Just Baked: Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

For I am coconut, and the heart of me is sweeter than you know.” — Nikki Grimes

Technically, I baked these cookies weeks ago. I thought all the while that I’ve written about it already. After getting back from Hong Kong though, I have been busy with work that I forgot I only started writing this post.

This is almost an extension too of my Hong Kong adventures post. You see, the inspiration to make coconut cookies were because of the coconut-flavored egg rolls that I got from Kee Wah Bakery at the Hong Kong International Airport. I was only planning to buy penguin cookies, but a lady asked me to try free samples of the egg roll. She did not have to convince me much because I loved it right then and there.

When I got home, I knew I had to have something with a coconut taste. Therefore, I took it upon myself to find a coconut recipe that I can work with. The problem though, was that I only had desiccated coconuts in my pantry and all the recipes I was finding said to use shredded coconuts. To hell with shredded coconuts, I was going to use my desiccated coconut pack instead.

The recipe I decided to follow was from Food Network for coconut oatmeal cookies. It had five stars with 29 reviews and I think all of them only had praises for this recipe.

I did not do much tweaking except for adding 1 tsp of coconut extract and 1/2 tsp of salt. I thought to myself that cookies without salt will not have that added depth in flavor. Salt actually adds a little bit more oomph in baking. So, in salt went into my dough. I also added half a cup more of desiccated coconuts because they are not as bulky as shredded coconuts. I wanted my batch to yield a lot of cookies.

Guys, the whole house smelled so lovely and coconutty! It smelled like a vacation on a tropical beach, with coconut water for refreshment. It was simply amazing!

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Here’s the deal. Because I did not use shredded coconut, the cookies were a tad bit drier than I would have liked. Still, they were chewy because of the oatmeal. Boy, they were yummy though. They were so yummy that I was actually debating whether to still bring some to work and share them with my colleagues or to just keep them all to myself. Of course, sharing is caring. So, I brought them to work.

The thing with coconuts is that not everyone is a fan of them. Even I took some time to warm up to this drupe. So, while some loved them, there were some who weren’t as fond of them. Despite that, I was still told that the cookies were good.

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Perhaps I will try to find shredded coconut next time. Alternatively, perhaps I can just rehydrate desiccated coconut? I still think shredded coconut is different from grated coconut. Grated coconut is not difficult for me to get, but shredded coconuts? I have a higher chance of finding flaked coconut than finding the shredded version.

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That’s it for now, guys! Hope you try the recipe out too.

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Just Baked: White Chocolate Chip and Cranberry Cookies

“Count your cookies, not your problems.” ― Cookie Monster, The Joy of Cookies: Cookie Monster’s Guide to Life

I recently bought a pack of dried cranberries to put on my salad. After tiring of eating salad for a week, I wanted to do something else with my remaining cranberries. So, on a recent trip to the grocery, I bought a pack of white chocolate chips to try to make one of my favorite cookies from Starbucks—white chocolate chips and cranberry cookies.

It’s not the first time I made these cookies but I could not find the recipe I used before. I then searched for a new one and came across the recipe from Diane Abed from AllRecipes. The only thing I didn’t have in her list of ingredients was the brandy. I decided to just use vanilla because I was going to bring the cookies to work and one of my colleagues is pregnant. I have no idea if one tablespoon of brandy mixed in cookie dough and baked off will have any effect on her but I didn’t want to risk it.

When I make cookies, I normally use salted butter for extra flavor. When I made these cookies, I only had unsalted butter. So, I decided to add ½ teaspoon of fine salt just to help with the flavor.

img_7818.jpgThe recipe was easy to make with or without an electric hand mixer. I did use one because I got used to it already. I think it only took me 10 minutes to whip the first batch. With the size of my cookie scoop, I wasn’t sure if I was indeed going to yield 24 cookies or more. However, I whipped up 24 cookies just like the recipe said so I whipped up another batch.

This is the most vanilla I used on a cookie. One tablespoon! That’s why when I was baking the cookies, the whole house smelled wonderfully of vanilla.

I did not flatten the cookies after scooping them on the baking sheet because I thought they were going to spread. However, that wasn’t the case. They only spread very little so I ended up with small, thick cookies. That meant a they took a little longer to bake completely though. Maybe 13 to 14 minutes instead of just 10 minutes.

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They were so delicate after getting out of the oven so I gently took them out to place on a cooling rack. I did not want the cookies to steam and be soggy by letting them cool on the tray they baked on. Also, I had to use the tray again to prepare my next batch of cookies for baking.

All in all, I made four dozens of cookies! Half of them I brought to work for my colleagues to enjoy. They have known for quite some time that I bake on weekends and they were requesting I let them taste what I make. I got positive feedback and there were those who went for seconds.

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They were moist on the inside and a little chewy because of the cranberries. The white chocolate really goes well with the tartness of the fruit. No wonder it’s my favorite fruit and chocolate combination! Not that white chocolate can be considered as “real chocolate,” but you know what I mean.

Try out Diane’s recipe. I am sure you and the people you’ll gift the cookies to will enjoy them!

Mozzareally Good

“Life is great. Cheese makes it better.” ― Avery Aames, The Long Quiche Goodbye

I mentioned in my last post that I was forbidden to eat cheese, except for mozzarella, because aged cheeses can contribute to migraine. I was sad about it because I really love cheese. But since mozzarella was still allowed, I was comforted since I could still enjoy my favorite cheese snack. Mozzarella cheese sticks!

My first try of this treat was at Marciano’s in Greenbelt, Makati maybe more than eight years ago. The outside was crispy and golden. Inside, it was heavenly! I loved it so much that I started looking for other places that sold mozzarella cheese sticks after Marciano’s closed shop.

I discovered Fried Mozzarella by The Tea Republic back when I would fetch my sister from her work to bring her to her PT sessions. She had an MPFL reconstruction surgery at that time and she needed to regain her full use of her leg. The restaurant was situated at the ground floor of the building where she used to go to work. Their version of the mozzarella stick was also very yummy and I loved the salsa that went with it.

I have long decided I will make my own version at home. So, I searched for YouTube videos on how to do it. On the day I finally decided to make my favorite snack, I decided to just wing the recipe but follow the concept:

  1. Slice the mozzarella into sticks,
  2. Dredge the sticks in flour
  3. Dunk into beaten egg
  4. Roll into seasoned breadcrumbs
  5. Back to the beaten egg
  6. Roll again in seasoned breadcrumbs
  7. Freeze until very hard
  8. Deep fry until golden brown

For my attempt, I just seasoned my breadcrumbs with salt, white pepper and basil leaves. I froze the sticks overnight because I had to leave for work already after I prepared them.

Because I did not have a narrow but deep frying pan, I had to use more oil than necessary. I also had to flip the cheese sticks so the other side will also cook and brown. I had a few leaks because the cheese was melting faster than the coating was browning.

Regardless, I finally made my own favorite cheese treat!

I paired it with my favorite Tostitos Chunky Salsa for a little bit of heat.

I know I was taught not to play with my food but I tried splitting one stick in half and checking how long the cheese was going to stretch. That’s the best part of it all!

Japanese Cheesecake Attempt No. 1

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” -Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics

Japanese cheesecake recipes have taken over my Facebook news feed and YouTube suggested videos for some reason. While I remember my friend, Joan, making me try a cake from a Japanese bakeshop called Kumori, I am not sure if it was Japanese cheesecake. It was called Signature Hanjuku Cheese.

Anyway, what’s with the Japanese cheesecake? It’s the fluffier version of the American cheesecake. It’s so fluffy that it jiggles! Jiggles! So cute!

Anyway, I tried searching for recipes and there weren’t many of them out there. Also, most of the recipes had too many steps to follow. Then, I found Tasty’s video:

It looked fairly easy so I decided to try it.

I weighed out and measured my ingredients and went on to mixing the batter.

It was my first time separating yolks from the whites. I messed up two and they ended up being scrambled with canned tuna. But the experience was so fun. I felt a sense of accomplishment every time I got to separate an egg’s yolk from the white. Oooh! The yolks look adorable!

I beat the egg yolks and combined them with the melted butter and cream cheese in milk. Then I added my flour and cornstarch.

Then, I proceeded to whisk the whites. It was my first ever attempt at making meringue and I realized that it was quicker to whip cream than to make meringue with stiff peaks.

Once the meringue was done, I folded them to the yellow batter, a quarter at a time. It was so fluffy that it was almost spilling off the bowl!

This was the stage I had difficulty second to the egg yolk separation. I did not want to knock out so much air but I did not want to undermix either. I was not sure if I mixed the meringue into the batter thoroughly.

Now off the oven! I lined my springform pan with foil to ensure that water will not seep into my batter because baking this cheesecake involved steam.

So cute! Almost an hour and a half later,

I had my cheesecake ready!

It was fluffy and jiggly! I decorated the top with icing sugar.

The real test though was the inside. And so, I cut myself a slice.

For the most part, it was really fluffy. But, I noticed a thin layer towards the bottom that did not bake like cake. Rather, it was like baked custard.

Despite that, it tasted really yummy! Even the custard-like part. It was soft, fluffy, and not overly sweet. Oh, and it made me feel happy knowing I made it.

I checked the recipe again to see where I made a mistake. True enough, I made less meringue than I was supposed to. The recipe called for 8 egg yolks and 13 egg whites. 13! Just because I saw 8 egg yolks, I assumed the same count for the whites automatically.

Maybe that explains the dense part. Maybe it was my mixing. Or the oven temperature too?

Regardless, it was a lesser disaster than I was originally expecting. The top was nicely browned and not burned, it was fluffy and it was jiggly too! Except for that thin layer of custard, it was really, really good.

I shall try to make it again soon. I truly want to master making this adorable cheesecake. I really hope to succeed at my next one. Lesson learned: double check the ingredients.