is a really, really good thing. Last week combined two of my favorite things: baking and wedding (and baking for a wedding)! Oh, and birthday: the mid-20s have officially arrived, and I'm a little frightened but resolving to deal with it.
Wedding baking part 1: horseshoe palmiers
Yeah, these did not turn out as planned. I need me some Dufour Pastry to make these the proper, buttery way.
Despite the fact that they look like rapidly unraveling butterflies, Sammy wants in all the same.
Here's part 2: mini chocolate cupcakes with salted caramel frosting. Whereas part 1 was mostly failure, part 2 was mostly success, minus the repeat incident of neglecting to add sugar to the chocolate cake. Twice in four months?! Someone needs to revoke my hypothetical chocolate cupcake baking license. At any rate, batch #2 turned out just fine, and the salted caramel frosting was super yummy salty-sweet goodness.
Mascarpone brownies also emerged from the oven this week, as did berry buttermilk cake and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. What can I say? When baking for important events, you want to pull out the very best (which occasionally makes your kitchen look like this)
Surprisingly, the most lauded baked good of the week were these...
Mmmmmhmmmm. These coconut bars hit all the right notes: snappy crust, nutty middle, a wonderfully textured topping. A note: the recipe is from America's Test Kitchen, which means that they've already done all the grunt work for you, tweaking the recipe and such. What's written below is practically perfect in every way. Need I say more?
Coconut Pecan Bars
(adapted slightly from The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2010)
Place an oven rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350. Line a 9x13 pan with foil and spray with Pam (I used the kind that has flour in it)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed brown sugar (they call for dark; I used light)
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and chilled
In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, pecans, and salt until the pecans are coarsely ground, 10-15 seconds. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal, 10-15 pulses. Press the mixture firmly into the prepared pan. Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack while you make the topping and middle.
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1 cup cream of coconut (you can find this in the liquor aisle by the stuff used to make pina coladas)
In a smallish bowl, stir together the shredded coconut and cream of coconut.
3/4 cup brown sugar (again they call for dark; I used light)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, vanilla, and salt until smooth. Stir in the pecans, then pour the filling over the cooled crust. Dollop spoonfuls of the coconut topping over the top, and attempt to spread it evenly.
Bake until the topping is golden brown, 35-40 minutes. (Inevitably some of it will look kind of patchy and pale, but that's okay. Aim for some dark golden brown patches; that's good enough.) Cool on the same wire rack for 2 hours. Cut into bars and eat!! (These keep remarkably well for a number of days, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator.)
I was especially surprised because I used to hate coconut but I really love it now. Really really. As I referenced in last week's post...don't be surprised if all of a sudden coconut magically appears in your life to solve lots of your problems. The book calls these "dream bars", and for the record...yes, they are dreamy indeed.