Every once in a while I find a recipe that needs to be made right away. This was one of those. I found the recipe and within hours it was cooling on top of my stove.

I’m not really sure what a congo bar is but it’s pretty much a blondie. Maybe a little more cake-like than your average blondie, but a blondie nonetheless. Most congo bar recipes I found called for chocolate chips but I went with white chocolate because I love the combination of white chocolate and coconut. If you prefer the regular stuff, I’m sure it would be just as delicious.

Another great thing about this recipe is that it’s the first recipe where I haven’t had to double the vanilla! I double the vanilla (and salt!) in almost every cookie or bar I make but these guys call for so much that doubling it would have been insane, even for me.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy, and delicious treat to make today, these are perfect. I’m already looking for another excuse to make them!

Congo Bars
Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted and cooled
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
  • 3/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 8 x 8 baking pan with parchment or aluminum foil. Spray with oil.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Beat butter and brown sugar together until combined. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Pour flour mixture into butter mixture and stir until just combined. Use a spatula to gently fold in white chocolate chips, walnuts, and coconut. Pour mixture into the prepared pan.
  4. Bake for 20 – 24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire cooling rack. Remove by pulling on side of parchment or aluminum foil. Cut into squares and serve.
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Last week I was in the mood to bake cookies which, if you haven’t noticed, is a rarity around here. I’d rather bake a pan of brownies or a cake or pretty much anything besides cookies. Cookies get on my nerves. You have to bake pan after pan of them and the whole process just drags on for hours. Not my thing.

Anyway, back to the cookies. I tweeted that I was in the mood for a cookie with a ton of oatmeal and everyone suggested either ranger cookies or cowboy cookies. I’m not really sure of the difference – I think ranger cookies are supposed to have Rice Krispies and M&Ms whereas cowboy cookies just has chocolate chips, or in my case, chocolate chunks. I went with the cowboy cookies since I had all the ingredients for that one.

These cookies are fabulous. I love oatmeal cookies that have tons of stuff in it (not just oatmeal cookies with 3 raisins) so these are right up my alley. Coconut, chocolate, walnuts, every bite has something in it. The kiddo loved them, too. I made a half batch and they were gone within 2 days!

Cowboy Cookies
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats not instant or quick-cooking
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or chocolate chunks
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Into a bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
  3. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla.
  4. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Beat in oats, chocolate, walnuts, and coconut until just combined.
  5. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray; line with parchment, and spray parchment. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice-cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop dough onto prepared sheets, about 3 inches apart.
  6. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges of cookies begin to brown, 16 to 18 minutes. Transfer sheets to wire racks to cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks to cool completely. Cookies can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature in airtight containers
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Easter’s fast approaching so I wanted to get some fun dessert ideas up for anyone who’s needing them.

I love, love, love these coconut cupcakes. Toasted coconut is one of my favorite cupcake decorations and to turn it into a nest with Cadbury eggs in it? Perfection. You don’t have to use Cadbury eggs though – the malted milk ball ones are great or even the little egg-shaped gum.

I went ahead and did a coconut cupcake but I think the toasted coconut tastes great with a plain vanilla cake too. The frosting is coconutless but it’s flavored with almond and vanilla and goes amazingly with the toasted coconut up top.

Coconut Cupcakes
Ingredients
For the cupcakes:
  • 3/4 pound 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 14 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
For the frosting:
  • 1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound 3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar sifted
For the toasted coconut:
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.
  4. Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.
  6. Frost cupcakes and sprinkle toasted coconut (below) on top. Top with egg-shaped candy of choice.
To make toasted cupcake:
  1. Preheat oven to 325F. Spread coconut onto a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes. Towards the end watch carefully because it will go from golden to burnt very quickly.


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About a week ago I read a blog post about high-fructose corn syrup. It wasn’t anything scientific, it was just the blogger saying that once she has something with high-fructose corn syrup, she wants more and more. I’ve never really bought into the whole HFCS debate but this made sense to me. I cannot be trusted around granola bars which is one of the only things I buy for myself that contains HFCS.

Enter these bars. Oh my gosh, they were so good. Chewy but a little crisp around the edges. Lots of chocolate chips, coconut, and a tiny hint of banana. Mmm! So much better than the packaged stuff and none of the HFCS for me to stress over (or convince myself that HFCS is the reason I could eat boxes of granola bars at once ;))

These are also easy to customize. Dried fruit, chopped nuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds – they would all be delicious. Don’t like honey? Try brown rice syrup, it would be perfect in these!

Peanut Butter Granola Bars
Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter natural or regular
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 small banana mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 3/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/3 cup coconut
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Heat peanut butter in microwave just until it’s easy to stir. Combine it with brown sugar, honey, banana, and vanilla. Stir until smooth. Add in oats, coconut, and semisweet chocolate chips.
  3. Press mixture into a prepared 8 x 8 baking pan. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely before cutting.
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