Summer is a funny time for me.  I love the endless sunlight and warm evenings, the scent of tree ripened peaches spilling out of stalls in the farmers market, the jasmine that blooms at night clouding the air with sweet perfume; I love all of the poetic details that make summer feel like summer.  But sand between my toes, salt in my hair, scrapes from beach volleyball or the sting of my first seasonal sunburn do not fall under that list.  I’m a pale red head, you see, so my summer is always experienced from behind dark sunglasses, under a big hat, and under the shelter of shade.  It’s a choice of course, a preference, but one that always made me feel like a bit of an outsider.  I’d watch my sister and cousins in their bikinis.  Hopping from water to towel, getting a little bit more golden brown each time.  I’d sit under the umbrella or lone tree, book in hand, glancing at them from behind my pale pages.

What sticks with me the most is the smell of the tanning lotion, “Maui Babe.”  Made with Kona coffee and nut oil, it smells like summer ought to.  It’s toasted coconut scent is exponentially sexier than the rather medicinal smell of 75 spf.

As an homage to my favorite bathing beauties, I made these Maui Babe inspired Blondies.  Sun tanned and filled with coconut, brown sugar, and a touch of coffee, they’re the perfect dessert for a beach picnic, whether you plan to get a sun tan or not.




Made in a 9x7x2 pyrex baking pan

1/2 cup coconut oil

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 1/4 cups packed golden brown sugar

1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon instant espresso

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 cup macadamia nuts

1/2 cup coconut flakes, packed


Butter & flour a 9X7-inch baking pan, tapping out excess. Preheat oven to 350 °F.

In a standing mixer, cream oil and eggs together.  Beat in sugar, rum, and vanilla until blended. Sift together flour, salt, instant espresso, and baking soda and add a little at a time to the butter mixture on low speed.  Stir in nuts and coconut flakes.

Transfer batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.