Right now my Facebook news feed is full of stunning tropical vistas, never-ending white sand beaches, and lots of teeny-tiny umbrellas in a rainbow of colours. In all honesty, the photos look like vacation bliss!
Meanwhile at home the ground is covered in a blanket of white and the air is brisk enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, as my grandfather used to say.
So what does any sane girl do when the weather is like this?
Well, naturally I’m going to try to bring the tropics to the kitchen! And we’ll do that by way of these easy coconut macaroons filled with chocolate.
This tropical cookie won’t plow your driveway for you, but it will hopefully offer a bite of paradise that whisks you away to perfect beaches and waters that are the ideal temperature for snorkelling.
Crisp, delicate and “buttery” (despite being dairy-free), these Triple Coconut Thumbprint Macaroons are irresistible with a cup of tea, coffee or warm milk. They are equally good plain or even filled with chocolate (as I have done). They would also be sensational with other fillings, such as banana, lemon curd or a decadent caramel.
These cookies pack a wallop of coconut-ty flavour. No surprise as they are 99% made from the goodness of various coconut parts. They feature:
- Coconut flour, which comes from coconut meat or flesh (called copra) and is then dried and ground into a powder
- Coconut oil, which is pressed or extracted from coconut flesh
- Coconut butter, which is a luscious blend of coconut meat with coconut oil to create a temptingly thick, creamy and healthy treat. And unlike coconut oil, coconut butter is something I can regularly eat by the spoonful!
These cookies are allergy friendly as they are egg-free (vegan actually) and free of flour, grains and refined sugar.
But as they are born from coconut, they are certainly not fat-free. Luckily, they are packed with good body- and brain-building fats. The fat in coconuts is a type of plant-based saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that has been studied for its ability to improve brain health and specific brain conditions like Alzheimer’s Disease. In this 2006 study, consumption of this type of fat improved brain function in patients with milder forms of Alzheimer’s Disease.
If that wasn’t enough, MCTs are broken down and metabolized quickly by the liver directly from the gastrointestinal tract, which may help increase energy production and calorie burning. In this way, eating coconuts (and whole foods made from them) may also support weight loss. As a fat, MCTs also help stabilize our blood sugar, reducing mood swings and helping us feel satiated so we will hopefully eat fewer cookies from the holiday treats tray.
Here’s the recipe:
Triple Coconut Thumbprint Macaroons (Plain or Coconut-Filled)
- 1/4 cup coconut oil if not liquid, heat gently until melted
- 1/3 cup coconut butter if not liquid, heat gently until melted
- 6 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 6 tablespoons coconut flour
- 2 2/3 cups shredded divided, unsweetened coconut
- Optional: 80 g dark semi-sweet chocolate or ingredients for other fillings such as caramel smashed banana, lemon curd or anything else that plays well with coconut
Whisk the coconut oil, coconut butter, maple syrup and vanilla extract together in a small bowl. Set aside.
Grind half of the shredded coconut (1 1/3 cups) to a fine powder and add to a large bowl. Add the remaining shredded coconut and the coconut flour and mix well.
Add the wet mix to the dry mix and combine well.
Shape the mix into medium sized balls. I used a mini ice cream scoop to measure them out and then gently rolled them into balls. These might be somewhat difficult to shape because they are fairly dry, but that's normal.
Place the balls on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Space these about 1 or 1 1/2 inches apart, though this isn't essential because these won't spread like butter-based cookies.
If eating these plain, you can cook them from here. If filling them (such as with chocolate), use the edge of your thumb to push down the middle of each one to create a small crater. The edges will split and crack, but don't worry because that's part of their charm! You can smooth the edges or leave them as is, as I did, and enjoy their lovely 'imperfect-ness'.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 325° for 10-12 minutes. After 8 minutes, check them often to ensure they don't burn. You want them to be golden brown, not burnt.
Allow the cooked cookies to cool completely*.
In the meantime, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. This just means putting a few inches of water in a sauce pot and placing the chocolate in a glass or stainless steel bowl (but not plastic!) that is larger than the mouth of the cooking pot. The bowl should be large enough to remain suspended above the boiling water without touching it.
Heat the chocolate gently over low-medium heat until melted. Don't let the chocolate come into contact with any steam, which will cause it to seize up and become grainy and unappetizing. This is really simpler than it sounds, I promise.
Once the cookies have fully cooled, use a teaspoon to fill them to the brim with as much chocolate as they can hold.
*Side note: you may be tempted to eat these right out of the oven. I know because of course I did. However, they will likely crumble before you even get half of one in your mouth and a cookie that crumbled before you could eat it is very sad indeed. So just wait until they cool and they will set up beautifully.
Using a mini ice cream scoop, this recipe made 22 small but satisfying cookies.
If you can never get enough coconut, in any shape or form, these cookies have been extra specially created with love, lots of it, for you.
Life is a plate… eat up!