the best - chocolate coconut pie

Four ingredients - that's it! In essence that's what I love about this pie. I don't know many desserts that can get away with that few ingredients. Add to the fact that it is easy to make and looks amazing and in my books it's a winner!

chocolate coconut pie-1-2The four magical ingredients are: chocolate, coconut, butter and cream. That's it - nothing else. It goes without saying that you want to use the best chocolate and coconut you can find as they are front and centre in this dessert.

chocolate coconut pie-2

The recipe comes from Martha Stewart's New Pies and Tarts cookbook.

Ingredients:

for the crust

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

6 cups sweetened shredded coconut

for the filling

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 61 percent cacao), finely chopped

Preparation:

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor, process butter and one-third of coconut until mixture forms a ball, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Sprinkle remaining two-thirds coconut over mixture, and combine with your fingers.

Place a 9-inch pie plate on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Press coconut mixture into bottom and up sides of pan to form crust, leaving top edges loose and fluffy. Bake until center begins to brown, 10 to 15 minutes and edges are browned. Transfer crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the filling: Bring cream just to a boil in a small saucepan; pour over chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. Let sit 10 minutes, then stir until chocolate is completely melted and mixture is combined. Pour into coconut crust. Refrigerate until filling is set, 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Note: I used a 9 inch pie dish with removable base and it worked perfectly.

chocolate coconut pie-3This pie tastes better than a Bounty chocolate bar with its rich, silky chocolate and sweet chewy coconut base. It's perfect for the summer when you tire of fruit pies and crave a little chocolate something. And it's also gluten-free which somehow makes me feel like I can have a second piece!

Do you have a favourite coconut pie recipe?

the best - coconut macaroons

If you're looking for a fast, easy to make cookie that also happens to be gluten-free then the coconut macaroon is your go-to treat. During my first summer off during interior design school I actually ran my own little (it was just me!) catering company specifically for photographers. I had to make the occasional breakfast for early morning shoots but the majority of time I was dropping off lunch. It was a good gig. I had three desserts that I made time and time again; chocolate chip cookies, brownies and these coconut macaroons. I know these recipes so well I could practically recite them from heart.

Coconut Macaroons - Adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess

Ingredients

  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 30g ground almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or coconut essence, should such be available)
  • 250g shredded or flaked coconut

Method

Serves: Makes 10-14 macaroons
  1. Preheat the oven to 335F.
  2. Beat the egg whites until frothy - no more - then add the cream of tartar and carry on beating until soft peaks are formed. Add the sugar a teaspoon at a time and whisk until the peaks can hold their shape and are shiny. Fold in the almonds, salt, vanilla and coconut. The mixture will be sticky but should, all the same, hold its shape when clumped together.
  3. Form into clementine-sized domes, 6-7cm in diameter. Don't make them too flat; they look best if you keep them nicely rounded, but this is really just a matter of personal taste, so follow your own.
  4. Cook for 20 minutes or until they're just beginning to turn golden in parts.

I've experimented a bit with this recipe and added cocoa to the almond, salt, vanilla and coconut mixture to make chocolate macaroons. I've also seen these cookies dipped halfway into melted chocolate for a more indulgent treat.

If you love moist, chewy coconut than you will definitely want to give these a try. Be careful to watch your oven as these cookies can turn from slightly golden to browned in no time flat (mine, in fact, are borderline overdone). Let your nose guide you! When these cookies start to fill your kitchen with a warm, tropical sweetness give them a check and see if they are done.

Do you have a favourite coconut recipe? I'm a huge fan of the stuff and would love to hear if you have something you think I should try.

the best - basic sweet scones

It's hard to find a simple, basic scone these days. It seems most are filled with some combination of berries and chocolate or topped with a zig-zag of icing. Personally, my favorite scone is a plain one topped with clotted cream and a touch of raspberry jam. Scones are what as referred to as a quick bread meaning that they don't need to rise or be kneaded like traditional bread. In fact, over mixing is probably the worst thing you can do to a scone (or muffin for that matter). Once you've made these a few time and got the technique down, you won't find them any harder to make than a batch of pancakes or waffles on a weekend morning.

The recipe I tend to use comes from Martha Stewart who in turn got the recipe from Petersham's Nursery in Richmond, Surrey. It has only seven ingredients: flour, salt, baking powder, sugar, butter, eggs and milk. The technique is simple and requires adding the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and then kneading the dough gently into a round shape before cutting the scones to size.

Sweet White Scones as adapted by Martha Stewart courtesy of Petersham's Nursery

Ingredients

  • 6 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 1 heaping tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
  • Granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, superfine sugar, and baking powder. Make a well in the center and add butter. Using your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until a crumbly mixture is formed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and milk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir to combine.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead lightly and shape into a round. Roll dough out until it is 1 inch thick. Using a 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out scones and transfer to prepared baking sheets.
  5. In a small bowl, beat remaining egg and brush the top of each scone; sprinkle each with granulated sugar. Transfer baking sheets to oven and bake until golden brown and cooked through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer scones to a wire rack and let cool slightly before serving.

I find the dough comes together fairly easy for this recipe and is beautiful to work with. If you don't have a 3 inch biscuit cutter you can use a glass or mug with a similar dimension and use that to cut out your scones. Of course, if you like adding extra ingredients to your scone this is a great recipe to modify.

The best way to eat scones if hot out of the oven slathered with some butter or English clotted cream if you can find some and then finished off with some homemade raspberry jam. Add a cup of tea and you have a perfect morning breakfast or afternoon tea.

Do you have a favorite way to eat scones? Are they something you find yourself whipping up every once in awhile?

the best - banana bread

Banana bread falls into the category of comfort foods like macaroni and cheese or meatloaf with mashed potatoes. It's one of those dishes that fills your home with sweet smells and has everyone waiting in anticipation for it come out of the oven. Smothered with butter still warm it's one of life's small pleasures. It's also super easy to make. As the introduction to this recipe states if you've never baked before this is the perfect recipe to start with. My go-to recipe comes from Nigella Lawson, of course.  It's easily adaptable which I like. You can add nuts, raisins, coconut or chocolate to this recipe. (I always add chocolate!). I've also gotten into  the habit of making two loaves every time I make this so I have one to eat right away and another one in the freezer. It takes maybe an extra five minutes of prep time. And if you have  a helper like I do the stirring time is reduced by half!

You'll notice that my batters look a little different. To one I added chopped dark chocolate and golden raisins and to the other I added chocolate chips I had left over.

Banana Bread (adapted from Nigella Lawson's How to be a Domestic Goddess)

Ingredients:

  • 100g sultanas
  • 75ml bourbon or dark rum
  • 175g all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 125g unsalted butter, melted
  • 150g sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 small, very ripe bananas (about 300g weighed without skin), mashed
  • 60g chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and floured or with a paper insert

Method:

Serves: Makes 8-10 slices
  1. Put the sultanas and rum or bourbon in a smallish saucepan and bring to the boil.
  2. Remove from the heat, cover and leave for an hour if you can, or until the sultanas have absorbed most of the liquid, then drain.
  3. Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/330 F and get started on the rest. Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl and, using your hands or a wooden spoon, combine well.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the melted butter and sugar and beat until blended. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the mashed bananas. Then, with your wooden spoon, stir in the walnuts, drained sultanas and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture, a third at a time, stirring well after each bit. Scrape into the loaf tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 1-11/4 hours. When it's ready, an inserted toothpick or fine skewer should come out cleanish. Leave in the tin on a rack to cool, and eat thickly or thinly sliced, as you prefer.

Adaptations:

1. If I don't have bourbon or rum for the sultanas I use water. I sometimes omit the raisins all together.

2. For a chocolate version, substitute 25 g of the flour for cocoa powder and add 100g of chopped chocolate or chocolate chips. Or just add in the chocolate and skip the cocoa.

3. Any nut can be substituted for the walnuts. Or try adding coconut for another variation.

Of course, the best way to eat this is hot out of the oven with a salty butter just slathered on. I always hope a loaf will get me through the week but by Tuesday night the whole thing is usually gone.