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.
  7. To make toasted coconut:
  8. 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.
http://fakeginger.com/coconut-cupcakes/


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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.
http://fakeginger.com/peanut-butter-granola-bars/

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