ranger cookies

Ranger Cookies are a childhood favorite of mine- they always make me think of home. My mom got the recipe from a neighbor in the Texas Hill Country after she brought over a freshly baked batch, and we quickly became enamored. The original recipe calls for shortening (butter flavored Crisco!), but for health's sake I have updated it to either unsalted butter, or if you want an extra coconut kick, coconut oil. I love the combination of sweet and salty textures with the corn flakes, pecans, coconut, and oats! There are several names and variations out there for these cookies- Cowboy, Everything, Kitchen Sink, but to me they will always be Rangers. I recently got the opportunity to whip up a batch of these as part of a steamy shoot for Sports Illustrated Swimsuit! The retro, 50s housewife-inspired looks were sexy & fun, and any shoot that requires me to eat cookie dough is a win in my book! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Ranger Cookies:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, diced (or coconut oil)

  • 1/2 cup raw cane sugar

  • ½ cup light brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • 2 tsp baking soda

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups Corn Flakes (or similar cereal)

  • 2 cups rolled oats

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded or flaked

  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine butter, sugars, eggs and vanilla using a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment on medium-low speed. Add salt, baking powder, baking soda and flours, mixing until no lumps remain.  Finally, mix in corn flakes, oats, coconut and pecans.  Drop by heaping tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Let cool and enjoy! Dough and cookies also freeze well.


chocolate sheet cake with coconut pecan frosting

My husband and I both seriously love chocolate. For his birthday this year, he requested German chocolate cake. I also really love coconut and pecans, so I was more than happy to oblige. We were hosting a casual daytime pizza party with friends for his birthday, so instead of baking a fancy German chocolate layer cake, I thought a giant sheet cake (Texas style!) would fit the bill perfectly. This cake is so easy to throw together, you don't even need a mixer. It's super rich & chocolatey, and I love the texture it gets from the coconut & pecans! It's easy to slice and serve, and can even be eaten hands-free, brownie style! Feel free to make a more traditional German chocolate-style frosting (egg yolks & evaporated milk base), but I opted for more chocolate to accompany the coconut & pecans. You can dig in immediately while the cake and frosting are both warm, or make it ahead of time and refrigerate it until you're ready to enjoy!

German Chocolate Sheet Cake with Coconut Pecan Frosting:

Cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups cane sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 6 tbsp whole milk
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Preheat oven to 350 F and prepare a half sheet tray (13" x 18") or jelly roll pan. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, and salt. In a saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate. Add cocoa powder and whisk together until combined. Add boiling water, allowing it to simmer for about 20 seconds, then turn off heat. Pour chocolate mixture over dry ingredients, and stir lightly to cool. In a bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Add chocolate batter and mix until combined. Pour into sheet cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes (14-16 min for jelly roll pan).

While cake is baking, make the icing. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add cocoa, stir to combine, then turn off heat. Add the milk, vanilla, and powdered sugar. Once fully incorporated, add the pecans and coconut. Pour the frosting mixture over the cake immediately after it comes out of the oven, spreading it evenly across. Dig in immediately, or allow it to cool. Cut into squares and enjoy!

*Adapted from Chocolate Sheet Cake by The Pioneer Woman.


carrot cake with coconut cream frosting

Carrot Cake is my all-time favorite dessert in the world- it was even my wedding cake! I love all the textures and flavors, and would really be happy eating it every day of my life. Everyone has their preferred way of making it- with or without nuts, raisins, pineapple, coconut, etc. After many trials and tastes, below is my version of the ultimate carrot cake! It's a denser cake that's full of tasty ingredients. I love the depth of flavor that toasted nuts & coconut add to this cake, along with spices like cinnamon & nutmeg. I wouldn’t call it a tropical carrot cake though, because you definitely won’t find pineapple in my version! Rolled oats add a nice textural component, but you may also sub out another type of flour (all-purpose works fine) if you prefer. I’m not the biggest fan of cream cheese, but I do enjoy the tangy flavor it lends to frosting in carrot cake. Alternatively, I’ve made a coconut cream cheese frosting using both coconut cream & cream cheese, making it a bit lighter & fluffier, but still creamy & delicious! If you use vegan cream cheese (or leave it out altogether), this cake is also entirely vegan & full of healthy ingredients like carrots, applesauce, nuts, and coconut oil, so feel free to indulge as much as you please! PS- I'm by no means a pastry chef, and am still learning ow to nicely decorate a cake in that perfectly precise way. Thanks to my husband for lending his technical skills!

Carrot Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting:

Cake:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup coconut palm sugar
  • 2 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups carrots, shredded (plus extra for topping)
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted & chopped (plus extra for topping)
  • 3/4 cup shredded coconut, toasted (plus extra for topping)

Frosting:

  • 2 cans coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
  • 6 oz. cream cheese
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray two 9” cake pans with non stick spray, line them with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment paper.

Make the coconut cream cheese frosting first. Remove the coconut milk from the refrigerator, and turn upside down. Open cans from the bottom, pour out the coconut liquid (save for smoothies!), and scoop out the solid coconut cream. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk, along with cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt. Whip the cream, starting slowly at first & gradually increasing your speed, until it’s nice and fluffy. Move frosting to an airtight container, and refrigerate to allow it to set.

Sift all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl (oil to vanilla), then add the two together until just combined. Fold in carrots, pecans & coconut last. Pour the cakes into pans, and bake for about 30 minutes. Allow cakes to cool a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack.

Once the cakes have fully cooled, you may even them out by removing any domed shape on top (this will allow them to stack more evenly). Place one cake on a cake stand, add a layer of frosting, then stack the second cake on top. Add a thin, “crumb layer” of frosting over the entire cake, then allow it to chill for 30 minutes to set. Now apply a thicker layer of frosting over the entire cake. Top with remaining carrots, pecans & coconut as desired. Slice and enjoy!

*Can be made with three 6” round cake pans to create a 3-layer cake. Increase baking time to about 35-38 minutes.

**Adapted from Carrot Cake in Skinny Bitch in the Kitch.


gingersnap chocolate cream pie with bourbon pecan crumble

 

I wanted to bake a festive dessert for our holiday dinner this year, but one that would also please most everyone at the table. Chocolate naturally came to mind, and this gingersnap chocolate cream pie with bourbon pecan crumble by Kale & Caramel was a true winner. Even better, it's all vegan, and most of my family couldn't even tell! The crust is made from gingersnaps and coconut oil, while the chocolate cream filling is thickened with chia seeds. And those candied bourbon pecans? Make extra because you'll want to put them on everything! A decadent pie that you can feel good about indulging in- what could be better?! Head on over to Lily's site for the recipe.