Good things come to those who wait. I mouthed these words over and over like a mantra while I slowly stirred the milk and sugar together in the pot, while I awaited their magical transformation into my beloved buttery confection. Letting coconut milk simmer sounds simple enough but, truth is, making matamis na bao — coconut jam — is a labor of love. It requires time. Plenty of time. It requires constant, courteous attention.

Days have become too demanding lately. Free time has been rare. I cannot remember the last time I took a photograph just for the sheer pleasure of taking one. There are books on my shelf, on my bedside table untouched and unread. There are long walks to take. Friends to visit. Confections to make. I had planned a million to do’s the other day — like any other day — but I chose to stay in the kitchen and spend the morning simmering and stirring coconut milk and muscovado sugar together to make jam.

I am going to take a break from blogging. A short break. Maybe a month. Maybe a little more. There will be more stories when I return, I promise. More photographs. More recipes. A complete alphabet. I am not going anywhere, don’t you worry. I trust that you aren’t, too. I’ll be in the kitchen, taking things slow and savoring another spoonful of my rich coconut caramel.


Coconut Jam Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies Recipe,
Recipe for peanut butter cookies adapted from The Best of the Maya Kitchen: The Complete Guide to Baking, makes 3 dozen cookies

1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup matamis na bao, coconut jam

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Beat peanut butter and butter in a bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add egg and beat until incorporated. Add flour mixture and mix until well combined.

Scoop tablespoons of dough and form into balls. Place dough an inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb at the center of each dough to make a shallow indentation. Bake until edges are golden, around 10 to 12 minutes. Warm coconut jam in a saucepan until easy to spoon, about 30 seconds. Spoon coconut jam into each indentation.


Peanut Butter Cookies

  • Chris J

    Lilly’s Peanut Butter? Brand name, presumably. And taking a break? Please, please…give us more personal, juicy details about why or our…my imagination will paint things in the most clever, outrageous ways.

  • Jun Belen

    Have you had Lily’s peanut butter? Skews in the sweet side, So good in hot pan de sal.

  • Chris J

    I love peanut butter but as I’m constantly watching my weight in order to stay at a healthy weight, I eschew it on a regular basis, but I’ll keep an eye out for it–unless it’s the gooey oil-separates-kind which my Filipina wife would definitely naysay.

    Mmmm. Pan de sal with peanut butter…now my mouth is watering…

  • Anonymous

    Just HOW did you know that I wanted cookies and coco jam together?! These look beautiful and luckily for me, I still have more coco jam left. Thanks for the great post. Enjoy the time off- you deserve it! (But we’ll certainly miss you.)

  • Gemma Chew

    YUM (: these look so good! xx

  • Denise Woodward

    I hear you on slowing down. A little voice in the back of my head keeps saying the same thing … I feel like you. When was the last time I picked up the camera for pure joy. It makes me feel sad. Or what about the people I feel I have not connected with in so long – present company included. I am happy that you are slowing down …. and anxiously await the new stories.

  • Denise Browning

    Jun: Just want to say, congrats for being nominated for the second time as one of Saveur best regional food blogs. I have just voted for you. I wish that you win.

  • Jun Belen

    Denise, thank you so much for voting! And thank you so much for following the blog.

  • KTlifestyle

    Hi Jun,

    Can I use a nutella instead of coconut jam?


  • Jun Belen

    Yes, KT. You can use nutella instead. Or if you have a favorite fruit jam — strawberry, blueberry, or mango — you can use it, too!

  • Elena Sandor

    This recipe looks amazing, can’t wait to try it!

  • Sir Cupcakes

    These look so tempting. I can’t wait to make them.