Tag Archives: coconut

German Chocolate Brownies for #SundaySupper

I’m not usually an eat-my-feelings kind of girl.

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Lately, though, I have had ALL the feelings, and that called for eating my weight in brownies. Because let’s face it–who the heck did I try to kid 5 seconds ago when I said that eating a whole panful of chocolate won’t solve every problem, ever?

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Truth be told, I have been particularly terrible lately about eating my way through feels. Is anyone else this way, or did you all just sprout from miracle baby trees where this stuff doesn’t happen?

I was definitely born on a food pantry tree, probably of the sweets variety, because this pan of absolutely rich but not-too-cloying brownies did not make it out the doorway unscathed.

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I’ll admit it: one of the reasons you see brownies and bar cookies on my blog so often is that, unlike cookies (which are a solid, impregnable unit) and cakes (which, let’s face it, look butt ugly when you’re not supposed to slice into it yet and you start picking off random pieces anyway so it looks like a freakin’ mouse got to it first), brownies are SO easy to cut into.

Slice a smidge here. Oh, I’ll trim a little bit more off the edge. Now OCD dictates that I must make all the brownies the same size, so let’s do it–for the better good. You can even see the knife marks since I sliced into them after they were cold from the fridge.

Let’s trim them ALL and stuff our face with the scraps!!

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These brownies: lord. After making this bomb Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake for #SundaySupper a few weeks ago, I knew I had to use up that scrumptious frosting on something else, and thus these big bad brownies were born. With an incredibly fudgy base using one of my favorite brownie recipes, topped with a creamy not-too-sweet chocolate frosting, and topped with toasted coconut, nuts, and some of that chantilly frosting…

It’s a damn good thing I’m running 13.1 miles tomorrow morning. In 4 hours, to be precise (yes, the thing starts at 5:30. #wtfIknow)

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And so the brownie wars wage on.

And you bet your pretty 60′s sparkle bellbottoms that these brownies are going to be the star of your Tantalizing Dessert Tray show, so arm yourself with a pan and bring on the chocolate.

Don’t forget to check out what all my fantastic #SS crew is bringing today below!


German Chocolate Brownies

After trying German chocolate cake for the first time two months ago, I just knew I had to recreate them--but on an on-the-go scale! These fudgy, creamy, perfectly balanced brownies were the solution: and even better than the original, if I say so myself. The perfect potluck pleaser! You can also adjust the frosting ratio as desired by frosting the brownies completely or using half the frosting and drizzling it on top of the brownies. (Brownie recipes adapted from Whatever Floats Your Boat Brownies Recipe


    For the brownie:
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee grounds
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kahlua
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • For the chocolate frosting:
  • 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • For the German chocolate brownie topping (from my Hawaiian Chantilly Cheesecake Cake):
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 cup almonds, chopped


    For the brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9x9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine melted butter with sugar.
  3. Stir in eggs and vanilla extract.
  4. Dissolve coffee grounds into Kahlua completely. Add to wet mixture.
  5. Mix in cocoa powder, flour, and salt until just combined into wet ingredients.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Pour batter evenly into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until just set but still fudgy. Cool completely on stovetop before topping with frosting, then drizzle with German chocolate topping.
  8. For the chocolate frosting:
  9. Place chocolate chips and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until chocolate chips are completely melted. Pour over prepared brownies.
  10. For the frosting:
  11. Combine all ingredients except cornstarch, coconut flakes, and almonds in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  12. Allow mixture to come to come to a slow boil, then continue stirring occasionally and boil mixture for 2 minutes before removing from heat.
  13. Quickly whisk in cornstarch, taking care to continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. If lumps appear, strain your mixture through a sieve.
  14. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
  15. Note: if you prefer more brownie and less frosting, simply use about 1/4 of the frosting and drizzle it on top of the brownies.
  16. For assembly:
  17. Spread frosting over cooled cake (or reserve half of the frosting for drizzling on top). Top with sweetened coconut flakes and chopped almonds--you can toast them on a baking sheet for 10 minutes prior to topping if desired.

Savory Bites:

Sweet Treats:

Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. Check out our#SundaySupper Pinterest board for more fabulous recipes and food photos.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here—>Sunday Supper Movement.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Brownies & Chocolates

Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake for #cheesecakeday

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July 30th: Cheesecake Day.

Otherwise known as the day on which my daily obsession becomes a justified necessity. Oh cheesecake, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

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If you’ve been following Wallflour Girl for any time, you’ll know that I have been writing and philosophizing and waxing poetic about a bunch of abstract topics lately. So if you’re looking for really elegant expostulations on the state of the human race and our speckle of presence in the wide universe, you’ll want to read those posts I’ve cited.

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There is nothing abstract about this post.

It is 100% pure chocolatey creamy cheesecake frosted tangible goodness, thank you very much.

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When I found out about the #cheesecakeday round-up these wonderful bloggers were doing on Facebook, I was thrilled, hungry, busy–and extremely nervous. It was Thursday, and I had exactly 6 days to develop, make, photograph, edit, and write about the perfect recipe. Six days. What’s a girl to do with six measly cheesecakey days, I ask you?

I hope you realize that question was a rhetorical one.

Make a damn good seven-layer fusion cheesecake…that’s what. This may be my favorite cheesecake, ever. Period.

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This cheesecake was born of an innocuous Friday night conversation over two plates of free Jewish diner cake. My friend and I had just watched Boyhood in theaters, so by the time we sat through 180 minutes of angst-laden adolescent and walked out at 10:30 PM, of course we had a big bad case of the HANGRAYS.

Luckily, our movie tickets got us free dessert with the purchase of a meal, so we ordered up a storm from the menu and promptly terrorized the bakery manager by raiding the huge desserts display outside the restaurant. This place has everything–red velvet cake, blackout cake, decker cake–but most of all, it had German chocolate cake, at which point I was all like “OH YEAH I LOVE THAT STUFF IT’S TOTALLY MY JAM Y’KNOW.”

Okay, so I had never tried German chocolate cake in my life. But it’s just one of those things you can’t imagine hating, ever, even if it kidnapped your pet turtle and gave you a massive wedgie. German chocolate cake is like a baby panda.

You don’t hate on something as epic and universally acclaimed as cake and baby pandas. You just don’t.

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As we chatted, my friend asked me if I had ever heard of a chantilly cake: he described it as a classic Hawaiian dessert that resembled German chocolate cake, with a custardy frosting and fluffy chocolate base but without the coconut. And of course, this sweet conversation got us talking about what I was planning to make for Cheesecake Day, which is how this epic layer cheesecake cake was born.

This is a creamy seven-layer cake with

four layers of insanely fluffy moist chocolate chiffon cake,

three layers of perfectly creamy, smooth New York style cheesecake,

a generous coating of cool, not-too-sweet chocolate whipped cream frosting,

a custardy smooth chantilly frosting, and

nicely toasted crunchy sweet coconut.


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This is, hands down, the best cheesecake layer cake I have ever made, and possibly in my top 5 desserts ever!

Sink your fork into absolute cheesecake indulgence today–or tomorrow, or the day after, or for all time eternal–and find out why we’re all SO excited to be celebrating Cheesecake Day over here today. Trust me, you NEED this recipe in your book!

Hawaiian Chantilly Layer Cheesecake Cake for #cheesecakeday

8-inch springform pan; 7-layer cake

This creamy twist on a Hawaiian classic cake beats out any cheesecake I've ever tried! With a perfectly textured cheesecake sandwiched between layers of fluffy rich chocolate cake, tempered by a cool whipped chocolate cream & chantilly frosting, this cake only gets moister with time. Don't be daunted by the multiple steps--it only took me 4 hours from start to finish. An instant Wallflour Favorite!


    New York Style Cheesecake Layer
  • Adapted from Allrecipes
  • 3 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 cup + tablespoon milk or soy milk
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup 0% Greek yogurt (or low/full-fat; may also sub sour cream)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Chocolate Chiffon Cake
  • Adapted from Taste of Home
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons instant coffee granules (optional)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup + 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 7 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanhilla extract
  • Chantilly Frosting
  • Original recipe from Guava Rose
  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • Whipped Chocolate Frosting:
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes


    For the cheesecake:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together cream cheese and sugar until very light and fluffy, with no lumps remaining.
  3. Stir in milk.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, stirring in until just incorporated. DO NOT OVERBEAT.
  5. Stir in yogurt, vanilla, and flour until mixture is just combined and smooth.
  6. Pour batter into prepared pan and place the pan inside a larger one (to catch leaks). Bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes, then turn off oven and DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR. Allow cheesecake to sit inside oven for another hour before removing and placing in refrigerator; the gradual cooling will prevent your cheesecake from cracking. (If your cheesecake does crack, though, there's nothing to worry about: it'll be stuffed inside scrumptious layers anyway!)
  7. Allow to chill completely (at least 3 hours) before assembling cake.
  8. For the chocolate cake:
  9. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly grease an 8-inch springform pan and set aside.
  10. In a medium bowl, stir cocoa powder and coffee granules into hot water until dissolved. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
  11. Using a colander, sift flour and cornstarch together into a large bowl. Mix in sugar, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  12. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, oil, and vanilla. Gently fold this mixture, along with the cooled cocoa mixture, into the dry ingredients until smooth.
  13. In another grease-free bowl, beat egg whites with a hand mixer until they form stiff peaks, about 3-4 minutes. Fold egg whites into batter.
  14. Pour 1/4 cake batter into prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Allow cake to cool before removing to a cooling rack, then refill with another 1/4 batter and repeat until you have four prepared cake layers. (Alternatively, you may bake all your batter at once, but make sure you adjust baking time accordingly!)
  15. Wrap cooled cakes in cling wrap and place in freezer until ready to use.
  16. For chantilly frosting:
  17. Combine all ingredients except cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
  18. Allow mixture to come to come to a slow boil, then continue stirring occasionally and boil mixture for 2 minutes before removing from heat.
  19. Quickly whisk in cornstarch, taking care to continue whisking until mixture is completely smooth. If lumps appear, strain your mixture through a sieve.
  20. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
  21. For whipped chocolate frosting:
  22. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend for about 15 seconds, until frosting stiffens and becomes just spreadable.
  23. For assembly:
  24. Spread coconut flakes on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven (at 250 degrees) for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until flakes become golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool as you assemble your cake.
  25. Remove all cake and cheesecake layers from refrigerator/freezer. You should have 4 chocolate cake layers and 3 cheesecake layers. (If you do not, use a serrated knife at this time to slice your cakes into the appropriate number of layers.)
  26. Place one chocolate cake layer onto a large serving plate. Carefully top with a cheesecake layer, then continue layering until you have seven alternating layers.
  27. Frost entire cake with whipped chocolate frosting using an offset spatula. If desired, frost a circle around the top of the cake to hold in the chantilly frosting, which may leak slightly.
  28. Gently spread chantilly frosting on top of frosted cake.
  29. Top with toasted coconut flakes.
  30. Store cake in fridge or slice immediately for instant creamy gratification! Happy cheesecake day!

Need your cheesecake kick on Cheesecake Day? Check out these awesome features from other #cheesecakeday bloggers!

Baked Cheesecakes:


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes, Cheesecakes

Mom’s Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie

Do yourself a favor and send your mom this video–I guarantee she’ll love it. I know mine did.

My mom is a saint for many, many reasons.

The biggest reason is the sheer fact that she’s put up with me for over two decades, which is a pretty amazing feat in itself.

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You might recognize this recipe because I’ve posted something very similar here before, but there’s a story behind this necessary redundancy on Mother’s Day!

My mom is very particular about her cookies; you might call her a bit of a CCC connoisseur.  She is the best mom imaginable and unimaginable, but she doesn’t sugarcoat anything, not my life performance and certainly not my baking. Growing up, there was none of that “Oh good job, honey, you did a great job!” some kids heard after their soccer game. No, it was always, “What happened to the last points you missed?” or, to other parents, “I wish my daughter could be more like your daughter–so smart, so responsible!”

My old college roommate was absolutely shocked the first time she heard about this. “What do you mean, your parents don’t praise you for the work you do?” she asked me when I told her, unfazed and laughing, that my dad had just called and said that English majors really are bleak creatures with downright morbid economic futures.

To be fair, I totally agree with him. Us academics are part of a sort of masochistic trade.

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Most recently, the part of my achieving life in which my mom has become most involved has been (unsurprisingly) my baking. Continue reading


Filed under Cookies

Biscoff Oatmeal Cookie Pies with Whipped Coconut Filling

Some days I feel like I’m photographing a food porn commercial. Like, there is SERIOUSLY SOMETHING ILLICIT ABOUT WHAT I’M DOING AND I CAN’T FIGURE OUT WHAT IT IS.

Does anybody else ever feel this way?

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I am pretty sure my neighbors feel this way about what I do all the time. Continue reading


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cookies, Uncategorized

Edible Books Festival 2014 (Part II)–Two Award-Winning Recipes

Last week I shared with you the enormously successful Edible Books Festival that our library hosts every year around the beginning of April.

Well, today I’m sharing two award-winning recipes: Soaked coconut poke cake, and Kahlua rum cake!

(Don’t forget: WG’s personalized care package giveaway ends tomorrow, 4/22–hurry and enter!)

Edible Book Festival 7

(Photograph: Shaking hands with Jonathan Gold, the LA Times restaurant critic, acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winner in criticism, and source of smart writing/eating-as-a-career validation to boot.)

Edible Book Festival 2014 Melting Snowmen Sculptures Coconut Poke Cake 13--041114 I am unapolegetically posting these photos of my Calvin & Hobbes-inspired entries–after spending basically 50 hours planning & executing my interactive cakes/cookies/displays, my hands were so unsteady that I could barely hold my DSLR straight!

Anyway, these four entries–my Doomed Snowman coconut poke cake, 2 sugar cookie jigsaw puzzles featuring Calvin & Hobbes, a large Kahlua rum bundt cake that could be spun on a cake turntable, and a tray of chocolate ‘dirt’ for finding treasure–ended up taking home the cake (hah!) with two awards: Best Tasting and Best Student Entry. Today I’m posting the two recipes that I think were most impressive in the taste category… Continue reading


Filed under Cakes & Cupcakes, Uncategorized

Scrumdiddlyumptious (Caramelized Banana & Toasted Coconut) Banana Bread

This recipe is brought to you by INSOMNIAbecause when you’re single and have the biggest exam of your life scheduled for Valentine’s Day 2014, this is as wild as the nights around here are gonna get.

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Thank goodness I stumbled across a simply scrumdiddlyumptious banana bread recipe that can make even 4 AM sleeplessness taste amazing. More about this bread in a second. (FUN FACT: The appellation ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’ was inspired by a friend who tasted some of this insanely moist and flavor-packed banana bread, but it’s also a nod to my first attempt to join the blogging world three years ago <–check it out if you’re interested…It’s almost crazy to think how far this blog has come since those days of phone food photos!)

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With my brain constantly kicked into over-over-overdrive these days (like, headache-and-insomnia-inducing overdrive!), it’s almost ridiculously comforting to do something that requires zero thinking. Just me, the Frozen soundtrack drifting in the background, and the therapeutic rhythm of your hand as it slowly swirls fragrant coconut and chocolate chips into a bowl of thick, creamy, chunky banana bread batter.

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Since I moved back and the time crunch has gotten crunchier than a jar of chunky peanut butter, life around here has been one huge mind-brain  (wow, I can’t believe I just typed that) mind-body disconnection. For example, as I was taking a post-dinner break and writing this blog post, I was simultaneously trying to spread peanut butter on a baby carrot. No biggie, right? I had just managed to get a sizable chunk of peanut butter out of the jar (think golf-ball-size per baby carrot–hey, these are stressful times! And stressful times = more peanut butter) when, by some trick of I-know-not-how, my spoon pressed down on the carrot and it shot out of my hand into the air. Before I knew what was happening, my hand flew at it with all the lightning speed of, well, lightning and stuff, snatched it out of the air like Peter Parker in this scene, and  all the while my other hand just went on spreading peanut butter on that damned carrot like nothing ever happened. And I just stood there for a full two minutes staring at my hands without processing what had just happened, while the little mound of peanut butter on my teeny carrot steadily expanded into the size of a tennis ball. And then at 2 minutes and 1 second, it suddenly hit me and I was all like, “Oh! That was REALLY COOL. Did anybody see that?!

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Why am I telling you all this? Beats me. I don’t even know if any of what I just typed  up there warrants comment. I just thought I’d share. Kinda like FYI in case you haven’t noticed, my brain is really scrambled up right now, guys. Your morning plate of eggs have got nothing on my brain–word.

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I suspect my scatterbrained-ness is partly because I took my first mock exam last week and my second one this morning, and I am absolutely pooped. Like, pretty happy to be done with that, especially since it went better than expected, and de-stressed enough to finally write another entry, but still so pooped. Pooped-er than dog doo-doo on your front lawn. Sorry.

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That leaves me with the one (hopefully) coherent point of this post: this scrumdiddlyumptious, unlike-anything banana bread. Because let’s be honest: there’s banana bread, and then there’s…sort of cannibalizing banana bread by caramelizing the bananas first, toasting coconut, throwing in a handful of dark chocolate chunks, and then smothering the top in a generous oat and brown sugar streusel. It may well be one of the BEST BANANA BREAD recipes/variations I have ever tried, period, and the Greek yogurt and oil combo keeps it incredibly moist. This bread is the one thing that has made any number of sleepless nights worth it, and I hope it’ll find its really special way into your life soon, too!

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^ If I could actually manage to fall asleep once in a while, I’m pretty sure that’s what would be happening. #truth


Scrumdiddlyumptious Caramelized Banana & Toasted Coconut & Dark Chocolate Banana Bread

(Adapted from Half-Baked Harvest)

For the caramelized bananas:

  • 4 medium bananas, the riper the better
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. On a foil-lined cookie sheet, lay out your peeled bananas and drizzle them with honey, cinnamon, and brown sugar.
  3. Roast bananas in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until they begin to caramelize and turn a deep golden brown. They should be very soft and easy to mush.
  4. Remove bananas from oven and mash them. Set aside to include in banana bread recipe, Step 4.

For the banana bread:

  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (I used 0%–you may use any type of Greek yogurt OR canned coconut milk)
  • 1/2 cup canola oil (you may use melted coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate chips (you may sub any type of chips you have on hand)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted


  1. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×5-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs and brown sugar.
  3. Mix in Greek yogurt and oil.
  4. Stir in mashed bananas (see Caramelized Bananas recipe, above) and vanilla.
  5. Add flour, baking soda, and salt. Mix in until just incorporated.
  6. Gently fold in chocolate chips and coconut flakes.
  7. Top with oat streusel (recipe below).
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 50-60 minutes. Check your banana bread for doneness with a long toothpick that will reach all the way to the bottom of your loaf pan–it should come out with moist crumbs attached, at which point your bread will be ready to come out of the oven! (Note: be sure to double-check if your toothpick encounters chocolate–the chocolate will be melty, but your batter may already be cooked through.) Allow to cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Scrumdiddly-slice and serve it up!

To make oat streusel: 

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cold butter or margarine
  1. In a medium bowl, mix together all ingredients except butter.
  2. Cut in cold butter with a fork, until your streusel consists of many pea-sized lumps of sugary-floury-buttery goodness. Use to top banana bread batter in banana bread recipe (Step 7).

Will Cook For SmilesTuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bread

Italian Cream Layer Cake {and some THOUGHTS)

There are several reasons for the delay in this post–and I promise, I have been dying to share some of my latest recipe creations with you folks, because they are A+ crowd-approved. But this is going to be a fairly serious post. If you want to skip straight to the photos and recipe at the end because you’re not prepared for a Debbie Downer kind of post, I won’t be offended. Promise. (Plus, I have no way of actually knowing, so take your virtual anonymity and run with it.) And despite the lack of attention it’s going to get here, this Italian Creme cake is actually really, really amazing. Again, more about it in the recipe box below.
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We had two major losses in our lives last week–one member of our family, and one dear, dear friend passed away. So we have been understandably busy attending the memorials and services, not to mention grieving. They will be missed dearly.
As with any major loss–especially a first loss–I have spent a considerable amount of time thinking. About life, but also about a lot of things you wouldn’t think you’d think about when everything’s so crazy you just don’t have time to stop and…think.
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When I started this blog one year ago, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to accomplish. To a certain extent, this is still a question that hangs over my head every once in a while. I love creating great content, I love writing, I love making and sharing my food adventures, and I sure as heck love every single ounce of support I get from all of my friends, family, and–of course–you, readers. But this is also in many ways a self–and therefore selfish–blog, and it offers an outlet for my thoughts in a way that I don’t always get in the “real world,” talking to “real people” for whom I feel held accountable to explain myself. So with that rambling premise, I proceed on my (even more rambling) ramble. About thinking, mostly.
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This has been a very crazy year: I have been through so many changes in my personal life, my living situation, my relationships with others, and my priorities. Most recently, I have been studying for a crazy exam that I have thankfully pushed back to January (hopefully) and that I am still feeling guilty about not studying for at this very moment. I can’t tell you how INSANE it feels when every little moment of your life is filled with this constant, insatiable guilt about not working harder than you already are. Even if you are already doing the inhuman and trying to finish a bajillion and one books and remember them all and you are CONVINCED you are the ONE legitimate person in your program who suffers from Imposter Syndrome. Because there is no way anybody could be less prepared than I am to pass this test. And despite the super supportive “You’ll do great!”‘s and “Dude, you’re going to blow this exam out of the water”‘s (all of which I appreciate, don’t get me wrong), I still don’t believe it. I’m not even trying to be cautiously optimistic. I just can’t believe it at this point. This is my current thought process about my qualifying exams, in a nutshell. And I’m okay with that…sort of.
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So this brings me to thinking. Or not thinking. With the whirlwind that has taken my life by storm recently, I have left zero time to think. Not even close to zero. I mean, zero. This blog post might be the first time I’ve actually stopped to think about anything that has happened since last school year, and every damn time I try to stop and think, I feel as guilty as John Wilkes Booth. I don’t think it’s apathy. I think it’s numbness. Self-willed numbness. When I received news of both passings, I was shocked. I felt floored. Then I wondered whether I would be able to meet my self-imposed deadlines for reading that night, or whether I would be too busy being “distracted” with thinking to get anything done like a real non-failure would do. No, I didn’t think–nor do I currently think–this is reasonable. But it’s just how I feel. And believe it or not, I was able to pick up my book. Sure, I cried. I broke down and cried quite a bit, actually. But I read. And I still find myself counting down those days to the next deadline with a dread and anxiety that feels more real than the grief, which feels almost…unreal. Disembodied. Like somebody else is really feeling those emotions, but that it’s not going to hit me until all of this is over and done with. As I said, there has been no time for thinking, before right now. And there probably will not be much thinking after right now, because I can already feel the end of the night creeping in with pages still unread, knowledge still “unlearned.”
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To my awesome, amazing, dedicated friends who tell me to “take it easy” or “give yourself some you time”: I totally and completely appreciate this. I would not be still relatively sane without all of your support. But I think I’ve gotten to the point where what I really need is just this: “Yes, you’re in a study strait. We know you realize that this isn’t everything, and we know that you realize this will pass and come what may. But you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. So go do it. We’re behind you.” I keep trying to tell myself that every single day, and every single day I come away a little less whole, a little less sure of myself, and a little more scared.
Still, I do make time, and I’m trying my darndest to take it in stride as I work my way through what seems to be superhuman swaths of work. It may seem self-punishing and it may seem unreasonable, but I don’t need to know that it will be OK–I just need now to happen, and I need to know that I have done it with all my heart. I will probably walk away from this post feeling like I just took away half an hour of valuable reading time, and that’s just a fact of things right now. It’s just something I need the people around me to know.
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My on consolation is that I can say the next statement sincerely: My most heartfelt love to the two amazing people in my life who are not lost, but simply a better part of everyone whom their lives touched. My deepest sympathies to the rest of their family and friends who, like us, are grieving. No matter what I am going through right now, and no matter what I say about not having time to stop and think–know that you are always, always in my thoughts. (Thanks for reading.)


Tuesday Talent Show Link Party at Chef in Training! It is held weekly and has some amazing link ups!

The Weekend re-Treat #38 FEATURES

Italian Cream Layer Cake
I haven’t gotten a chance to properly vouch for this cake in my post. MAKE. THIS. I am decidedly NOT a cake person–and neither are many of my friends, but I made this for a friend’s dinner and the family went over the moon about it. I left the other half of the cake at home–and it was gone before I knew it! A wonderfully nutty taste of coconut and almonds thrown into one of the richest, most indulgent cakes that you have never tried. Try this to wow your next dinner party guests!
Yield: 1 3-layer 9-inch cake
Slightly adapted from Bake at 350 
For the cake:
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 5 eggs, separated, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature (you can make your own using 1 cup minus 1 tbsp of milk, and then adding 1 tbsp vinegar and letting it sit for 5 minutes. Voila–instant buttermilk!)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease three 9-inch springform baking pans if you have them. (I had only ONE springform pan and this worked out just fine–you will simply need to bake and cool in 3 different batches. If you do not have a springform pan, you may also use a regular 9-inch round baking pan, line it with parchment paper, and lightly grease the paper for easy removal of layers.)
  2. Cream together sugar, butter, and oil until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add in egg YOLKS one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  3. Dissolve baking soda in buttermilk. Stir salt into 2 cups of flour.
  4. In three separate additions, alternate adding flour and buttermilk mixture to batter (make sure to begin and end with the flour).
  5. Fold in coconut flakes and vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, beat egg WHITES until they form stiff peaks. Note: The best way to beat egg whites is to use a completely dry copper or steel bowl; start your hand mixer on a low speed. After a minute or two, once your whites begin to foam, increase mixer speed to “beat” setting and continue beating until your whites pass the droopy peaks phase (the 2nd stage) and start to hold their shape in stiff peaks (the 3rd stage). Depending on the power of your mixer, this process can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes–be patient, and be sure to KEEP GOING so you can get those voluminous peaks!
  7. In three additions, fold egg whites gently into cake batter.
  8. Pour 1/3 of cake batter into each of the three prepared pans.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes (or until lightly golden) in preheated oven. Allow to cool in pan for at least 15 minutes before attempting to remove. Allow to cool completely before assembling.

For the cream cheese almond frosting:

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped almonds (you may also use pecans for a more traditional feel)
  • 1 (8 oz.) tub marscapone cheese (you may substitute cream cheese for a sweeter frosting), room temperature
  • 1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine, room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes.


  1. Place almonds or pecans in a thin layer on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stirring at the 5-minute mark to prevent burnt nuts. Remove from oven and set aside when nuts are nicely toasted.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together marscapone, cream cheese, and butter until smooth. Beat in 4 cups powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla; it will be easiest to add these ingredients one cup at a time.

To assemble cake:

  1. Place a cooled layer of cake on a round cake base. Spread approximately 1/3 cup of frosting on top; sprinkle with about 1/2 cup toasted almonds; then add another 1/3 cup of frosting on top of almonds. You may need more or less frosting, depending on how thinly you spread it.
  2. Top with second cooled cake layer. Repeat frosting from Step 1. Top with third cooled cake layer.
  3. Use remaining frosting to completely cover sides and top of cake. I reserved about 1/2 cup frosting to decorate the top of the cake by piping a shell border pattern around the edges, and a shell pattern and heart in the middle of the cake.
  4. Sprinkle remaining chopped nuts and coconut flakes around edges and top of cake.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Cakes & Cupcakes

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars

It’s spring! You know what that means…

lovin’ the sunshine

lovin’ the flirty sundresses

lovin’ the beaches

lovin’ life

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loving the gifs!

How could you NOT love that creamy, squishy sweet pumpkin magic bar layer there?

Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars gif

Yes, I’m sure all of you who have seen my latest batch of posts know that I have recently become obsessed with gifsWhether or not this will turn out to be an occupational hazard to my health remains to be seen.

Are they all lovely gifs? Certainly not. I’m a gif-fing amateur (is giffing a word? What good is being in an English doctoral program if you can’t make up your own words? Giffing is a word)–I use *cringe* online software because for some reason or other Windows Movie Maker does not work on my computer. I cannot figure out for the holy life of me why. (Any ideas, techie folks!)

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So back to my point–these gifs are not Da Vincis. In artistic merit, they’re not Picassos or Monets or even Stephanie Meyers–nope, they’re definitely better than that.  Sorry, Team Mayers folks. It must be said.

As my dearest friend Clark Gable says about this very subject (or maybe it was a different one–I get mixed up when it’s this time of the school year), “Frankly m’dear–I don’t give a damn.

Because I drool over them anyway. This may or may not have physically happened to me in the middle of, erm, lecture last week when I was staring at them. It’s okay, nobody noticed.

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There were many reasons for my choosing to go total gif-scapade (invented word number two–I’m on a roll! er, a stale one), but the biggest one was when I made the world’s fudgiest brownies and wondered how in holy heck I could convince you all of it. Pictures didn’t seem like enough. (As the Genie says: “Not enough…”)

Movement? Yes.

Showing the fudginess? Yes.

Gif? Yes, yes, YES.

Also, if you haven’t already seen the gif-spirational sensation Izy over at Top with Cinnamon, you probably want to pop on over there. Give credit where credit’s due, I always say! She’s a gif-nius.

So. To wrap it up, since I’m out of writing space (and frankly, I have a pile of papers waiting here to be graded).

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Students asked me for this recipe.

Fellow TA’s asked me for this recipe.

You’ll want this recipe.

Kind of like you’ll probably want to eat these gifs and photos off the screen right now. Don’t. It’ll ruin your screen. I’d advise running to your oven RIGHT NOW instead.

Because they’re scrumdiddlyfantawesomelectabletasticumptious.

(PhD…here I come.)


Frosty Pumpkin Streusel Magic Bars
Adapted from Bakers Royale
Yield: 9×9-inch baking pan
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 heaping cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 large apple or 1.5 medium apples, peeled and chopped (I used Fuji)
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 recipe streusel topping (below)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9×9-inch baking pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, white sugar, and 1.5 teaspoons cinnamon until mixture is completely moistened. Press lightly but evenly into bottom of prepared pan.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sweetened condensed milk, pumpkin, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Pour evenly over the graham cracker crust. Sprinkle apples, coconut, white chocolate chips, and streusel over the top of the mixture; press ingredients lightly into the top so that they stick.
  4. Bake in preheated oven 32-37 minutes, until center is mostly but not completely set. (If it’s still gooey, that’s perfectly fine–it will firm up a bit in the freezer).
  5. Allow to cool slightly at room temperature, then pop the batch into the freezer for 30 minutes for easier cutting. Cut into bars; store leftovers in freezer.
  6. NOTE: Alternatively, you can bake these bars 3-5 minutes longer than the listed baking time. This will result in bars that can be stored and served at room temperature.

Streusel topping:


  • 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped


  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cut in butter and rub through with your fingers until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Use as streusel topping for pumpkin magic bars, muffins, breads, or anything you’d like!


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts

Hawaiian Banana Coconut Streusel Muffins

One of dearest professor’s spouses passed away last night.

I think all of us had a hard time staying focused after hearing the news. I know my mind was full of a whirlwind of thoughts.

What happens when it’s somebody who’s really close to you?

I can’t even begin to imagine. I thank my lucky stars that I can’t, but I can’t. I can’t. Period.

Sometimes those moments creep up on me and everything suddenly stops. Maybe I’m in the middle of scanning Beowulf. Maybe I’m standing in the kitchen half-listening as my mom chatters away at me while she’s making ma po tofu. Maybe I’m just sitting there thinking about something completely unrelated, like how I really want to make marshmallow Tigger Tails for Halloween.

The spoon stops stirring. The scanning is suspended. Whatever I’m doing, stops.

My parents aren’t going to be around for the rest of my life. Neither are my grandparents, or brother, or friends or mentors or cousins or aunts or uncles or all the people I know and love so dearly.

Wallflour Power: “Courage is not the lack of fear. It is acting in spite of it.” –Mark Twain

I have a really, really hard time wrapping my mind around that. I always thought I could handle the thought of it when the time came, in theory, but now I’ve been thrown off by something so removed from myself that I just. Can’t. Imagine.

And here I am, uploading photos and writing and trying to sort it all out.

It’s always a sign of how much somebody is respected when everyone around him or her feels the blow almost as keenly as if it had happened to them.

Another incredibly difficult thing I never had to think about was how you say you’re sorry when somebody has just lost their life partner, their significant other, their soulmate.

What do I say to that?

What does anyone say when this happens?

We’re sending her a card–I sent her a short email expressing my deepest sympathy and letting her know she’s in my thoughts. There is no template for somebody else’s sorrow.

Thoughts. I’m thinking aloud here. This isn’t a melancholy post, but I can’t help it being a very reflective one, so I’ll leave you all for now with a final photo and maybe, hopefully, more than just one morsel of food for thought to carry with you through the day.

Any thoughts you might have would be deeply appreciated–just as I appreciate all of you and wish you the best in appreciating all those around you.

Hawaiian Banana Coconut Streusel Muffins
Yield: 1 dozen muffins
Adapted from Allrecipes
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional)
  • For Glaze-like streusel (optional): 1/4 cup honey mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon + 1/4 cup brown sugar + 2 tablespoons flour
  • For streusel topping:
  •  1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chopped nuts (optional)

Directions for muffins:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine mashed bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in coconut and nuts. Fill lined muffin tins 3/4 way each with batter.
  2. At this point, if you’d like to make the glaze-streusel layer, combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Spread lightly on top of each batter-filled liner. (Note: the glaze adds an amazing dimension of crunch and sweetness, but it will also darken your muffins slightly. If you’re worried about appearance, skip this step and only do the post-baking oat streusel.) Bake muffins in oven for 17-19 minutes (making sure to top with streusel with 5 minutes left of baking), until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  3. To make streusel: While your muffins are baking, combine streusel topping ingredients in a small bowl. Press gently on top of each muffin five minutes before your muffins are done baking. This will prevent the streusel from melting or oozing off.


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Muffins

Magic Cookie Butter Bars

When’s the last time you felt so happy or inspired by something that you squealed, or wanted to really, really badly?

This week has been full of those moments. This week has also been a total vortex of busybody heckishness, resulting in a sleep-deprived mental state and horribly dry left eye. It’s funny how often these two go hand in hand, isn’t it? Emotional schizophrenia can be so tiring! I’d really rather just wrestle a grizzly bear or something.

I’m sure that would be much easier than grading a bunch of papers on Call of the Wild or Winnie-the-Pooh.

 Fortunately, right when I reach the point where I’m ready to throw in the towel and stalk the forests in order to satisfy my primordial instincts of bloodlust, something good usually happens.

To give you an example: early this morning I arrived at the office to find one of the other TA’s looking completely faint. Her first ever guest lecture was in a half hour’s time, and she had spent weeks exhausting herself over preparing for it. We talked about it and agreed that it was just a matter of getting it over with, and that she’d do just fine.

She even told me how she’d been thinking about how I lead discussions, and don’t get overly worked up over whether I know every little bit of info ever written about Lewis Carroll, because I love turning those gaps into a dialogue between my students and myself.

Flour Power: “When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?””I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.” –Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

That was squeal potential moment #1. Bear hugs superseded any residual thoughts of bear wrestling that might’ve been running through my mind a moment before.

Well, kindness begets kindness. An hour later, she came back into the office with a huge grin and plenty of compliments under her belt about how well she had done.

That was squeal moment #2. Don’t you love it when you can squeal for somebody else’s happiness, despite the spiraling hole of despair underneath your own feet?

I just had squeal moment #3 as I was typing just now–my adviser told the class that he’s bringing an original replica of the teddy bears on which Winnie-the-Pooh, i.e. Edward Bear was based to class on Thursday.

If you see a tiny girl heading for the hills with a giant stuffed bear in her arms, you’ll know what happened. The 100 Acre Woods is kind of like the Hogwarts I never got into. I’m still waiting for my owl post, by the way.

Absolute magic.

Funflour Fact #8: Did you know that Winnie-the-Pooh wasn’t always the red-shirted tubby bear the world knows and loves? His original name was Edward Bear, and he made his first appearance in 1922 in a popular satirical periodical called Punch Magazine! It wasn’t until 1924 that he was officially dubbed Winnie-the-Pooh in his self-titled book by A.A. Milne.  

Kind of like these magic cookie bars.

Try these!

Magic Cookie Butter Bars
Yield: 1 9×13-inch baking pan
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (or any other kind)
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (any variety)
  • 3/4 cup cookie butter (store-bought or homemade)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine melted butter or margarine, graham cracker crumbs, ground cinnamon, and white sugar. Press evenly into a well-greased 9×13-inch baking pan.
  2. Pour half a can of sweetened condensed milk over crust. Sprinkle with both types of chocolate chips, as well as half of the coconut flakes and nuts. Pour remaining half of sweetened condensed milk evenly over the other toppings, then top with remaining coconut flakes and nuts.
  3. Drop cookie butter in small dollops over other ingredients. 
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 22-25 minutes, until top is golden brown. Allow to cool before cutting into squares. 


Filed under Baked Goods and Desserts, Bars