Sometimes I just get a hankering to bake a cake. Unlike cookies, though, I feel like a cake requires at least some sort of occasion to justify it, so I’ve had this recipe in my “to-bake” stash for quite some time. And oh my goodness, am I glad I finally made it.
I had a relatively frustrating afternoon of bureaucracy and am walking into a weekend’s worth of grading – so naturally, I spent a fair bit of my afternoon looking for a cookie recipe to experiment with. One must fortify one’s spirits, after all.
For some reason (probably a combination of sale prices and over enthusiasm), I have three bags of coconut in my pantry. So I wanted to make a dent in that but also wanted to try something that wasn’t just coconut. I stumbled upon this recipes for Coconut-Peanut Cookies but didn’t have any peanuts and didn’t want to go to the store. So. I experimented.
Cashews are awesome, and I figured that would yield a more subtle flavor. I think I was right, though I may have gone awry in my experimenting. Usually it’s better practice to follow the dang recipe and only experiment with one thing at a time. But since I had to melt the butter anyway, I figured why not brown it?! I mean, brown butter is awesome.
I upped the butter by a tablespoon to compensate for any evaporation (or whatever), but it’s possible that some other chemistry was involved that went wonky, ’cause the dough really didn’t want to come together very well. When it was time to get it onto the pan, I had to shape the balls by hand, and even then they were a bit crumbly. Oh well.
The resulting cookies were decent but not great. The texture was crispy on the edges but a a bit dry/crumbly. Flavor-wise, they’re nicely buttery and the cashews pair well with the coconut.
Coconut Cashew Cookies (adapted from the Food Network)
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp fine salt
- 13 Tbs unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks plus one Tbs)
- 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup flaked or shredded sweetened coconut
- 1 cup old fashioned oats
- 3/4 cup chopped cashews
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.
Melt the butter in medium saucepan over low heat and cook until it begins to turn brown. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool a bit. Stir in the brown sugar with a wooden spoon. (The sugar will get soft and saucy, but there may still be a layer of butter on top; don’t worry, the mixture comes together as you add the rest of the ingredients.) Stir in the egg, then the flour mixture, taking care not to over mix.
Stir in the coconut, oats and nuts to make a textured cookie dough.
Using a tablespoon scoop balls of the dough and use your hands to roll them into onto more cohesive balls. Place them onto the prepared pans, arranging them about 2 inches apart. Bake until the cookies are golden brown with toasted edges, about 12 minutes.
Cool cookies in the pans for a couple minutes. Then transfer with a spatula to racks to cool.
When my mom emailed me the recipe for this bar cookie topped with Peeps, I gagged a bit. Then I decided to make them just to experience the absurdity that is this explosion of sugar.
Here is a true fact about baking: recipes come out “wrong” or go awry or do something weird all the time – even for experienced bakers.
This is true of my own kitchen endeavors (witness Chocolate Toffee Biscotti and Lazy Girl’s Crack Pie just to point you to a few), and I’ve found that the key is to remember that it’s not about my kitchen-competence. It’s not because I’m a failure at baking or an idiot. It’s just how baking goes sometimes. And I can either try the recipe again until I get it “right,” or I can chalk it up as a lost cause and eat the generally tasty results anyway.
These brownies are one of those recipes. In my first attempt, the pretzel crust did not pan out. Ha. (It didn’t come out of the pan very well – get it?). This was probably related to the fact that I used pretzel chips (what I had on hand) rather than the normal pretzels that the recipe called for. The proportion expectation was also confusing – I used approximately 1 ½ cups of pretzel crumbs, when I think she means 1 ½ cups of whole pretzels. Either way, the crust was a bust. But the brownie filling is awesome.
So, a couple weeks later, I attempted the recipe a second time – skipping the crust and going straight for the good stuff. In that iteration, the brownies are outstanding: fudgy, dense, and distinctly Nutella without being overwhelming.
It’s also an interesting and differently messy approach – you make the filling in a saucepan after melting the butter. I like it. Easy to mix by hand, no waiting for butter to soften.
Though I prefer my adaptation of the recipe (without all the extraneous fuss of crust and frosting), I strongly recommend you click on the link to the original recipe on Bakingdom since her photos are incredible. Incredible. I didn’t even try with mine – both because the first attempt was a mess, but also ‘cause I can’t even come close to the glory that are her pictures.
Nutella Brownies (AKA Nutella Pretzel Brownies from Bakingdom)
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup nutella hazelnut spread
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 pan with cooking spray.
In a medium bowl, mix together the dry ingredients: cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Once melted, remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the sugar until combined.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla and the Nutella.
Whisk in the dry ingredients until combined and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean. The degree of cleanliness will relate to the degree of fudginess – I took mine out with a little bit of batter still on the toothpick.
(The original recipe calls for a much longer baking time, and I ended up with almost burnt edges. Without the crust, it only took 25 mins or so to get deliciously gooey brownies).
Someday I will learn to read recipes before I start baking. Inevitably, I miss the “requires refrigeration” memo buried in the middle of the instructions. Someday I will also learn not to multitask in the kitchen. This was not one of those days. Continue reading “Chocolate Toffee Biscotti”
It’s probably a good thing I only learned last night how easy it is to make toffee – IF you have an electric stove. Attempting to make caramel/toffee on a gas stove has been the bane of my existence for years. Years! Continue reading “Basic Toffee”
Given how long I’ve been baking, it surprises me how many things I do not feel like I’ve got the hang of yet. Pie is one of them. This pie, in particular. Continue reading “Black Walnut Pie”