Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Second #C2CCS

Hi friends! I’ve been on the DL the past few weeks.  I’m in a sort of blogging/life rut, so I had been taking a bit of a break.  Luckily, I have some blogger friends to help get me out of the rut.

One of my favorite parts of blogging is getting to know people.  I know it sounds silly and cliche, but I’ve made a few real life friends as a result of blogging.  Real life friends are amazing (looking at you Allison and Samantha), but it’s also great to make friends online, especially when they motivate you to bake treats and send you some.

You might remember last year, I made some Molasses Ginger Apricot Cookies?  Then I sent those cookies to some ladies and they sent me some cookies back and we called it the Coast to Coast Cookie Swap.  Well here is the second installment of that! Because isn’t sending your friends cookies a good idea?  It is!

Planning what kinds of cookies to send to other foodie/cookie lovers is hard.  I brainstormed for a while and these cookies turned up by mistake.  I wanted to make some cookies for a coworker who was doing an awesome job.  I liked them so much I decided they needed to happen again.  I’ve actually made these cookies three times in the past two weeks.

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Trust me.  They’re worth it.

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In exchange for these cookies, I received a few goodies in the mail:

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White Chip Cranberry Cookies from Natalie

Delicious Spiced Cookies from Coco

Take 5 Cookies from Jazzy

Additionally, Allison made some Grain Free Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies that I wish I got to try!

Let’s be honest, exchanging cookies (or all baked goods in general) is an amazing idea.  You should try it.  Start by making these and sharing them with your friends.

Almond Joy Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 stick of butter
1 cup + 2 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/4-1/2 cup roasted coconut chips
1/4-1/2 cup honey roasted sliced almonds

Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.  Add 1 egg, then vanilla and continue to be beat for about a minute.  Add in flour mixture.  Mix until almost combined. Fold in chocolate chips, coconut and almonds until dough is just combined.  Be careful not to overmix the dough, if not you’ll get flat cookies!

Place dough in the freezer while oven preheats to 350F.

Once oven has pre-heated, form dough into walnut sized balls.  Place on parchment paper-lined pan and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until golden around the edges.

After a few minutes, transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely then share with a friend and enjoy!

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What’s your favorite cookie to share with a friend?

 

P.S. Sharing cookies is awesome, but baking with a friend is even more fun!  Check out these Salted Caramel Eclairs I made with Sam at the Little Ferraro Kitchen!

Coconut Mint Cooler

I signed up for a half marathon.  Somehow I thought it was a good idea to run 13 miles.  So here it goes.  It’s not til November, but training has commenced (luckily, I run with Allison from Sweet Potato Bites and she keeps me going).

This morning I ran 8.  I’ve noticed I’ve been having some issues with hydration after these longer runs, especially since we’ve been having ridiculous humidity in southern California and I sweat like a whore in church.

I know coconut water is great for hydration, but sometimes, just plain coconut water is boring.  Sometimes you need to get a little bit fancy.  If you’re feeling fancy and dehydrated, I have the perfect drink for you.

Coconut Mint Cooler

Coconut Mint Cooler

4 cups coconut water
Juice of 2-3 limes
12-15 mint leaves

Blend together all ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to use.  Serve over ice (or with a dash of rum).

Coconut Mint Cooler

I’m pretty pretty much convinced that this would also make a great mixer.  I think it’d go great with rum… like a coocnut mojito! Would you say no to that?

Or if you wanted to keep be alcohol-free, mix with some club soda to give it a little fizz.

Coconut Mint Cooler

Either way, you’ll feel fancy drinking this and knowing you’re on your way to full hydration without any added sugars, chemicals or crazy ingredients.

 

What’s your favorite way to hydrate? 

Fancy Pants Rice Crispy Squares

I got into a Facebook fight today, and I’m only mildly ashamed.

With whom? Another blogger.  She posted something about how the Ban Bossy campaign was ridiculous.

If you haven’t heard of Ban Bossy, it’s a campaign by Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In organization and the Girl Scouts.  The whole idea is to stop using the word ‘Bossy’ to describe an assertive girl.   An assertive little boy is a ‘leader,’ but an assertive little girl is ‘bossy,’ and this affects the way girls develop in leadership roles.  The campaign really aims at developing leadership among girls and young women.

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I don’t think this campaign is ridiculous.  I actually think it’s a great idea.

That said, sure, the choice of marketing for this campaign is a bit silly (I love Beyonce, but she sort of sucks in the video).  The word bossy is just dumb, but I recognize its power.  Because of that, I was bothered by this bloggers comment and the subsequent comments to her post.  Mostly, they were people saying that being called bossy is a good thing, or examples of when their little boys are bossier than their daughters and how the word doesn’t mean anything.  Sure, I get all that.  To an adult, being called bossy is fine, but when you’re little things are different.  By the time we’re grown ass women, we know we’re more awesome than what some jerk says.  But let’s not forget that words have power.

So, Facebook “fight” ensued.  I argued that words are important and empowering girls is essential.  She argued that the campaigns message was clouded by bad marketing.

The feminist in me took over (p.s. I hate that to so many the word feminist is negative).  But then I just let it go, because if there’s one thing I hate more than people putting down people’s efforts to empower women, it’s women hating on other women.  Can we get a little female solidarity?

Overall, I get it.  Criticizing is easier than making a positive change, and as I emphasized  in my comments: everyone is entitled to their own opinion.  If you hate the Ban Bossy campaign, that’s fine.  But can you give me another way that we can start empowering girls to be leaders?

Regardless of how you feel about the Ban Bossy campaign, I genuinely hope we can all agree that empowering girls to be leaders is a cause worth talking about.  If only our Facebook interactions could be dialogues instead of arguments, we’d all be a tiny bit better off.

But in the meantime, before society progresses to that point, when someone tells you what you support is ridiculous, it’s my belief that you should kill them with kindness… the marshmallowy kind.  So ladies keep your bossy pants on and make yourself some fancy pants rice crispy squares.

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Fancy Pants Rice Crispy Squares

1/4 cup butter
4 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups puffed rice cereal
2 cups puffed millet
2 cups puffed quinoa
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1-2 tsp canola oil

Grease a 9×13 baking dish and set aside. In a large pot, met together butter and mini marshmallows.  Stir until well combined.  Add rice cereal, millet, quinoa and coconut.  Stir to combine.  Press mixture into 9×13 dish and allow to cool for an hour or two (you can put it in the fridge to speed up the process).  Once cooled, cut into squares using a large chef knife.

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Place chocolate chips in a bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds.  Stir and microwave another 30 seconds.  Repeat until chocolate is melted.  Stir in 1-2 tsp of oil or enough for the chocolate to be runny.  Drizzle chocolate over squares and allow to harden.  Once chocolate is firm, serve and enjoy!

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Why are they fancy pants?  Millet is fancy.  Quinoa is like the black diamond of grains.  Coconut makes everything a little more exotic.  Also because I said so.

What are your thoughts on #BanBossy?  Feel free to give your actual opinion (even if you disagree with me, that’s cool!).

Salted Almond Joy Bark

With Christmas and the New Year on the horizon, I have two goals for today:

1. Clean out my closet/dresser of unwanted garments

I have too much stuff.  I have clothing I don’t wear and even more that doesn’t fit.  One of the fantastic things about lifting weights is that my body shrank.  It’s great! But it means that I don’t own any pants that fit me.  So I want to clear out the stuff that doesn’t fit me any more, because there’s no room in my shoebox of an apartment for clothing that is too big or old.
2. Bake Christmas Cookies for gifts

I love baking and Christmas is the perfect time to bake treats and give them away.  So today and tomorrow will consist of Christmas baking.  I had my recipes all planned out, but then yesterday when I arrived to Crossfit, Allison told me she had something for me.  She handed me a lovely tin filled with homemade salted chocolate coconut almond bark.

At this point it was nearly 6am and not an appropriate time to eat chocolate.  So I put it in my car, got my butt kicked during the WOD and went to work.  I have this rule during the holidays (since there are so many treats floating around) that I’m allowed to have a sweet treat AFTER lunch.

This means waiting til I have a nutritious (or semi-nutritious because yesterday my boss took us to Umami Burger for lunch and that’s clearly NOT nutritious) before enjoying goodies and also cutting down on how much I eat.  I have a hard time stopping once I start, so I found it’s better for me to just start later.  But anyway…

So I waited until after lunch and had a piece of Allison’s delicious bark.

OMG

OMG

OMG

It was awesome.  Let me just tell you, I gave some to co-workers and to Jesse, but the reality is I ate it mostly myself.  Today, as of 2pm… the bark is gone.  As in, I finished it all after lunch today.

Because this bark was so amazing I wanted to try to make it on my own and give it to my loved ones.  I’ve decided to rename it Salted Almond Joy Bark, because that’s sort of what it reminded me of.

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Salted Almond Joy Bark

from Sweet Potato Bites

10 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips  (or chocolate chunks)
1/2 cup roasted, unsalted almonds
1/2 cup Roasted Coconut Chips*
Coarse Sea Salt

First, prepare your pan by lining a cookie sheet with parchment.  Set aside.

Next, pour chocolate into a microwave safe bowl.

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Microwave 30 seconds then stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds and stir, repeat until chocolate is melted and smooth. You can also do this in a pan or double boiler, but I’ll be honest, the microwave is a million times easier.  It’s also idiot-proof.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had my chocolate seize when using a double boiler, because water in chocolate (steam included!) might cause it to seize.

Because of this, I take the easy route and use the microwave.  Once your chocolate is melted and smooth, pour about 3/4 of the chocolate into the parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  Using a spatula, smooth until it’s a tiny bit thick (if you like your bark thicker, leave it thicker, if you want it thinner, spread it more).  It doesn’t have to be perfect because you’re going to cover it with stuff anyway…

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Sprinkle chocolate with coconut and almonds.  Take the remaining chocolate and drizzle it overs the coconut and almonds.

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Sprinkle with sea salt (be generous! That’s seriously the best part!) and refrigerate or freeze until firm.

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Once the chocolate is completely hardened (it took about an hour for me, if not it’ll start to melt when you touch it), break the bark into pieces.

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Store in an air tight container in a cool spot for up to a week.

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*I used Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips, but if there’s no Trader Joe’s near you, you can just use toasted coconut.

This stuff was seriously amazing.  The salt really takes this from normal tasty chocolate bark to something out of this world.  Everyone that tried it loved it.  I’m really excited to share this with others along with Orange-Pistachio Biscotti, Molasses Cookies, Chocolate Mint Cookies and maybe another cookie or two.  Any suggestions?

Are you giving Christmas Cookies this season?  If so, what are your top cookies or treats to gift?

Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

Brunch is totally mainstream these days, but I don’t think that was always true.  In the past ten years, we’ve become very familiar with brunch, sort of akin to how “googling” something or someone is totally normal.

I love brunch, the wonderful marriage of breakfast and lunch that often involves a tasty libation.  I’m totally on-board.  What I wish would gain great popularity is Brinner.  I have no idea if that’s actually a term, but let’s go with it.

Brinner, the happy marriage of breakfast and dinner.  AKA Breakfast for Dinner.  It should most definitely be a thing.

But you should probably know I have this thing where I think breakfast should be healthy.  It’s the first meal of the day and you should probably start it off on the right foot.  For me, it’s usually a smoothie with banana, mango, spinach, kale and protein powder.  I drink it on my way to work, and it keeps me full for a long time without feeling sluggish.

So if we’re having breakfast for dinner, that doesn’t mean we have to go crazy and eat tons of bacon, pancakes and eggs drenched in maple syrup.  That’s ok sometimes, but for days like today, let’s keep it light and full of protein.

Now, all that aside, what is more beautiful than a stack of pancakes?

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Well… a stack of these pancakes…

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Vanilla Coconut Protein Pancakes

2 tbsp spelt flour
2 tbsp almond meal
3 tbsp protein powder (I used Garden of Life Raw Vanilla Protein)
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp chia seeds
1 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
1 egg
2-4 tbsp almond milk

Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  Then add wet ingredients (start with 2 tbsp of almond milk and add more accordingly.  Every protein powder is different so to avoid getting batter that’s too thin, adjust accordingly) and stir together. 

Heat a pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Pour 2 tbsp of batter to form each pancake.  Cook a few minutes. Once it starts to bubble on top, flip and cook an additional minute or two. 

You’ll get exactly 4 pancakes if you measure (and use a spatula to scrape the bowl). Serve with you toppings of choice. 

I served it with some extra coconut and a maple syrup/yogurt combo (2-3 tbsp greek yogurt + 1 tbsp maple syrup + water to thin it out).  Deeeelish.

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Nutrition-wise, they’re not too bad either.

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There’s almost 30 grams of protein in there!  Note: these stats are only for the pancakes, not any of the toppings. The fat comes mostly from the almond meal and coconut.  But don’t be scared of fat!  It does a body good.

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Ok so please tell me you’re going to help me make Brinner a thing and tell everyone about these protein pancakes.  Yes!

Do you ever do breakfast for dinner?  What’s your favorite Brinner item?

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

I somehow had the bright idea of joining the company softball team. If you knew me in real life, you’d be surprised that I would make such a choice. I’m not really a “team sports” kind of girl.  Not because I don’t like exercise.  No no.  I love Crossfit.  Running is fun.  Spinning is amazing.

At first you might think, oh so you’re a solo rider.  Well not really.  What softball has that running, Crossfit and spinning don’t is that softball involves a hard object flying at your face.  I’m not good at that.  You see, I’m what we like to call “accident-prone.”

The truth is, if there’s an opportunity to get hurt, chances are I will.   I’m set to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in November and my sister is already researching altitude sickeness and ways to prevent it.  She’s not even going on the trip with me and she knows it’ll be an issue for me.

In fact, the last time I tried to play a team sport was a summer softball league the summer before 9th grade.  I broke my finger mid way through the summer.  Lesson learned.

But now I’m older, and conquering fears and trying new (ish) things is totally my thing.  So why not.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, let’s talk about these guys.

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I know you’re drooling because any mention of the word “snickerdoodle” makes babies smile and men squeal in joy.

Ok I can’t take credit for these.  I got this recipe from my favorite cookie cookbook given to me by my friend Rhoda (who also published an awesome cookbook!).

I want everyone to buy this book because I think it’s so awesome.  What I didn’t think was awesome was the name of the recipe.  Buttermilk Cinnamon Bars.  Boring.  So since I made some changes (like adding chocolate chips, among a few other changes, I decided to rename these to more accurately describe the taste.

Chocolate Chip Snickerdoodle Bars

Adapted from Blue Ribbon Cookies

2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 350F.   In a bowl, combine sugar, flour and butter.  Using your fingers, combine until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.   Take two cups of that mixture and combine it with coconut and chocolate chips.

Press into a 9×13 baking dish lined with parchment paper.   With the remaining sugar/flour/butter mixture, add egg, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, buttermilk and vanilla.  Blend together.  Pour mixture oven base and bake for about 45 minutes, or until fully cooked in the center.

Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.  (I let it sit out overnight)  Once cooled, remove bars from pan by lifting parchment paper.  Cut bars into about 40 squares (or fewer large pieces…).

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I promise these will be a hit.  They’re like snickerdoodles and chocolate chip coconut cookies on a date, because that makes sense.

Either way, enjoy them, pin them and wish me luck on this softball endeavor.

How are you at team sports?  Play any?  Tell me!

P.S. Have you entered the Peanut Butter & Co Giveaway?  You can earn entries daily!  Get to it here: http://bit.ly/147k7k8

Almond Joy Biscotti: Almond-Coconut Biscotti Dipped in Chocolate

Sometimes I have random cravings like a pregnant woman.  No, I’m not pregnant.  Trust me.  I’m not, but my sister is pregnant so this is my point of comparison.  At times, I think I crave things as often as she does.

Tonight, I really wanted crunchy, raw cabbage with lemon lime and salt.  It was wonderful (and pretty random, right?).

Last week, I wanted biscotti.

Also totally random right?  Except for that fact that biscotti is delicious, and really I can’t think of a time I wouldn’t want to enjoy some biscotti with a cup of coffee.

But this biscotti:

This biscotti is crazy-delicious.  Hard to believe but true.  So go ahead.  Write down the recipe and get in the kitchen….

Almond Joy Biscotti

adapted from All Recipes

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cups sugar, divided
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
2 cups chocolate chips
1-2 tbsp oil

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Cream together butter and sugar. Beat in one egg at a time then vanilla.  Stir in flour, baking powder and salt, until not quite combined.  Fold in almonds and coconut.

Line two baking sheets (or 1 large one) with parchment paper.  Flour your hands then take half the dough and drop it onto a baking sheet and try to mold it into a log-shape, more or less 3 inches wide and 12 inches long.  I say more or less because the dough will be very sticky and hard to handle but don’t worry it’ll all turn out fine once baked.  Do the same with the other half.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown on the bottom.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once the logs have cooled, using a serrated bread cut slightly slanted into 1/2-3/4 inch thick cookies.

Turn oven down to 275F.  Lay on another parchment paper-lined baking sheets, bake for 5-10 minutes or until golden on the bottom.  Flip each cookie and bake another 5-10 minutes.  Keep a close eye on them you don’t want to burn them!

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.  Once the cookies have cooled.  Place chocolate chips in a bowl, microwave 30 seconds, then stir.  Microwave another 30 seconds, then stir.  Repeat until chocolate is melted.  Stir in 1-2 tbsp oil until the chocolate is slightly runny.

Dip one side of each cookie (Note: this makes about 40 cookies) in chocolate and lay on parchment paper.  Drizzle any remaining chocolate on top of cookies.  Refrigerate half an hour until chocolate sets.

Make a pot of coffee, serve and enjoy!

The good thing is if you’re not craving biscotti at this very moment, they stay good for about a week in an air-tight container.

So go ahead and preemptively give in to your cravings.

Make these, then snap a photo and send it to me!  No really, do it!

Banana Coconut Bars

I’ve been on a bar kick recently.  Not the party kind of bar, like the cookie-that-you-cut type bar.  Like this:

As for the other type of bar, I’m not cool enough to hang out in bars.  You’re more likely to find me in a park.

A few weeks ago I had decided I wanted to open a bar.  Not just any bar, I wanted it to be an outdoor bar (think park meets bar, see where I’m going with this?).  I think it’s ridiculous that Southern California has awesome weather but very few places where you can enjoy the weather with a beer/wine in your hand.

Sure, there are bars with patios, but those are usually small and there’s no grass involved.  Grass is really essential to the full outdoor enjoyment. I still want to open that bar.  Would you come?

But enough about those types of bars.  Let’s talk about this sort…

I’m a fan.  You will be too.  Unless you’re like my friend Emily who hates cooked fruit, in which case you should make this instead… or this.

But if you love cooked fruit (I do!) and more importantly bananas and coconut and sweet goodness, then you should probably give these a try!

Banana Coconut Bars

3/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour (or just 2 cups all purpose)
3 ripe bananas, sliced
1 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)
5 tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar

Pre-heat oven to 350F.  Cream together 3/4 cup butter and 1/2 cup sugar.  Beat in egg.  Add flour and mix until just combined.  The texture will be pretty crumbly, press into a 9 x 13 baking dish (I used a jelly roll pan and pressed it into about 2/3 of it) lined with parchment paper.

Lay banana sliced on dough.  Next spread shredded coconut on top and chocolate chips if desired.  Drizzle with 4 tbsp sweetened condensed milk.

In a bowl combine 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 cup oats, 2 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp brown sugar.  Use your hands to work it into coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the mixture over the bars.  Drizzle with remaining sweetened condensed milk.  Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool complete.  Cut into bars and serve!

In case it wasn’t obvious, everyone is cool enough for this bar.

Coconut Cupcakes

On Saturday mornings, my boyfriend sometimes takes me on a hot date… to the swap meet.  What can I say, we’re classy like that.  Clearly by “hot” I mean it’s literally warm out.

He likes to get an enormous tejuino.

I like to get an enormous cup of mixed fruit, which I proceed to douse in lime and chili.   In my mixed fruit cup, there’s always cucumber, pineapple, watermelon and fresh coconut.  The only reason I get the mixed fruit and not the delicious mango covered in chili and lime is that I absolutely love coconut.

I pretty much like anything that’s coconut flavored but you can’t beat the taste of real, fresh coconut.  So next time you feel the need for a coconut treat I recommend going to the swap meet at OCC (if you live in Orange County), but if not, make these:

No extracts.  Just the real stuff.

Coconut Cupcakes

adapted from Epicurious

For Reduced Coconut Milk:

2 cans coconut milk (to be reduced)

For Cupcakes:

2 cups cake flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks butter, room temperature (3/4 cup)
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk

For Frosting:

1 Stick of Butter, Room Temperature
4 oz cream cheese
3 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp reduced Coconut milk

In a deep saucepan, bring 2 cans of coconut to a boil.  Simmer about 30-40 minutes until reduced to about 1 1/2 cups liquid.  Set aside to cool completely.

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a bowl, combine cake flour, baking soda and salt.  In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Then blend in vanilla extract.  Add dry ingredients, beat until just combined.  Beat in coconut milk.  Pour batter into 18-20 lined cupcake pan.  Bake 18-20 mins (depending on your oven this will vary).  Remove from pan and allow to cool completely.

Next make the frosting. Beat together all the frosting ingredients.  Gradually add in coconut milk until you get the right consistency.

Frost and garnish with extra flaked coconut.

Serve and enjoy!

The coconut flavor is light and delicate, but most definitely there.  So when you need your coconut fix, give these a whirl.

They’re probably easier to make than cracking open a coconut or searching for a swap meet… just sayin’.

Rum Layer Cake with Coconut Custard Filling

In addition to being obsessed with weddings, I’m also all about birthdays.

Yeah, that’s me… I love birthdays (along with any opportunity to bake a cake).

So…I know cupcakes are all the rage these days, but I have an unnatural love for layer cakes and let’s face it, birthdays merit layer cakes.  There’s something about a fully assembled and frosted layer cake that makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I can understand why people don’t like making them.  Let’s face it, they’re sort of labor intensive, but in my opinion totally worth it, especially for a special friend.

My friend, Rachel, totally deserves a layer cake.  In fact, she got this one.

Rum Cake with Coconut Custard Filling

adapted from Bacardi Rum Cake

For Cake:*

1 box yellow cake mix
1 package instant pudding (4 serving size)
1/2 cup dark rum
1/2 cup water or milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs

For Custard:*

1 cup whole milk (I used 3/4 cup nonfat milk and 1/4 cup of cream and it worked fine)
2 egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp corn starch
1 cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Food coloring (optional)

Make Cake. Preheat oven to 325F.  Grease and flour 2 9-inch round cake pans (you can also put it in 3 pans, bake it for less time).  Cut a piece of parchment paper to line the bottom of the pan.  Pour contents of cake mix and pudding mix into a large bowl. In another bowl mix together milk, rum, eggs and vegetable oil.  Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix until combined.  Pour into the prepared cake pans, bake approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown and cooked in the center.

Remove from oven and set aside to cool.  You can make this a day or two in advance, just make sure you cover it in plastic wrap to keep it from drying out.

Make custard.  Heat milk on low heat in a medium saucepan stirring occasionally to keep it from burning.  In a separate bowl mix together egg yolks, sugar, corn starch and vanilla. Stir in half a cup of the warm milk, then pour the mixture into the saucepan.  Keep stirring over low-medium heat until thick.  Pour into a bowl to cool, cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate a few hours until completely cooled.

Make Frosting.  Beat together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla (and food coloring if you choose to use it).

Assemble cake.  Cut off the tops of the cakes so you have a level surface.  Lay down the first layer, then put down a layer of the filling in the center, don’t spread it to the edges, it’ll over flow.  If you only do two layers then place the top layer.   If not, repeat.  Cover in a thin layer for frosting, then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Apply a thicker layer of frosting, decorate, chill again and serve.

*Note: For a taller cake, double the recipe.  I used 1.5 of this recipe (had oven issues and had to throw away one of my 4 layers).
**Note: If you only make a 2 layer cake, half the custard recipe is enough for one layer of filling.

I’m usually opposed to box mix.  I know I’m a total snob, but this was just sooo good, I had to give in and make it.  Honestly, I’ll probably make it again. In fact, I feel like this should be a birthday tradition.

It was a hit at the Birthday Dinner.

Happy Birthday Rachel!

What’s your favorite kind of birthday cake?