Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream Filling

Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream FillingGUYS.

I made donuts.

The mini kind. The kind you can eat in two bites.

The deep-fried, not baked, kind.

The leave your fingers chocolately, tummy happy, kind. The can’t stop popping them in your mouth kind.

I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s back this up.

Who doesn’t love donuts? No one. That’s who.

Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream FillingI mean, come on, if you didn’t have to worry about weight, sugar intake, and all that other health related business wouldn’t you just eat donuts on the regular? I’m pretty sure I would. It would be my morning staple. Sometimes even my snack. I would definitely have a ‘usual’ at the donut shop, and never have to wait in line. Sounds pretty awesome, right?  In my perfect world that would happen. But, in the real world, I can’t even tell you the last time I had a donut. And, I’m talking a real donut here. Not the baked kind. Not like the Baked Cinnamon Brown Sugar Donut Bites I made a while ago.

It may actually have been a year ago that I ate a real donut. Maybe even longer.  It’s not like I’m purposely avoiding donut shops either. It’s just…I’m not a huge breakfast person. And by that I mean I drink a cup of coffee, sometimes two, and call it a day. And, my snacks typically consist of goldfish or pita chips with a little hummus. As you can see, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for donut eating.

The idea of making my own fried donuts never really was a thought. I mean, there are a million other decadent desserts I want to make, and I don’t even have a deep fryer. Yes, I could just use oil and a huge pot, but I never had a good enough reason to go through all that trouble. Plus, I’ll admit it, I was slightly nervous about getting oil burns. I hear they hurt. A lot.

Are you wondering why I decided to finally make fried donuts? No. Okay, well, I’m still going to tell you anyways. My good friend, Lauren, visited this past week. Unlike myself, Lauren has no fears of oil burns. She is a lover of donuts, is always willing to have adventures in the kitchen, and can handle my craziness during the baking process rather well.

Let the fried donut making ensue.

Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream FillingAs a first timer making donuts, I just want to start by saying, it’s actually kind of fun. Sure, it’s a process—making the dough, refrigerating the dough, letting the cut donuts rise, frying, cooling, stuffing with coconut cream, dipping in chocolate, and sprinkling with toasted coconut—but, the end result is totallllyyyy worth it. And, when you have a partner in crime in the kitchen with you, the time literally flies by.

The dough for these donuts was super easy to work with, and fried up rather nicely (and pretty quickly) into little golden donut holes. Neither Lauren nor I was burned by the oil, but we did burn the roofs of our mouths trying to taste test the donuts before they had cooled. Yup, we both are that inpatient. One of the reasons we’re friends. The donuts themselves are light, fluffy, and not overly sweet. Each donut hole is filled with coconut cream pudding, dipped in chocolate, and then sprinkled with toasted coconut shreds. If you like donuts, and you like coconut, you’ll want to make these!

Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream Filling
Yields: about 40 donut holes

Donut Holes
1 package (2 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
2/3 cups milk, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 7 tablespoons
Canola oil, for frying

Coconut Cream Filling
1 (3.4 oz.) package of Jell-O instant Coconut Cream Pudding
2 cups milk

¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
vegetable shortening, as needed
¾ cup sweetened coconut shreds, toasted

Donut Holes
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine yeast and milk. Allow yeast to dissolve completely, about a minute.
Mix in sugar, salt, flour, and eggs on low for about 4 minutes to develop the dough.
With the mixer still on low, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, until incorporated, about 5 to 6 minutes.
Remove dough from bowl—it will be sticky, so do your best—and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Let dough sit in fridge for 6-15 hours (I let mine sit overnight and then made the donuts in the morning).
Once chilled, remove dough from plastic wrap and place on a piece of large parchment paper. Cover the top of the dough with another piece of large parchment paper and roll dough until about ½-inch thick. Using a 2-inch circle cookie cutter, cut out the donuts and place on a prepared (lined with parchment paper) cookie sheet. Allow donuts to rise in a warm spot for 1 ½-2 hours or until puffy and doubled in size.
When ready to fry, heat a pot filled with 3 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with papers towels (to soak up the extra oil) and set aside. Add donut holes to oil—be careful not to overcrowd the pot—and fry each side of the donut for about 1 ½ to 2 minutes, until golden brown. Make sure to watch your temperature as you continue to fry each batch of donut holes.
Remove donuts with slotted spoon and transfer to the paper-towel lined baking sheet. When cool enough to handle, transfer donut holes to a tray to cool completely.

Coconut Cream Filling
In a medium-sized bowl, mix together coconut cream mix and milk until combined. Let sit in the fridge for about 5 minutes.
Fill a pastry bag with a medium sized tip with coconut cream pudding. Poke a hole on each side of the donut (equidistant between the top and bottom of the donut) and squirt about 1/8 cup in each side of the donut.

In a microwave safe bowl, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and a little vegetable shortening, until of drizzling consistency (microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth).
Dip the tops of each donut hole into the chocolate, holding the donut upside down to let excess chocolate drip off. Sprinkle the top of the chocolate-coated donut with toasted coconut shreds.

*donut recipe adapted from Buns In My Oven


Toasted Coconut Donut Holes with Coconut Cream Filling

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread Cookies

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesWhen I think XOXO, the first thought that immediately follows is Gossip Girl. Yup, you got me, I used to watch the show. My second thought is the more traditional, hugs and kisses. Probably what your first instinct was, huh?

Well, did you know that thinking hugs and kisses isn’t technically right? Apparently, the X is supposed to stand for kisses and the O is supposed to stand for hugs. So, really, we should be saying kisses and hugs. Can I tell you how I know this? I spent a good twenty minutes researching the meaning of XOXO. I had never really thought about why it represented hugs and kisses—yes, I will continue to say it this way, because I think it sounds better…feel free to join me—until I started making these cookies. And, once I thought about it, I really wanted to know the answer. So, here we go. Your very own lesson on the History of XOXO—now you can’t say I never gave you anything for Valentine’s Day.

Back in the Middle Ages, many people couldn’t read or write, and when they were presented with a document requiring a signature of understanding, they would simply write the letter X on the signature line. The X was meant to represent the cross and convey that in Christ’s name the contents of the document were true. But, wait, that has nothing to do with kisses! You’re right, it doesn’t. The kissing part of the story has been debated, but the common theory is that many individuals after signing the X would then kiss the X as a symbol of truly believing in what the document stood for. Sounds legitimate, right? Some people don’t think so. They choose to believe that the X simply looks like two triangle-faced individuals locking lips. Hence, X meaning kisses.

The O, on the other hand, has a history that is still very much debated. Some will argue that it was created by Jewish immigrants, who wanted their own way of signing documents that wasn’t related to the Christian X. Others say that the game of tic-tac-toe provided the inspiration for using the letter O when people decided they wanted another letter to represent a different kind of affection. Or, it could just be that an O looks like two open arms hugging.

What do you think?

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesAnyways, let’s talk about chocolate X’s and O’s covered in toasted coconut shreds on top of a buttery, coconuty shortbread cookie. Excuse me, as I go eat one right now.

The base of these little loveable bad boys is shortbread. A really reallyyy good shortbread. Before decorating them with X’s and O’s, my Dad taste tested a cookie and asked me if I had really made them. When I said yes—worried, mind you, that I somehow messed up the recipe—he said that they tasted like something you would buy at a bakery. Let me just tell you something about my Dad. He’s not a sugar-coater, if he likes something he’ll tell you, and if he doesn’t, you’ll know too. So, as you can tell, his compliment meant a lot to me. I found the recipe for this shortbread in a little wooden recipe box that used to be my Grandma’s. I don’t know where she got it or if it came from a recipe book, but what I do know is that I will never use another shortbread recipe again. And, since I like you so much, I’m gonna share it!

I wanted a little something more than just shortbread for Valentine’s Day, so I decided to spruce the dough up with coconut. Can I just say, it was the BEST decision ever. The shortbread cookie itself has that buttery, soft, melt in your mouth taste. The addition of coconut from both the extract, which isn’t overpowering, and the toasted coconut shreds, which adds a little crunch to each bite, leaves you with a subtly infused coconut cookie that isn’t overly sweet. I didn’t stop there though. The cookie is then decorated with semi-sweet chocolate and covered with more toasted coconut shreds in the form of X’s and O’s. Again, BEST decision ever.

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread CookiesBelieve me when I say that you can’t go wrong with these cookies. Seriously. Make them for your Valentine, a friend, your family, or for that special someone who doesn’t know that you like them yet. These cookies should definitely win that person over. Oh, and Happy [Early] Valentine’s Day. May it be filled with lots of X’s and O’s.

Toasted Coconut XOXO Shortbread Cookies
Yields: about 30 cookies

Scalloped circle cookie cutter
X cookie cutter
O cookie cutter
Piping bag (or, Ziploc bag) & small tip

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
1 heaping cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup powdered sugar
½ cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coconut extract
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Topping
¼ cup sweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Vegetable shortening, as needed

Toasted Coconut Shortbread Cookies
Using a food processor (or, blender), pulse the toasted shredded coconut until coarsely ground. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream butter until light and fluffy.
Beat in powdered sugar until creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Add salt, cornstarch, and coconut extract. Mix until incorporated.
Gradually beat in the flour until combined, and then mix in the toasted coconut.
Gather the dough as best you can into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the top of the dough with another piece of parchment paper and roll to ½ inch thick. Slide the parchment-covered dough onto a cutting board and place in the fridge. Let chill for about 30 minutes.
After the dough is finished chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using the scalloped cookie cutter cut cookies—if the dough becomes too sticky or tough to work with place back in the fridge until it’s easier to handle.
Bake for 6 minutes, reverse tray (this will ensure an even color on the cookies!), and bake for another 5 more minutes or until lightly brown.
Let cookies cool for about a minute on the cookie sheet, and then transfer to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Toasted Coconut & Chocolate Topping
While the cookies are cooling, coarsely ground (with a food processor or blender) the lightly toasted shredded coconut. Set aside.
Once the cookies have cooled completely, melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and a little vegetable shortening in a microwave safe bowl (microwave in 15 second intervals, stirring after each interval, until smooth).
Lightly press the X or O cookie cutter into the bowl of melted chocolate—make sure the cookie cutter has enough chocolate on the rim so that the outline will show up on the cookies. Use a toothpick to add or take away chocolate as needed. Gently press the X or O chocolate covered cookie cutter into the middle of the cookie and then lift up, there should be an outline of the letter—if the outline is incomplete, dip a toothpick in the melted chocolate and complete the outline by hand.
Working quickly, use either a piping bag or toothpick to fill in the letter completely with melted chocolate (I found the toothpick method to be easiest…just pretend the toothpick is like a painting brush)—if the chocolate begins to harden, place back in the microwave for another 15 seconds or until of drizzling consistency.
Once the letter is filled in with chocolate, sprinkle the toasted coconut over the letter. Dust off the extra coconut. If needed use a toothpick to add more coconut to a specific spot or to help keep the shape of the letter intact.
Using a piping bag with a small tip (or Ziploc), trace the scalloped edge of the cookie with chocolate. Re-melt the chocolate as needed.
Repeat the above steps, alternating between the X and O cookie cutter, until all the cookies are finished.




Banana Bread with Coconut and Rum

Banana Bread with Coconut and RumUgly mornings.

That’s what I’ve been waking up to. Gray cloudy skies, a cool breeze, and an instant desire for fuzzy socks, a warm blanket, and a large cup (or three) of gingerbread coffee.

Do you see the problem? It’s way too early in the year for me to be feeling this way. It should be sunny, slightly warm (but, not overly hot…I know, I’m picky), and I should have the desire to jump in the pool, drink iced coffee, and make my breakfast, lunch, and dinner, ice cream (or some other cold treat like popsicles). In the weather’s defense, it does start to heat up around noon, but still, I spend my mornings thinking fall is a lot closer than it actually is.

It doesn’t help that the Hallmark Channel (yes, I watch Hallmark movies, but only after checking to see what’s playing on Lifetime), has been having Christmas movie marathons. And, I of course, sat through about three Christmas movies before turning off the TV. I was getting way too excited about tree decorating, cookie baking, and wearing scarves and boots.

Hello, it’s July. Still Summer. Not fall or December. And definitely not time for Christmas or ugly mornings. What’s a girl to do with all these mixed signals? I’ll give you a hint, it involves baking.

Yup, you guessed right. It is baking this Banana Bread with Coconut and Rum.

Banana Bread with Coconut and Rum

Banana bread, or really any baked bread, makes me think of fall. I think it has something to do with the smell of bread baking in the oven or the need to have a chunky slice with a steaming cup of coffee. Coconut, on the other hand, makes me think of tanning, palm trees, and summer. Can you see how this bread solves my problem? Did I mention that there is rum in the bread? Well, there is, and it pairs quite perfectly with the coconut if you were wondering.

This bread takes banana bread to a whole new (and extremely delicious) level. The bread itself is super moist (thanks to the coconut yogurt) and each bite is filled with a subtle banana flavor, a crunch from the roasted coconut, and an undertone of the cinnamon and rum. I also made the bread with wheat flour (feel free to use all-purpose if you want), which gives the bread a milder taste and combines nicely with the other ingredients. If you’re feeling like fall is invading your summer, or even down the road if summer needs to invade your fall, I’d make this bread. Or, even if you’re just feeling like banana bread, I’d give this recipe a try. It’s worth it. Believe me.

Banana Bread with Coconut and Rum
Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker
Yields: One 9×5-inch loaf

¾ cup (12 tablespoons) of salted butter, melted, browned, and cooled
2 cups wheat flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons rum, and about 1 tablespoon for topping
¼ cup coconut yogurt (I used Vanilla Coconut Milk Yogurt from Trader Joe’s)
1 ¼ cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
½ cup roasted coconut, plus ¼ cup for topping (I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips—recipe will use the whole bag).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.
Melt butter in a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. As it melts, the butter will foam and crackle. Stir (or swirl the pan) as the butter cooks. When the butter begins to brown (mine was a very light brown color) and you smell a nutty aroma, take the saucepan off the heat. Pour the butter in bowl, whisk for about 30 seconds, and set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together wheat flour, brown sugar, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Whisk until lumps are gone.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs, vanilla, rum, and coconut yogurt until well combined. Mix in the mashed bananas.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in roasted coconut. Stir until just combined.
Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle roasted coconut on top. Bake for 50-60 minutes. If the coconut on top starts to get too brown, cover loaf pan with foil.
Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes in the loaf pan. Brush top of bread with rum as it cools. Transfer bread to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Banana Bread with Coconut and Rum