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Homemade Vanilla Coconut Butter

February 23, 2014

I go in waves with all things homemade. Deep down inside, I love making everything by scratch. If I had the time, I would make my bread and my peanut butter and my pasta by scratch every week. Tonight I had a little extra time in the kitchen, so I made enchiladas with homemade flour tortillas and homemade enchilada sauce and I felt so accomplished knowing that I could name every ingredient in the food we were eating.

But if I’m being honest with myself, I just don’t have the time or energy to make everything from scratch all the time, no matter how much I might like to do so. My time is worth a lot, and I try to strike a healthy balance. Sometimes I go weeks on end making hummus by scratch or making my own peanut butter. Other times I simply find it worth it to purchase those items from the store.

The only time I regularly make things my scratch is when it’s vastly cheaper. I just can’t resist saving a little money and learning a new kitchen skill. I’m a big fan of coconut butter (not to be confused with coconut oil or coconut milk) which has a creamy, melty texture and great coconut flavor. But buying coconut butter can be pricey, so I set out to make it myself. I’m not sure what took me so long! I just had to share how easy it is to make coconut butter at home.

Because I prefer a little sweetness, I added some sugar to the recipe below, though you certainly don’t need it for the recipe to work. Since I’m not a huge jam or preserves person, I find that this coconut butter is a great substitute. It’s slightly sweet, creamy and tastes great on toast or drizzled on a morning bowl of oatmeal. The coconut butter will get hard at room temperature (especially in the winter when it’s colder in the house) but you can bring it back to spreading consistency by putting it in the microwave for a few seconds before you use it!


Homemade Vanilla Coconut Butter
This recipe is an adaptation of a recipe by Ashley from Edible Perspective, which I found on Food52. You can find her recipe here. It's incredibly versatile and I can see myself making lots of variations of this basic recipe. The sugar isn't necessary in this recipe, but I like the sweetness it adds and the way it brings out the coconut and vanilla flavors.
  • 2 cups unsweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon high-quality vanilla
  • 2 teaspoon sugar
  1. Place all the ingredients together in the bowl of a large food processor. Blend 3 to 5 minutes or until smooth and creamy. Coconut butter will get hard in cooler temperatures. To soften, microwave 20 to 30 seconds or until desired consistency for spreading on toast.




Dark Chocolate Coconut Macaroon Cookies

October 9, 2013

These cookies were almost the death of me. I kid you not, having to make and photograph them 4 times really tested my commitment to this recipe. But I guess issues with your memory card and card reader will test almost anyone.

Since I work in food for a living and spend a lot of time in the kitchen each day, developing, testing and re-testing recipes until they reach perfection, it’s rare for me to spend that same amount of time testing and re-testing recipes at home. Although there is a lot of value in testing a recipe three or even four times, I just don’t have that kind of time or resources to devote to the recipes I put on Espresso and Cream. Usually, if I can’t get a recipe down by the second try, I abort the mission and go with something else. That’s just real life for ya.

But these cookies. They were too good not to share. I loved them from first bite, my hubby loved them, too, as did our friends, which is why I couldn’t let something like a faulty card reader and some technology flukes get in the way of shring the recipe.

Over the course of making them and re-making them, they changed quite a bit. Finally, on the fourth try, I think I found my favorite version yet. And they happen to be the easiest version as well. This recipe doesn’t make a very large batch of cookies, just 10 small cookies or 5 large cookies. Enough to feed to a small group or to have around for a few days when split between two people.

The texture of these cookies is all thanks to the unsweetened finely shredded coconut. I found mine at Whole Foods, but I’m sure other specialty stores or co-ops have it as well. Please don’t use sweetened coconut that you find at most traditional grocery stores. The texture is much different (way more moisture) and the pieces of coconut are larger. Perhaps it would work just as well, but I wouldn’t be able to guarantee it, so proceed at your own risk. These puffy little cakey cookies store well and taste just as good the second and third days after you make them.


Coconut Dark Chocolate Macaroon Cookies
Makes 10 cookies
*3/4 cup flour
*1/4 teaspoon baking soda
*1/4 teaspoon baking powder
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*4 tablespoons butter, melted
*2/3 cup sugar
*1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
*1/2 teaspoon almond extract
*1 egg
*1/2 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut (I buy mine at Whole Foods)
*2 oz chopped dark chocolate

1. Heat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with a nonstick baking mat (Silpat) or parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined. In second bowl, stir together the melted butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts and egg until well combined. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir untli just combined. Stir in the coconut and dark chocolate until combined.
3. Roll cookie dough between hands (it will be slightly wet) to form 10 balls. Place balls on baking sheet and bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are just lightly golden brown around edges and puffed up. Cool 2 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Happy Baking!

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!

Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Loaf Cake

October 27, 2011
I have a bit of a thing for old, passed-along recipes that have survived decades and generations. Something about the fact that they are old and cherished just sucks me in every time. So last week, when the recipe for Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Cake started floating around the internet, I couldn’t resist giving the recipe a try. 
Not surprisingly, I really enjoyed the cake because of the one-bowl nature of the whole thing. Very few ingredients were required, all of which I had on hand, and it had only a mild level of sweetness that appealed to me. Beware, the texture of this loaf cake is fairly dense and resembles a pound cake rather than a traditional cake. 
If you’re looking for a cake that will bowl you over with sweetness, this is not your cake. But if you are looking for a cake that is perfect for serving with a pat of butter at breakfast or as an afternoon snack with coffee, this would totally fit the bill. 
Emily Dickinson’s Coconut Loaf Cake
*1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
*2 cups flour
*1 cup sugar
*1/2 cup butter, softened
*1/2 cup milk
*2 large eggs
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1 teaspoon cream of tartar 
*Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9×5-inch baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the eggs, followed by the remaining ingredients. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Happy Baking!


Tropical Coconut Smoothie

June 9, 2011
Thanks to everyone who entered the Larabar giveaway. The winner is Roxy who said: 
E-mail me at and I will get your Larabars in the mail! 
On Tuesday I had the pleasure of visiting the dentist and having four fillings done. It was, as you can imagine, about as fun as it sounds. Two new cavities and two old repairs makes for one awfully sore mouth and some pretty numb lips. 

I really should do a better job at brushing my teeth at night. Typically, I laugh at Joey for taking so darn long to brush his teeth. Guess he got the last laugh this time.

When I got home, I decided a smoothie was the best plan of attack for lunch, along with a salad and a veggie ‘hot dog’. The whole process of trying to eat was comical, to say the least. I’m just glad there wasn’t anyone around to see the little drops of smoothie dribbling down my chin. 
Attractive. Joey has sooo much to look forward to when we get married. 
This smoothie, on the other hand, is a real beauty inside and out. To keep things interesting I’ve been switching up what types of milk I buy: rice milk, almond milk, regular milk and coconut milk beverage. And when I found myself with some coconut milk in my fridge last week and a half eaten bag of frozen tropical fruit mix in the freezer, I knew a beautiful smoothie was about to be born.
Tropical Coconut Smoothie
*1 cup frozen mixed tropical fruit mix (I get mine at Target)
*3/4 to 1 cup coconut milk beverage, such as So Delicious brand 
*1 teaspoon stevia or other natural sweetener
*1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)
*1/4 cup vanilla or coconut flavored yogurt (I prefer Dannon Light and Fit)
*Combine all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth. You can add an ice cube or two, if an even thicker consistency is desired. 
Happy Cooking!