Crazy For Coconut

IN THE KITCHEN

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Mother's Day is just around the corner. So, if you are lucky enough to have your mom around, you might want to start thinking of including her favorite things in a special meal for her.

My mother's favorite flavor is coconut. I did not take after her with that particular characteristic, coconut is one of the things I can hardly stand to smell, let alone eat.

Still, it is going to be Mother's Day, so this is about what she likes.

I imagine coconut could be used as a garnish with just about any dish, but so far as actually cooking with it, you are pretty much limited to dessert-type dishes.

One year for Mother's Day I tried to make a coconut layer cake. It looked so beautiful in the photo in the cookbook, but what I came up with was a lopsided, sticky, gooey mess. It was also the last time I took a shot at making a layer cake.

Anyway, here are some coconut recipes to consider: pecan cookies, fresh macaroons, cream pudding and chocolate, ice cream pie.

Coconut Pecan Cookies

1 1/4 cups flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups firmly-packed brown sugar

1/3 cup melted butter

2 eggs

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 1/4 cups flaked or shredded coconut

1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 8-inch square pan. Sift a cup of flour with salt, add 1/4 cup sugar. Add butter and mix until smooth.

Press into bottom of pan and bake 15 minutes.

While pastry is baking, prepare topping: beat eggs well, gradually beat in remaining sugar and beat together until fluffy.

Sift remaining flour with baking powder. Add to creamed mixture; beat well.

Add almond extract, coconut and nuts. Spread quickly over pastry and return to oven. Bake 20 minutes or until browned.

Mark into squares or triangles while still warm, then leave in pan to cool.

French Coconut Macaroons

4 egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup confectioners1 sugar

2 cups flaked coconut

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Beat egg whites with electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla and mix well. Add sugar gradually and beat well after each addition. Beat until stiff and glossy. Fold in coconut and flour; mix well. Drop from teaspoon onto buttered and floured cookie sheet. Bake in preheated 325-degree oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Coconut Cream Pudding

3 tablespoons cornstarch

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups milk

2 egg yolks, beaten

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup shredded or flaked coconut

Whipped topping

Mix cornstarch, sugar and salt in heavy saucepan. Gradually blend in milk; stir over moderate heat about 7 minutes, until mixture thickens.

Stir a little hot mixture into egg yolks; stir yolks into remaining hot mixture. Cook 1 minute, stir constantly.

Mix in vanilla and coconut. Serve warm or chilled in individual dessert glasses, adding whipped topping if desired.

Chocolate-Coconut Ice Cream Pie

Crust

(1) 4-ounce package semisweet chocolate

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups flaked coconut

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat; remove from heat and stir in coconut. Mix well. Press on bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate and freeze filling.

Pie Filling

1 quart ice cream, softened

2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup flaked coconut

Spread ice cream into crust, spread whipped cream on top of ice cream and sprinkle with coconut. Freeze until firm.

Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving; dip bottom of pan in hot water to ease cutting.

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