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      Recipes — pure vanilla extract

      Coconut lemon Cake

      Coconut lemon Cake

      Coconut and lemon?  You got me!

      A while back I read a cute novel called, " The Coincidence of the Coconut Cake".  You know, the kind of book your girl friends refer for a nice relaxing day at the beach. Nothing serious, heavy, or deep, just a fun light read. It’s a cross between You’ve Got Mail meets How to Eat a Cupcake. It focuses on a talented chef named Lou and the critical food critic Al who brings down her restaurant—whose chance meeting turns into a delectable romance of mistaken identities.

       But what I remember most about this book besides the deliciously described coconut cake, was the character Lu (the chef) always dabbed a little vanilla behind her ears at the start of every day. As much as I love vanilla, why hadn’t I thought of this?!  Don’t think I didn’t try it!  A little bit of wonderfulness following you around all day? Yes, please!:).

       Also, since this book’s main setting settles in a small French cafe, the descriptions will leave you hungry and searching for really good food and perfectly sweet confections!

       Speaking of confections… If you love lemon and coconut, and I do… You gotta try this cake!

      Just think... 3 layers of coconut cake from scratch, sweetened coconut flakes, coconut milk, cake flour for an unbelievably soft crumb, eggs for richness, and a ton of butter. The flavors and textures are the perfect companions. I love how detailed this recipe is. You just can’t go wrong!



      • 3 cups sifted cake flour (300g) spooned and leveled
      • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) coconut milk, at room temperature*
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) buttermilk, at room temperature*
      • 1 and 1/2 cups (345g; 3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
      • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
      • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
      • 5 large eggs, at room temperature
      • 1 Tablespoon (15ml) VanillaPura Madagasgar  extract
      • optional:1 teaspoon coconut extract (I prefer the cake without it, but it’s still tasty!)
      • 6 ounces sweetened shredded coconut (about 2 loosely packed cups)
      • 1 and 1.5 cups homemade lemon curd


      Cream Cheese Frosting

      • 8 ounces (225g) full-fat brick style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
      • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened
      • 3 cups (360g) confectioners’ sugar
      • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) coconut milk or heavy cream
      • 1 teaspoon VanillaPura Madagascar vanilla extract
      • pinch salt
      • Topping:toasted (or not!) sweetened shredded coconut and lemon slices for garnish




      1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray or lightly butter three 9-inch cake pans. Set aside.
      2. Make the cake: Whisk the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside. Combine the coconut milk and buttermilk together in a small bowl or liquid measuring cup. Set aside.
      3. With a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on high speed in a large bowl until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Add the granulated and brown sugars and beat on high speed for 3-4 minutes until creamed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed. With the mixer running on low speed, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla extract and the coconut extract (if using). Beat on medium-high speed until combined. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
      4. With the mixer running on low speed, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk mixture and mixing each addition just until incorporated. Do not over-mix. Use a whisk to rid any large lumps, if needed. The batter will be slightly thick. Finally, fold in the coconut. The batter will be lumpy. See photo above for a visual.
      5. Spoon/pour batter evenly into each cake pan. Bake for around 22-25 minutes or until the cakes are baked through. Remember to rotate the pans halfway through baking to ensure even baking. To test for doneness, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake. If it comes out clean, it is done. Allow cakes to cool completely in the pans set on a wire rack. The cakes must be completely cool before frosting and assembling.
      6. Make the frosting: In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk or paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and butter together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar, 1 Tablespoon coconut milk/cream, vanilla extract, and salt with the mixer running on low. Increase to high speed and beat for 3 minutes. Add 1 more Tablespoon of milk/cream to thin out, if desired.
      7. Assemble and frost: First, using a large serrated knife, slice a thin layer off the tops of the cakes to create a flat surface. Discard (or crumble over ice cream!). Place 1 cake layer on your cake stand or serving plate. Evenly cover the top with a thin layer of frosting, then half of the lemon curd. Top with 2nd layer and evenly cover the top with a thin layer of frosting, then the remaining lemon curd. Finish with the third cake layer and spread the remaining frosting all over the top and sides. Garnish the top with coconut and/or lemon slices. Refrigerate for at least 45 minutes before cutting or else the cake may fall apart as you cut.
      8. Slice, serve, enjoy!


      1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: The cake layers can be baked, cooled, and covered tightly at room temperature overnight. Likewise, the frosting can be prepared then covered and refrigerated overnight. Assemble and frost the cake the next day when you are ready to serve. Frosted cake can be frozen up to 2 months if you have room in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving. Honestly, it tastes much better fresh.
      2. Flour: Do NOT use all-purpose flour in this coconut cake. Your cake will be too-dense, solid, and heavy. Make sure you are sifting the cake flour before measuring to aerate it and rid lumps. I strongly encourage you to just buy cake flour, but as an alternative you can make a DIY cake flour. For every 1 cup of flour in this recipe, remove 2 Tablespoons of it and add 2 Tablespoons cornstarch in its place. Sift at least 3-4 times, then use in the recipe.
      3. Milk: This recipe has been tested with equal parts coconut milk and buttermilk. If you can’t get ahold of coconut milk, you can use 1 cup of buttermilk instead. For a DIY version of buttermilk, add 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar to a large liquid measuring cup. Then add enough regular room temperature milk (whole, skim, 1%, 2%) to make 1/2 cup total. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. This soured milk can be used in the recipe.
      4. More Lemon Flavor: To increase the lemon flavor, feel free to add the zest of 1 lemon to the coconut cake batter. Keep in mind that this will take away from the cake’s coconut flavor. Also optional for more lemon flavor: beat zest from 1 lemon into the cream cheese frosting.
      5. More Coconut Flavor: To increase the coconut flavor, feel free to use the optional coconut extract listed. And/or you can add 1/2 teaspoon of coconut extract to the frosting.
      6. Sheet Cake: The batter makes a perfect sheet cake! Simply spread into a 12×17 inch half sheet/jelly roll pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. It also fits nicely into a 9×13 inch cake pan. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until cooked through.


      A big thank you to Sally’s baking addiction for sharing this recipe!

      Homemade Graham Crackers

      Homemade Graham Crackers

      Memorial Day is coming up! What are your plans?  We usually go camping, or have a BBQ in the back yard, just to lazily soak up the nice spring warm sun that we have been missing all winter!  When I think of our backyard BBQ’s or camping, I think of roasting s’mores!

       Have you ever made homemade graham crackers?  Once you do you’ll never be able to eat those store bought rock hard, tasteless grahams again! SERIOUSLY!

        A few years ago I made them for  a s'more table at my niece’s wedding reception. In fact, enough for 250 wedding guests to enjoy.  It ended up being about 500 graham crackers! I think I can make them in my sleep now! :)

      It was a ton a work, but over the top deliciousness.  Not only did we make homemade graham’s, but we also made several different types of homemade mallows, from peanut butter, to chocolate, coconut. orange, and strawberry. One of my favorites were the vanilla bean. No surprise, right? :)  I’ll be sharing that recipe soon!

      I’m not going to lie…It was a lot of work, but worth every minute.  They were the most delicious s’mores I’ve ever, not only eaten, but enjoyed!

       But… to be honest they really are not that hard to make. Especially when you’re NOT making 500! :)

      I like to make a couple batches and put them in the freezer. Some of them I crumble to use for a graham cracker crust whenever I need it. I know they last at least a couple months in the freezer in an airtight container.  About a week at room temperature. Make sure they are kept air tight.

      You can make these ahead and have plenty for Memorial Day AND plenty for your yummy graham cracker crust desserts to come! They won't disappoint!

      Happy S’moring!!



      • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
      • 3/4 cup graham or whole-wheat flour
      • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
      • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
      • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
      • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
      • 2 teaspoons of VanillaPura Mexican extract
      • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
      • 1/3 cup packed light-brown sugar
      • 1 tablespoon honey
      • 1 large egg



      1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Using an electric mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, and honey until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl. With mixer on low speed, add egg, and mix until combined, Add flour mixture, and mix until combined.
      2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll between two sheets of parchment to a 1/8-to-1/4-inch thickness. Remove top piece of parchment paper and place dough on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes. Using a fluted pastry wheel, cut dough into 2 1/4-inch squares and prick dough with a fork to create dotted lines. Transfer to two parchment-lined baking sheets and freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.
      3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Bake graham crackers until golden brown, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer crackers to a wire rack to cool completely.

       Graham crackers can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 1 week. Or longer in the freezer. This recipe makes about 16 crackers. Use a scalloped cookie cutter to make them even cuter!


      Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart's Homemade graham crackers.


      Worry Free Cookie Dough

      Worry Free Cookie Dough

      Ok, do I have any cookie dough lovers out there?  Who doesn’t, right? I made chocolate chips cookies last week for the boys for a little after school sweet surprise.  The funny thing was, the first thing they said when they got home wasn’t, “hey Mom thanks for the cookies!”  It was,“ Is there any cookie dough left?” Of course they ate the cookies too, but their first thought was, cookie DOUGH!  They know I always have left over cookie dough, because I make a double batch, so I have enough to scoop up the rest in my cookie scooper and freeze. This is great for those last minute late night chocolate cravings.

       I’m not a cookie dough Nazi. If they want to snitch some dough from the bowl, I’m good.  We collect our eggs everyday from a cute little coup in our backyard. The eggs are fresher than fresh.  Although, if they prefer to eat more cookie dough rather than cookies, maybe I need to re-think this and find a recipe without eggs.  But wait, not only are the raw eggs potentially harmful,  I just learned that raw flour is too. What?! I can’t tell you how many undercooked rolls I’ve eaten in my life.  Not to mention, the bowls and bowls of cookie dough. So, even though I’ve never fallen deathly ill, it may be a good idea to find a safer recipe option without eggs and raw flour and try it out.  But...I'll never give up my vanilla!:)  



      Toasting flour in a 350F oven for just 5 minutes we kill off any harmful bacteria, allowing us to eat this edible cookie dough without fear.

      To make it:

      1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (this will make transferring the flour so easy).
      2. Measure out your flour and evenly spread it over the parchment paper.
      3. Bake in your preheated oven for 5-7 minutes.

      To ensure that the flour is really safe, I recommend using an instant read thermometer to verify that the temperature is at least 160F. Allow flour to cool before proceeding with recipe. During the heat treating process, I found that some of the flour has the tendency to clump or bake together.  To keep these clumps out of your cookie dough, run the flour through a sifter before stirring it into your edible cookie dough.  Also, make sure you let it cool!  It cools quickly, but too-hot flour can melt your other ingredients, leaving you with nothing but an edible mess.


      • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour (215g)
      • cup unsalted butter softened to room temperature! (226g)
      • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, tightly packed (250g)
      • 1/4 cup sugar (50g)
      • teaspoon VanillaPura Madagascar rum vanilla extract
      • 1/2 teaspoon salt
      • 1-2 Tablespoons milk optional*
      • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips I recommend using a mix of mini and regular sized (85g)

      Optional Mix-Ins:

      • creamy peanut butter
      • colored sprinkles
      • crumbled Oreos


      1. Preheat your oven to 350F.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread flour in an even layer over the parchment paper.
      2. Bake on 350F (72C) oven for 5-7 minutes**
      3. Allow flour to cool, then run it through a sifter to break up any clumps that may have formed while baking.  Set aside.
      4. In a large bowl (preferably a stand mixer), combine softened butter, sugar, vanilla extract, and salt. Use an electric mixer to cream together until very creamy and very well-combined, 1-3 minutes.
      5. Gradually add cooled, sifted flour, stirring until completely combined. If dough is too stiff after thoroughly stirring, add milk, one tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.
      6. Stir in chocolate chips (and any additional add-ins you might like!)
      7. Store cookie dough in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week. Cookie dough will firm up some in the refrigerator, so for best enjoyment let it sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before enjoying leftovers

      Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla & Mascarpone Cream

      Fresh Fruit Tart with Vanilla & Mascarpone Cream

      It’s finally March and I’m ready for warmer weather! I need green grass and colorful blossoms filling up all those empty spaces left from winter, it’s the promise of fresh fruit to come!

      Until then, lets head down to the nearest Costco and pick up some fresh fruit, so we can make this yummy fruit tart!




      • 2 Tablespoons (30ml) cold heavy cream
      • 1 large egg
      • 2 teaspoon VanillaPura Madagascar/Vodka vanilla extract
      • 1 and 1/3 cups (167g) all-purpose flour
      • 1/2 cup (60g) confectioners' sugar
      • 1/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/2 cup (115g; 1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed


      Vanilla Mascarpone Cream

      • 8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature1
      • 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream, at room temperature
      • 1/4 cup (30g) confectioners' sugar
      • 1 teaspoon VanillaPura Madagascar/rum vanilla extract 
      • seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean (or use an extra 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)

      Fruit & Glaze

      • assorted fresh sliced fruit
      • optional glaze: 2 Tablespoons orange or apricot preserves mixed with 1 Tablespoon water. ( I thought it was better without)



      1. For the crust: Whisk the heavy cream, egg, and vanilla together in a small bowl. Set aside.
      1. There are two options for this step: by hand using a pastry cutter or using a food processor. You can do it either way. To use a pastry cutter: Whisk the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt together in a medium bowl. Place the cubed butter on top and cut in using the pastry cutter until the entire mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs-- a few larger crumbs is OK. Pour the wet ingredients on top and stir to combine. You can use your hands to really get it all combined if needed. To use a food processor: Place the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend. Add the cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles pea-sized crumbs-- a few larger crumbs is OK. Add the wet ingredients, then pulse until the dough comes together and forms a ball.


      1. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and flatten into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 2 days. (See make ahead tips.)
      2. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out into a 9-inch circle. Place into a greased 9-inch tart pan and press it down into the pan and up the sides until it is even all around. Refrigerate as the oven preheats or for at least 10 minutes. Cold dough is important.
      3. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Remove crust from the refrigerator, line the inside with foil, and fill with pie weights. The pie weights prevent the crust from puffing up, shrinking, and/or losing shape. (Alternatively, you can freeze the dough and bake from frozen without using pie weights. It will take about 20 minutes to bake if frozen.)
      4. Bake the crust for 10 minutes, remove crust from the oven, reduce oven heat to 350°F (177°C), and carefully remove the foil and weights. Use a fork to prick a few holes into the bottom of the crust and bake, without weights, for 5-6 more minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool completely before filling.



      1. For the cream filling:Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the mascarpone for 1 minute on medium-high speed. Then, very slow add the heavy cream with the mixer running on low. Do not add it all at once, the mascarpone could curdle. Next, add the confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract, and vanilla bean. Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Spread into cooled crust. Refrigerate until ready to garnish with fruit or garnish right away.


      1. Garnish the tart with fresh fruit. Whisk the optional glaze ingredients together, warm for about 15 seconds in the microwave, then brush on top of the fruit. Slice and enjoy! Leftovers keep well in the refrigerator for a few days.

      Make ahead tips: Prepare the crust through step 3 and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator then let sit at room temperature until easily rollable. You can also prepare and bake the crust, then let the crust cool in the pan to room temperature. Put the tart in the freezer for about 1 hour to let it firm up, then wrap it in plastic and freeze it for up to a month. When ready to serve, unwrap the crust and let it thaw before filling and decorating. The mascarpone cream can also be prepared ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days before using.



      Kudos to Sally’s baking addiction for sharing


      Honey Vanilla Fruit Salad

      Honey Vanilla Fruit Salad

      Valentine’s Day is over and I’m feeling overloaded with all those chocolatey sweet sugary confections. I’m ready for some fresh light and of course, a little sweet, alternatives:). 

      It’s always around mid to late February when my spring fever kicks in and I start craving fresh fruit and sunshine! Here in Northern Utah,we are still digging ourselves out of several feet of snow. No more gray cloudy skies! Bring on those beautiful Utah blue skies! I’m dreaming of a yummy fresh fruit salad, while sitting outside soaking up some sunshine vitamin D! Who’s with me? For all you spring dreamers, here’s a recipe to fill your fresh fruit cravings. I’ll just have to wait a little longer for those easy going Sunday back porch mornings. Here’s to hoping for spring!

       Really, just use your favorite fresh fruits. It can change throughout the year, depending on what fresh fruits are readily available.  This recipe is just a starting point. Be creative and change it up!


      -1 peeled cored and chopped pineapple

      -16 oz of strawberries stemmed and quartered 

      -12 oz blueberries 

      - 4 kiwis peeled and sliced

      - 2 oranges (save juices about 3 Tbsp)

      -1/4 cup honey

      - 2 tsp VanillaPura Mexican rum vanilla extract



      1. Combine the cut fruit into a large bowl.

      2. When segmenting the oranges, hold over a medium bowl to catch any juice. When all the segments are removed, squeeze what is left of the orange over the bowl. 

      3. Whisk in the honey, vanilla, with the orange juice. Pour over and mix through the cut fruit.

      Easy Peasy!

       Recipe provided by the Wholesome Dish.