, just have fun with it! And enjoy spending a whole lot less.

Homemade Cranberry-Almond Granola
Adapted from

*3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
*2 Tbsp. brown sugar
*1 tsp. ground cinnamon
*1/4 tsp. salt
*1/3 cup honey
*1/4 cup canola oil
*1 tsp. almond or vanilla extract
*3/4 cup dried cranberries
*1/2 cup golden raisins
*1/2 cup chopped almonds

*Preheat oven to 300*F.
*In large bowl combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. In another bowl, combine honey, oil, and extract and stir until well combined. Pour mixture over oat mixture. Stir until well-combine. Use hands, if necessary.
*Pour mixture into a large baking sheet or pan. Spread into a thin, even layer. Bake 45 minutes, or until golden brown, stirring every 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely. Stir the mixture once or twice while it cools (it will harden as it cools). Once cooled, add in cranberries, raisins, and almonds. Store in an airtight container or zip top bag.

Happy cooking!