Coconut Macaroons

Part 2 of the QLK Pesach edition…

As many of you know, I’ve been testing out macaroon recipes for weeks, trying to come up with the purest, healthiest and most tasty version possible.  I’ve experimented with honey, maple syrup, and sucanat to avoid using refined sugar at all costs.  I’ve made them both with, and without egg whites in an effort to veganize things.  And of course, keepin it kosher, I’ve tested recipes using potato starch, almond flour, and in this case, no flour at all.  Believe me friends, this is true dedication.

In the end, I came up with two versions of a recipe and I honestly, can’t decide which one I like better.  The questionable variable is the sweetener – sucanat or honey?  The sucanat version turned out to be much more firm and dry, but I also added chocolate chips to these, which means they’re automatically great.  When I substituted honey for the sucanat, I was shocked at how different they turned out.  The macaroons are lighter, and have such a delicious, unmistakeable honey flavor that complements the coconut in such a perfect way.  I was actually planning on dipping them in chocolate, but they honestly don’t even need it.  These guys are just plain YUM.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to eat the entire batch.  By all means, DO IT.  Honey isn’t a processed, aka, bad for you ingredient.  Since it is a natural sweetener, it’s filled with vitamins and minerals, and it has a lower glycemic index than sugar, which means it doesn’t spike our blood sugar levels and cause weight gain like sugar will.  In addition, honey’s antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties boost our immune systems and can be a great remedy for a host of ailments.  Most importantly, honey never goes bad, so dig up that old bottle in the back of the pantry and reap the benefits!  Who would have thought that dessert could be this good for you?  Move over Manechewitz, I’m just trying to have the best Pesach ever.  Dayenu.

Coconut Macaroons

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup good quality honey
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, vanilla and honey.  Add the coconut and the salt.  Stir to incorporate.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Scoop about a heaping tablespoon of the coconut mixture and pack firmly.  Place onto cookie sheet about an inch or two apart.  Bake for 12 – 15 minutes until the coconut tops are golden brown.  Allow them to cool completely (about 20 minutes) before removing.

They’re going to be sticky, so peel them off the parchment very carefully to avoid breakage.  Do not use a spatula because they’re delicate and the bottoms may break off.

Coconut Date Snowballs

I sincerely believe that life isn’t worth living without dessert.  When people tell me they don’t have a sweet tooth, I look at them like they’re from another planet.  Do you really not eat cookies??  Are you not enticed by ice cream??  Liars.  That’s what all you dessert-deprived aliens truly are.  I pity you, but I don’t blame you.  The truth is that sugar is seductive and evil, and unfortunately, it packs on the pounds like nothing else.  Being well aware of these facts, I still refuse to abandon dessert and I’m committed to satisfying my sweet tooth while still fitting into my favorite jeans.  That’s right, I want to have my cake and eat it too.  Staying fit and enjoying dessert do NOT have to be mutually exclusive.

The trick, my friends, is to use natural sweeteners as much as possible (ie, honey, maple syrup, dates, etc.).  Unlike refined sugar, these substances do not wreak havoc on our bodies; instead, they provide delicious taste while also providing nutritional value.  In an effort to drastically reduce the amount of refined sugar I consume, the QLK has become a test kitchen for natural desserts galore!

Upon researching ideas for naturally sweetened desserts, I remembered loving the Glaser Farms coconut date snowballs at the Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market.  They’re soft and chewy with the perfect amount of sweetness and a hint of coconut.  I always make a point of buying a box when I come to town and I always toy with the idea of making them, myself.  Since I couldn’t find the recipe, I decided to come up with my own version, and believe me, these are good.  I know what you’re thinking…date snowballs?  Really?  YES.  I would eat these any day of the week.  Which is why I chose to begin making these badboys at 10pm on a Thursday night.  They’re that good.

So put away the cookie jar and try something new.  If it’s been approved by a self-proclaimed sugar addict, such as myself, you know it’s worth a shot.  While you’re at it, put on your skinny jeans…as long as you’re eating these, you might be able to stay in them for a while.

Coconut Date Snowballs

  • 2 cups chopped, pitted dates
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shaved almonds
  • 1 cup shredded dried coconut (unsweetened)

Place chopped dates in a small saucepan.  Add water and bring to a simmer.  Stir occasionally…as dates begin to soften, they’ll become easier to to mash up.  (You may need to add more water if they become too dry.)  Simmer for about 10 minutes until dates are very soft and thick, resembling a paste.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Grind almonds in a blender or food processor.  They should be somewhat powdery, but not too fine.  Transfer almonds to a bowl.  Add date mixture to the blender and puree to desired consistency.  (They’re much easier to work with when there are not large chunks of date.  I pureed for about 30 seconds to make a smooth paste.)

Add date mixture to the crushed almonds in the bowl.  Mix well to incorporate.  Place shredded coconut on a flat surface such as a plate or a cutting board.  Line a cookie sheet with wax or parchment paper.  Using a tablespoon (or smaller), take a scoop of date-almond mix and roll into ball shape.  Roll the date balls around in the coconut and place on cookie sheet.  When all of the mixture is used, place cookie sheet in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  For harder snowballs, leave in for longer.