Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finished - Tulips

tulips finished-final sm

Here is the finished painting. I posted a WIP about a month ago. Now I just need to wrap it up to give to my sister for her birthday. Which was April 6. Oops. Better late than never, right?

I added some white drips, removed a leaf, added another elsewhere (felt like I had "bunny ears" on the previously posted version), some detail throughout, splatters - that sort of thing.

Here's a side-by-side.

tulips-before after sm

I'm very happy with the finished painting. I hope my sister agrees!

Chocolate Chip Coconut Coffee Cookies

CC Coconut Coffee cookie-3

I'm a fairly recent convert to coconut. Up until a year or so ago, I would have told you that I could kinda-sorta tolerate it, but hated the texture. I'm not sure what happened between then and now, but I'm pretty sure this cake began the conversion...

And this bread sealed the deal.
coconut bread-crumb

So when I saw Bakergirl's coconut coffee chocolate chip cookies post show up in my reader, I immediate pinned the recipe and made them the next weekend. While they were very good, I wanted to amp up the coffee flavor and make them chewier. I took her concept, combined it with my go-to CCC recipe, and came up with this. I still think the coffee flavor could be enhanced even more, but they're awesome, regardless. It's a CCC with some extra oompf, since the coffee really gives the chocolate an added boost.

I didn't have the usual shredded, sweetened coconut you find at the grocery store, but I had this unsweetened flaked coconut I found at Menards, of all places. 
flaked coconut

Really. In their grocery section—which is just weird to have in a hardware store, but whatever, because the have an entire row of throw-back style candy {Boston baked beans, burnt peanuts, things like that} as well as various baking chips — and I'll take it where I can find it!

I also use this extract from Watkins. I found it at the farmer's market since a women there has a Watkins both. I assume you can order it online or find another maker of caramel extract/flavoring. 

caramel extract

I like the combination of chocolate, coffee and caramel. Oh and coconut. Sounds like a Starbucks drink, right? Great, now I want a frappuchino. I'll settle for this cookie, though!

CC Coconut Coffee cookie-2

Chocolate Chip Coconut Coffee Cookies
Inspired by Bakergirl (

2-1/2 cups (350g) All-purpose flour 
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional, but I love a hint of cinnamon in my CCC)
2 Tbsp instant expresso, such as Medaglia D'Oro
1 cup (225g) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1 cup packed (215g) brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp coffee liqueur, homemade or something like Kahlua 
1 tsp caramel extract
4 oz bittersweet baking chocolate, chopped (like Ghiradelli)
1 cup (170g) mini chocolate chips
1 cup coconut, shredded, or flaked that's been chopped into finer pieces) - sorry - forgot to weigh this

(preheat oven to 350°F if baking right away)
1. Combine flour, soda, expresso, and cinnamon in medium bowl. Whisk and set aside.
2. In bowl of stand mixer or large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugars until well combined. Don't beat until "pale and fluffy" - you just want it smooth. 
3. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each and scraping bowl as needed. 
4. Add coffee liqueur and caramel extract. Mix until incorporated.
5. Add flour mixture - all at once - and mix until just incorporated. Add chips, chopped chocolate and coconut and mix until distributed throughout batter.

At this point, you can bake the cookies and they still taste great, but for best flavor and texture, refrigerate at least an hour before baking; overnight is best. Or do what I did - bake a sheet of them NOW, then wrap up the rest for later. It's a total win-win.

If baking immediately, use cookie scoop or spoon to form 1" - 1-1/2" balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3" or so inches apart to allow for spreading. If refrigerating, divide dough into 4 portions and form a log on a length of wax paper. Roll up tightly and refrigerate overnight. You can also put these in freezer bags and keep them handy for cookie emergencies. Come on, we've all had them, amiright??

When baking refrigerated or frozen dough, simply slice in 1/2" portions and space on baking sheet, baking as normal.

Bake 9-10 minutes, depending on your oven and preferred "done-ness". If you like a softer, gooier cookie, keep to the low end. Because the dough is kind of dark from the espresso and caramel flavoring, it's kind of hard to tell doneness, so keep an eye on them and make sure they're no longer glossy and just slightly darker on top.

Let them cool on the baking sheets about 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. 

These are the perfect coffee break cookie. The coffee flavor is not very strong, but you can tell it's a CCC with some oompf.  I think pecans would be an amazing addition to these - definitely doing that next time. I think adding expresso powder to all of my CCC recipes is going to be a given from now on. 


Sunday, April 22, 2012

WIP—Gold Face


Here's one of my current WIP (12"x12"). Still lots of work to do on this. If it looks metallic to you, you're right! I put a thin layer of copper paint over the face and hair area just for the hell of it.

I'd intended for this to be more abstract, but it's coming out more literal. Her nose definitely needs more work. Right now it's way too "LaToya" for my tastes. I'll adjust the shading and make it closer to the inspiration photo I'm following.

face inspiration

I picked up this free wedding magazine at the grocery store. Lots of good face/flower/posing inspiration!

wedding mag

I don't know what I'm going to do with her hair, but I'll figure it out as I go along. I have no formal training with painting — ok, I had a random "painting and drawing" class in HS—so I'm pretty much winging this whole thing.

Digging through my archives

Rather than delude myself that I'll actually ever dedicate a full blog post to the myriad of photos I have on my computer, originally *meant* to be full posts, I decided to dust them off and at least share some of them with you. If nothing else, it's at least proof that I have every intention of blogging far more often than I actually do. Yeah, I think that's a lame excuse, too.

Until I actually do a "real" blog post, here are some snippets to tide you over.


I made these beignets over a year ago. Really. They were awesome. I don't recall what recipe I used - sorry!


I have to say that I'm quite proud of how these photos turned out. Probably some of the most styled of the food photos I've taken.


Again, these photos are from last year. June 5 to be precise. Am I on top of this whole blogging thing or WHAT?! I love the monarchs that flit around our yard in the summer - just gorgeous. This is a different kind of lilac that blooms late and has just gotten huge over the last couple of years. It's right by our deck and acts as a lovely screen and source of nectar for various fauna.


When the final Harry Potter movie came out on DVD, Dwight and I had a little party. I made various HP-themed treats including treacle tarts, butterbeer and these pumpkin pasties.

HP pp

This was just something funny we saw one day last fall. We noticed our cats going crazy over something outside the front door. There it was - a chipmunk mercilessly teasing our cats. You can practically hear it squeaking, "Ha Ha SUCKERS!" to the frustrated kitties.


And I'll leave you with this. I colored my hair over my birthday weekend, BRIGHT red on top, with purple underneath. I love it and have gotten many compliments. My only complaint is that the purple is still washing out. I now have purple splotched towels and my pillow cases will never be the same again. Oh well.
red purple hair
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