WHO: Sisters Mary Kay Oney-Hatt, 57, and Kathy Gonya, 54, of Safety Harbor, owners of Sweet Ida Mae's Bakery (have pink food truck, will travel).
WHAT: Coconut Bars
ABOUT THE BAKERS: In her dream, Kathy Gonya wiped the flour from her shirt and peered through the screen door. She had just baked a batch of cocoa drop cookies for her niece, who was sitting outside. She felt happier than she had been in years.
And then she woke up.
Most people would turn over and forget about that dream. But Kathy is not most people — and, besides, her dreams of being a baker persisted.
One day, she called her sister and said, "I had the same dream. I'm going to pastry school."
Meanwhile, Gonya's sister, Mary Kay Oney-Hatt, who had lost her job to budget cuts, was also having sweet dreams in which the same bakery always appeared with homemade cakes in the windows and her sister baking beside her.
"We didn't want to wait until we were old," she said. "We didn't want to have regrets."
About four years ago, they decided to take their show on the road. They bought a 1985 bomb squad truck and converted it into a pink food truck, named it after their great-great-grandmother, Ida Mae, and started taking it to sell their treats at farmers markets, catering events or to libraries where they gave cooking demos.
Find their locations at facebook.com/sweetstothestreets.
ABOUT THE RECIPE: The sisters — two of seven children — grew up in Fremont, Ohio, a small town near Lake Erie in the northwest corner of the state. Every morning on their way to school, they bought coconut bars — vanilla cake, drizzled with chocolate and coated with coconut — from a local bakery.
Their Aunt Jane asked the bakery for the recipe and they gave it to her. The recipe remains one of their favorites.
"What's nice is they last for probably a week," Kathy said. "They even taste better two or three days later because the chocolate seeps into the coconut."
TIPS: Have fun decorating them. For the holiday season, use cookie cutters to cut them into stars. For Valentine's Day, turn them into heart shapes and dye the coconut pink. Just make sure the coating of warm chocolate has hardened before you cut. "Once you get the chocolate on there, you have to chill it, and when you're cutting the bars the cake should be almost frozen," they suggested. "Stick it in the freezer to get it hardened up."
Emily Young, Times correspondent
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