Don’t Tell Jim*…

…But these cookies are made with coconut.

*Jim is my mother’s fiancé. And Jim hates coconut. However, Jim loves these cookies. Like, really loves these cookies. As in he won’t share them with anyone else. So I don’t want to ruin them for him by telling him that he actually likes coconut.**

**And I realize, that by posting on a completely public blog in an open forum, there’s pretty much no chance that he won’t see this. But I figured I needed to share this information with all of you, in order to put into perspective how absolutely, completely freaking awesome these cookies are. But seriously, if you see him, don’t tell him why they taste so good…

Moving on:

Yesterday was my day off, and it was one of those absolutely perfect yoga-and-farmers-market-and-long-walks-up-the-side-of-a-small-mountain-with-my-dog kind of days. Which made it the perfect kind of day for finally trying out the recipe I’ve been writing and rewriting and fretting over for the last week.

Long walks up the side of a small mountain with my dog...

My last recipe, the More Than a Spoonful of Sugar Caramel Meltaways, was good, but the caramels were missing…something. Jim, who has this thing for pointing out minute details in taste, texture, and mouthfeel, let me know: the cookies were good but the caramel was…just alright. I really do appreciate that kind of feedback–because in order to get better, I have to know what works for my potential customers and what doesn’t.

So I looked at the caramel recipe. Now, caramel is a really difficult beast to tackle. It’s not a beginner’s food–it involves split second timing and a low margin of error…a single sugar crystal on the side of the saucepan can ruin a whole batch of caramel, and a few seconds of extra heat can leave you with a pan full of burned sugar that needs hours of soaking and scraping.

The secret to caramel involves watching that thermometer very carefully...

For the last cookie, I spent hours searching the web for comparing regular and vegan caramels. All of them used sugar, some form of cream (be it soy or true dairy), some form of fat (butter or its vegan equivalent), some form of sugary “interfering agent” per David Leibovitz (i.e. corn syrup), and then salt or vanilla to taste. However, I didn’t want to use vegan butter or Soy creamer to make caramels. I don’t know why, but the concept of using processed “foods” to make the caramels didn’t appeal to me–and I was right in assuming that the end result wouldn’t be the knock-your-socks-off stellar kind of caramel that I needed in order to make my cookies shine.

So I decided that I was going to write my own recipe.

I first searched the web for alternatives to the Earth Balance/Silk dominated vegan caramels, but I found literally nothing. This meant that I would have no foundation on which to build, at least not in a concrete sense. I wracked my brain for alternatives…and settled on coconut.

Full fat coconut milk (which, if you’re concerned contains a healthy medium chain fatty acid, which has been making waves among the health food community of late) could take the place of processed creamers or heavy dairy creams, and coconut oil could, after factoring in its lack of water content, take the place of butters and margarines. I also got rid of the corn syrup by substituting brown rice syrup and a small amount of molasses. I kept the sugar, salt, and vanilla, since they needed no substitution.

After a week of doing math (which, for this former English major, was no small feat!), I figured out what seemed like the best ratios for caramel success, and I set to work at the stove.

To die for? I think so.

The result was a resounding absolute success. Yummy, delicious, sticky caramel, which would wow even a coconut-hater.

This meant I needed a cookie to stick it in.

Sticking with the coconut theme, I made a coconut oil based chocolate chip cookie (and they don’t even taste like coconut!), and then put a small piece of caramel in the center of each cookie before baking.

Chocococonut Caramel Cookies!

Jim loved them. So much so that he had to talk everyone in the house out of trying one, just so he could have them all for himself.

I’m okay with that–so long as no one tells him what’s in ’em.

Love & Cookies,

KP

PS I’m still raising money to pay for my commercial kitchen and insurance costs so that I can start my business. If you (or anyone you know) can donate, please do so here: Help Bring KP’s Cookies to the World!

French Toast and Guest Stars on the West Coast

…as you might have noticed, I haven’t been posting for a little while. Craziness at work aside, I’ve spent the last several days preparing for–and then taking–my very first trip to California. Now I’m here in Silicon Valley, visiting my mom & younger brother, who made the exodus out here just a few short months ago.

While this trip was LONG overdue, I’m glad I had the chance to take it when I did: My plane touched down on the afternoon of my brother’s 12th birthday!

Even though I’m 13 years older than Jack, I have a really great relationship with him. When I moved home about a year and a half ago, he and I had a chance to bond over iCarly, Harry Potter, and cookies. Ever since he moved, however, it’s been harder to be a part of his life. I still call him to find out his reactions to the new episodes of iCarly or to hear about the newest handmade wand he purchased with leftover Christmas money, but it’s a lot harder to make cookies for him to taste-test.

Last spring, after he had a bad day with a bully, I made up a recipe that combined two of his favorite things: french toast and Snickerdoodles. Jack’s French Toast Cookies were an instant hit–and he’s been asking for them ever since. So it was only fitting that I make him some French Toast Cookies for his birthday.

And, because I wanted to spend as much time as possible with him (and not just hidden in the kitchen, while he played angry birds on Mom’s iPhone), I asked him if he wanted to help out. The answer? Well, I’ll let you see for yourself:

Love & Cookies,

KP