Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A GIVEAWAY and I Bastardize a COCONUT-ORANGE Snowball Cookie Recipe

OK, settle back, this one should be fun... But FIRST...

(Merry Christmas from me)

Everyone needs a calender, what you don't need is some cute kittens and half naked firemen hanging on your wall all year. You need something useful, and this is it...

Larry Noggle at has created an amazing calender from photos from his pepper farm. Click on the website and you will find a true labor of love. His shopping page features not only this calender, but also prints of his photography, hot sauces and clothes featuring his art! His links page is a treasure trove of resources for the home gardener. And so much more... Please take a moment and head over to his site. If you have the smallest interest in Peppers (if you don't, GET OFF MY SITE!) you will add his web page to your links.

Larry has given me a calender to give away. So, standard rules... Drop me a comment (any comment will do, but i am considering starting a garden (herbs and peppers this year). What I would really like is a tip on how to start) and you get an entry. I also want to reach 100 followers by the first of the year. If you are already following me, GREAT, let me know and you get an entry. If you are not a follower yet, click that link to the right with all those little faces and join the regular fun. Anyone joining in the next three days will get a second entree.

Contest will end in just two days (Friday). I want to make sure the winner gets this in time for Christmas! SO, Come and follow me...

BTW, Larry's calender features recipes, every conceivable holiday and LOTS of handy links to sites every cook wants. The perfect gift idea for the pepper head in all of us! Click on the photo of his calender and you can order one for your loved ones in time for Holiday gifting!

OK.. And now, on to the bastardization of a recipe from a very talented Blogger...

Judy, of NO FEAR ENTERTAINING has been working on an amazing challenge... 12 Christmas Cookies in 12 days. She, as well as another 9 bloggers are filling the blog world with amazing cookie. Each day, she bakes a different recipe and posts the results. It does occur to me that she either is a kind and generous soul who makes gifts of her creations, or she has the ass the size of Massachusetts. She does have a photo of herself on her blog, so I assume she is kind and generous, actually, I am hoping against hope that she is kind and generous after she sees what I did to her recipe...

Yesterday, Judy posted a recipe for COCONUT-ORANGE SNOWBALLS. I read the ingredient list, and I was thrilled to discover I had all of the ingredients on hand... no trip to the store. I was also thrilled to figure out that this combination of ingredients (coconut and orange) are among my wife's favorites... I wanted to give this a try.

Here's her ingredient list and directions...

  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups sifted powdered sugar (sifted, then measured)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake coconut on rimmed baking sheet until light golden, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.
Using electric mixer, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and both extracts in bowl to blend well. Beat in flour, orange peel, and salt. Stir in coconut. Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Soften dough slightly before shaping.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Using 1 level tablespoon dough for each cookie, roll dough between palms of hands into balls. Place on prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake until golden on bottom but pale on top, about 18 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; cool 5 minutes. Place remaining 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar in bowl. Roll hot cookies in powdered sugar, covering completely. Cool cookies on rack. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again, coating generously. (Can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)
Pretty aren't they... The photo above is of Judy;s snowballs, very pretty...

BUT... Here is what she wrote at the bottom of her post...

Would I make these again? Don’t think so. I found them a little dry. That could have been my fault for skipping the 3/4 tsp of coconut extract but I doubt it. They do look pretty though with all the icing sugar on them!!!

OH NO... what to do... I have all the ingredients, I like the idea of this, I want to make them... But even the incredibly talented original baker was not thrilled with the results... What to do, what to do???

Obvious... dust off the cape, slap the bold MB label on my chest and fight crime (er, disappointing recipes) as ... THE MASTER BAKER RETURNS!

Ok, In all seriousness, I did ask a bit of advice from Judy. It occurred to me that the way to fix dry is to add more moisture. Meaning BUTTER! Butter, butter, butter, butter... Only thing that works almost as well as adding bacon is to add butter! Judy agreed.

Then, this morning, just before I started, I saw a tip on OUR KRAZY KITCHEN. Joy offered the following advice... Do you know the secret to soft, chewy cookies? Under bake them ever so slightly. Cookies are the smallest baked items from our ovens, and they continue to bake while they cool, so even a minute more in the oven makes a huge difference.

OK, I started the recipe with the idea of adding more butter and cooking less... but I changed more as well...

Here's what I did...

Assemble the ingredients (and pop an Elvis Christmas album in the CD player).

I also decided to avoid having my ass the size of Montana (it is already the size of Massachusetts, so I have to be careful). I was going to cut this recipe in half.

And now, here is a shot of my failure... When I followed the directions for toasting the coconut, it came out a bit TOO toasty (this is a shot of my garbage can). I kept the temperature the same, and cut the cooking time by 25% to 9 minutes instead of 12. It still got a bit too toasty. Then, i put on my MASTER BAKER THINKING CAP (looks silly with the cape, so I don't always wear it). I got out a couple of my grill thermometers, and determined that my oven was accurate (set for 350, I put 4 thermometers in, at the end of 15 minutes, 2 read 350, one read 348 and the final 349 (those were the front two, so maybe the window is a bit less insulated). Close enough for me and 10 times close enough for inefficient Government work(don't get me started).

OK, with my cape wrapped around my shoulders for warmth (it was 8 degrees outside this morning), and my thinking cap covering my head, and armed with the results of the first two attempts and confident on my oven... here's what I decided...

I cut the cooking time to just 5 minutes. Only a slight toasting around the edges. This batch of coconut even felt moist, instead of the second batch, that was more toasty, and completely dry. OK, faced with the dilemma of wanting to add moist, vrs the spirit of the recipe and having toasted coconut as texture in the cookie, my thinking cap told me to...

Split the difference... half well toasted, and half just a little toasted...

Next, I followed the directions, except I added an extra 1/4 of a stick of butter to the batter.
Butter, butter, butter, butter, butter

I set the oven for 325 (instead of 350), instead of 18 minutes, I set the timer for 10 minutes...


Oh, I knew this day was going to edge my ass closer to the Montana size with these. Once I zested the orange, I ate it for breakfast. Montana ass can be avoided, even this time of year.

At 10 minutes, the cookies were not quite done, so I added 4 more minutes. They came out GREAT... But, one more appearance from the MASTER BAKER's THINKING CAP...

OK, The MASTER BAKER is not stupid, even before I put on my thinking cap...Class, what do you guess is going to happen to my cookies once I added the extra butter...


Think about those beautiful balls of Judy's...

Class, what happened to mine...

Last chance...

Right... The MASTER BAKER created Coconut-Orange cookies. Not even close to Judy's beautiful snowballs (sorry Judy).

And my verdict... These are the perfect cookie... Moist, chewy, FULL of flavor and texture. Once you dust with powdered sugar and put on a pretty red plate, very festive and filled with the Christmas spirit.

To Judy... your snowballs were prettier than my flat cookies. I am sure they made a festive presentation when combined with the other 11 cookies you are making. EVERYONE will be thrilled to receive your basket of different goodies. But...

and, please Judy, forgive me for this...

Nah nah na na na na....
Mine tasted better!!!

Oh, one other thing, I dusted 4 with powdered sugar (ate one, had to be sure)

Then I dusted 4 with vanilla infused cinnamon sugar (ate one, had to be sure)

And I left 4 with no additional topping (ate one, had to be sure)...

Actually, I liked the bare ones better. Not as pretty, but sure does taste good.

And when the MASTER BAKER's wife gets home from that inconvenient day job, here is what her table will look like.

Happy Holidays from the kitchen of the Master Baker!

Thought I might start showing just a few of my holiday decorations every day... Cause I want to see yours..

My cat, Eng has made new friends for the holidays. He fought me just a little when i wired his eyed for lighting.

And what says Christmas more than an autographed Leonard Nimoy (the REAL Spock) Shuttle-craft Galileo Christmas ornament guarding the safety of the baby Jesus nestled in his manger.


  1. I LOVE THAT YOU DID THIS!!! What a hoot and I waited all morning for it too!!! I love the idea of the coconut not being quite so toasted and that really may have helped. You know I am going to have to make these again right??? See what you have done!!! People a running the opposite direction every time they see me know and I still have 4 more days to go!

  2. Dave I follow your every word and love my morning laugh. You always say something to help my mood. Great recipe and love the Cajun sweet! I bet the secret ingredient was actually Elvis putting you in the mood. The Galileo guarding baby Jesus is so cute! I love the calendar too. What an awesome Christmas present, more recipes and the way to keep track of when to make them LOL.

  3. Just an off-topic FYI here, Dave: I have decided to make your sausage stuffed spiral pork loin with bacon lattice for my Solstice meal for my family this year! I got a great deal on pork loin in the USA the other day, so I am totally stoked!

  4. I have every book on chile peppers you can imagine... cookies sound great!

  5. WE are chili heads in this house! I love the cookies, they sound yummy!

  6. Man, I wish I could garden. I can't do anything in this apartment, no grill, no garden, nothing.

    Whining aside, the cookies look great!

  7. Good luck with the garden! I attempted to grow peppers from seeds once. My hubby added too much fertilizer, and within about six weeks, we had startingly beautiful, full-grown peppers. That literally tasted like dirt. Don't use plant steroids. That's my gardening advice.

    I grow herbs outside during the summer. Be sure to give them plenty of space, and read up on each particular herb's favorite growing conditions. And if you decide to grow your herbs inside, grow a pot of catnip, too. :)

    And of course, I'm a loyal follower!

  8. Cool calendar! It reminds me of these Tabasco posters my husband and I bought years ago.

  9. I would add in a few tbsp of cointreau or something for kick :)

  10. We have had two experiences with gardens. One in northern Kentucky that turned out quite well. We dug out a 5'X 12' space, put in some good dirt, and boarded it with small rail road logs.

    I would also reccomend getting tomatoes and peppers as small plants from a nursery. I would not reccomend getting them from a chain home improvement store (you never know what diseases they have). We had success growing beans and spices from seeds.

    Our second experience was with planter boxes...and we have had little success with those except for green peppers.

    Good luck!

  11. I'm one of the other participants in the 12 Days of Cookies challenge with Judy, and I posted these snowballs yesterday (

    I reduced the baking time to 14-15 minutes, and while they're not moist & chewy, I didn't think they were overly dry, either. This type of cookie isn't going to be. But that's the point of this challenge - compare notes, and change things up! Love how you ran with it. :-)

  12. So, what's wrong with half naked firemen? I'm reporting you to Donna!

  13. Looks like you really enjoyed preparing this post, Dave. So glad my baking tips were just in time to help you. Thank you for sharing this recipe with all of us at Our Krazy Kitchen.

  14. I will pretty much eat coconut-infused anything. Snowballs. Cookies. Anything.

    You are really good at dealing with problems in the kitchen as they come up. I am not quite so persevering I'm afraid.

    I wish I could give you tips on how to start your garden, but I live on the 12th floor of an apartment building in Manhattan. Gardens only appear in my dreams ;)

  15. ohhh ohhh ohhh.... me! me! pick me! (waving hand in the air like a second grader)... I love the pepper calendar... but you know.... half naked firemen sound good too... just kidding... I'm a follower

    I love cookies... as you well know... and these sound really good

  16. those cookies do look moist and chewy. thanks for stopping by earlier today.

  17. You are too much, cher! So talented on the grill and in the kitchen! The cookies look fab, and I want that chili pepper calendar!! Did I mention that I have a chile pepper theme in my kitchen and dining room?

  18. A couple of days ago my Ole Sweetie-Pi came in with half a dozen calendars he bought at the $1 store, so we're all calendard up, one for each room and then some, grins.

    I always equate snowball cookies, Russian tea cookies, Mexican wedding cookies, or whatever name they go by, as being dry, which is why I don't make them.

    Your cookies, with all that beautiful buttah, well that's just a whole 'nother cookie. Lead me to the cookie tray. Have to shovel a path to my car first. Perhaps you could just same me a couple, grins.

  19. An Ass The Size of Massachusetts????? LOL You are too funny. I would love the calendar, am already a follower, garden tip: lots of tomato plants; and last, I love the ornament protecting the manger, if anything goes really bad, they just beam him up.

  20. You will read, oh and btw way I am laughing as I write this, that I do not bake as much as I did in early years, but this sounds like something I want to try, but I need that cajun stuff! When I go to LA next march to see family I am hauling stuff back, do not need clothes, will give it all away to someone while I am there...

    I love the fact you posted the trashed coconut! Oh and I told hubby just now about the star trek ornament and we were laughing, cause if we could have a tree (no room) it would be covered in stuff like that! We brought back a bottle of blood wine from vegas and still have it! Wait we would hang wine glasses and bottles too!