Apple Crisp Tart

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“At no other time than autumn, does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds. Containing depth within itself, darkness, something of the grave almost.”                                                                                                                                                      -Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters on Cezanne

I don’t think I can say much. This quote basically expresses what I feel in my heart. It’s something magical…

I don’t know about you, but I love the fall. The colors , the leaves falling from the trees , the weather, macchiatos, pumpkins, apples … and,umm… of course, cinnamon.

The fall is romantic and baking becomes much more enjoyable, pleasant.

And that’s why I want to share this recipe. It has a lot of texture. It is a crunchy and tasty tart that you can accompany with your favorite hot beverage.

In my case, I decided to make a bourbon – vanilla ice cream.

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Don’t worry about counting calories. It took me a long time (and tears) understand that to be happy, you should eat what makes you feel good. In my case, baking and know that I can change the recipes I like for a healthier version, makes me feel wonderful.

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::APPLE CRISP TART::

1 cup + 1 tablespoon whole wheat pastry flour

1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup nuts (slivered almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts)

4-6 large apples, cored and sliced

Heat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together 1 cup flour. 1/3 cup coconut sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in the coconut oil using your hands, until coarse crumbs form. Add nuts and combine.

Toss together the apples with the remaining flour and sugar in a large bowl. Transfer to a baking dish and scatter topping over the apple mixture.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 25 to 30 minutes. If it’s browning too quickly, tent with foil.

 

Coconut Cupcake filled w/ Lemon Curd and Basil Cream Ganache

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Sometimes the struggle, is what makes success even sweeter.

And struggle is the perfect word for me and this cupcake recipe. Maybe was the moment, the day or the flour… Definitely, not a lack of inspiration. I mean, am listening to “Crazy in Love” and thinking about Christian Grey  so…

My attention is disperse right now.

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Let’s go back to the cupcakes. After having ruined a batch, I finally achieved what I wanted.

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Delicious and fluffy small cakes to fill with a homemade lemon curd and to top with a creamy, rich basil ganache.

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My advice to you: Blast some music while you get inspired and surprise your loved one with this little pieces of heaven.

And remember: Once you lick the frosting off a cupcake, it becomes a muffin… And muffins are healthy!

You are welcome!!!

 ::Coconut Cupcakes::

3/4 pound (340 gr.) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups beet sugar

5 extra-large eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract

3 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

7 ounces shredded coconut
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in the coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely. Remove the center (you can use an apple corer) and fill with the lemon curd. Put back the top and cover with the ganache.

::Homemade Lemon Curd::

3 lemons

1 cup sugar

1/4 pund unsalted butter

3 eggs

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/8 kosher salt

Using a carrot peeler, remove the zest of 3 lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith. Put the zest in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Add the sugar and pulse until the zest is very finely minced into the sugar. Cream the butter and beat in the sugar and lemon mixture. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then add the lemon juice and salt. Mix until combined. Pour the mixture into a 2 quart saucepan and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and cool or refrigerate.

::Basil Cream Ganache::

12 ounces white baking chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 cup cold heavy cream

While the chocolate melts in double boiler, add the basil leaves. At the same time, place the bowl and the balloon whisk of your mixer in the freezer. When the chocolate is melted, place all the ingredients together in the bowl and mix until fluffy.

No Bake Lemon Cheescake

 Who doesn’t like summer? I don’t know, but I love it.

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Everything is brighter, colorful, the days are long, hot …

And while some resent this last, I like it, a lot. I know how to move in the heat, under the sun… In a way that only by living your whole life at a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius, teaches you.

So, want to share with you this wonderful recipe. Is a soft, melt-in your-mouth, freshening dessert. Perfect for a dinner party or for after a BBQ.

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The fluffy mousse melts in your mouth while the ginger and cinnamon crust gives the final hint. The sour cherry and the lemon peel just make a wonderful explotion of flavors in every bite.

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::No Bake Lemon CheeseCake::

Crust

250 gr. crushed honey grahams

3 tablespoons soft, unsalted butter

1/4 cup beet sugar

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of salt

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients until combined. Place in a round 8 inches springform pan and press until firm. Bring to the freezer while preparing the filling.

Mousse

300 ml heavy cream

240 ml homemade sweetened condensed milk

8 gr unflavored gelatine, hydrated

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

lemon peel

In the bowl of an electric mixer, pour the heavy cream and condensed milk, and mix until well combined. Simultaneously, add the gelatine and lemon juice, slowly until the mix looks bubbly.

Pour on top of the crust and lemon peel on top. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours and serve.

 

 

Waffles with Cinnamon-Caramel Apples

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Oats and beer add hearty flavor and texture that complement the sweet intensity of caramel apples. These waffles aren’t sweet, so you can pair them with savory toppings such as melted cheese or roasted vegetables.

Cinnamon-Caramel Apples

½ cup beet sugar or panela

¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk

2 Golden apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¾-inch-thick (1¼ lb.)

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1 tsp. lemon juice

Sprinkle sugar over large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, or until sugar dissolves into amber-colored caramel syrup, tilting pan to distribute sugar evenly but not stirring. Meanwhile, warm coconut milk in small skillet over medium-low heat. Remove caramelized sugar from heat, and stir in warmed coconut milk. Return to heat, and stir in apples and cinnamon. Cook 3 minutes, or until apples begin to soften and sauce begins to thicken. Stir in lemon juice. Keep warm.

Waffles

1 cup organic whole wheat flour

¼ cup oats

1 Tbs. panela

2 tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. salt

⅓ cup plain unsweetened soy milk or whole milk if you like

1 Tbs. ground flax seeds

¾ cups of light beer

1½ Tbs. butter, melted

Preheat your waffle iron to high heat. Whisk together flour, oats, panela, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.Blend the milk, ground flax seeds, and ı/4 cup water in a blender for 1 minute, or until thick and creamy. Whisk milk mixture, beer, and butter into flour mixture. Coat waffle iron with sunflower oil/butter. Spoon batter onto each square of waffle iron. Close lid, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, or until waffle is crisp and dark golden. Repeat with remaining batter.

Spoon ¼ cup Cinnamon-Caramel Apples over each serving.

Makes 4 large waffles.

Hazelnut Crust Tart

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How is your willpower?

I have none.

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Here I am again, sharing with you another of those recipes that will surely going to help us lose some weight (ha!).

I have no regrets, I’m killing myself (I’m being very exaggerated) 5 days a week in the gym. The truth is that I’m enjoying the cycling and zumba classes. Actually, on second thought, I should also consider yoga … Yeah, I think I will.

I hope you don’t have the same problem as me, take a glass of water and gain 3 pounds. Phew, it’s horrible.

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Does not stop me to do what I like, though: cooking, baking, living … The best times in my life, that I share with those I love.

This tart is incredibly delicate. Melts in your mouth and have this  crunchy, nutty crust.

I love this pie.  This pie is certainly easy to love.

No oven required.

Martin Luther King Day Dessert? Yeah!

::Hazelnut Crust Tart:: 

Crust:

8 oz honey grahams

3 tablespoons beet sugar

1/2 cup hazelnuts

1/2 cup pecans

4 tablespoons butter, melted

In a food processor, mix all the ingredients, except the butter. When everything is well mixed, add the butter. Pour the graham cracker and butter mixture into a 9-inch tart shell with a removable bottom.  Press the mixture along the sides of the tart pan and along the bottom until evenly coated.  Carefully place the tart pan in the freezer while you prepare the filling.

Filling:

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup panela

3 cups milk

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

To make the filling combine the cornstarch, panela and milk. Cook until bubbly. Mix in the cinnamon and  stir. Add the beaten eggs to the milk mixture and fold together until well incorporated. Pour in the vanilla extract and butter.

Remove the tart pan from the freezer and spoon in the filling. Spread evenly. Return to the freezer for another 2 hours.

Whip up a cup of heavy cream to stiff peaks and add to the top of the cinnamon filling. Refrigerate for at least two hours, or overnight. Top with grated dark chocolate and crushed hazelnuts. Serve in slices. Seriously.

Cranberry Lemon Muffins

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“What can I say? You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy cupcakes. And that’s kind of the same thing. I’ve never met a cupcake I didn’t want to get to know better.”

― Jasinda WilderBig Girls Do It Better

When I think about the muffin top around my waist, I want to die. In fact, I die ten thousand times. And also, I feel like to bake “muffins”. Good bye beautiful-golden swimsuit…
A good lemon cranberry muffin is just one of the best parts of winter. And despite the fact that it’s not going to help me lose any weight, cranberries are in season, and I’m stocking up. A single gigantic bag of cranberries thrown right in the freezer will last me through till spring (kind of…), so I’m anticipating plenty of cranberry goodness all through the winter.

I want to pack these muffins with as much flavor as possible.

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In my kitchen, flavor, is not a problem.

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I made simple sugar fragrant and utterly lovely by adding fresh lemon zest. This creates, a pretty awesome perfume.

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Next ingredient? Cranberries … Is a beautiful color, isn’t it?

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I filled the muffin cups halfway … then I add in more cranberries and topped off the muffin cups.

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Look how beautiful are the colors in this muffin! If you prefer fresh rather than dried, you’re going to love the tart cranberries as they explode in your mouth! I used a sour cream cake base. It’s moist and fluffy, with a fine crumb, perfect as a base for poppy seeds cupcakes or fruit cupcakes (or both). After making the muffins, if you feel they need a little extra sweetness, you can make a lemon simple syrup and brush over the top of the muffins. Also, you could just increase the sugar slightly, or sprinkle sugar over the top of the muffins before baking them.

::Cranberry Lemon Muffins::

½ cup sour cream

1 cup beet sugar

3 large eggs

pinch salt

1 ½ cups whole wheat pastry flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ cup sunflower oil

2 cups fresh or dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large bowl, mix the sour cream, sugar, salt and eggs together. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.  Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened. Add oil and mix, mix, mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous.  Fold in the cranberries. Bake for 20 minutes.

 

Cantuccini alla Mandorla

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Sometimes a cup of coffee is simply not enough. Sometimes a cup of coffee needs a biscotti . . .

If I know one thing about good biscotti, it’s that they’re noisy little confections. That’s because they’re twice baked, resulting in a crunchy, firm, perfectly dunkable cookie.

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The word biscotti is derived from the Latin biscoctus, meaning twice baked or cooked: The dough is formed into logs, baked, cooled and baked again.

The first biscotti, often referred to as Biscotti di Prato, were created in 14th-century Tuscany in the city of Prato and were made from almonds, which were abundant in the region.

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Because the second baking drew moisture out of the biscuit, it rendered the biscotti hard, sturdy and, importantly, resistant to mold. Consequently, biscotti turned out to be the ideal food to store. They soon became a favored provision of sailors, including Cristóbal Colón (Cristoforo Colombo), who traveled at sea for months at a time with the crunchy cargo. . . Well, all that sounds good.

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I just love them because because of the crunchy texture and amazing almond flavor. And when you dip one of this delicious biscuits in your latte…Ummm…Just like having a bite of heaven.

Now, the secret to bake a perfect biscotti, is in the cooking and the exact time when we will cut the cookies in their traditional diagonal shape.

::Almond Biscotti::

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Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line a large baking sheet. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour (I always use Whole Wheat Flour), cornmeal, baking powder, and salt.

In another large bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with an electric mixer until pale yellow, about 3 minutes. Mix in the lemon zest and then the flour, and beat until just blended. The dough will be sticky. Stir in the almonds. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.

Divide the dough evenly into 2 equal mounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 35 minutes until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Using a serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise into diagonal slices. Arrange the biscotti cut side down on the same baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are pale golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Tip: If you want variations, you can use pistachios and/or dried cranberries instead of almonds; you can also melt 18 ounces of white chocolate and dip half the biscotti on it; or use unsweetened cocoa and hazelnuts for a different look!

Vanilla Bean Coconut Flour Cupcakes

Cupcakes are known today as trendy, delectable desserts. But did you know that cupcakes have been around since the 19th century? Then, they were made with simple cake recipes, and they were far from the decadent desserts we can find today.

Although classic vanilla with chocolate icing options are still popular and evoke a sense of nostalgia,upscale bakeries and even people (like me) who bake for a hobby, have created elaborate flavors with even more options for people’s demands.

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::Vanilla Bean Coconut Flour Cupcakes::

Cake:

1 cup milk (almond or soy milk for vegans)

1 vanilla bean

1 cup coconut flour

3/4 cups beet sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

7 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325F and line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Heat milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and use a sharp knife to scrape out seeds. Add seeds and bean to the milk and bring to a gentle simmer. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes. Remove vanilla bean.

In a medium bowl, whisk together coconut flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Break up any clumps with the back of a fork. Stir in eggs, melted butter and milk and stir vigorously. Stir in vanilla extract and continue to stir until mixture is smooth and well combined. Divide batter between prepared muffin cups and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until tops are set and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool while preparing frosting.

Frosting:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/4 cups beet sugar

6 to 8 tbsp heavy cream

1 vanilla bean

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Beat butter until creamy. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, until well combined. Add 6 tbsp cream and beat until well combined. If frosting seems stiff, continue to add cream, 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
Split vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out seeds. Add seeds and vanilla extract to frosting and beat until combined. Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Yield: 14 cupcakes

Gelato alla Crema con Nocciole e Cannella

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“… everyone knows that ice cream is worth the trouble of being cold. Like all things virtuous, you have to suffer to gain the reward.”
Brandon SandersonThe Rithmatist

As you probably know by now, I don’t have any diet related dogmas (except avoiding industrial chemicals, pesticides, toxins and other additives in food), and I do follow my body’s intuition and listen to it very closely when deciding what to eat. I have noticed not eating dairy products on a daily basis bring me near to death and I do not believe that a low amount of dairy products in my diet improved the way my body looks and feels.

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I used to be one of those kids that SWORE by cocoa krispies and milk for breakfast time… and now I just keep doing it.
My skin is still bright, my stomach still is flat and my general energy haven’t change at all.

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But, if there’s one thing that gets me off my routine – it’s ice cream! I love it! And that’s why I’m always looking for ways to enjoy “poison” free desserts and it’s why I created this recipe so I can enjoy ice cream all the time without sacrificing anything.

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This recipe is for homemade whole milk-based ice cream made just like your old time favorites. Yesterday, I made Hazelnut, one of my favorite flavors, of course free from all the crazy artificial colors and additives… Soon, my husband’s favorites – Pistachio and Mint Chocolate Chip. They sound both SO GOOD! (Well, Mint Chocolate Chip not so much to me…)

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::Gelato alla Crema con Nocciole e Cannella::

Basic mixture:

4 egg yolks

1 cup (200 gr.) beet sugar

2 cups (500 ml) whole milk

1 cup (250 ml) cream

For flavor:

1 1/2 cups (192 gr.) chopped hazelnuts

1 tablespoon cinnamon powder

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Lots, lots of love!

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until pale and creamy. Bring the milk and cream to a boil, add the cinnamon powder and vanilla; then set aside and cool for ten minutes. Pour the milk and cream into the egg mixture, cook on the top of a double boiler, adding the chopped hazelnuts, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, making sure it never comes to a boil. Remove from heat, and leave it cool completely. Transfer the cooled mixture to a big bowl and place in the freezer. After 3 hours, whisk the mixture to make sure it is freezing evenly. Return to the freezer for 3 hours, then whisk again. Whisk one last time after 3 more hours. Place some hazelnuts and cinnamon sticks on top and chill the dish/bowl before serving, at least 30 minutes, that way your ice cream stay frozen longer.

Note: If you have an ice-cream machine, transfer the mixture to it, and follow the instructions to finish.

Caribbean Coconut Flan

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Birthdays are complicated when you reach a certain age. Oh, don’t get me wrong. You’re grateful for another year. I mean. You’re still alive and kicking, right? Waking up to a fresh start. Starting a spanking new year on the planet with one more inch in your waist. A number that grants you a whisker more authority in the world. A tad more wisdom.

If you’ve been paying attention to the lessons life likes to offer up as experience, and not sleepwalking, that is. Not acquiescing to the expectations of others. Or choosing safety over the challenge of the new. Or worse- finding yourself somewhere, in some situation, or relationship, strictly for the sake of momentum, chafing inside a role you don’t remember signing up for.

Birthdays can be markers like that.

Defining where we’ve been. And how far we’ve come. Or not.

Wow! That sounds deep…way too serious…not too much like me…Who are you? And more important, where is the real me?

Every year, for my B-Day, my Mom used to ask me what I wanted for lunch. That’s one of the many ways she makes me feel very special on that day. And my answer was always the same:

Almond rice. Chicken with Mushrooms and Mustard sauce. And the salad, well, I always let my mom decided.

But my favorite part was dessert. The best, because as the rest of the food, is always the same: Coconut Flan!

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I know, many women out there are worry about counting calories, fat, trying to get the “Miley Cyrus look”, right? I’ll just say I stick with those one that, thank God, still think that women like Ann Margret and Marilyn Monroe are example of the definition of beauty.

Anyway, I usually bake during the week, that way we can have dessert after dinner. But not this week. No dessert, and I was going crazy (and better not to mention Paul…he was driving me crazy!)

So, this is something fast and I always enjoy while I’m preparing it. You know: the anticipation, the wait for something you know is going to be delicious, mouth-watering.

I also know perfectly well that Paul and I are going to devour this flan in less than a eye blink.

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Is a pleasure for me, to introduce you, my favorite recipe:

:: CARIBBEAN COCONUT FLAN::

1 cup (200 gr.) beet sugar

Boiling  water

425 ml coconut milk ( I love AROY-D, does not contains nothing but coconut extract and water)*

425 ml regular milk

390 ml homemade sweetened condensed milk

6 eggs

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup coconut flakes, toasted, for garnish

Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 35o degrees F.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the sugar until it melts. Add 11 tablespoons of hot water and mix well, until caramelizes. Remember to be careful while preparing it and try, if possible, to use only wooden spoons. Pour it into a flan dish, pie plate or round souffle baking dish with shallow sides, swirling it around to coat the bottom and add little less of half of the shredded coconut on top. Place in freezer while preparing the mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs until foamy with a wire whisk. Beat in the condensed milk, coconut milk, regular milk, and shredded coconut. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. It will need to bake in a water-bath in the oven. Set the dish into a large baking pan with sides and carefully pour the boiling water around the flan to come 2/3 the way up the sides. Carefully transfer to the preheated oven. Bake for about 1 hour, until the flan is set and the center only jiggles a little bit, like a cheesecake would. Remove from the oven and water-bath and allow to cool completely. Turn the flan out onto a flat serving platter. Cut into slices for serving. Garnish with whipped cream and toasted coconut.

* That brand of coconut milk can be found in asian markets. They have coconut milk for dessert and another one for cooking. Love them both!