Coconut Macaroons (Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Passover AND ACD-Friendly)
[Cookbook Giveaway Alert! Check out Sally's gluten-free adaptation of my Butterscotch Blondies recipe from Sweet Freedom, and enter for a chance to win the book--with the original coconut macaroon recipe! Go to Sally's blog for more information and details!]
[Whew! That title is quite a mouthful. But not nearly as full as my mouth was, stuffed with these cookies, for the past day.]
Back in our 30s, my friend Babe and I had a little routine we’d enact any time we met someone new (say, at a party, or a work event). A few minutes after the “hi, I’m Ricki” and “Hi, I’m Babe”* chit-chat began to stale, Babe would pause, crook her elbow and touch her index finger to her chin, then ask the unsuspecting target victim sucker stranger while nodding toward me, ”Okay, guess how long we’ve known each other!”
Usually, the person would begin with a reasonable guess, something like, “Five years?” Babe would shake her head. “Ten?” Another negative response. Eventually, the individual would give up, and Babe would announce flamboyantly, “We’ve known each other twenty five years.” The newcomer would appear suitably impressed, at which point Babe continued, ”but we’ve only been friends for six months. There was that week in grade five, a month in grade seven, three days in grade eight. . . “ She just thought that was hilarious.
In fact, the joke came about because of our habit during our tween years of getting together only once or twice a month. Invariably, we’d go see a movie (two eleven year-olds travelling on their own on city buses was a nonevent in those days). Since the only worthwhile movie theater was across town at the Cote Des Neiges plaza, we always headed there. It was there we saw Cabaret (velkomen!), The Poseidon Adventure (the first one, with Leslie Nielsen as a serious captain), The Hot Rock (remember Robert Redford sucking on Rolaids?), American Graffiti (probably Suzanne Somers’s only non-speaking role) and The Way We Were (about eight times–Barbra Streisand was then, and still is, Babe’s all-time favorite entertainer).
When we weren’t at the movie theater, we’d be watching movies at home; each in our own home, that is. A spring ritual that endured well into our twenties was watching DeMille’s The Ten Commandments on television, with running commentary. We both thought Charlton Heston was dreamy (this was before he kind of lost his sheen by becoming the President of the N.R.A). Each on our respective sofas, in front of our respective TVs, with our respective snack foods (mine: chocolate chip cookies; hers: Bar-B-Q chips), we’d sit by the phone and basically watch the movie together.
I’d call Babe near the beginning of the film, already teary-eyed as the infant Moses was saved from certain death: ”Oh, wait, here it comes–look! She found the basket floating on the Nile!” Then twenty minutes later, Babe would respond with a call, pronouncing: ”Nefertiri still loves him–look at that agony on her face!” We loved how Moses’ good nature won over Pharaoh Seti and how the evil son, Ramses II (played by Yul Brynner) was thwarted. And even after Moses was condemned for being a Jew and flung out of Egypt, The Pharaoh felt compelled–on his deathbed–to honor his adoptive son, rasping out the words, “I must break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . . Moses.”
At that, Babe and I both uttered the line simultaneously with Seti, gasping for air and dying with a flourish before breaking into irrepressible giggles.
For years, any time we changed our minds or were faced with an error in judgement, we’d employ Seti’s Formula: let’s say I’d promised to stop blabbering about my crush on Teddy Saskin and then slipped up. I’d be forced to admit, ”I must break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . Theodore!” Or if Babe and I shared some normally prohibited junk food after school, she’d have to admit, ”I will break my own vow, and speak the name of. . . Bar-B-Q Chips!” We used that formula for years, until we tired of the movie and eventually moved on to something else (probably Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which remained my personal favorite for the next decade or so; say, who are those guys??).
The Ten Commandments was also my major introduction to the history of Passover (yes, one would assume that the Passover haggadah, which actually relates the history of Passover and is read every year at the seder table, would have been a more fitting introduction. But neither my sisters nor I understand Hebrew, so while my dad droned on read from the booklet, our attention would always wander, and we’d find ourselves stealing dill pickle slices from the serving dishes, or dipping our fingers into the wine glasses, or giggling disrespectfully at the silly cartoon illustrations in the hagaddah, which would invariably elicit a terse and angry admonishment from our dad).
Because Passover foods do not contain leavening agents, desserts can be a bit of a bust. In recent years, flour-free chocolate tortes have taken over many of the sweet menus, but they tend to rely heavily on eggs, clearly a no-no for moi. Ditto for coconut macaroons, one of my favorite childhood Passover-friendly desserts.
Although we don’t celebrate Passover in our house, the HH and I are invited to friends’ seders this year, and I wanted to bring something appropriate that I could also enjoy. Complying with the ”no flour” commandment was easy, as I’m already eating that way quite a lot on the ACD. I thought about how I could approximate a chewy, gooey, meringue-y texture that is common in macaroons. Then I remembered the coconut macaroon recipe in my cookbook, always a big hit when it was sold in stores, and decided to alter it to be both ACD-friendly AND Passover-friendly.
While this version is definitely less sweet than the ones I remember, it is no less appealing. With the intense chocolate crunch of the cocoa nibs scattered throughout, the crisp edges and chewy interior imbued with a whiff of caramel flavor, these little gems are delicious in their own right, Passover or not. Even the HH, an avowed coconut lover, was happy to eat three of these at one sitting.
As for me, I couldn’t stop eating them. I bet they’ll make a great little snack–even as I break my own vow this year, and watch The Ten Commandments on television.
*Of course, she didn’t really say, “Hi, I’m Babe.” But this is a re-enactment, silly!
Because these are such a healthy, yet indulgent-tasting, treat, I’m submitting them to Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, who is hosting this month’s “Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free!” event, the theme of which is “Guiltless Pleasures.”
Passover Coconut Macaroons (ACD Phase I and beyond): Grain-Free, Gluten-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free, Low Glycemic
A chewy, coconutty treat with just a hint of chocolate in every bite. High fiber and low glycemic, these might just be the ideal cookie.
1/4 cup (45 g) raw natural almonds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 cup (80 g) unsweetened shredded dried coconut
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin coconut oil, preferably organic
2 Tbsp (30 ml) smooth natural cashew butter or tahini (sesame paste)*
1/4 cup (60 ml) yacon syrup or agave nectar*
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure coconut extract, optional
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) cacao nibs or chocolate chips**
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the almonds, coconut flour, flax seeds and salt until the mixture attains the texture of coarse cornmeal (there should be no pieces of almond larger than sesame seeds). Add the coconut and pulse once or twice to combine.
In a small, heavy bottomed pot over low heat, melt together the coconut oil and cashew butter just until smooth. Whisk in the yacon syrup until well combined, then add the vanilla and coconut extract. Pour the mixture over the dry ingredients in the processor and sprinkle with the cacao nibs, if using. Process until the mixture comes together in a sticky “dough” and the nibs have broken up a bit.
Using a small ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out about 2 tsp (10 ml) of dough per cookie and place on cookie sheet. Wet your palm (or use a silicon spatula) and flatten the cookies until they are about 3/8″ (1 cm) thick.
Bake in preheated oven 10-13 minutes, rotating the sheet about halfway through, until cookies are deep golden and beginning to brown on the edges. They should still feel soft when pressed on top with your finger (but will be hot!). Allow to cool before removing from the sheet. Makes 12 smallish cookies. May be frozen.
*for ACD Phase I, use yacon [NOTE: According to this site, agave nectar has been certified "kosher for Passover" as of 2007. Similarly, some people don't consume sesame seeds (tahini) during the holiday. Depending on your own personal preference, you may wish to use another sweetener.]
**for ACD Phase I, use unsweetened carob chips
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