You know, I have to say: I’ve been learning a lot of lessons lately. First and foremost, I have learned that I would really like to marry an Avett Brother. I suppose that’s a byproduct of the real first and foremost, in which I realized it’s really important to go with your gut. I’ve been trying lately to listen to my intuition about things and to act on that, even if the initial outcome is really difficult, because in the end you might find yourself in a space you like doing things you like with people you like. Easier said than done, I realize. And since, you know, I am sticking to things I like and I like contemplative people and stringed instruments and people with impressive beards, I’m thinking it is only the most obvious thing that I should probably go ahead and marry an Avett Brother. I genuinely think we might be pretty darn happy together, in part because whichever one I end up with had something to do with these words:
“If you’re loved by someone you’re never rejected / decide what to be and go be it.”
Handsomeness- and banjo-related matters aside, the main lesson I wanted to share here is that you should always, always be wary of anyone and everyone who claims to dislike coconut. To those of you who fit into this category: I’m so sorry I didn’t warn you to put on your hater blockers. This comes from a very pure part of me that, quite frankly, just doesn’t understand. You belong to a group of humans possessing admittedly neutral, mundane characteristics that I’ve learned I, for whatever reason, don’t necessarily mesh with (for various reasons not pertaining to the following descriptors), including: garlic-lovers; people with golden eyes; anyone who follows up a truly great anecdote with ONE INFURIATING WORD, “Nice;” and those who are rude to receptionists. To be clear, there are exceptions to every rule. I’m sure we could find something to get along about. I’m just having a hard time accepting that a mutual love for coconut will not be that thing.
Especially because coconut is the star of one of my new favorite recipes, which I discovered recently on Epicurious following a sincere wave of sick fascination; see, I just can’t get over the fact that there are people who cook with tarantulas. I don’t mean to be difficult here, but I don’t even need to explore a friendship with someone who is comfortable doing so, because I just can’t. Tarantula-eaters, you’ve been added to my list.
Of course, I couldn’t look away from the computer following this discovery, and so I read and read and read about singeing the hairs off each spider’s body and removing the abdomen (I’M SORRRRRRRRRYYYYYYYYYY) before deep-frying. And then I told everyone I spoke to for the next couple of days about it. What is wrong with me.
To make up for my gross fascination with something even grosser, I decided to start searching for recipes that did sound delicious. Naturally, I started with coconut. Thank goodness I stumbled upon this old recipe from Gourmet Magazine, because it was begging for a QS spin. I switched some things up, melting the butter with some coconut oil before creaming with dark brown sugar. I also substituted chopped pecans for chocolate chips, because it’s the time of year when everyone has already overdone it on Cadbury Eggs, anyway. What results is a perfectly moist, chewy, caramelly bar, textured with crisp bites of toasted coconut. Perhaps my Avett Brother husband will one day like them, too.
One Year: Cherry Ricotta Cake
Two Years: Prune, Pistachio, and Dark Chocolate Muffins
Three Years: Goat Cheese-Garlic Toasts with Prosciutto, Arugula, and Truffle Honey
Toasted Coconut Blondies
Makes about 2 dozen squares
Adapted from Epicurious
1 (1/2 cup) stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted and cooled
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted and cooled
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with coconut oil. Melt butter and coconut oil in a medium saucepan on medium-low heat, then allow to cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the salt, the baking powder, and the flour. Cream together the butter, coconut oil and the brown sugar, beating the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat the batter until it is just combined. Stir in the coconut and pecans until just combined. Spread the batter evenly in the baking pan, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and crumbs adhere to a tester. Let the mixture cool completely in the pan on a rack and cut it into squares. Blondies should be stored in an airtight container, and will last up to three days.