For some reason, I have been hoarding coconut ingredients recently and I have no idea why. I have two and a half bags of coconut flour, have gone through two bags of unsweetened coconut flakes in less than a month with no macaroons in sight, and have a couple assorted cans of coconut milk in the pantry. I used a little light coconut milk in my coffee during my Whole30, but all of this has entered the house post-challenge, so clearly that’s not the reason.
It’s Spring and love is in the air! There’s love for that special someone, family, friends, life, Girl Scout cookies, cheesecake… all of these things inspire feelings of love. Today is an extra special day for love as it also happens to be Camilla over at Culinary Adventures with Cam‘s 15th wedding anniversary. Happy anniversary darling! She and her husband love to celebrate with cheesecake, so she’s having a virtual party with over 25 different cheesecakes to celebrate! That’s how you throw a party. 😉
My cheesecake bars are inspired by my favorite Girl Scout cookie – the Samoa. I adore caramel, and my mom is a fan of coconut and chocolate, so as a little girl I always saw these as the perfect cookie and each year, when I sold Girl Scout cookies growing up, we always bought a few boxes of Samoas and one Thin Mints for our house. Before we get to the bars though, I’d like to add a small PSA on behalf of the older Girl Scouts everywhere. The Juniors, Cadets, and Seniors would really appreciate it if you’d buy cookies from their booths every once in a while. I know those pre-teen/teenage years are a little awkward compared to the Daisy and Brownie cuteness, but that’s also the age where a girl’s confidence is usually put through its first real test. If they’re out there and you’re planning to buy cookies anyway, please support your older Girl Scout troops.
Back to cheesecake. I was originally going to make this as a classic cheesecake, but opted out for two reasons – the first being that it’s incredibly difficult to safely dip the bottom of an entire cheesecake in chocolate and I really wanted to keep that aspect of the original cookie, and second, my cheesecake pan fills to the top with cheesecake, and I didn’t want spillover from the caramel layer as it sets. I also envision taking these to a party or potluck at some point and bars are easier to serve than a full cheesecake.
This caramel layer is actual caramel candy from scratch. If you’d prefer something softer, use a thick caramel sauce recipe and refrigerate it until firm. You won’t have the clean cuts, but the texture will be closer to that of the cheesecake. I wanted a thick layer of caramel that stayed cleanly on each bar, so I made it into a candy. It doesn’t provide a clean bite through, so use a fork, or if you’re not in the mood to be graceful, just take the caramel off, hold in one hand, bite the caramel, and then bite the cheesecake you have in the other hand. It’s like having two desserts at once.
For the chocolate, you don’t have to temper it because the cheesecake stays in the fridge, but if you’d like that crunch, go ahead and temper the chocolate or use a good quality candy coating so you still get actual chocolate flavor.
Preheat your oven to 425 F and butter at 7"x11" baking dish.
Combine the first four ingredients (graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt, and melted butter) to make the crust. Once well combined, evenly press into the baking dish and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or with a hand mixer whip the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla extract on high for about 2 minutes until fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, stirring to combine and scraping the sides of the bowl after each egg.
Stir in the flour.
Pour the cheesecake batter over the crust and use an offset spatula to ensure it's spread evenly.
Place the baking dish in a larger baking dish and fill the larger baking dish with water until it comes about ⅔ of the way up the sides of the smaller dish. Place the cheesecake and water bath into the oven.
Bake at 425 for 10 minutes then, without opening the door, lower the heat to 350 F and bake an additional 15-18 minutes until the cheesecake is set but still jiggles slightly in the center.
Turn off the heat and crack the oven door open. Leave the cheesecake in the oven 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and water bath, and allow to cool on a rack an additional 30 minutes before refrigerating until well chilled.
While the cheesecake is cooling in the oven, you can toast the coconut if it isn't already. Place the coconut in a dry skillet and toast over medium heat about 5 minutes until golden, stirring constantly. Remove from heat immediately and allow to cool.
Make the Caramel
You may make the caramel while the cheesecake is cooling on the rack or make it later when the cheesecake is chilling. To make the caramel place all ingredients in a medium saucepan with a lid. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is melted.
When the sugar has melted, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and cook until the mixture reaches 238 F.
Remove from heat, stir in the toasted coconut flakes and pour over the cheesecake. Refrigerate at least two hours until set.
Assembling the Cheesecake:
The easiest way to cut the bars is to remove the caramel layer (it comes off cleanly), cut the caramel into squares, then return the squares to the cheesecake (they'll fit together perfectly) and cut along the lines. Return the cut bars to the refrigerator while you melt the chocolate so they are well chilled for dipping.
I used dark chocolate candy melts, which I melted in the microwave at 50% power, for 1 minute, then 20 second intervals, stirring after each until smooth.
Set out a sheet of wax paper for the dipped bars. Dunk the bottom of each bar in the chocolate, wipe off excess, and set on the wax paper. Repeat for each bar.
To drizzle chocolate on the bars, place the remaining melted chocolate in a piping bag or ziploc bag, snip off a corner or the tip, and drizzle chocolate over the bars. Allow to set and serve chilled!
*You need to add either corn syrup or honey as an inverse sugar to stabilize the caramel. The honey will add a slight flavor to the caramel, but it does work as a substitute for corn syrup in this recipe.
Once upon a time, the Godmother weighed over 200 pounds. I was entering my second year at the University, had just gotten out of an awful emotionally abusive relationship with that “what in the world was I thinking” person many of us date at one point in our lives, and somewhere along the way I chose to try and deal with recovery by not paying attention to what I was eating. Not only was it not helpful emotionally, it definitely didn’t help my waistline. I remember being in a fitting room struggling to button a pair of size 16 jeans. I nearly broke down there in that fitting room and I knew something had to change immediately. How could I have let myself get to that point?
I signed up for Weight Watchers online because I needed some guidance, but I wanted the privacy, and lost 50 pounds in a little over a semester by watching what I ate, and choosing more constructive ways to heal emotionally and move on – stronger, more confident, and definitely more mature. I knew what I was looking for was more than just a quick fix, I wanted a real change, something I could maintain forever because I couldn’t handle the thought of going through the fitting room situation again.
But I wasn’t going to do two things: 1. I wasn’t giving up dessert, and 2. No nonfat cheese (gross). I enjoy savoring a good dessert at the end of the day. So when I was on Weight Watchers, I always planned my points to allow for a cookie with a swirl of frozen yogurt on top at the dorm cafeteria.
Nowadays, I am happy to say I have never gotten close to that awful number again, even with Princess A, and still enjoy dessert regularly, even when I am working on losing a few sneaky little pounds that occasionally appear now and then.
I consider dessert to be anything sweet, so it could be as simple as some seasonal berries from the farmer’s market, or something as decadent as salted caramel chocolate lava cakes. It’s usually something closer to the former than the latter, so I’m excited to share that today’s ice cream recipe falls closer to the former for me with just a few simple ingredients.
Mangoes are already a naturally sweet fruit, so I love that the ice cream requires minimal sweetener, cutting calories, and the fresh mint just adds a perfect unexpected finish. It also has a perfectly creamy mouth-feel, which I think is important if you’re looking for a good substitute for “real” ice cream. I will note that it takes a while to thaw to a scoop-able consistency after hardening in the freezer, so you will want to plan ahead by 10-15 minutes to let the ice cream sit at room temperature so you can scoop it into pretty little containers.
Mashed coconut boniato (sweet potato) is a delicious and easy recipe suited to many clean eating diets. It’s also a fabulous dairy free mashed potato dish for the holidays! The photographs in this post were updated May 2016 as part of the #ThrowbackThursday photography project.
Good morning my lovelies! It’s time for our second post in the Clean Eating: Cuban Style series this week.
This is AMAZING. Like, I-should-just-make-this-a-meal-and-eat-the-whole-thing amazing and while a blog “mom” probably shouldn’t pick between her “children”, this recipe is one of my personal favorites. I am notorious for being picky about my sweet potatoes. I will not eat sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, sweet potato fries with honey or cinnamon sugar coating, or any other candy/yam concoction. They’re just too sweet for me and I feel like adding sweetness competes with the natural flavor in a sweet potato.
So you can imagine how happy I was when I realized that the way my in-laws make sweet potatoes requires no added sweetener. At their house, they don’t usually use the orange yam “sweet potato” in anything other than soups, preferring to get their usual sweet potato fix from the white sweet potatoes very common in the Caribbean, called boniato.
On a fun side note, did you know that the sweet potato isn’t actually related to the potato at all? It’s an edible root more closely related to the morning glory flower than anything in the potato family.
This recipe, in its vegan, dairy free, almost allergy-friendly (unless you are allergic to coconuts), glory is so simple and delicious with only three (yes 3!) ingredients. White sweet potatoes, coconut cream, and a little salt. Tadaaaaaa!
We enjoyed it with the Cuban Slow Cooker Chicken, with homemade grass-fed meatballs last night, and then this morning with an egg – all delicious pairings. How will you enjoy it?
It’s good in life to appreciate the simple, the small, the nostalgic. For me, there’s always a bit of a personal “return to simplicity” that happens with every move. We aren’t the best when it comes to “Spring Cleaning”, so we are thankful the military life provides us the opportunity to purge every few years, and this summer is no different. Our home at Vandenberg had lots of kitchen storage and a huge walk-in closet behind the kitchen we lovingly dubbed “the Godmother pantry”. I stored all my bulk ingredients, display items, packaging, most of the decorating items, etc, on the shelving provided plus two additional we purchased.
I took some of the items with me on our trip (I was allowed one box), my small pink mixer, and a tiny folded piece of paper, worn around the edges, with a brainstormed list of items to test for a possible future Godmother menu. I remember writing that list almost two years ago when I had an office job, and Goodie Godmother was a “maybe in a few years” dream.
Seeing the list brought such a smile to my face. I thought I lost it shortly after I made it. Some of the items actually did make it to the Godmother menu, and others, like these coconut oatmeal cookies, remained waiting until the list was discovered once again. And I just knew I had to make them for you, because they were meant to be shared.
So I hope you make a batch or two, and I hope you find a friend, or gather your family around, or a neighbor, or someone who might enjoy a sweet little treat. And maybe one day, in the future, when our life isn’t filled with boxes every few years and cross-country moves, I’ll make you a batch at the Godmother’s bakery kitchen. But these can’t wait that long, so I’ll give you the recipe now, and send a little virtual pixie dust your way, so they’ll turn out just right. 😉