fancy-pants peanut butter cookies

I have spent so much of my teenage life as a hermit that this recent frenzy of "let's-meet-up-before-we-leave-for-college" outings has led my parents to believe I have entered a new stage of adolescent rebellion. But it's okay, because I have recently stumbled upon some useful information: A month ago, I found out that my dad's favorite type of cookie is peanut butter.

I was horrified.

Not by his choice of cookie (it's a fantastic choice), but horrified that I hadn't known this earlier. Think of all the punishments I could have escaped, curfews I could have fudged, and wild and youthful activities I could have gotten away with if only I had baked a peace offering of crisp, peanut butter perfection!

Oh yes, that's how the cookies fit in. Here is the strategy:

Want to extend your curfew? ----> Chocolate chip cookies will do the trick.

Neglected to pick up your little sister from daycare? ----> Funfetti cupcakes for her and your mom.

Forgot to turn off the stove while boiling water for your instant noodles and accidentally burned the house down? ----> There is a pie for that.

Only kidding, of course. Or mostly kidding, because I just so happened to bake those cookies the night before I wanted to meet up with some friends again. I'd say it was 80% daughterly love, 20% strategic planning. Not terribly shameful (and it worked heh heh).

I added in some speckles of chocolate and rolled the dough in shredded coconut before baking to add some *pizzazz*. The chocolate chips were pulsed through the food processor until they became tiiiny, just to avoid the mouthful-of-chocolate phenomenon (although that isn't really ever a bad thing). The shredded coconut took a turn in the food processor too, which made it easier to roll all over the dough.

And there's some whole wheat flour in there to appease any guilt you might have over eating these! I know...nice try.

So there you have it. Peanut butter cookies to appease all members of the family, spread love around the home, and give you the supernatural assistance you may need. Run wild, run free.

-ck

Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate and Coconut

Adapted from Leite's Culinaria

1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
3/4 cup peanut butter
approx. 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
approx. 3/4 cup shredded coconut

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Pulse chocolate chips in a food processor for around 10 seconds. Set aside. Repeat with shredded coconut.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together for around 3 minutes. Add in vanilla extract and egg, and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the peanut butter and mix until smooth and creamy. Now add the dry ingredients and mix just until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate.

Form tablespoon-sized balls of dough. Roll in the shredded coconut until fully coated, then roll in granulated sugar for extra crunch. Place on baking sheets about 1-inch apart and use a fork to flatten down a little and create a criss-cross pattern.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. Let cookies cool completely on a wire rack. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

coconut coffee blondies

Ah yes, the dawn of May. I realized we were nearing graduation when everything started becoming a "last" - last tutoring session with my third-grader, last piano competition after fourteen years of playing, last time witnessing crazy prom askings at our school.

Maybe it's just because everybody committed to their colleges this week but I can't help feeling sentimental :'(

But enough of that for now, let's talk food.

Blondies...the most ambiguous of baked goods.

I never know how to respond when people ask me what they are. Vanilla brownies? Square-shaped cookies? Chewy cake bars? At this point I usually just hand them a few slices and exit the conversation to avoid exposing my inexpertise.

Make them yourself to uncover their true identity!

Also, apparently it's a rule that every other recipe on this blog has to contain coconut...sorry to all you coconut-haters. I send you my love and a reconciliatory link.

Don't worry, the coconut flavor isn't too overpowering in this one, and the best part imho is the subtle coffee taste that settles in afterwards. These blondies are golden and soft with slightly chewy edges, which everyone knows are the best pieces (this might explain the missing edges in the photos). Enjoy with a glass of milk while you sit at your kitchen table and feel sentimental.


Coconut Coffee Blondies

Recipe from Heather Christo

makes 2 dozen bars

1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
3 tablespoons espresso
2 and 2/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup shredded coconut

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 9×13 pan with cooking spray and parchment.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and the espresso and mix until creamy and well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients and add to the batter. Add the coconut and mix until everything is well combined.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are cooked through in the middle. Let them cool completely before slicing.

magic bars

I am currently sitting here in fuzzy socks and sweatpants, eating a sliced baguette and reflecting on life while The Voice plays in the background. This week kind of trampled over me and left me wanting nothing more than to spread myself out on the floor in starfish position forever, but it was well worth it. I got to experience some exhilarating new things this week, including dancing in our school's International Nite (a huge shebang in which every cultural club at our school performs). I also got to wear a sari and pretend to be Indian for a day, which was pretty exciting. The only downside was that apparently saris are kind of revealing, and I had not prepared my diet accordingly. Oops.

It probably didn't help that I baked for four different birthdays this week, because as everyone knows, taste-testing is the most crucial part of the baking process. The rule of thumb is: don't feed your friends anything you wouldn't enjoy eating yourself. This is great and very considerate and all, until you accidentally bake the best thing ever and keep on taste-testing until you suddenly find yourself with only ten cookies instead of twenty, or a pan of brownies with all the crunchy edges mysteriously missing. Again, oops.

Luckily I maintained my self-control with these magic bars for my wonderful, beautiful, heaven-sent friend, Irene. Why are they called magic bars? I read about it somewhere (and forgot), but I'm pretty sure it's because they come together like magic - just layer a few simple ingredients, stick it in the oven, and you've got yourself a delightfully decadent dessert (or breakfast, I don't judge).

I made these pretty often last year during my "bars" phase, during which I saw a whole lot of "graham cracker crust + something" combinations. This recipe is so easy and tastes so amazing that it's remained in the birthday baking rotation and has even been requested several times. They live up to their name in terms of taste, too :)

The original recipe says it makes enough for an 10 x 15 pan, but I found that 9 x 13 works perfectly. Make a lot of these, share with your friends, and spread the love.

-ck


Magic Bars

3 cups finely ground cookies (12 ounces), such as graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pecan pieces (or other chopped nuts)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 and 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly splash a 9-by-13 inch baking pan with water, then line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, stir together cookie crumbs, sugar, and butter until combined. Evenly press onto bottom and up sides of prepared baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack; cool, about 20 minutes.

Sprinkle cooled crust evenly with pecans and chocolate. Pour condensed milk over the top, spreading to cover completely (do not let it drip over the edges). Sprinkle with coconut.

Bake until coconut is toasted, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool completely. Trim edges, if desired, and cut into equal-size bars.

from Everyday Food, June 2005