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Daring Bakers Make Coconut & Toasted Almond Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
I was really freaking out that I wouldn't get this challenge done for various reasons. Time really is flying this year and I have still not come to grips that we are in summer.We had a choice of two cookies, but I was only keen to Mallows( Chocolate covered marshmallow cookies). In Pastry Camp a few weeks back we made chocolate marshmallows and they are really fun to make.I decided to flavor my marshmallows with Coconut extract and top the chocolate shell with toasted almonds. Think Almond Joy.I loved the presentation. Banana extract would have rocked too. I ran out of chocolate as I was dipping and added some pink candy coating to the pan to finish off the rest of the Mallows.These I topped with Swedish Pearl sugar and purple sugar. How good were they? I think the pictures can speak for themselves. One note I find the recipe misleading in terms of the time frames. Be sure to set aside a few hours because this needs to be done in stages. And make sure your workplace is cool. A hot kitchen is not ideal for working with chocolate. Helene gave me a tip, to let the chocolate sit out for about hour after dipping before placing in the fridge to help set , so the chocolate wouldn't bloom. She also suggested shortening as I didn't have vegetable oil.

Mallows(Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies
• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
•3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows
1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.
Homemade marshmallows:
• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract * I substituted Coconut Extract
1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.6. Transfer to a pastry bag.
Chocolate glaze:
• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

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Mojito Cookies for Sugar Cookie Competition

Last year I entered the Pastry Chicago Sugar Cookie Competition. Of course this year I vowed to compete again. One day I will place and win. The theme of this years competition is citrus. Naturally lime or lemon curds came to mind. But Brainstorming one day while having a mojito, I thought how can incorporate this into a cookie? I traded some ideas with my Twitter sis Kayce and the basis for the Mojito cookie was conceived. The secret is the Mojito gelee.
The gelee recipe makes a large quantity but you can use the leftovers served in cubes and rolled in sugar like pate de fruit.

Mojito Cookies

Mojito Gelee
2/3 cups of key lime juice (approx 1 lb of key limes)
2 1/2 cups sugar , reserve 1/2 cup for later
2 cups water
3/4 oz fresh mint (1 package)
1 package Pomona's Universal Pectin
1/3 cup Rum
Combine key lime juice, 2 cups of the sugar, and water into a heavy bottomed sauce pan.Bring to boil. Turn off heat. Add fresh mint and allow to steep and infuse for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, strain liquid from mint. Add back to saucepan. Bring to boil. While waiting to boil, prep Pomana's Universal Pectin according to package( you will use the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar to mix with dry Pectin). Add the Pectin and calcium water(activates Pectin) from package,to the boiling lime sugar mixture, stirring constantly until dissolved and well mixed. The mix will be very thick due to the ratios .Cook for a few minutes and remove from heat. Stir in Rum.Pour into a baking sheet or cake pan. Let cool until room temperature, and place in the refrigerator to chill until solid.
1/2 lb Plugra European style butter or 16 tbsp
2/3 cup Confectioners sugar
1 tsp Nielson Massey Vanilla Powder
1 tsp granulated sugar
Zest of 2 Key Limes
1 1/4 cups All Purpose King Arthur Flour flour
*green food coloring gel optional
*green sugar optional
In a stand mixer beat butter, confectioners sugar, vanilla, zest and granulated sugar until fluffy. Gradually add flour. The dough will be crumbly but soft and buttery. With your hands finish mixing, forming into a solid ball. At this point with a wooden skewer you can spot the dough with green gel color and marbleize the dough. Do not over knead.You can either chill dough for 1 hour at this point to make rounds, or pipe straight away for star shaped cookies.
Preheat oven to 350F.
On a parchment lined baking sheet take a walnut sized piece of rounded dough or pipe, and indent with your thumb to create a well. You can then flatten the edges with a fork to refine shape. Repeat and space cookies apart by 1 inch. Take your Mojito Gelee and add approx 1/8-1/2 tsp of gelee into indentation. Sprinkle green sugar over the gelee pat of cookie. Bake at 350F for 10-15 minutes or until slightly golden and gelee starts to bubble.
Be sure to visit the new photo blog of Certain Someone and myself,Cocos Eye. Just visual and not much words from all over the world.
I have a winner for the Un Constipated Gourmet Giveaway! Anne of Annes Food. Send me you address and its yours!

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Not Quite Australian Meat Pies and How I Met Certain Someone

Who is this Woman and what does she have to do with Certain Someone?
Why this woman would be a Gabi, my dear Australian friend who is responsible for this blog and how and how I met Certain Someone. Gabi is from Australia, Adelaide to be exact. And she introduced me to world of blogging. After a dinner at my house she sat down at my computer started blogging and I was hooked. My first blog Diary of a Shop girl morphed into Coco Cooks.
So what does she have to do with Certain Someone? Well I had a disastrous affair with an Australian man, one of those bad boy phases every woman must go through before she finds that Mr. Right.That man was a good friend and colleague of Gabi's. The man and I parted ways, but I gained a good friend in Gabi. Gabi had other friends too, a whole expat community in Chicago, and through them at a dinner party I met him. Certain Someone. A tarot card reader was at the table to even confirm it 'was him'.So you see everything and everyone in your life has a purpose, no matter how short the time.
Gabi moved back home to Australia this month. Her father, a regular and somewhat quiet reader of Coco Cooks has been suggesting to me from the beginning to make some Aussie food. Real stick to your bones type of food. I always think of modern Australian food as a melting pot with heavy Asian and Greek influences due to the current populations.And lets not forget the incredible wines! But pure Australian food would conjure up vision of meat pies,pavlovas,lamingtons, lamb and such. I could take the meat pie even further and float it on split pea soup. Gabi was quick to say Australians do not" throw shrimps on the barbie, drink Yellowtail, or Fosters". That's some American stereotypes perpetuated by Crocodile Dundee and Outback Steakhouse. Although they do eat Kangaroo and Moreton Bay Bugs ( delicious if you get some by chance). So hopefully one day Certain Someone will take me to this fascinating Continent and country. In the meanwhile I leave with my version of meat pie which is more Jamaican meat patty than Australian. Those African roots keep slipping through my cooking. Australians use puff pastry on top and short crust on bottom. I wanted more of a hand pie so I used a short crust and colored it with with some Turmeric. I also used some Palm oil( another African ingredient) and some red lentils for the filling with the beef. Australian meat pies have beef and gravy fillings and are served with a squeeze of ketchup on top. Look and see most places on this each have a version of meat pies. Empanadas for Latin America, Jamaican meat patties, Cornish pasties, samosas,etc. All good stuff.

Coco's Not Quite Australian Meat Pies

Short Crust
1 cup /100 grams all purpose flour
1/2 cup/50 grams Atora( suet) or butter or shortening
3 tbsp cold water
1 tsp turmeric
pinch of salt
1 egg beaten with milk for wash before baking
In a stand mixer mix flour, Atora, turmeric,salt and water until combined. Form into a disc, wrap ,and chill for a few hours.

1 lb ground beef
2 onions chopped fine
2 tbsp Palm Oil or regular vegetable oil
1 tsp curry
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste* I used Mrs. Dash salt free seasoning blend/Spicy Blend
1 tomato chopped
1 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup red lentils
In a skillet brown ground beef with onions in Palm oil. Drain any excess oil.Add curry and cumin, salt, pepper. Add tomato and tomato sauce. Let simmer. Add red lentils and bit more liquid( ie: water if needed). Cover and let simmer until red lentils are done. 15-20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Take out pastry dough. Roll out on floured surface and cut into circles based on your size preference. I made small ones . Brush edge with egg wash and fill with meat filling. Turn over close and seal with a fork or crimper. Place on parchment lined baking sheet. Brush each pie with egg wash. Bake for 10-15 or until golden. Serve with ketchup if you like( Aussie style).We used German curry ketchup.

For a printable version click here.
Check out my latest post on about my latest travel adventure in the Pacific Northwest ( Vancouver and Seattle).

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The Un-Constipated Gourmet....Elote

Even the Queen of England has to go.... No one is above this bodily function. For all we shove in we should more concerned about it coming out, and on a regular basis. Constipation is a growing problem that can lead to many medical complications and disease.Only now are people even daring to talk aloud about this.Danielle Svetcov has addresses this in what,many people don't want to talk about out loud, The Un-Constipated Gourmet. Can one watch their health and enjoy good food without having to resort to nasty , drastic remedies? Yes, by incorporating certain foods in your meal plans.
I love this book for the great original concept and the writers style of addressing this non delicate subject. I wish however that this book of 125 recipes had photos, because she has some really great recipes that need to be shown in a visual sense.Asking family and friends what 'makes them go', Danielle develops a list of key foods and rates them with a numerical 'Go-Meter'.The Un-Constipated Gourmet also tells you what foods to avoid .Breakfast,Snacks, Dips and Spreads,Soups,Salads, Sides, Entrees, Desserts, Special Elixirs,Emergency Recipes, and a chapter on 'Corkage' if you need to stop the flow, are all there. Some recipes are interesting and original, and some are familiar. But one looks at them in new light and as something good that will keep you regular.
With my schedule there were many recipes I wanted to try, but managed to only make one for this post. Elote is something you find on the streets of Chicago sold in the Mexican community. Summer is abundant with corn, and this combo, which I never dared buy form a cart, called my name.

from the Un-Constipated Gourmet by Danielle Svetcov
4 Ears of corn
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons Parmesan Cheese
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

Boil corn in salted water for 5 minutes. on a plate combine mayonnaise and lime juice to roll the corn on and through.Mix cheese and seasonings on another plate.Roll cooked corn on mayonnaise, and then roll on the cheese plate.Grilled corn works great as well.
For prinatable version click here:

I am giving away a copy of the Un-Constipated Gourmet. Leave a comment with your own remedy or just why you want the book. Don't be uptight and keep it all in.It's bad for you.Drawing ends July 20.

Congrats to Judy of No Fear Entertaining for winning the Real Housewives Cocktail contest!Send me your address.

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New Post

If you want to read in detail my adventures in Pastry camp, please go to I would love comments too!
And stay tuned for a Book Giveaway and review coming up this weekend.

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Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Infused Jam and How I Spent my Summer Vacation

I must say this week has been so inspiring and recharging. Rather than take off for Europe or just chill at home doing nothing, I decided to finally to get off my ample derriere and take a continuing education class at French Pastry School. These courses are not cheap mind you and I never really thought it was possible for me to do this.But it is education and where there is a will there is a way.I will take another course in late August as well ,dedicated to Event /Wedding cakes. French Pastry attracts tout le monde as both professors and students. Don't be surprised if you find yourself sitting next to a student whose family owns a bakery chain in South America or a housewife from Brazil. One student I heard flew in from Singapore for a weekend event at the school with Spanish Chefs Oriol Balaguer and Paco Torreblanca.French Pastry School is first class and we students get spoiled a lot. It would be so hard to condense what I learned a few posts. I plan to write more extensively for . In the meanwhile I will start saving my dollars for some more classes. Here is a lineup of future course offerings. I would highly recommend this to anyone. Well worth the experience and money.
My instructor Chef John Kraus was amazing. Its a gift to teach and connect with the students. He told us if a student isn't getting it, its reflective of the teacher and how hard they tried to work with the student.Not only was his teaching method excellent but he was a great raconteur of stories about work, travel. food history, and his travels as he honed his craft. A fascinating man who has worked with the best of them.He got his first break with Marco Pierre White. Chef Kraus also believes in sharing recipes and info rather than withholding.You can read a recipe but its up to you as a chef to to put your stamp on it. And that's whats makes your dish different from mine essentially.
Here is a jam I fell in love with. Of course my home version could use some work, but the ones we turned out in class was excellent. The key is using really ripe bananas that are black. Let them sit out for a few days in a covered container at room temp sliced before you start to make the jam. They will start to liquefy and get really going. I experimented at home and added a cinnamon stick and Banana Rum from our trip to the Bahamas. You can really play around with this. I wish we saw Banana Jams more in the US. It really is treat that can go on so many things.

Chocolate Banana Cinnamon Infused Jam
*adapted from French Pastry School by Coco Cooks
makes 6 half pint jars
1 1/2-2 lbs/ 800 grams bananas very ripe( black)
1 cup fresh orange juice/200 grams
1/2 cup dark chocolate/100 grams
3 1/2 - 4 cups sugar /700 grams
1 vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp rum
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan combine sliced bananas, orange juice,sugar , vanilla( pod split open and scraped), and cinnamon stick. Cook until translucent(make it either lumpy or more refined). Add chocolate( break it up a bit and melt a bit in microwave).Remove from heat and cover and let rest overnight.
The following day bring to a boil. Jam should hit 65 Brix or for us home cooks until it forms like a raindrop on car rather than tar. Place in sterilized jars/lids, seal and turn over. Let rest and cool overnight.
Process according to your canner instructions.
* In class we learned you can process in a dishwasher. Just run it through the first wash cycle( not the complete one). Its an effective method method that has enough heat to seal the jams .

For a prinatble version click here.

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How to Cook Skate Wing Two Ways...Tea Smoked and Parmesan Crusted

I fell in love with Skate wing about 7 years ago. While shopping at Fox and Obel, the fish monger showed me this fan shaped wing and told me how to cook it for a dinner I was giving.A simple coat of flour and fry it up in lots of butter. I wowed my guests with the exception of one bitchy comment , who said I cook with to much butter and should watch it. Like I always cooked like that. She was the type of person who ordered plain poached salmon wherever she went. Not a daring food adventurer at all. I digress...
Years went by and skate wing barely bliped on my radar. Then one afternoon I had a hankering for a mackerel. Certain Someone had just come back from a weekend in the Pacific Northwest and I had the most incredible pan seared mackerel at Palace Kitchen . Unfortunately not a piece of fresh mackerel was to be found, but I did go back to Fox and Obel and saw the Skate Wing o display. I purchased two wings to cook up.I made this last month and cant seem to find a my notes. However looking at the pictures I can give you these quick recipes.
Parmesan Crusted Skate Wing Mediterranean Style
I didn't want to fry this up in tons of butter but wanted flavor. A simple dusting of Parmesan cheese and rice flour did the trick with a topping of diced heirloom tomatoes , minced, onion, balsamic, and capers.
1 part Parmesan Cheese
1 part Rice Flour
Skate Wing
Olive Oil to coat pan and fry
1/4 small minced onion
2 tbsp balsamic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp capers
Dredge your skate wings in the parm/ rice flour mixture. Heat pan with olive oil. Add skate wings and brown on each side a few minutes until golden and crisp. Remove form pan.
In a glass bowl add your chopped tomato, onion, Balsamic vinegar, olive oil,capers, and oregano.Toss and serve atop skate wing.
Tea Smoked Skate Wings

I borrowed this technique from a book I reviewed a while back , 50 Great Appetizers by Pamela Sheldon Johns. Rather than use her chicken wings, I figured Skate wings would be amazing smoked with tea.
Aromatics for smoker
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/4 cup brown sugar
Peel of 1 orange
1/4 cup black tea leaves
a few star anise pods
1/4 cup Ponzu soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1- 2 cloves minced garlic to taste
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/8 tsp chili oil
Line a wok type pan with heavy aluminum foil. Leave several inches of foil as a excess collar. Line foil with rice, sugar, orange peel, tea, and star anise. Take a rack or bamboo steamer that fits within wok, and place atop the wok and tea mixture with foil collar on the outside of steamer. Brush steamer or rack with oil and place skate wings. I chopped mine up into manageable pieces.. Place cover on steamer and seal the gap between wok and steamer with the foil.Foil should seal in the whole side of steamer .
Turn on heat to midway and start smoking for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and remove. Let the wok stand for another 15 minutes undisturbed. Carefully open the steamer and remove fish.
In a glass bowl mix all ingredients for dipping sauce and serve with Skate wing.

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