Pumpkin Magic Bars

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This weekend, a friend from college and I were going to go apple picking. Then we were going to make awesome apple-filled desserts. Then it rained.

So, instead, we “picked” apples from A&P, as well as some other goodies, and decided to try a recipe she had found on Baker’s Royale for pumpkin magic bars.  Now, I’m all about magic bars.  I’ve posted them before here, and the addition of pumpkin was brilliant in my opinion. However, baking is always an adventure, and there are definitely some modifications I would make to this one if I were to try it again.

But first, let’s go through what we actually did.

Melt the butter and mix it with the graham cracker crumbs, pressing it into the bottom of a 9×13 pan lined with aluminum foil.

 

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Combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Pour over the crust.

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Peel and core the apples, and then use the large side of a grating box to shred them.  Add them on top of the pumpkin layer.

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Sprinkle on the chocolate chips, the chopped almonds, and the coconut.

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Bake at 350°F for about 35 to 45 minutes. The coconut on the top should be browned.  Allow to cool completely in the pan, then chill in the fridge before slicing.

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Now, full disclosure, we didn’t chill it before slicing it, which could have been the culprit in why we ended up with more of a magic bar crumble than anything that could actually be a bar.  And, really, there is no problem with serving this particular dessert in a bowl with a spoon and just digging in.

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But, over dinner, we discussed some changes that could be made, probably to the benefit of the recipe.

First, use an 8×8 pan.  The bars were to thin. You would probably have to cook them on the longer side for this, but that’s fine.

Second, drizzle the pumpkin/condensed milk mixture over the top of the bars rather than over the graham cracker layer.  This would better seal in the coconut and toppings and probably help with the structure.

Third, the apples really had no place in this.  You could leave them out and have a better result.

Now, I’ll post the recipe as I baked it, so you know what you’re getting (magic bar crumble, in case you forgot), but feel free to try the modifications and let me know in the comments how it went!

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Magic Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 2 apples, shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup salted almonds, chopped
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter and combine it with the graham cracker crumbs.  Press them into the bottom of a 9×13 inch pan lined with aluminum foil.
  2. Combine the sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a small bowl. Pour over graham cracker crust.
  3. Sprinkle the shredded apples over the pumpkin layer.
  4. Sprinkle the chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut on top.
  5. Bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes.  Allow to cool completely in pan, chill in fridge, and slice into bars.
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Coconut Scotchies

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Last week, I was mean.  I only gave you half of the recipe to the treat I was making.  However, this week, I plan to make that up to you.  So, if you have not yet finished all of the chocolate ice cream (which I realize is unlikely, I barely had enough to use one day later, let alone a week), you can combine it with today’s cookie recipe to make some pretty unbelievable ice cream sandwiches.

I also feel that I am completely entitled to calling them unbelievable since I have definitely tasted them more than necessary to declare such a thing.  Like I may have had one every day since I made them.  Someone needs to take them out of my freezer before I eat the rest.

With that in mind, you may want to save assembling these for a time when you have LOTS of guests coming.  Like 20. I think I got around that many sandwiches out of the recipe.

Anyways, the coconut scotchies are from Serious Eats, and mostly from the fact that I was looking for a cookie that held up structurally to being a sandwich cookie and complimented chocolate ice cream.  Coconut, butterscotch, and oats for the win.

As an alternative, Ann’s Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies would also hold up really well.  In fact, they did, since the same day I made these, she made ice cream sandwiches with her cookies and vanilla ice cream.  Much more of the traditional chipwich route if that’s what you’re looking for.

First up, whisk together the flour and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

 

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In a separate bowl, use a wooden spoon to beat together the butter, coconut sugar, and sugar.  This takes quite a bit of muscle, so I wouldn’t hold it against you if you used a regular hand beater.  I found coconut sugar in the Nature’s Promise section of Stop & Shop, so don’t let that deter you.

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Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  I kept using the wooden spoon really out of pride at this point.

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Add the vanilla extract and beat until combined.  Serious Eats also called for 1/2 teaspoon of dark rum here if you felt the need.  I think it’s a wonderful idea, I just didn’t have any on hand and didn’t feel like going to the store.

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Add the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.  This is where the wooden spoon finally pays off – it’s hard to overbeat by hand.

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Add the oats and stir in.  Then do the same with the butterscotch chips.

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Spray a cookie sheet with Pam and drop the dough by rounded tablespoons.  I made them on the big side, because I felt that ice cream sandwich cookies should be large.  In hindsight, they could also be small and delicious. And then my mom wouldn’t have felt the need to cut them all in half.

Try to keep the dough round and tall since the cookies will spread, and leave about 2 inches between cookies.

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Bake at 350°F for about 15 minutes or until edges are golden and crisp.  You will probably want to keep a close eye on these, since they go from beautifully golden to inedibly black pretty quick.

Allow to cool 10 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Now, obviously, these cookies are a masterpiece that can be enjoyed in their own right.  However, should you need an excuse to eat two at the same time with ice cream in between them, assembly is pretty easy.  I kind of cut slices of the ice cream (since it was on the hard side right out of the freezer) that about matched the size of a cookie.

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Add another cookie, and voila! Ice cream sandwich.

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If you are not serving immediately, store in an airtight container in the freezer.  Ann had hers individually wrapped in plastic wrap then put in a ziploc bag, which seemed like a much better idea in reality.

Enjoy!

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Coconut Scotchies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old fashioned oats
  • 11 ounces butterscotch chips

Directions:

  1. Whisk together the flour and baking soda and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the butter, coconut sugar and sugar with a wooden spoon until smooth.
  3. Beat in the eggs one at a time.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture until just incorporated.
  6. Stir in the oats, followed by the butterscotch chips.
  7. Bake on greased cookie sheets at 350°F for 15 minutes until edges are golden. Cool 10 minutes on pan before transferring to wire rack to cool completely.

Coconut Bread

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Happy Mother’s Day!  This weekend, I traveled back home to hang out with my mom on her big day, so naturally I had to bake something for her.  And, as you should all know by now, that means it had to be something coconut.  First I was looking at coconut coffee cake, thinking it would be good for a Mother’s Day brunch, but I wasn’t really sold on anything I found.  Then, I stumbled upon this coconut quick bread from Smitten Kitchen and knew it was meant to be: quick, easy, and it would take away minimal time from Mother’s Day morning.

So this one is dedicated to all the moms out there, but especially my own. Love you, Mom!

First, whisk together the eggs, milk, and vanilla in a small bowl.

 

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You may notice my location change again: this weekend I got a preview of condo life on the oceanfront, which is where I’ll be spending my summer.  So my baking view is this:

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Anyways, next you’ll need to stir together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon.  I used a fork.

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Add the coconut and sugar and stir together.  Don’t forget to pack the coconut while you’re measuring!  I think I used half of a 5 2/3 cup bag in 1 1/2 cups…

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Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.

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Melt the butter over low heat.  If you’re feeling particularly daring, you can brown it, but I was afraid I’d mess up/didn’t want to take the time.

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Add the butter to the batter and stir to combine.  Pour batter into a greased (or sprayed) 9×5 inch loaf pan.

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Bake at 350°F for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Pro Tip: Allow to cool completely before cutting.  Otherwise you end up with a plate of crumbs because you were too excited (we may have made that mistake).

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I know that was a less than detailed post, but I’m tired after driving 5 hours back to my apartment.  Plus, it’s Mother’s Day – you should be spending time with your mom, not reading my blog!

Enjoy!

 

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Coconut Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut, packed
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Directions:

  1. Whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla in a small bowl.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Add sugar and coconut, stir to combine.
  4. Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour in the egg mixture.  Stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in melted butter.
  6. Bake in a 9×5 inch loaf pan for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before cutting and serving.

Coconut Macaroon Nests

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Happy Easter!  I know I usually post on Sundays, but with Easter being tomorrow, I figured I’d give you a last minute (and quick!) recipe to make in case you’re scrambling for something.  This is also the last post I get to do from the house I grew up in – my parents are moving out within the week, but I did get to come home for one last holiday with everyone.  So I’m feeling a little sentimental.

The flip side of my parents moving this week is that there really isn’t much left in the house – so I had to actually go to a friend’s to borrow sugar and flour.  Oddly enough we had the rest of the ingredients on hand.  Why we had coconut and sliced almonds but no basics is beyond me.

This is a recipe I adapted from a cookie I tend to make around Christmas for my mom – coconut macaroons.  Then I saw on Pinterest all of these awesome nest cookies using mini Cadbury eggs (my favorite Easter candy) and I decided to combine the two.

First, combine the flour, sugar, and coconut in a bowl.  Baker’s sweetened coconut flakes actually come in a 2 2/3 cup bag, which is strangely convenient.

 

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Then, mix in the sliced almonds, egg whites, and vanilla and almond extracts.  The measuring cups were already packed, so I eyeballed the almonds, but the spoons fortunately were not.

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Then, using your hands (it’s sticky, but easier to shape this way), roll the mixture into balls and press your thumb in the middle to make a nest.  Put the cookies on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, or until the coconut is golden brown.

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Transfer to a wire rack while still warm (and quickly if, like me, you didn’t happen to grease the cookie sheet) to cool completely.

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Time-saving tip: rather than melt chocolate in a double boiler, it’s just as easy to use those dipping chocolate tubs that you melt in the microwave.  I cheated this week and used this one:

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Put a spoonful of chocolate into the middle of each nest and add three mini eggs.  If you’re OCD like me, make sure each nest has 3 different colors.

I know this is a short post, but I don’t get to spend time with my whole family at once very often, so I’m off to do that!

Enjoy!

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Coconut Macaroon Nests

Ingredients:

  • 2 2/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • melted dark chocolate
  • Cadbury mini eggs

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, sugar and coconut in a large bowl.
  2. Add the egg whites, almonds, vanilla extract and almond extract, mixing until sticky.
  3. Shape into balls and press a thumb in the middle to make nests on a greased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes, until the coconut is golden brown.
  5. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt chocolate and put a spoonful into the center of each nest.
  7. Add three Cadbury mini eggs to each nest.

Magic Bars

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I had a really hard time deciding what to bake this weekend.  I was home in Massachusetts with my parents, who are currently in the the process of selling the house I grew up in, and when I have the whole kitchen at my disposal I always feel like I need to make something extra special.  Also, when I bake at their house, I know that I won’t have to bring the treats home with me, so there is little danger that I will eat them all.  This also makes me want to bake more extravagant things.

However, at the same time, I was running into the problem of not wanting to spend my whole weekend baking when I only see my parents once every couple of months.  So I finally settled on something that is both extravagant and fast: Magic Bars.

For those of you reading from my Yale past, these are the same magic bars they served in the dining hall – you know, the ones that people would horde in napkins to smuggle back to their rooms and save for late night studying.  They’re also called seven layer bars due to the seven different layers of deliciousness that go into them.

First step, melt the butter.  I need to find a butter cup like the one my mom has – it’s my favorite way to melt butter. (I’m sure not many people have a favorite way to melt butter, now that I think about it.)

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Then, mix the butter with the graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with a fork.  If you’re lazy like me, you can use the pre-crushed graham crackers.

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Press the graham cracker into the bottom of a greased 13×9 inch pan.  You probably don’t actually have to grease the pan with the amount of butter that goes in, but better safe than stuck in the pan forever.

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Next, sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top of the crust.

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Then sprinkle the butterscotch chips on next.  You can substitute peanut butter chips here and end up with an equally delicious result.

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Then, sprinkle the coconut on top of the chips.  Remember to always pack coconut when you’re measuring it.  At least, that’s what I do since my mom is a coconut addict.

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Then, add the chopped nuts.  I used walnuts, but you could also use pecans or some combination of nuts if you like that better.

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Finally, drizzle the can of sweetened condensed milk over you other layers to cement it all together.

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Now, those of you that are counting layers are having a moment of panic.  Wait! Meg! You said SEVEN layer bars!  I only count six!  That, my friends, is because you are forgetting the butter.

 

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When you use a whole stick of butter and it doesn’t totally fit in the butter cup, that warrants being considered a layer of its own.

Anyways, bake the bars at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes, or until milk is bubbling and edges are slightly browned.

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Allow to cool in the pan completely before cutting into bars.

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Magic bars can be stored covered at room temperature.  If you want to try something a little different, though, I did discover in college that if you keep them in the fridge they turn into a really awesome texture as well.  Definitely worth a try.

Enjoy!

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Magic Bars

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk

Directions:

  1. Combine melted butter and graham cracker crumbs with a fork.
  2. Press crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 13×9 inch pan.
  3. Sprinkle chocolate chips evenly on top of crust.
  4. Sprinkle butterscotch chips evenly on top.
  5. Sprinkle coconut for the next layer.
  6. Add the chopped nuts.
  7. Drizzle condensed milk over the top of the layers.
  8. Bake at 350°F for 25 to 30 minutes or until bubbling and lightly browned.
  9. Allow to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti

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It is impossible to say exactly how awesome it was to go home to Massachusetts this weekend.  I spent four whole days with my family for Thanksgiving break, and I am already looking forward to going back for Christmas.  Unfortunately, I was so caught up in the awesomeness of being home that I forgot to photograph while I was baking things for Thanksgiving.  I made Pull Aparts successfully for the first time ever (a yeast recipe very similar to monkey bread) but alas, I have no proof for you.  I also made some pretty delicious brickle from a Serious Eats recipe, but, again, I have no proof.

So instead, in honor of the first day of December, I decided to begin a month-long project of cookie recipes.  Every Christmas (for the past couple of years at least), I’ve made cookie tins for friends and family.  Usually, I do this with two full days of cookie-making, but I’m not sure I have two full days in a row this year to make that happen, so my cookie recipes will be coming in a steady stream all month.  Don’t be surprised if you get an update that I posted on a not-Sunday – I just don’t want you all to miss any cookie I decide to make.

First up – Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti.  I’d never made biscotti before this, but I’d always wanted to.  Also, I was home, so naturally I had to make a coconut recipe for my mom.  These went to a Boxwood Tree party she was going to, so hopefully someone that was there will chime in and let us know how they tasted.

First thing’s first, whisk together the flour and baking powder.  Note the red bowls and appliances – my obsession with yellow is only matched by my mom’s obsession with red.

 

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Then, in a stand mixer, beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy – about 2 minutes on medium speed.  I was very excited to get to use a stand mixer.  Still debating whether I need one in majestic yellow or buttercup – anyone know which one is the lighter color?

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Action shot:

 

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Add the eggs one at a time and beat each time.  Then add in the vanilla and coconut, mixing until completely combined.

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I may have gotten a little out of control with the action shots of the stand mixer.  The whole hands-free mixing thing was pretty exciting.

Next, add the flour while the mixer is on low speed and mix until there are no more streaks.

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Finally, add the nuts and chocolate chips and mix until combined. The original recipe called for mini chocolate chips and almonds, but I had pecans and walnuts on hand and the grocery store didn’t have the mini chocolate chips, so I went with regular size.  The mini would probably be pretty good, but if you like big bites of chocolate, there’s nothing wrong with the regular ones.  Also, any chopped nut works.  If you are looking for an almond joy flavor, then the almond/dark chocolate/coconut combo is perfect, but if you just want good biscotti, choose your own adventure.

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Let the dough chill, covered, in the fridge for 30 minutes.  In the meantime, you could make origami Christmas trees to decorate your windowsill.

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However, I will warn you that this becomes an extremely addicting craft which may cause you to go to Michael’s and spend $2/sheet on squares of pretty paper to make them with.  For that reason I’m not including the steps, though the internet is a wonderful thing for finding this sort of craft.

Once the dough has chilled, shape it into two loaves on a cookie sheet.  The loaves should be about 10 inches long by 3 inches wide by 3/4 inch thick.  I may or may not have used a ruler, but we’ve already established that I can be obsessive about things.

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Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until brown and cracked on top.  They should spring back when pressed.  Let them cool on the cookie sheet for 30 minutes more.

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A close up of what I mean by cracked:

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Once cool, transfer them to a cutting board and slice them on the diagonal, about half an inch thick.  Put the pieces on cookie sheets cut side down.

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Bake at 325°F for about 20 more minutes, or until brown on top and dry.  They will continue to dry on the cookie sheet as they cool, so resist the urge to eat them warm since biscotti are way better when they reach the right texture.

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Finally, stack them up and serve them with some hot chocolate!  (Credit to my mom on the stacking job – I only wish I could have made them look as nice)

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They’ll keep in an airtight container stored at room temperature as well.  And they pack nicely into tins if you want to give them as gifts.  I also can’t think of a reason not to dip them in chocolate to make chocolate-dipped biscotti, I just didn’t have the time.

Enjoy!

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Chocolate Chip Coconut Biscotti

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed shredded coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.
  2. In a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium speed to beat together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.
  4. Add the vanilla and coconut, mixing until well combined.
  5. Add the flour with the mixer on low speed until there are no streaks remaining.
  6. Mix in the nuts and chocolate chips.
  7. Chill in the fridge, covered, for 30 minutes.
  8. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10 inch by 3 inch by 3/4 inch loaf on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes or until brown and cracked on top.
  9. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 30 minutes.
  10. Transfer to cutting board and slice on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Put the pieces cut side down on the cookie sheet and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 325°F, or until brown on top.
  11. Allow to cool so that biscotti will dry out.