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Darings Bakers Do Shuna Fish Lyndon's Signature Carmel Cake

Photos by Certain Someone
I was worried about getting this challenge done this month with a vacation and the holiday. But here I am on Black Friday ,waking early not to shop, but bake. This months hostess is the lovely Dolores ,and co hosts Alex, and Jenny. And let us not forget Natalie who always is a huge help in adapting these recipes to Gluten Free versions.This months challenge was by a renown pastry chef, I have to admit I had never heard of. But there is lot I haven't heard of.Shuna Fish Lyndon is pretty well known for this signature caramel cake in the San Francisco regions. When I saw the challenge I was like Meh?It looked good , but reminded me of cakes friends and family make all time.And there was a additional challenge of making Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, to accompany. Diabetes runs in my family and that was just a little to much much sugar going on for Glamah's house. But I need the practice and love Daring Bakers Challenges, so I went with it. I decided to halve the recipe and make a tiny 6 inch cake.Unfortunately I was out of vanilla but had vanilla bean. Reading Shuna's suggestions to us on the forum about flavorings, I decided to infuse my caramel syrup with a quarter of a pod of vanilla bean with beans scraped out. My caramel syrup kept crystallizing when it cooled down. I don't know if it was the addition of the vanilla bean( which Shuna warned that additions could alter) or my choice in sugar. I had been using this raw pure cane sugar from Mexico all year, but switched back to Domino ( which they say is cane?). Anyway the batter and frosting came together smoothly once I reheated the syrup. Since my pan was deeper, but smaller, it still used about the same baking time. I iced it and piped some. Dusted some gold lustre, and drizzled some syrup. I don't know if you can see the black pods from the vanilla in on the surface., but it made a nice speckle. I cut little wedges for Certain Someone and I . He's not a big dessert eater, but he said it was good. Washed down with an ice cold glass of milk. Judging by some forum talk I hear it gets better even the next day. I thought the same. Not the most exciting challenge, but wholesome and good. Kind of like the way Mommy used to make it.
Shuna Fish Lyndon's Caramel Cake With Caramelized Butter Frosting
10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature
Notes from Natalie for those of you baking gluten-free:
So the GF changes to the cake would be:
2 cups of gluten free flour blend (w/xanthan gum) or
2 cups of gf flour blend + 1 1/2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/2 - 1 tsp baking powder (this would be the recipe amount to the amount it might need to be raised to & I'm going to check)I'll let you when I get the cake finished, how it turns out and if the baking powder amount needs to be raised.
Preheat oven to 350FButter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.Sift flour and baking powder.Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.CARAMEL SYRUP2 cups sugar1/2 cup water1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste
Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month.To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light(recipes above courtesy of Shuna Fish Lydon)
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels
Golden Vanilla Bean Caramels from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich, Artisan Press, Copyright 2007, ISBN: 978-1579652111(Optional)
GOLDEN VANILLA BEAN CARAMELS- makes eighty-one 1-inch caramels -
1 cup golden syrup
2 cups sugar
3/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons pure ground vanilla beans, purchased or ground in a coffee or spice grinders, or 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
A 9-inch square baking pan
Candy thermometer
Line the bottom and sides of the baking pan with aluminum foil and grease the foil. Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F. Meanwhile, combine the cream and ground vanilla beans (not the extract) in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Gradually stir in the hot cream; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°f for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F; for firmer chewy caramels. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract, if using it. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. Lift the pan liner from the pan and invert the sheet of caramel onto a sheet of parchment paper. Peel off the liner. Cut the caramels with an oiled knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper or cellophane. VariationsFleur de Sel Caramels: Extra salt, in the form of fleur de sel or another coarse flaked salt, brings out the flavor of the caramel and offers a little ying to the yang. Add an extra scant 1/4 teaspoon of coarse sea salt to the recipe. Or, to keep the salt crunchy, let the caramel cool and firm. Then sprinkle with two pinches of flaky salt and press it in. Invert, remove the pan liner, sprinkle with more salt. Then cut and wrap the caramels in wax paper or cellophane.
Nutmeg and Vanilla Bean Caramels:
Add 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg to the cream before you heat it.
Cardamom Caramels: Omit the vanilla. Add 1/2 teaspoon slightly crushed cardamom seeds (from about 15 cardamom pods) to the cream before heating it. Strain the cream when you add it to the caramel; discard the seeds.
Caramel Sauce: Stop cooking any caramel recipe or variation when it reaches 225°F or, for a sauce that thickens like hot fudge over ice cream, 228°F. Pour it into a sauceboat to serve or into a heatproof jar for storage. The sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for ages and reheated gently in the microwave or a saucepan just until hot and flowing before use. You can stir in rum or brandy to taste. If the sauce is too thick or stiff to serve over ice cream, it can always be thinned with a little water or cream. Or, if you like a sauce that thickens more over ice cream, simmer it for a few minutes longer. (recipe from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert)

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Grand Bahama and Some Pigeon Peas and Rice

Well I'm back. I don't want make this a wordy post so I'm going to let Certain Someones pictures speak for most of the trip to Grand Bahama. We stayed at the the Westin Our Grand Lucaya. This is a wonderful resort that allowed us to just chill and do nothing. Unfortunately Certain Someone could not escape work and spent the first half of the trip working. But he did manage some beach time and a round of golf on one of their several golf courses. I was amazed at how easily Certain Someone could become a beach bum. I like to see him relax.

Isn't this beautiful? These are debris from a earlier hurricane . The photo was taken at a beach in the Grand Lucayan National Park. We took these pictures after a visit to underwater caves across to road. If you were a diver you could dive between the cavernous caves which housed Arawak Indian remains.The path to the beach was a lesson in flora and fauna. Who knew walking mangrove could be so beautiful. Reminded me of a tropical vineyard with all the gnarled branches. I was startled by the depth and life down there.But it was nice to come up and take in this beauty. A Victoria Secrets Photo shoot was going on a few miles down the sand bar.
I like this shot Certain Someone took. It doesn't make me look fat.

After our excursion we went to this lovely sea side restaurant and beach, Banana Bay. I had my first real Bahamian lunch of cracked conch( like fried calamari) and pigeon peas and rice in which I will give you the recipe at the end.Certain Someone regretted his fries and took to my rice. Unfortunately the Bahamas let me down with the food. Cynthia explained its not really the Caribbean because of its close proximity to the United States. And at the resorts its a lot of tourist fare.The Port Lucaya marketplace across the street was the got to place if you didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for hotel food. Thinks bars, pizza, Greek , Italian , etc.Stuff I can get at home. Conch is huge in the Bahamas. You will find this shell fish in Chowders,fritters,pasta, pizza, fries, steamed, etc. Its on every menu and pretty cheap. I liked it, Certain Someone not so much.Fish Fry's are big too. Grouper rules, but Barracuda can be found. A local told me not to fear it. A test to see if Barracuda is poisonous is to see if the flies come to it. If so, its good!But the drinks were plentiful and excellent wherever you went.Rum Runners was our favorite hangout. Drinks averaging $5 and great fun staff. I was sure to bring back my allowed liquor allocation. One of our favorite drinks was this retro Bahamian cocktail called a Gully Wash. Its Gin, Coconut Water, Condensed milk, with cinnamon and coconut meat shavings. Its great for the hoildays and even better served up in a coconut and allowed to brew. Its packs a punch for sure.
My final thoughts are of the locals. The dependence on tourism is huge in the Bahamas and the economic hardships we are all facing will really trickle down to to places like this where tourism employs a lot of the island. Even though it was still coming off season, there were a lot of empty tables and shops.I loved that they really thankful for each and every guests business. You don't get that lot and it makes you feel appreciated. In same token we were conscious of where we spent to be sure to visit everyone. The high season is about to begin and hope it goes better than expected. But as one retailer told me, we are all in this together.
I leave you with this Pigeon Peas and Rice I recreated at home today. Its full of island soul.

1 can Pigeon Peas( 1 lb)
2 cups rice
2 slices salt pork( soaked in water for a few hours and chopped up)
1 small can tomato sauce
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
3-4 cloves garlic
3 cups water
black pepper to taste
In a large skillet fry up salt pork, onion, pepper for a few minutes. Add chopped garlic. Cook a few more minutes. Add sauce and pigeon peas. Add rice and water. Cover and cook until rice is done. Approx 30 minutes.
*Due to the salt in the salt pork, no extra salt is needed. Bacon is used more commonly.

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I'm 40 Today and Fabulous!

Dear Darlings ,
I'm off to celebrate this milestone in my life. Certain Someone is whisking me to the Bahamas (Grand Bahama) where we will soak up the sun, drink, play golf, snorkel, eat,ride horses, and all sorts of other things.But mainly rest and enjoy each others company.40 is the new 30 , and my life is so much more interesting now , than it was then. Everyone needs a Certain Someone in their life. And don't despair to all those who are still looking, I didn't meet him until I was 37 and had kissed a few frogs.My only regret now, is my weight isn't what it was, but that can always be worked on (difficult when one blogs about food). People say I can pass for younger , so that's excellent.I am still "Cougarlicious" . I will catch you all later when I return all relaxed.

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Spiced Apples ...My Comfort Food.

Marx Food always has terrific contests. I am entering this one very late and down to the wire. I had a tough time thinking of my favorite comfort food. And last Saturday night it hit me as I hurriedly put together a dinner for Certain Someone and I after a hellish week. As I peeled and chopped my apples, I though of my Mommy who always made me her "fried apples"'. Hers weren't fried but sauteed in a lot of butter with cinnamon and sugar. I could just gobble it up. I have made a more grown up version inspired by the oncoming holidays and all that Gluhwein we are about to consume.

Glamah's Spiced Apples( serves 2)

4-6 apples peeled and cut into into wedges
3 cloves
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Maple sugar or syrup
1/4 cup boiled apple cider( you can use frozen apple juice concentrate)
3 tablespoons sugar.

In a skillet melt the butter. Add the cloves , cinnamon,and apples. Cook a few minutes until soft, but not mushy. Add the maple sugar/Syrup and sugar.As the mix starts to bubble , add the red wine and boiled cider. cook a few minutes longer. Apples should be firm, but not mushy.

I served these up with some oven baked center cut pork chops breaded in an hazelnut and bread crumb crust seasoned with paprika, salt and pepper. It was delicious served with the apples and its sauce. Try it, I know you will love it.

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Franco Indian Dinner Party

A few months ago, after our trip to London, I volunteered to cook an Indian dinner for my Auntie Mame's friends. They had recently gotten married in the UK and this was a little thank you for their generous hospitality to us when travelling. I freely admit I am an novice when it comes to Indian food. And I chose a Franco /Indian cuisine based on a incredible dinner I had in London at La Porte des Indes,a more upscale restaurant. Their cuisine was inspired by the French Creole cuisine of Pondichery. I went up to the Devon area and gathered most of my ingredients. I settled on these dishes for the menu:

Lamb Samosas with Sauce Creole
Minced lamb cooked with garlic, ginger, onion,paprika, coriander, turmeric, garam masala bay leaf and cinnamon stick. Add peas and stuff into ready made puff pastry. Serve up with a Sauce Creole of tomatoes, radish, red chilies, red bell pepper cooked down to pulp and strained. Onion seeds, garam masala, paprika,sugar, sultanas and vinegar are added reduced to a sauce.

Roasted Garlic and Pumpkin soup ( I used Butternut Squash)
Pumpkin or squash is chopped,softened and cooked in butter. Chili powder, turmeric, Fresh cilantro, 9-10 garlic cloves are added . Mixture pureed and topped with cream and chives. I doubled the recipe and added some sugar to bring out some flavor.

Lime and Garlic Pickle ( store bought)

Poulet Rouge
I took chicken thighs and made a tandoori paste of lemon, chili powder, garlic, ginger, Red chilies( couldn't find Kashmiri), cumin, coriander, garam masala, and Greek Yogurt. Marinated it overnight. Grilled at home and shredded( did not have clay oven for tandoori). Fried up garlic paste in butter,tandorri masala powder, onion sauce( a reduced pulp of onions and cloves, cinnamon , and bay leaf) and add yogurt and heavy cream. Add chicken et voila! Very rich and spicy.

Spinach and Paneer
Sauteed spinach and fried paneer cubes with fenugreek, tomatoes,green chilies, cumin, onion, garlic and cream.

Belgian Chocolate and Praline Kulfi
An Indian ice cream made with reduced whole milk , sugar, cream, white and dark chocolates with a homemade cashew praline.
It took about 2 days Of prep as I wanted to cook most in my place and Kitchen, then transport over to my aunts place. Indian cooking is very laboured , but I love it I love the scent and sound of all the various spices popping and infusing in the hot oil. Certain Someone and my aunt were very impressed. Certain Someone went to this restaurants branch in Brussels recently and was not impressed,so I'm glad the dinner turned out. One of our guests was the husband of Jeanne from Cooksister. It was a little weird cooking for a fellow bloggers husband. But while he's in Chicago we all have hit it off very well .He brought some incredible Naan bread for us. Certain Someone did the honors with most of the photos you see here. He's getting really good! I especially like the last shot of the Kulfi.Great conversation and food.The Moet and Kingfisher beer flowed. And everyone went home with leftovers! That's a great sign and accolade for me. If you want more detailed recipe email me. I used the La Porte Des Indes cookbook and there are recipes within recipes. To much to post. But I hope the general descriptions and processes help.

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Sitting on Top Of The World... Election Night From Chicago

Wow! What can I say that anyone else hasn't about the historical evening last night? The whole world waited with baited breath. You could not have planned a more perfect evening. The weather was perfect, the crowds were orderly, but packed, and all of Chicago was on stage for the worlds to see. Never has a election impacted worlds order such as this. And talking back with some friends,family, and colleagues, who would have thought this everyday man, Barack Obama would one day become president! We all have stories of making small talk and encounters with him in his family whilst living in Hyde Park Chicago. Even as his star rose, he was humble and accessible. Unbelievable. I'm proud for my country and I'm proud for this remarkable achievement for my race. You cant ignore the racial milestone this is being black. All the more so for me having an African father and American mother. I am fortunate to work in a place that was and still is trailblazing in civil rights and media and goods catering to people of color. Our headquarters are located right across the street from Grant Park. Certain Someone and our guest from Austria, Christoph were my guest . We had rally tickets for two, and I got Christoph tickets for the raging party going on at the next door Hilton sponsored by Jesse Jackson Jr. Ironically we all chose to stayed perched in our comfortable surroundings on the 10th floor balcony with a view to kill for. We could see and hear it all. At that moment I felt I was in the center of the world. Occasionally we would go down to street level to gage the pulse of the crowds. Our companies lobby was a beacon to all the well wishers who were drawn to all the Obama magazines, and products.
This is not Certain Someone! But our houseguest Christoph.
Taking pictures from the height and in the dark with all the city lights was difficult. But Certain Someone took some passable ones.But here's are some from our view. I wish my departed loved ones had lived to see this. And I pray for Obama on this long hard road ahead. But I am so grateful I could witness this once in a lifetime miracle.

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And Now For Some Sweet Election Day Relief and a Contest

Pillsbury Voting – General Election Cake vs. Brownies – State Breakdown

State Winner

AK(Alaska) Brownies
AL(Alabama) Brownies

AR(Arkansas) Cake
AZ(Arizona) Cake

CA(California) Brownies
CO(Colorado) Cake
CT (Connecticut) Brownies
DE(Delaware) Brownies
FL(Florida) Brownies
GA(Georgia) Brownies
HI(Hawaii) Brownies
IA(Iowa) Brownies
ID(Idaho) Brownies
IL(Illinois) Brownies
IN(Indiana) Brownies
KS(Kansas) Brownies
KY(Kentucky) Brownies
LA(Louisiana) Brownies
MA(Mass.) Brownies
MD(Maryland) Brownies
ME(Maine) Brownies
MI(Michigan) Brownies
MN(Minnesota) Brownies
MO(Missouri) Brownies
MS(Mississippi) Brownies
MT(Montana) Brownies
NC(North Carolina)Brownies
ND(North Dakota) Brownies
NE(Nebraska) Brownies
NH(New Hampshire) Brownies
NJ(New Jersey) Brownies
NM(New Mexico) Brownies
NV(Nevada) Brownies
NY(New York) Brownies
OH(Ohio) Brownies
OK(Oklahoma) Brownies
OR(Oregon) Brownies
PA(Pennsylvania) Brownies
RI(Rhode Island) Brownies
SC(South Carolina) Brownies
SD(South Dakota) Brownies
TN(Tennessee) Brownies
TX(Texas) Brownies
UT(Utah) Brownies

VA(Virginia) Cake
VT(Vermont) TIE!
WA(Washington) Brownies
WI(Wisconsin) Brownies
WV(West Virginia) Cake
WY(Wyoming) Brownies


This season there has been a sweet debate taking place online and in kitchens across the country. Pillsbury® asked Americans to cast votes for their favorite dessert – cake or brownies and brownies were declared America’s Favorite Dessert in the Pillsbury® Campaign for a Sweeter America. After a national campaign tour with the Pillsbury Doughboy® and an online election, it was Brownies’ undeniable richness that won the hearts (and stomachs) of the nation’s voters.

To celebrate Brownies’ victory, the makers of Pillsbury baking products want to hear how people make things sweeter with their favorite desserts at The sweetest entry will receive a kitchen makeover worth $5,000, and Pillsbury will also make a donation to Feeding AmericaTM to help end hunger in this country.

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