Coconut Macaroon Brownies

Coconut Macaroon Brownies \ Zoë Bakes photo by Zoë François

These coconut macaroon brownies are a delicious collision of two of my absolute favorite treats. They are the brilliant marriage of chewy coconut macaroons and the fudgiest brownies you will ever eat and we have Jake Cohen’s new book, Jew-ish, to thank. I grew up eating coconut macaroons at Jewish holidays and they were typically out of a box, that felt like it had surpassed its “Best By” date some decades earlier. Don’t get me wrong, I still loved them, but they had very little in the way of flavor or texture, they were just sweet and as a hippie kid, that was enough. As I got older, they failed to excite me and I learned just how easy and delightful a homemade macaroon was. At about the same time, I started making Ina Garten’s outrageous brownie recipe and I realized, in a profound way, just how much I needed chocolate in my life. But, those two recipes never found themselves stacked together in a pan and baked as one. That is what Jake did and it is a stroke of genius.

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4th of July Baked Alaska

4th of July Baked Alaska

It’s 90°F in the shade and I just can’t bring myself to fire up the oven today. So, the only reasonable thing to do is make a 4th of July Baked Alaska with homemade ice cream and top it with flaming meringue. If you don’t want to make your own ice cream, then just get your favorite store bought brand and layer them up in a loaf pan. I used strawberry, coconut and blueberry ice creams to create the red, white and blue stripes. Okay, they’re pink, cream and purple, but the intention was right and I say close enough.

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Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons

Chocolate Dipped Coconut Macaroons on a glass cake stand

These chocolate dipped coconut macaroons are from The Great Minnesota Cookie Book by Rick Nelson and Lee Svitak Dean. I often bake from books written by other bakers I admire, but sometimes inspiration comes, not from the professionals, but from our neighbors. The recipes they grew up baking, from their family traditions, have been time tested and in this case, have won first prize in the Star Tribune Holiday Cookie Contest.

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Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Sorbet

Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Sorbet | ZoeBakes photos by Zoë François

Inspiration can come from the craziest of places, including a nail salon. My friend and I were having our nails done when a man carrying stacks and stacks of baskets filled with Rambutan (see the pictures of the fruit and my sassy pedicure on instagram), a tropical fruit related to Lychee, walked in to sell them. Apparently he drives in from Florida with a truck full of fruit on a monthly basis and we just happened to hit it right this time. So, we walked out with sassy toes and 10 pounds of Rambutan. What was I to do with 10 pounds of this unusual fruit? I headed straight to Instagram and asked my community there what they would do. Sorbet and panna cotta came up several times, so, here you go, my interpretation of those suggestions, Coconut Panna Cotta with Tropical Sorbet.

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Carrot Cupcakes (from The Minimalist Kitchen)

Minimalist carrot cupcakes | Zoe Bakes(11 of 5)

If you’ve ever seen my kitchen, you’ll know I am not a minimalist. The abundance just sort of happened. I’ve lived a full life and gathered stuff along the way. Too much stuff, perhaps. I just got Melissa Coleman’s (thefauxmartha) beautiful new book and I am determined to declutter, downsize and minimize my kitchen (and eventually my whole house). I vow to go through each cabinet and keep only what is essential. The rest I will donate or pass along to the next owner.

The other thing that is wonderful about her book and philosophy is the way she approaches a recipe. Use as few utensils and equipment as possible. When I made this recipe I tried to stick to the two bowls she recommends and even chose one with a spout, so I could just pour the batter out, instead of using a spoon to scoop. It’s amazing to be so conscious of what is crucial and what is just extra. I normally live in the “extra” zone, but now I will be more mindful.

I adore carrot cake. It’s one of my favorite desserts. This carrot cupcakes recipe is delicate and less hippie than my go to carrot cake, so it was fun to try Melissa’s sophisticated take on the classic. The mascarpone frosting is so good I had to keep my whole family from eating all of it before I could pipe it onto the carrot cupcakes. Melissa has kindly given me permission to share her lovely recipe with you here.

Melissa says the sprinkles on top of these carrot cupcakes are optional, but I think they are brilliant and you should go for it.

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