chocolate – sailor jerry’s – coconut cream bars

The count-down is just about done.  Today is the beginning of the fun part of the holiday season – you know … the part that actually involves seeing the people we love, spending time with them (and not shopping for them), getting to catch-up, laugh, reminisce about the past year … and then … eat.

I figured this would be a good recipe to share … it’s pretty simple, it doesn’t take very long to make … and is an easy addition for anyone hosting a réveillon tonight.

Plus … they’re pretty.  Real pretty.

The original recipe was actually chocolate – sherry cream bars.  I don’t have sherry in my pantry … but I have some rum (no big surprise there eh?) – and I figured that the chocolate rum combo would work.  It does.

Then I thought – why not add some coconut to the chocolate base? Brilliant idea!  This is a dressed up, and grown-up version of  nanaimo bars – a tender base with a fluffy, boozy topping and then a drizzle of chocolate glaze.

Yum?  Yeah.  Intense yum.

Like I said – these aren’t complicated – and likely, after all the holiday baking you’ve already done – you have all the ingredients on hand.  If you’re missing the coconut flakes – no worries, they weren’t in the original recipe.  Just omit that addition and you are good to go.  And if you don’t have rum on hand – how about adding some eggnog?  I bet that would be AWESOME.  Heck … I wish I had thought of that before now.  Sigh.  That’ll be for next year I guess.

chocolate – rum – coconut cream bars

ingredients:

base:

1 c. butter

1/2 c. chocolate chips

4 eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature

2 c. sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 c. flour, sifted

3/4 c. sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line your rectangular pan with parchment paper or foil.  Grease the liner with non-stick spray.  Set aside.

In a large saucepan, heat and stir the butter and chocolate over low heat until smooth.  Remove from the heat.  With a whisk, beat in the eggs, sugar and vanilla until just combined.  Swap out the whisk for a wooden spoon and stir in the flour, then the coconut (obviously from the picture you’ll see I used the whisk … the wooden spoon just folds it in better).

Spread the mixture evenly into the pan and bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  These brownies are pretty moist – so check with a wooden skewer … it likely won’t come out perfectly clean, but you don’t want a runny batter to appear on the tip.   There will be a slight crust on this brownie – but the centre should be solid.

Allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

Time to make the filling.

sweet rum filling:

4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/4 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. rum

1 c. chopped, toasted walnuts

This time you need to pull out either your stand-mixer or your hand-held mixer.  In a large bowl, beat together the powdered sugar and butter.  Gradually increase the speed, and add the heavy cream and the rum.  Once it has come together (is nice and fluffy), fold in the toasted walnuts (use a spoon or spatula for that).

Spread the topping evenly over the baked brownie.  Chill for at least 1 hour, or until firm (you can put this in the freezer – or stick it outside if you’re lacking freezer space).

Just before you’re ready to cut them into squares, prepare the chocolate – rum glaze.  Yes … there is a wee bit more rum required.

chocolate – rum glaze:

1/2 c. chocolate chips

1/2 tsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp rum

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate chips with the vegetable oil.  Once smooth, remove from heat and add the rum.  Allow the glaze to thicken a little (about 10 minutes in the fridge should do).  Place in a piping bag and drizzle over the firm filling.  If you don’t want to bother with the piping bag – just take a whisk, dip it in the glaze and then drizzle the glaze that way … it’ll still look really pretty.

Chill until the bars are firm.

Remove from the pan (lifting it out using the excess parchment paper), and then cut into the desired size.  I was able to get about 70 mini squares … and really – these are pretty rich.  A small piece goes a long way … just about the perfect thing to nibble on at around midnight :0)

I’m going to say it … Happy Holidays – and a super Merry Christmas to you if you celebrate this particular holiday.

bahamian rum cake

Ok.  Actually it’s not a Bahamian rum cake.  It’s a Trinidadian rum cake (are you surprised that I didn’t use Sailor Jerry’s rum?).   It’s ridiculous.  As in amazing.  As in … perfect for the holiday season.  Perfect for tomorrow and the day after that.  This is the kind of cake that gets better with age … so make it today and allow it to sit and soak up the rum syrup and glaze.  You won’t be sorry that you waited.

I found this recipe in David Lebovitz’s Ready for Dessert.  I actually got giddy when I saw it.  I was that excited.

This cake is my gift to my sister.  Anne loves visiting the Islands.  She loves the spiciness of rum.  She loves coconut.  This is a match made in heaven.  And the perfect Christmas treat to offer her.

This cake is made in three-stages.  All super easy – but please remember to allow for the time.  If you are making it the same-day as you want to eat it – it’ll still be good.  So don’t worry – but if there are any leftovers – enjoy them for breakfast.  You won’t regret that either.

Trinidadian rum cake

ingredients:

3 c. flour, sifted

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1 c. butter, room temperature

1 c. white sugar

1 c. brown sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

2 egg yolks, room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla

3/4 c. canned coconut milk

Preheat your oven to 350 F.  Spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray, dust it with flour, tapping out the excess.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter and sugars, slowly increasing the speed to medium – allowing the batter to become light and fluffy (approximately 5 minutes).

In a small bowl, beat together the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla.  Slowly drizzle the mixture into the creamed butter, scraping the sides as needed.  Once the eggs are completely incorporated, gently stir-in one-third of the flour mixture, then about half of the coconut milk. 

Mix in another third of the flour mixture, the rest of the coconut milk, and the remaining third of the flour; until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared bundt pan. 

Bake for 55 minutes – the cake will be set in the centre.

While the cake is baking – open that bottle of rum and start working on the syrup …

coconut-rum syrup

ingredients:

3/4 c. canned coconut milk (actually … just use the rest of the canned coconut milk)

6 tbsp sugar

1/2 c. dark rum

In a medium sauce-pan over medium heat, warm the remainder of the coconut milk, and the sugar , stirring until the sugar dissolves.  It shouldn’t come to a boil.  Remove the syrup from heat and add the dark rum.  Whisk everything together.  Set aside until the cake comes out of the oven.

Now – grab a wooden skewer, and poke holes in the warm (just out of the oven) cake – you really want the cake to get drenched in the syrup – so pierce the cake about 60 times. 

Spoon about two-thirds of the syrup over the cake – allowing the coconut-rum to macerate the cake.  It’ll smell pretty amazing already at this point.  It only gets better.

Leave the cake in the bundt pan and allow it to cool completely on a wire rack – the syrup will slowly disappear as it’s absorbed.

Once cooled, invert the cake onto a plate.

Brush with the remaining syrup (I spooned the syrup – and most of it didn’t end up on the cake – it ended up on the plate, so I strongly recommend brushing the syrup on the second time around).

Set the cake aside and make the third and final part. 

glaze

ingredients:

4 tbsp butter, cut into pieces

6 tbsp heavy cream

6 tbsp brown sugar

pinch of salt

1 tbsp dark rum

1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes, toasted

Toast the coconut flakes on an ungreased pan over medium-low heat.  Coconut flakes don’t take long to toast – so keep an eye on them.  Toss them around with a wooden spoon as they are toasting as well.  Remove from heat.

To make the glaze, combine the butter, cream, salt and sugar together in a small saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil.  Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar – this should take about 90 seconds.  Remove from the heat, whisk in the rum, and let cool completely.  Once the syrup has cooled, whisk in the toasted coconut.

Spoon the glaze over the top of the cake.  As David Lebovitz says, “encourage it to run down the sides” – the effect is really pretty.

There you have it.  Ready to be served.  Although – my recommendation (and it’s a pretty strong one), is to allow it to sit overnight (NOT IN THE FRIDGE), at room temperature, under a cake dome (or covered by a really large Tupperware container).  The rum will continue to be soaked up – making it the perfect treat … either for breakfast or as a treat throughout the day.

This is a seriously good cake. 

bakers note:  This cake travels really well – you can wrap it in plastic wrap and then in tinfoil.  Then you can take it anywhere.  This is the kind of love you should share with the people around you.

holiday cookie 5.0

This is it.  The fifth and final installment of my holiday cookie adventure.

I started on this journey trying to find a cookie that would top my gingersnap cookie.  You know … the one Robin and her mother passed on to me.  Basically … I’m considering this my family recipe (I spent a lot of time at Robin’s house growing up).

My journey lead me to discover:

1.  a delicious and chewy little spicy molasses cookie.

2.  a surprisingly tasty little chocolate ginger espresso cookies.  It requires a bit of work – but sure does look pretty.

3.  a thin, uber moist little ginger-maple thins.  A new Canadian classic me thinks.

4.  ginger-molasses lemon cookies.  I have declared it, and will stand by it, as my ultimate favourite holiday cookie.  (this did top the original gingersnap cookie).

And now for cookie number 5.  Inspired by my brother Louis.

I remember watching Louis slather a piece of white bread with peanut butter, cover that with an equal amount of molasses, and then top it with another piece of white bread.  After school snack.  Yep.  My reaction … astounded.  I preferred the classic peanut butter and honey combo and couldn’t understand his desire to ruin the peanut butter with sticky, bitter molasses.

Oh how things have changed.

Now I could eat spoonfuls of molasses.  No bread or peanut butter required.  Yes … you may look at me with complete bewilderment.

And so … with my brother in mind I decided to make these cookies.

They are … not for the faint hearted.  Heck.  These could be a meal.  Do I recommend these for the cookie spread?  Not really.  But I totally recommend these as a pre-playing in the snow snack.  Or a not to sweet treat in the morning.  These cookies stick to your bones.  In the best way imaginable.

Do not expect these to be at all like the other cookies I’ve been sharing with you.  They aren’t at all the same sort of cookie.  I can’t stress enough that these are dense.  And not sweet.  And not gingery.  But I still liked them.   Enough to eat half a dozen over the course of an afternoon.  I was giving my sweet tooth a little rest :0)

And so I present to you my peanut butter molasses cookies.  Made for my brother Louis.  But you should make them too.

peanut butter molasses cookies

ingredients:

1/2 c. butter, softened

1/2 c. brown sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

3/4 c. peanut butter

1/2 c. molasses

1 1/4 c. flour, sifted

1 c. oats

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

chocolate chips, melted

Preheat your oven to 375 F.  Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until it gets nice and fluffy – about 5 minutes.  Add the egg.  Beat well and scrape the sides of the bowl.  Now mix in the peanut butter, the molasses, and the vanilla.

In another bowl, combine all your dry ingredients: flour, oats, baking powder and soda, cinnamon and salt.

Add to the wet mix – mix until incorporated.  This shouldn’t take very long … maybe 1 minute.

This batter does not require cooling before handling.  It’s a drop cookie.

Drop a spoonful of cookie dough on your prepared cookie sheet (I use two spoons to assist in the dropping of the dough – it’s pretty sticky … thank you Arctic Andrew for showing me how to cornell the dough).  These cookies spread while they bake – so leave about 2-inches between each cookie.

Flatten with a fork.

Bake for 6 minutes.  But you should watch them carefully.

Leave on the cookie sheet for 4 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack.  These are the types of cookies that get better as they sit … otherwise you don’t really taste the molasses – you’ll think you’d made just a peanut butter cookie.  Wait and you’ll see that it improves.

I then melted some chocolate chips in a double-boiler and then piped the chocolate over the cooled cookies.  Otherwise the cookies aren’t sweet AT ALL.

This is the one recipe where you will not feel like you’re baking holiday cookies.  So if you can’t be bothered to make it this weekend (but you should), then whip it up once you are over the ginger.  Over the spice.  Over the holiday flavours.  These could become a new staple in your life.  For reals.

Thanks Louis for the inspiration :0)