Sticky Coconut Maple Bars

Sticky Coconut Maple Bars | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

My Granny Neal made a version of these Sticky Coconut Maple Bars every Christmas and I wrote a love letter to them and shared the recipe over at TheKitchn – Granny’s Christmas Bars! They’re really perfect for any occasion, but when I was a little kid they were a special treat reserved for Christmas morning. Enjoy! 

Sticky Coconut Maple Bars | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François 

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My Favorite Baking Equipment

‘Tis the baking season and time to give gifts to your loved ones who bake pie, cake, bread, cookies and so much more. I’ve had lots of questions about my favorite baking equipment and what to get the bakers in your life. You can always find the list of what I am using in my kitchen in my “Shop” tab at the top of my website. I only post the products that I actually use and love. 

Start with a Blow Torch! It is a super fun and exciting tool that I use as often as I possibly can. It is great for toasting meringue, marshmallows and the sugar crust on creme brûlée. 

A pretty Pie Dish is super useful and makes it more likely your loved one will bake you a pie! 

Below are a few photos of the staples, but check out my full list here. 

A solid, heavy duty rolling pin will get used constantly, especially for the pie lovers and anyone who likes cinnamon buns. There is no right or wrong shape, but what is most comfortable to use. The rolling pins with handles are easier to use if you are rolling lots of stiff dough, but the French or Dowel pins allow you to have a better feel for the dough. I use the French (tapered dowel) and handled pins most often. Full selection here.

Rubber spatulas and bench scrapers are essential. If someone is just setting up kitchen these are the perfect gifts, since they are used constantly and super utilitarian. When you check out my full baking equipment list, you’ll find several sizes and brands that I use constantly.

Straight sided cake pans are maybe my most essential baking equipment. Sturdy and deep is how I like my cake pans.

Bread baking equipment and knives are perfect for those who are getting into baking their first loaf or playing with a 100 year old starter. You can get by with just a few things to bake a great loaf of bread or you can take it to the next level. Find more Bread baking equipment.

Bundt pans are a super fun and useful pan. Maybe my favorite cakes to bake, since a simple cake can look so spectacular. find them here: Baking Equipment

Cook books! There are so many to choose from and I have a list of all the books I have baked from recently and for decades. There are also a bunch that I wrote (like this one). 

 

This rolling rack, which is used to store my hot baking trays as they come out of the oven and where I can store baked goods, so they don’t clutter my counter is for the serious baker who is taking over the whole kitchen with all their baked goods. It’s a good thing! You’ll find everything from this rolling rack to my camera equipment in my Baking Equipment List! 

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Purple Sweet Potato Pie

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

Purple Sweet Potato Pie with a mound of an Italian meringue inspired by Esther Williams (anyone younger than me will have to google her). I was gifted a box of super fun produce by my friend Chadwick Boyd and in the selection from Frieda’s were a pair of bright purple sweet potato. I knew immediately that they would be pie. With Thanksgiving just a couple days away, how could my mind go anywhere else with such a fun bounty. The real surprise came with the topping. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows has been a regular on many Thanksgiving tables, so it seemed natural to pile on meringue and toast it like a marshmallow (a pile of whipped cream would be super tasty too). What I hadn’t planned on was the color. I had reserved the bright purple cooking water after boiling the potatoes, because it was just too pretty to throw away. I typically use a Swiss meringue on a pie, but the Italian version requires making a syrup of sugar and water, which meant I could use my potato water (BOOM, that’s how I’d tint my meringue purple). I had visions of a lavender colored cloud sitting on top of the pie, but when I added the boiling purple syrup to the spinning egg whites it turned bright, bright, bright blue. I’m not entirely sure why, but some chemical reaction in that bowl changed my vision for this pie. I was faced with a bowl of super soft, BLUE meringue and I went for it. I piled it on and then used a star tip to create the swimming cap of a topping (did you look up Esther Williams yet?)

Purple Sweet Potato Pie | ZoeBakes photo by Zoë François

You can see the potatoes and meringue come together in my instagram video. Recipe below:

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Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars

 

There seem to be two schools of thought about Thanksgiving desserts. Those who must have pumpkin pie and those who avoid anything pumpkin, other than the spice mix. I am squarely in the pumpkin camp and so is my whole family, but if you or someone you love is not, these Pumpkin Swirl Cheesecake Bars are the perfect way to ease into using the Thanksgiving essential and give a loving gesture to those who adore pumpkin. The base of these bars comes from Michelle Lopez’s new book Weeknight Baking, which is made up of great recipes that are quick and easy enough to fit into everyone’s busy schedule, even at the holidays. I added the swirl of pumpkin, which is also super easy and fast, but makes them just right for this week. Michelle has lots of great ideas for jazzing up the cheesecake bars and once you see my technique for swirling, you can add your own flair. You can easily make these in time for the big Turkey Day and I suggest making a double batch, so you have leftovers to snack on and stick into school lunches. 

GIVEAWAY! Not only did Michelle graciously allow me to share the recipe with you, but she’s also doing a giveaway of the book. Leave a comment below or on my instagram account for a chance to win a copy of Weeknight Baking.

You can watch me swirl the cheesecake bars on my Instagram account and the recipe lives below. (more…)

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Raisin Pecan Bread and a Holiday Bread Baking Giveaway!

Yesterday was my birthday and next week is Thanksgiving, so it seems an excellent time for a HOLIDAY BREAD BAKING GIVEAWAY! I am partnering with some of my all time favorite companies to create the ultimate bread baking package*. First let me tell you about the raisin pecan loaf that I baked from my book, New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (Breadin5). I made our big batch of the Master Recipe using Platinum Yeast from Red Star Yeast, then pulled off a piece of dough, rolled in some raisins and pecans Using a French Rolling Pin from JK Adams, let it rest and scored the top with a super sharp Bread Knife from Shun Cutlery just before I baked it in an Emile Henry Cloche. Two days later I took out another piece of dough and rolled in olives and sharp VT cheddar. Five days later I grabbed yet another bit of dough, put it in a proofing basket and baked it as a pure and simple boule. If you have a bucket of dough on hand, you’ll have the base for all of these fantastic loaves. You can see the Cheese bread and Boule on my Instagram account. 

*You can recreate exactly what I did with this fantastic Bread Baking Package from all of these wonderful companies. I will pick THREE winners at random to win packages: 

A supply of Platinum Yeast from Red Star Yeast

A Rolling Pin from JK Adams

A Bread Knife from Shun Cutlery

A Bread Baking Cloche from Emile Henry 

and A copy of my book The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

How to enter to win: There are two ways you can enter, leave a comment below, here on my website or on my Instagram post, just look for the photo of this bread! I will select THREE WINNERS in a few days. USA mailing addresses only!

You can watch me making the bread using all of these fantastic tools on my @zoebakes instagram account video. Recipe to follow.. (more…)

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Oatmeal Cookie Dough with Rum Raisins

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

As many of you know, cookies were my first foray into the world of being a “professional” baker. Okay, I was 19, had zero clues what I was doing, but I loved cookies and so did everyone I fed them to. Since those first days baking cookies for my Zoë’s Cookies cart, I have probably eaten my body weight in cookie dough. It is one of the best parts of making cookies. Truth be told it has never made me at all squeamish to eat raw dough, but that’s just me and I know a lot of people are and maybe for good reason. So, when I heard about Dō, a cookie dough shop in NYC, I thought it was so brilliant and wondered how that took so long. I had the great pleasure of meeting Kristen Tomlan when I did an event in Brooklyn this spring and she’s just as fun and lovely as her cookie dough empire. Her method of making the cookie dough safe to eat is brilliant and I share a bit of the technique in my Instagram video.

When her book came I immediately made the chocolate chip and oatmeal cookies to pack up and send to my son at college. He said the chocolate chip cookies were immediately devoured by the kids in his dorm and he hid the oatmeal cookies so he could eat them without sharing. That’s my boy! One thing Kristen and I disagree on is what’s appropriate to add into the oatmeal cookie dough. She is very clear in the book about her disdain for raisins and I am TEAM RAISIN ALL THE WAY! I soaked them in rum and tossed them in without apology, despite her begging us not to violate her dough with the dried fruit. 😉 And, they were so delicious I made more to eat myself. 

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

You will find the Oatmeal (Raisin) Cookies in Kristen’s book Hello, Cookie Dough and here is a link to her Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Rum Raisin add-in goes like this: 1 cup of raisins soaked in 1/4 cup rum for at least 30 minutes. Drain the excess rum before adding to the dough. See my Instagram Video to see how I made the cookies.

oatmeal cookie dough | Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

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