Alicia Kennedy, Food & Drink Writer

old blog

brown sugar coconut muffins

"Don't ever think that you can't change the past and the future." —Kate Bush, "Love and Anger," the Nada Surf cover of which I was listening to while pulling these from the oven.

The first time I could bring myself to bake after I moved to Brooklyn, the smell of vanilla extract made me cry. I unscrewed the cap and could almost physically feel the scent entering my nostrils. My knees buckled and I let myself cry in the shitty kitchen I was sharing with four other people, where I was trying to use the tools I'd been baking strangers' birthday cakes with, trying to get back some of my magic. It was a few months before I'd bake anything again.

Baking remains, though—and I knew all along, I knew I'd get back to it—the most profound thing I'm capable of. It never gives me much personal pride, but instead fills me with awe and joy on a weirdo hippie cosmic scale. I love food because I love pleasure and beauty; I love food because it's life-giving art. (See Steve Albini on this.) It's the most mundane way to show love to yourself and to others (including, maybe, animals); it nourishes our most basic humanity.

None of this has anything to do with the brown sugar coconut muffins, except that baking them this morning—after rising at 6:30, making coffee, eating breakfast—with my apron on and my favorite band in my ears, I felt really fucking good.

These are a dense but moist muffin that comes out of the oven smelling like those Dutch cookies they sell in blue tins. It's a smell I closely associate with childhood, a smell that's reminiscent of the holidays without being overwhelmingly so. It's a perfect early November muffin.

For these, I strongly recommend whipping up coconut butter per the directions in the chocolate-chip cookie recipe. If it's not possible, though, there's a measurement for melting straight-up coconut oil.

This will get you a dozen muffins.

227 g flour
1 t kosher salt
2.5 t baking powder
72 g dark brown sugar
72 g organic white sugar
8 oz. coconut milk (i don't know why i measured this in ounces but here we are)
113 g coconut butter, or 90 g oil, melted
2 T flaxseed meal mixed with 6 T water
coconut flakes for garnish, optional

1. Heat oven to 350 and line your cupcake pan.

2. Mix the flaxseed meal and water and set aside.

3. Melt your coconut butter or oil over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 seconds. Since retrieving my Le Creuset ramekins, I'm rather cutely using them to set up my mise en place—just for my entertainment.

4. Measure all your dry ingredients—not sugars—into a bowl and whisk to combine.

5. Measure your sugars into a separate bowl, then measure in the milk, then pour in the flax eggs and melted fat. Whisk it up well!

6. Pour your dry ingredients into the wet and whisk. It will thicken up very quickly, but make sure you combine all the dry bits.

7. Scoop the batter into your liners using a one third cup measure or scoop. (I bought a couple of heavy-duty scoops at Sur La Table and they are a godsend. If you bake with any regularity, invest in them for your sanity.) Scatter coconut flakes on top, if using.

8. Bake for 11 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 11 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean!). Let them cool, then enjoyyyyy!