coconut-cream-cheese-brownies

Some of you may be wondering where I’ve been. I could ask myself the same thing.

My friend Matt and I spent last night talking about what’s been holding me back from blogging, from writing, and really from anything I want to be doing, or feel like I should be doing. The simple answer is, and has been for some time now: I need a vacation. I’ve been so wound up with trying to survive as a stay-at-home single mom, that I barely have the time to do the laundry or clean the bathrooms and take the kids to school and help them with homework and read to them and pray with them and pack lunches and kiss their boo-boos and be their shoulder to cry on and make dinner and answer the cries of “Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!!!!!!!!” let alone sit down and edit photographs or write something interesting. Sometimes, I feel so overwhelmed with everything, putting up a post is the last thing on earth I want to do. Sometimes, I want to make brownies without taking a picture of them, or without writing down how I made them, dammit.

Sometimes, I just feel like swearing.

When I blog, you’re usually not seeing the whole me (not the part of me that swears, until today, apparently). You’re seeing some of me, but you’re only seeing a version of me. Usually, you’re seeing me on a good day, or on a bad day, when I’ve managed to spin my story into something uplifting.

That could be why I don’t always feel like blogging. If the real me, the whole me, is lying on her bed somewhere crying because her heart is breaking, or she just doesn’t know if this career is ever really going to pay the bills, then the version of me that wants to raise sophisticated, well-read children, may just have a difficult time finding her way to the computer to do something other than searching for pictures of Theo James on IMDB.

In real life, I complain. And more than I should. I spend hours, bending my mom’s ear about how there’s just not enough of me to go around, or about how my kids are having trouble in their lives for various reasons. Sometimes I mention my ex-husband to her. Maybe it’s more than sometimes. But I don’t tell you guys most of that stuff. I don’t want to bore you, or make you feel like you have to say something nice. I’ve never wanted to bring you down or waste your time here. Because you all deserve better than that. You all have your own hardships, and your own moments when the pain of letting the tears fall feels better than holding them in a minute longer. And if you can come here and find a recipe for a brownie and forget about your problems, then I’ve done my job.

But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad to all have a good cry together every now and then.

So, if you want, I’d be happy to show you more of the stuff I keep guarded.  But if you ever don’t see me coming around here, it’s not that I don’t care about you, or that I don’t want to be here with you. Sometimes, I’m just dealing with my own crap.

In the meantime, here’s a recipe for a brownie we made for our first day of Bake Sale Week.

We wanted something that was like an Almond Joy candy bar, so these taste a little bit more like milk chocolate brownies, as opposed to dark chocolate, so that is why we were sparing on the cocoa powder. You could add more if you want. Also, we would have added almonds, but once we made the brownies, with the gorgeous layer of cream cheese and coconut, we felt like the almonds would just be superfluous. You can sprinkle some on top if you want, though. You might want to add a drizzle of ganache for good measure, too.

coconut cream cheese brownies

for the brownie layer:

1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup flour
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

for the cream cheese layer:

8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Line an 8×8-inch square baking sheet with an 8 x 1-inch piece of parchment paper so the paper comes up the sides of the pan. Hold in place with metal binder clips. Place in a second piece of parchment paper going the opposite way, and hold in place with two more clips. (If that explanation lost you, I explain it a little better on a video that you can watch here.) Set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar and mix on medium speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Incorporate eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in vanilla and salt. Add flour and cocoa powder, and mix until well incorporated, but do not over mix. Spread batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate chips. Use an offset spatula to smooth the layer of batter evenly into the pan.

3. In a medium bowl, to make the cream cheese layer, beat together cream cheese, sugar, egg, vanilla and salt. When the mixture is smooth, stir in coconut. Spread evenly over the top of the brownie layer. Lightly cover the baking pan with a piece of aluminum foil so that it does not touch the batter. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into squares.

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