Light Mocha Coconut-Kissed Cake

When I get a craving for sweets, I try to go for a bite of fruit or a few pieces of dark chocolate as they're the more healthy alternative. Sometimes though... they don't quite cut it. This Light Mocha Coconut-Kissed Cake is great if you're craving something naughty but don't want all the guilt. That's not to say it's guilt-free... just a little less then the full-on version that I have made in the past. Got to love these Finnish desserts!

The selling points of this confection include a significant reduction in the amount of sugar (only 40 grams), the use of apple sauce instead of butter, and healthy bit of spelt and coconut flour. If you haven't used spelt flour before, it has a slightly nutty flavor and creates a hearty, dense quality. Be wary, we couldn't find it at the standard issue grocery store and had to go to Whole Foods. 

The icing on top is more of a glaze. There is no butter involved and the thickness depends on how much coffee (or sub with milk) that you add. Since it is a glaze, I found that poking the cake with a fork before applying the topping helped it really seep in. 

And finally, a generous sprinkling of shredded, unsweetened coconut seals the deal. Slap a raspberry or cherry on top for additional cute factor.

Be advised, if you're using cupcake liners as I did, the glaze can make the cake stick to the paper. I recommend baking this directly into a buttered/sprayed pan and then serving in a liner. Scandi Foodie actually bakes this recipe in small loaf tins. Do what works for your kitchen!

For the full recipe, be sure to check out this post over on Scandi Foodie. You can also try out the full-guilt version here

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie Cookies

It all started with my in-laws birthdays. They're only one year, and one day apart- what were the chances? His favorite kind of cake is carrot while she prefers chocolate. Making two cakes for one weekend isn't necessarily out of the question but even I will concede it would've been overkill. Not trying to give the entire family diabetes, nah mean?

The settlement was to make a chocolate cake (post to follow) as I have yet to find what I would describe as the perfect recipe. Don't get me wrong! There have been several, "wow... this cake is amazing moments!" Smitten Kitchen's version with ganache is beautifully rich while What Katie Ate's rendition incorporates blackberry jam in the batter, topped with fudge frosting. I love the simplicity of SixOneSeven's chocolate cake, the intensity when omitting flour, and moisture of David Lebovitz's. Clearly the jury is out.

What I do know, however, is that America's Test Kitchen's Carrot Cake knocked my socks off and I haven't looked back since. It's going to take some time before I'm willing to try another recipe. As a substitute for cake, I decided to give a go at carrot cake cookies. I melded together lessons learned from other bloggers and aspects from the America's Test Kitchen's cake (currants are king). 

The end result... these Carrot Cake Whoopie Pie Cookies! Much to my delight, the father-in-law loved them. Usually, his response to food that he likes is, "this is pretty good!" This time? He said he would buy them if they were for sale. Score.

Then chaos broke out. 

As I had merged ideas from several sources to create these cookies, the recipe was jotted down on a piece of paper. When it was time to write this post, I tucked that piece of paper into my back pocket to scan at work (don't tell). That same co-worker buddy and I ran a quick errand as an early afternoon break. When we returned to the office, I gasped.

The paper was gone.

I ran back to the store and sure enough... there it was crumpled on the ground in between aisles. Phew! That was close! As a reward, I treated myself to a little detour into a store that was on the way back to the office. Oh who am I kidding... I went in because there was a cute dog that I wanted to pet. *blush*

Ahem. As I strolled out the door, out came gasp number two. 

In all of 30 seconds... I had managed to lose the piece of paper. AGAIN. It felt surreal- am I really so absent-minded?  Maybe. But I'm equally stubborn. To the confusion of the staff, I proceeded to stalk the ground of their store and the outside sidewalk. There was no way in heck I was willing to part ways with these cookies just yet. They were my ticket to bonus points with the father-in-law!

Amazingly enough, with the help of the staff, the paper resurfaced after a ten minute search. It had been kicked underneath a display a few feet away from where I was petting the doggie. Oh what sweet relief. 

Long story short, I hope you enjoy this recipe because it has had quite a journey.

Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies Cookies
modified from Gourmet and America's Test Kitchen

1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon slat
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup finely grated carrots (I use a zester)
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped


8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) confectioners' sugar
1/6 cup buttermilk powder
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of grated lemon zest
6ounces cream cheese, chilled and cut into equal pieces

Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.

Beat together butter, sugars, egg, and vanilla in a bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, nuts, and currants at low speed, then add flour mixture and beat until just combined.

Drop 1 tablespoons batter per cookie 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Flatten with your palm until they are the thickness that you like- I went for more a chubby cookie. The thinner you flatten them, the less baking time required. Bake, switching position of sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are lightly browned and springy to the touch, 10 to 12 minutes total. Cool cookies on sheets on racks 1 minute, then transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

While cooking, use a stand mixer fitted with paddle to beat butter, sugar, buttermilk powder, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt on low speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, scraping down bowl as needed. Increase speed to medium-low; add cream cheese, 1 piece at a time; and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes.

Sandwich flat sides of cookies together with a generous tablespoon of cream cheese filling in between. You can also drizzle on top if you want a traditional cookie.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

This recipe reflects a weakness of mine. No, it's not cheesecake, raspberries, or even white chocolate. Quite frankly I like my cheesecake with strawberries, raspberries belong on top of cake, and white chocolate... well it's never welcome in this house. Seriously now- it needs to stop being referred to as a form of chocolate.

My weakness is shallow and simple: cute little hearts!

Unfortunately, it's no exaggeration. One of the key factors that persuaded me into switching from a droid to an iPhone was the photography app Picfx; it has a heart filter lens. Pathetic, no? Clearly our sweet Autumn deserves to be covered in hearts in every picture that we take of her. Ack, her cloud-paws are too darling.

You can imagine my illogical delight when I saw this adorable idea for cheesecake; it was so powerful, that somehow I overlooked the white chocolate part until in the midst of mixing ingredients. How did white chocolate get in my kitchen? Oh that's right... cute little hearts.

Making these hearts is not as difficult as it looks; it's all about having the right tools. First, you make a raspberry puree and dot the unbaked cheesecake with dim-sized spots of the puree. I found that my hand was not steady enough to pipe on the dots very symmetrically so I resorted to a plastic squeeze bottle. There are varieties that come with changeable tips as well. The firmness of the bottle provides a better sense of control.

Once you decide on the pattern in which you wish to decorate the pie, drag a sharp point (i.e. a knife or a tooth pick) down the middle of the raspberry dots to create a tiny heart. I went with a connected pattern so I simply dragged a knife and gently spun the pie until all the dots were connected. They're not all going to come out perfect- a raspberry seed can sneak in there or a little cheesecake can build up on your knife. Honestly, the first time that I tried to make this pattern, I bombed miserably and turned it into a marble look. Be patient- it takes a little practice.

As for the cheesecake itself... it was not my cup of tea even though the fella's swore up and down that they liked it. I might be a little biased because of the whole "anti-white chocolate" thing. My biggest issue was the use of lemon zest in the batter. It's an Oreo crust with cheesecake, a swirl of raspberry puree in the middle, and white chocolate incorporated in the batter. Nowhere does citrus add up in this equation. I understand it would brighten up the flavor of the cheesecake but it's already competing with white chocolate and already has a bite from the raspberry. Should I ever make this again, the lemon is staying out.

Per any fruity cheesecake, this was made in celebration of  Brandon's birthday. He's one of my favorite and most stressful people to cook with (we'll get to the cinnamon + broccoli incident another day) and always makes my culinary efforts feel appreciated. Just look at that goober's face- who wouldn't want to make this man some pie! You're wonderful kuya! 

For the full recipe as well as a step-by-step illustration on how to make the heart design, check out Cooking Classy's, White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake.