It has been so hot lately (above usual temperatures for Johannesburg) that baking has been a slight challenge, basically because my “vintage” gas oven also doubles as a furnace. Not optimal in 35 degrees plus! But with macaroons being so quick to make and bake, the quest was on for a chocolate macaroon variation, and thanks to Martha Stewart, the gluten-free chocolate coconut macaroon search did not take long. You can find the original recipe here.
- 115 grams semisweet chocolate
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and set aside. Break chocolate into small pieces, and then transfer to a medium heatproof bowl.
Set the bowl with chocolate over a pan of simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted. Let this cool slightly. Pour the melted chocolate into a large bowl; add the cocoa, sugar, coconut, egg whites, vanilla, and salt. Mix with your hands until well combined.
Dampen clean hands with cold water. Mound about 1½ tablespoons of the mixture into a loose haystack shape, and transfer to lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture, arranging macaroons 1 inch apart.
Bake until just firm to the touch but still soft in the middle, for about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheet on a wire rack. Store in airtight containers at room temperature, up to 3 days.
The first batch of these macaroons mysteriously disappeared before a photo could be taken (yes, they were eaten). The second batch lasted only slightly longer. If you are a chocolate person then these macaroons are for you. Thanks Martha, I owe you one!
I keep the nom nom chocolate bakes for the weekend/special events (everything in moderation!), and finding something that I can nibble on during the week seems to have fueled a continuing interest in macaroons. They are simple to make, let’s admit it baking a macaroon is very untaxing, and moreish to eat. And my book of the moment “Flourless”* has given me a new recipe, gluten-free coconut lemon macaroons.
- 2 egg whites
- Grated zest of 1 organic lemon
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons/130 grams honey
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2½ cups/180 grams shredded, unsweetened coconut
Position the rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 150 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites for about 30 seconds to lighten them up a bit. Whisk in the lemon zest, honey, and vanilla. Add the shredded coconut and stir well to combine.
Scoop out 1 tablespoon portions of the coconut mixture. Using your hands, squeeze to compress the mixture and roll each into a small ball. Place them onto the prepared baking sheet about 2.5 cm apart.
Bake until the bottom and edges are just starting to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on the baking sheet. When fully cooled, peel the cookies from the paper before serving.
I melted some dark chocolate in a double boiler and dipped the bottom of each macaroon just to add a little something extra. The key to making these is the squeezing of the mixture. Don’t be shy, as this really helps the macaroons stay together. I have as of yet been unable to find shredded coconut, so I have just used the least fine desiccated coconut so that it still has some texture.
So of course I like these, and the addition of the lemon zest does give quite a fresh taste and little hit of the unexpected. But I must confess, Siba’s macaroons (see previous post) are winning the macaroon race at the moment!
*(“Flourless” by Nicole Spiridakis, a book of 75 recipes all naturally gluten-free).
Oh dear! It seems that I have already been distracted from the Great South African Bake Off. Maybe it was the episode on bread… but never fear I am still mentally preparing to take on the macaron challenge. But for now, the new series of Siba’s Table has caught my eye, and we move from the macaron to the macaroon. I was inspired by these delightfully pretty (and simple) gluten-free coconut macaroons with jam as seen in episode 1. You can find the original recipe here.
- 2 large free-range egg whites
- Pinch of cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- ⅓ cup/80 ml ground almonds
- Guava jam (or jam of your choice if guava is not your thing)
- Icing sugar, to dust
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Whisk the egg whites in a mixer using the whisk attachment until frothy, then add the cream of tartar and salt. Continue whisking until soft peaks form, then add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until thick and glossy. Fold in the coconut and then the ground almonds.
Scoop a heaped spoonful of the mixture and gently shape in your hands into balls (being careful not to squeeze out the air that was incorporated by whisking) then make a small indent in the centre with your forefinger. (In her programme, Siba dips her hands in water before rolling the mixture as the water helps it not to stick to your hands).
Place on a baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes until puffed and golden. Remove from the oven, cool slightly and place on a wire rack. If some macaroons are cracked after baking, just push the sides up while still warm to create a more pronounced indentation and shape. Spoon the preserve filling into the macaroons and lightly dust with icing sugar just before serving.
As mentioned these are pretty easy to put together; the jam is a delightfully sweet addition, and makes them look pretty fabulous as well. I have made these twice in the last week, and although mine are not as perfectly shaped as in the TV programme (sometimes I lack a little patience in certain areas) I am sure they taste just as good!
(And I must say thank you for the Le Creuset preserve jar that some very kind Burgers gave me for my birthday – it fits right in).
I have to admit that I am not 100% sure where I found this recipe. I am a habitual recipe scribbler when I come across something that I like, and these gluten-free coconut macaroons fall into that category. The chocolate decoration should probably be a little less Jackson Pollock esque, but hey, whatever you feel like in the moment will work especially when it comes to chocolate!
- 6 cups shredded coconut flakes
- 1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chips*
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
In a large bowl, stir together the coconut, condensed milk and vanilla until well combined (this takes some work but keep going until it is completely mixed together).
Use a spoon to scoop out the mixture and form small rounds. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 12 to 18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and the macaroons are crisp.
Allow macaroons to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Melt the chocolate chips and oil together in a double boiler. Drizzle over the cooled macaroons.
*Usually I use “safe” dark chocolate that I chop into small pieces, but for convenience I used Staffords choc chips as they are marked gluten-free.
So the quest for the gluten-free chocolate cupcake in Johannesburg has its first nomination. Whilst at Belle’s Patisserie in the Bluebird Centre for a work function, I discovered the “Skinny Menu” with gluten-free, sugar free and vegetarian options. So what’s gluten-free on the menu? Red Velvet Cupcake, Fran’s Cheesecake, Hemp Brownie and Paleo Poppie Loaf. In the interests of fair investigation I tried the cupcake (although they had chocolate not red velvet), the cheesecake and the brownie. Tough job but someone had to do it. Let’s be clear though, I did share. They also have savoury options (in fact, most of the menu is gluten-free) from crustless quiche to cauliflower wraps – see the full Skinny Menu here.
The cupcakes are made from coconut flour and are very moist… but I am I think still getting used to eating coconut flour. Or maybe the icing threw me off slightly – is sugar free and I think made from coconut cream which gives it a different taste and texture… rich but different. So I give this cupcake a 7/10. Is good but not decadent. You don’t feel like you have to run round the block after eating, which I suppose is the reason behind creating a Skinny Menu in the first place. But nice to know it’s there when you just feel the need to cheat but be skinny at the same time!
Belle’s Patisserie also has gluten-free Paleo bread which they serve for breakfast as part of their Skinny Menu. I tried this with some of the snacks they had provided for our event and was very very moreish!
So moreish in fact I bought a loaf. Unfortunately I cannot eat large quantities of this as the nut butter can get to me (main ingredients almond nut butter and egg yolks; also made with almond milk, coconut flour, honey, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds). But if you do not have issues with eggs or nut butters then this is the bread for you! You need to phone ahead and order if you want to buy a loaf as is very popular.
Visit Belle’s Patisserie website http://www.bellespatisserie.co.za or find them at Shop 16, Blubird Shopping Centre, Corner Athol Oaklands Road, Birnam, Johannesburg
I recently read a great piece of advice when it came to New Year’s Resolutions – don’t find motivation, find inspiration. I spent the holidays in Australia, a proverbial mecca for the coeliac not used to restaurants having gluten-free menus or coeliac society endorsed foods. So I returned dragging rather a large amount of books with me – books to learn from, to bake from and to find inspiration from.
Added to the gluten-free pile were two books by Eric Lanlard – Couture Cupcakes (what a fabulous title) and Totally Chocolate – the idea being to combine some rather opulent ideas with gluten-free recipes and get the best of both worlds.
And my goal for the year – master the art of the macaron. Secrets of Macarons by French chef José Maréchal is quite, shall we say, thorough, taking one step by step through the art of making this “dainty indulgence” covering the classics through to some rather exciting options such as salted butter caramel, macarons de nancy and amaretti. And do not be confused by the macaron versus the macaroon. In many instances people seem to use the words interchangeably, but as popsugar.com so helpfully explains: “a macaron specifically refers to a meringue-based biscuit (cookie) made with almond flour, egg whites, and granulated and powdered sugar, then filled with buttercream, ganache or fruit curd. In contrast, the word macaroon is a generic phrase…mostly, the term is equated with the moist and dense coconut macaroon, which is composed of egg whites, sugar, and dried coconut, often piped with a star-shaped tip, and sometimes dipped in chocolate”. Good to know.
So as we ease into 2015 I shall start to make my way through this fabulous mountain of gluten-free recipes. Stay tuned :).
So for those who cannot have dairy at the moment I have been hunting for some gluten-free recipes that are dairy free but still are worthwhile and worthy of baking… and here I may have found just the thing – gluten-free coconut flour banana bread. Yes I did add some icing on, mainly to use my new palette knife (!), but that is not part of the original recipe and is not a requirement. This is the first time I have baked with coconut oil and the creamed coconut oil and honey was really really good (I confess I may have licked the spoon). In fact, this is one of the nicest non-chocolate cakes/breads I have ever made! Original recipe found here at Ditch the Wheat.
• 6 eggs, separated
• 2 tsp cream of tartar
• ½ cup extra virgin coconut oil
• ¼ cup raw honey
• ½ cup mashed ripe banana (for me that was 1 banana)
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• ½ cup coconut flour, sifted (it weighed 47 grams)
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp sea salt
Preheat oven to 350f/175c.
In a bowl combine egg whites and cream of tartar. Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
In a separate bowl cream together coconut oil and raw honey. Do that for a few minutes until it looks like icing. (Lick the spoon).
Add the egg yolks one at a time to the creamed coconut oil and raw honey. Mix until smooth. Add mashed banana, vanilla and cinnamon until mixed.
Add the sifted coconut flour, baking soda and salt to the egg yolk mixture. Mix until smooth. Slowly add the egg yolk mixture to the whipped egg whites. Mixing it until it is combined.
Line a 7 1/2 inch x 3 1/2 inch loaf pan with parchment paper.
Bake for 50-60 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and a toothpick can be inserted and comes out dry.
For the icing I creamed 250 grams cream cheese with 1/3 of a cup of icing sugar and a table spoon of lemon juice.
I froze some slices of this as well and they defrosted perfectly – an all round gluten-free and dairy-free winner!
For those in Johannesburg – seems every 4th week or so I feel the need to venture forth and find myself some sweet treat. So as per previous excursions I ended up at Fresh Earth in Emmerentia, and this time I bought a gluten-free Lamington.
Now this is something that I have never actually eaten, or even tried a nibble of in the dark while no-one was looking. So time for some research… a Lamington is an Australian dessert with sponge cake coated in chocolate sauce (or icing depending on where you read) and then in desiccated coconut.
Being a fan of both chocolate and coconut I decided to try the unknown. Very nice, satisfies the sweet tooth and as with everything I have tried at Fresh Earth a great tasting gluten-free cake – nothing worse than a gluten-free cake or bread that tastes like dried cardboard! Visit the Fresh Earth website here.
Whilst on the topic of nibbly things, someone recently gave me some Schar gluten-free “Maria” biscuits (thank you Morne) which are basically Marie biscuits, and I wondered why an Italian company was producing a South African biscuit. Seems I rather erroneously believed that a Marie biscuit was a South African invention. Imagine my horror (and embarrassment, yes maybe I blushed a little) to find out that the Marie Biscuit was created in London in 1874. I grew up in the UK and have no recollection of a Marie Biscuit – not that I would have been eating them of course, but I am well aware of chocolate digestives , Bakewell Tarts and Jaffa Cakes and I was not eating those either!
I did ask someone at work to try one and then do a comparison with a local Marie biscuit and apparently it is rather close – they taste just like the real thing. So if it’s time for tea and you are looking for a biscuit to dunk, now you know what to eat! Schar products are imported by Master Health Products – visit their website for a full list of stockists.