Tag Archives: Valentine’s Day

Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut TrufflesWith all the coconut recipes in my archives, you’d never guess that I couldn’t stand it when I was a child. I don’t know when I started to like it—I’m guessing around the time when my whole extended family randomly started bringing German Chocolate Cake to every occasion…?

Well, I guess it’s not important. The point is that coconut is my jam and I bake with it as often as possible.Easy Coconut TrufflesI spent a good chunk of January working on a coconut cookie for the blog, but the recipe’s just not quite “there.” I was a little bummed after round 4, realizing that I was going to have to let the recipe come to me rather than forcing it (baking gets spiritual around these parts). In the meantime though, I had three bags of sweetened flaked coconut taking up space in my kitchen. I realize that bags of coconut don’t have souls, but I swear they were taunting me.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesAnd so, I threw the contents of one in a bowl with a cup of sweetened condensed milk (a la this), rolled the mixture into balls, coated them with dark chocolate and topped ‘em off with toasted coconut, and called them Valentine’s Day-appropriate…which they are.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles are way better than any candy you’ll find in a heart-shaped box, and super fun to make at home. They require a grand total of six ingredients (!) and are chock-full of coconut flavor thanks to the creamy filling and toasty garnish. And even though they’re a little imperfect, they’re completely wonderful.

If that’s not a metaphor for love, I don’t know what is.Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut Truffles
makes about 3.5 dozen truffles

Filling:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt

Coating:
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon corn syrup (or mild honey)

Toasted Coconut:
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl or double boiler
parchment paper
baking sheet or a few plates (must fit in refrigerator)

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir together coconut and sweetened condensed milk until combined and a bit sticky. Cover mixture loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to a day.

Make toasted coconut. Preheat oven to 325F. Scatter coconut on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Bake coconut, stirring every 3-4 minutes until toasted to your liking, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Line a rimmed baking sheet (or a few plates) with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from refrigerator. Lightly grease your hands. Scoop mixture in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) increments and roll into balls with your palms. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all coconut mixture is used. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15).

Make the coating. Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one ball of coconut into the melted chocolate and use a fork to coat it in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the truffle on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of toasted coconut. Continue this process until all truffles are coated and garnished.

Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until chocolate has set. Serve.

Truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles

Friday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a divisive occasion, but whether you love it or hate it, it’s a week away. I, for one, think any excuse to show people you love them is a good one, and you won’t be surprised to learn that I express love primarily through food (and videos of dogs on Instagram).

Here are some of my favorite treats from Valentine’s Days past. Look out for a new one next Wednesday!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayRed Velvet Cheesecake Bars

I may associate red velvet with Oscar Night, but most bakers like to make it for Valentine’s Day. These bars are much simpler to make than the traditional cake, and bypass the frosting in favor of a thick layer of cheesecake.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayStrawberry Sugar Cookie Squares

I’ll never understand why strawberries are so popular for Valentine’s Day. Who wants to eat a flavorless February strawberry?! That said, freeze-dried strawberries are good year-round, especially when pulverized and mixed into soft sugar cookie squares and buttercream. They provide both flavor and color here—these are food coloring-free!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Speaking of strawberry buttercream, that’s the name and filling of these homemade candies! The frosting is made and chilled before being scooped, rolled, and enrobed in dark chocolate.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayCoconut Cluster Brownies

I have a bit of a thing for cheap drugstore chocolate, which is exactly what inspired the milk chocolate-coconut candy layered on top of these brownies. I’ll take these over a heart-shaped box any day of the week!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread

These Chocolate-Dipped Brown Butter Shortbread hearts are one of my favorite recipes on this site. They’re simple to make and the flavors are universally loved, and while you can make them in any shape you like, I think they are particularly adorable as half-dipped hearts.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Cut-Out Cookies

For all the class and restraint embodied in those shortbread, these cookies go in the exact opposite direction. They’re brash and bright and snarky and I l-o-v-e love them. Oh, and while icing is great, the rich chocolate cookies underneath are the real stars of the show.Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayChocolate Puff Pancake {Dutch Baby}

Valentine’s falls on a Friday this year, and if you’re anything like me, making a fuss after a long workweek is not my idea of a good time, especially if it means I have to wear real clothes. Skip the fancy dinner and celebrate the morning after with a Chocolate Puff Pancake. It’s super delicious and easy to make and you don’t have to change out of your pajamas to make it.

Have you made any of these or any of my other Valentine’s Day recipes? Let me know in the comments or on social media!Friday Favorites: Valentine’s DayFriday Favorites: Valentine’s Day

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIt’s a tradition of mine to make a red velvet treat for Oscar Night, which happens to be this Sunday. It’s sort of my “thing.” Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsYes, I know the Oscars are silly, but I, too, am silly. Also, I love a theme, especially when it means I get to watch 15 or 20 movies, cheer/curse/cry at my TV and eat red velvet baked goods. There was once a whole meal I made only for this occasion, but over the years it’s been reduced down to a “red velvet something.” This is what restraint looks like for me.

As far as the red velvet something goes, it could be the classic cake or cookies or a cookie cake—it’s just got to have that perfect mix of chocolate and vanilla flavors, preferably have a cream cheese element, and be an astonishing shade of crimson. Or, as I like to explain it, it has to be red like the red carpet.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThis year’s treat? Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints. They’re exactly what they sound like—red velvet cookies with little wells of cheesecake baked into their centers—and they are also as delicious as you’d expect. Chocolate, vanilla and tangy cheesecake are a match made in heaven. And also my kitchen. And soon, yours.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe base for these cookies is a slight variation on my Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookie dough; as with my sugar cookie-based thumbprints, the “variation” is a reduction of baking powder. The dough is mixed ahead of time and chilled before being scooped, formed into balls, and rolled in sugar for both texture and sparkle.

I mean, I guess you could skip the roll in sugar if you want, but you’d be missing out on a crisp sugar crust/sugar cookie/squidgy cheesecake textural experience *and* sparkle. Sparkle is very important on Oscar Night.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsNext come the thumbprints or, if you want to keep things transparent, spoon-prints. Each sugar-crusted dough ball is indented with the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon measure. You could, of course, do this with your thumb, but a spoon is a more accurate (and less messy) tool for the job.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsThe cookies are baked at a fairly low temperature (300F for ten minutes) before the thumbprints are deepened and widened with the back of a 1 teaspoon measure. Oh, and filled with cheesecake ♥️Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsAfter ten more minutes in the oven, the cookies will be set and the cheesecake will be a little puffy. Let them cool to room temperature—the centers will deflate a bit—before chilling for at least 45 minutes. You want those little wells of cheesecake to be nice and cold when you’re snacking on them mid-Oscar broadcast.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsIf you don’t have traditions and superstitions (and an entire friendship) based around an awards show, you can make these Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints for Valentine’s Day. They’re the right color *and* they’re full of cheesecake. Nothing says love like cheesecake.Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Red Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints
makes 3.5 dozen cookies

Cookie Dough:
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon red gel food coloring

Cheesecake Filling:
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For Rolling:
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated sugar, followed by the egg, egg yolk, vinegar, vanilla extract, and gel food coloring. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 300F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Make the cheesecake filling. In a small mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat cream cheese until fluffy. Mix in sugar, followed by egg yolk and vanilla. Transfer to a piping bag (or ziptop sandwich bag). Set aside.

Place rolling sugar in a small bowl.

Scoop cookie dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Roll each ball in sugar and place at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Use the back of a rounded 1/2 teaspoon to slowly press a well into each dough ball. They may crack a bit—just carefully press/pinch big cracks back together with your fingers.

Bake cookies 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven, then carefully press the back of a rounded 1 teaspoon measuring spoon into the centers again. Pipe cheesecake filling into each well. Carefully tap the pan on the counter a couple of times to release large air bubbles. Bake cookies another 10 minutes, until cheesecake is set and a bit puffed.

Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Cheesecake will deflate a bit. Repeat rolling and baking process with all remaining dough, letting the cookie sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Refrigerate cookies for at least 45 minutes, until chilled, before serving. Leftovers may be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to five days.Red Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake ThumbprintsRed Velvet Cheesecake Thumbprints

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsI am irrationally irritated by the fact that strawberries are so popular in Valentine’s Day treats. The amount of time I spend stewing over this sort of thing is more than a little ridiculous, but can you blame me? Strawberries aren’t in season right now—most of the punnets in the produce section have the flavor and texture of a styrofoam cup, but they are red and pretty, so there’s no doubt that this February crop will sell like hotcakes* for years to come.

*This is a thing my mother says. I have never said this before today. I barely understand the metaphor. Lord help me.Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsPersonally, I like to bypass the off-season fruit this time of year and reach for freeze-dried strawberries instead. I buy ‘em at Trader Joe’s, whirl them into powder and fold it into all sorts of things. They deliver big fresh strawberry flavor anytime of year and I love the natural pink color they provide, especially in buttercream frosting.Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsFluffy buttercream with a fresh strawberry punch? Sign. me. up ❤Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsFrosting is, of course, most traditionally used as a flourish on cakes and cookies and bars, but today, I’m putting it in the spotlight with these Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams!Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsChocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsThese bite-sized bonbons have sweet, creamy strawberry buttercream centers, a crackly coat of dark chocolate coating, and a smattering of sprinkles—I don’t know about you, but that combination of things is definitely the way to my heart.Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsAdd to that that these no-bake beauties are are simple to make and keep for days on end (as long as your heavy cream stays good), and you’ve got a Valentine’s Day treat that’ll have people lining up to get your number.Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsI mean, they may only want it so that they can get more homemade candy, but is that such a bad thing?Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams
makes about 5 dozen candies

1 1.2-ounce package freeze dried strawberries
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons heavy cream
16 ounces dark chocolate (not chocolate chips)
sprinkles (optional)

Place freeze dried strawberries in a food processor and process until they are powder, about 30 seconds.

In a medium-large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. With the mixer on low, beat in confectioner’s sugar, strawberry powder, and salt. Mixture may be alarmingly crumbly—this is normal. Add vanilla and heavy cream. Beat until thick and very fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Press a sheet of plastic wrap to the surface of the frosting. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to a day.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Remove chilled frosting from the refrigerator and discard the plastic wrap. Scoop frosting by the teaspoon, roll into balls, and place on prepared pan. Coating your palms in confectioner’s sugar will help the rolling process. Chill rolled frosting uncovered for one hour.

Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to chop chocolate. Place in a microwave-safe bowl. Melt chocolate in 30 second increments, stirring between, until smooth. Alternatively, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Let cool five minutes.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Remove buttercream balls from the refrigerator.

To dip, drop one ball of buttercream into the melted chocolate. Use a fork to coat buttercream in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the buttercream on the prepared pan. Immediately top with sprinkles, if using. Continue until all buttercreams have been coated and topped. Chocolate may be re-warmed in 15 second increments as needed.

Chill buttercreams for at least fifteen minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry ButtercreamsChocolate-Covered Strawberry Buttercreams

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI’m not sure exactly how I’ve allowed 3+ years to go by without giving you my recipe for Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies, but I’m happy to be rectifying that travesty today.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesI mean, how dare I deprive you of this dead-easy recipe for these deeply chocolaty, shockingly tender blank-slate cookies for 362 posts! How. Dare. I.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYou may think I’m being dramatic—they’re cookies, not rocket science—but these are really delicious. Like more chocolaty than any plain, no-frills cookie really ought to be.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out CookiesSo rich and buttery and utterly decadent that you’d be more than happy to eat them by their lonesome…Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies…but then you’d be missing out on the cheeriness that comes with a layer of my go-to Quick-Dry Royal Icing.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesOr perhaps you, like me, prefer your cookies and icing with a little light-hearted snark. I’m not one of those people that hates Valentine’s Day—far from it—but I do prefer a more tongue-in-cheek approach over the traditional syrupy-sweet message.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesPerhaps I’ve had my heart broken one too many times. Or maybe I just know exactly what I want: a man who will tolerate me for all my weirdness and vast amount of baking equipment.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesYes. That and a pile of cookies.Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies

Chocolate Cut-Out Cookies
makes about 2 dozen 3-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Quick-Dry Royal Icing, for decorating (recipe below)

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
graduated cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg and vanilla extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Dough may seem a bit crumbly, but will hold together well when pinched. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-12 minutes, until soft but no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for 10 minutes before carefully removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Decorate cookies with Quick-Dry Royal Icing and allow to dry.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for at least a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract (optional)
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired. Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours. For 3D decorations, use outline icing to decorate dried cookies and allow to sit uncovered for another 3-4 hours.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.Chocolate Cut-Out CookiesChocolate Cut-Out Cookies