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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Almond Joy Bread

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The town that I attended college in--Kirksville, Missouri--had a tradition where every Halloween the kids from the neighboring area could come treat or treat in the Truman State residence halls. It gave us college kids the chance to ooh and aah over the cute costumes (okay, the college girls! I don't remember many male rooms participating!) and meant bonus candy for all of those kids, who also trick-or-treated in their own neighborhoods!
A few friends and I stocked up on the Hershey's bag of fun-sized candy bars that came with an assortment of candy including Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Heath Bars, and my personal favorite, Almond Joy. My friend Kacey was also an Almond Joy lover and we unashamedly removed each and every Almond Joy from the package, consuming the majority of them while we handed out the remaining varieties to the costumed children that came to our dorm room. Kids don't like almonds or coconut anyway, right?!
My love for Almond Joys remains strong, although I rarely buy them these days. Instead, I've found a (slightly) healthier way to enjoy the combination of coconut, almonds, and chocolate, thanks to this quick bread! I've had this bread recipe saved in my email for almost two years...I'm so glad I finally decided to make it. These mini loaves baked up perfectly--rounded domes of a slightly crisp crust with a moist and chewy interior. I reduced the sugar, added some whole wheat flour, and skipped the coconut syrup and chocolate glaze that Peabody included in her version and found these were still perfect, modifications and all (instead I dressed it up with a bow for the photographs ;)). My only change would be to use regular-sized or mini chocolate chips. I used the giant Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (more like discs!) and so there were fewer bites with chocolate. I'd rather have smaller bits of chocolate scattered throughout!

Two Years Ago: Oatmeal Raisinet Cookies

Almond Joy Mini Loaves
slightly adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

-4 eggs
-1 1/2 cups sugar
-3/4 cup canola oil
-1/4 cup melted unsalted butter
-1 tsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp almond extract (could sub coconut extract)
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 cup sweetened coconut
-1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped
-1 cup chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs, sugar, oil, butter, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Beat on medium for 2 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beginning with the flour mixture, alternate flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, and finally the remaining flour. Mix until just combined (do not overmix!)
3. Gently stir in coconut, chocolate chips, and almonds.
4. Grease and flour four mini loaf pans. Divide batter equally among pans, filling each 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow pans to cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes before running a knife around the edges of each and removing from the pans. Allow to cool completely on wire rack before wrapping to store.
*Wrap in foil and keep at room temperature for up to 3 days