Category Archives: grain-free

Coconut Macaroons

Coconut MacaroonsDid you know that the world is still turning and Easter is happening next weekend? How is that even possible?

Ash Wednesday seems like it was five years ago, but it was at the end of February, back when when eggs were not a hyper-precious commodity. It was a time I would have gladly posted a recipe requiring two egg whites and maybe—big maybe—given you an idea of something to do with the yolks. But that was then. Now, the idea of asking you to separate eggs for a non-essential recipe and then leaving you to find something to do with egg yolks is just…well, I’m not going to do it. Not today.Coconut MacaroonsIn keeping with my stay-at-home, work with what you have, waste not/want not approach to baking (and literally everything) right now, I’m taking a note from a recipe I posted last Easter: Chocolate Macaroon Tart. In case you missed it, it’s basically a giant coconut macaroon filled with chocolate ganache…except that it’s not a macaroon at all! Or not the way most people think of a macaroon, anyway. I mean, it’s coconutty and all, but where macaroons are traditionally made with egg whites and sugar, this tart crust is made with sweetened condensed milk. And, since that mixture worked so unbelievably well pressed into a pan, why not mound it like regular macaroons and bake until golden?

Wow, I just said “macaroon” like 478 times.Coconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsAnyway, here is a pantry-friendly version of Coconut Macaroons, a springtime classic. You’d never know these aren’t made with the usual egg whites and sugar—they’re just as toasty-edged, soft-centered and delightfully chewy as their traditional counterparts.Coconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsCoconut MacaroonsThe ingredient list is short: a bag of sweetened shredded coconut, about half a can of sweetened condensed milk, some vanilla and salt. No vanilla? Leave it out. Wish they had a little lime or orange to offset the sweetness? Zest some into the sweetened condensed milk before mixing. Like your macaroons dipped in chocolate? Cool them and then dip away!Coconut MacaroonsAnd if you, perhaps, have egg whites leftover from—I don’t know—making Lazy Lemon Curd, and are looking for traditional macaroons, you can double this recipe and swap the potato chips for 3 cups of coconut.Coconut MacaroonsAs for this recipe, all you’ll have leftover is a half a can of sweetened condensed milk, and if you’re not already drizzling that into your weekend coffee…well, you’re in a pandemic and this is the time to start.Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons
makes about 1.5 dozen

2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 14-ounce bag (5 cups) sweetened flaked coconut

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together sweetened condensed milk, vanilla and salt.

Place coconut in a medium mixing bowl. Pour in sweetened condensed milk mixture and stir together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Wet your hands. Scoop coconut mixture in 1 1/2 tablespoon increments (I used a medium cookie scoop) and form into balls. Place 2 inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 15 minutes, or until light golden and slightly puffed. Let cool on pans for 10 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Coconut Macaroons will keep covered at room temperature for a few days.

Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut TrufflesWith all the coconut recipes in my archives, you’d never guess that I couldn’t stand it when I was a child. I don’t know when I started to like it—I’m guessing around the time when my whole extended family randomly started bringing German Chocolate Cake to every occasion…?

Well, I guess it’s not important. The point is that coconut is my jam and I bake with it as often as possible.Easy Coconut TrufflesI spent a good chunk of January working on a coconut cookie for the blog, but the recipe’s just not quite “there.” I was a little bummed after round 4, realizing that I was going to have to let the recipe come to me rather than forcing it (baking gets spiritual around these parts). In the meantime though, I had three bags of sweetened flaked coconut taking up space in my kitchen. I realize that bags of coconut don’t have souls, but I swear they were taunting me.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesAnd so, I threw the contents of one in a bowl with a cup of sweetened condensed milk (a la this), rolled the mixture into balls, coated them with dark chocolate and topped ‘em off with toasted coconut, and called them Valentine’s Day-appropriate…which they are.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles are way better than any candy you’ll find in a heart-shaped box, and super fun to make at home. They require a grand total of six ingredients (!) and are chock-full of coconut flavor thanks to the creamy filling and toasty garnish. And even though they’re a little imperfect, they’re completely wonderful.

If that’s not a metaphor for love, I don’t know what is.Easy Coconut Truffles

Easy Coconut Truffles
makes about 3.5 dozen truffles

Filling:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
pinch of salt

Coating:
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (not chocolate chips)
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or butter)
1 teaspoon corn syrup (or mild honey)

Toasted Coconut:
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut

Special Equipment:
microwave-safe bowl or double boiler
parchment paper
baking sheet or a few plates (must fit in refrigerator)

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir together coconut and sweetened condensed milk until combined and a bit sticky. Cover mixture loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or up to a day.

Make toasted coconut. Preheat oven to 325F. Scatter coconut on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Bake coconut, stirring every 3-4 minutes until toasted to your liking, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

Line a rimmed baking sheet (or a few plates) with parchment paper. Remove coconut mixture from refrigerator. Lightly grease your hands. Scoop mixture in 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) increments and roll into balls with your palms. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all coconut mixture is used. Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15).

Make the coating. Place chopped dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir with a fork. Add coconut oil. Continue to microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Stir in corn syrup.

To dip, drop one ball of coconut into the melted chocolate and use a fork to coat it in chocolate. Drain briefly by scraping the tines of the fork on the edge of the bowl. Use the fork to gently lay the truffle on the prepared pan. Immediately top with a pinch of toasted coconut. Continue this process until all truffles are coated and garnished.

Place baking sheet in the refrigerator for 15 minutes, or until chocolate has set. Serve.

Truffles will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.Easy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut TrufflesEasy Coconut Truffles

Potato Chip Clusters

Potato Chip ClustersWhen thinking up recipes for the week between Christmas and the New Year—a time when I have tons of leftovers, don’t want to take on any intense kitchen projects, and mostly just need a nap—I knew it had to be easy.Potato Chip ClustersEeeeeeeaaaaasy. E-A-S-Y. No chill, one bowl, no mixer, limited ingredients—easy!Potato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersPotato Chip ClustersThat’s exactly what these Potato Chip Clusters are: golden, salty-sweet, lightly-candied morsels that require four ingredients, come together in five minutes and bake in seventeen.Potato Chip ClustersThey’re brown at the edges and crispy throughout, and stay that way for days. You won’t have to worry too much about softening since their primary structural component is a single egg white.Potato Chip ClustersI envision these as the perfect thing to go alongside a cocktail, mocktail or glass of champagne on New Year’s Eve, but I also think they’d be great for Super Bowl Sunday, drizzled with chocolate and tucked into a cookie tin next Christmas, or whipped together any old time you need to knock out the last of a bag of potato chips.Potato Chip Clusters

Potato Chip Clusters
makes 12-16 clusters

1 large egg white
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/3 cups crushed potato chips (about 40-45 chips)
coarse or flaky sea salt

Place oven racks in the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 325F.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together egg white and sugar until bubbly, about 1 minute. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in crushed potato chips until all pieces are coated.

Scoop by the tablespoon and drop 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Flatten out slightly with the back of a fork. Sprinkle with salt.

Bake 10 minutes. Rotate top-to-bottom and front-to-back and bake another 7-8 minutes, until deep golden.

Let cool on the pans. Serve. Leftovers will keep covered at room temperature for up to 3 days.Potato Chip Clusters Potato Chip Clusters

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI had never seen Italian Rainbow Cookies (aka Seven Layer Cookies) until I moved to New York. Come to find, they are everywhere here. I mean everywhere. Little Italy (duh), bakeries, bodegas, bagel shops, grocery stores—everywhere. I can’t go a day without seeing these festive Italian-American confections, and yet, it took me eleven years to try one.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesWhat can I say? Almond cake, jam, chocolate, food coloring—Italian Rainbow Cookies are kind of a lot. Even when I did finally try one, I wasn’t a huge fan. Most of the versions you see in NYC are mass-produced, and while they are ostensibly fine, they’re nothing to write home about. Dry, too dense, probably full of stuff that wouldn’t go in a homemade cake…Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesAll that is to say that homemade Italian Rainbow Cookies are where it’s at. Sure, they take a little more effort than popping down to the corner store and handing over some cash, but they are also infinitely better, and you don’t have to put on a coat to make them.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesMost Italian Rainbow Cookies are made from a standard torte batter that’s spiked with almond paste. Mine are different though, relying on almond flour instead. These cookies are grain-free—inclusive baking for the win!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFor the colorful layers, I used my Flourless Almond Cake recipe as a starting point, doubled the batch, then tweaked it to use softened butter, and added almond paste and a bit of baking powder.

Once the batter is mixed up, it’s divided into three portions. One is dyed red (I like mine a bit pink), another is dyed green, and the third is left plain. They’re each baked for 10 minutes and will look super underdone when they’re ready, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesThe layers are very thin and will cool quickly. Once you can handle them, spread two of them with jam and stack ‘em up so they resemble the Italian flag. Then put them in your refrigerator and weigh ‘em down for several hours. I like to leave mine in the fridge overnight—you want those layers to become besties for the resties.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesOnce the chill time is up, give each side a good swipe of dark chocolate and a chill, and then slice them into as many pieces as you like. The cookies here are 1 1/2”x1” with the total count coming out to 49. That’s enough to keep some, gift some, and still have a few to leave for Santa!Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesI know this all sounds like a lot of work, but it really happens very quickly and is pretty simple. The most taxing part is making the batter (whipped egg whites alert!) and that’s really no problem. Really, the biggest obstacles between you and a batch of homemade Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies are time and fridge space.

If you can’t find either of those things between now and Christmas, don’t worry. New Yorkers eat them all year round, and you can, too.Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Flourless Italian Rainbow Cookies {Grain-Free}
makes one 9×13 pan, 4-5 dozen cookies

6 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
4 ounces almond paste (not marzipan)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
3 cups blanched almond flour (measured by spoon & level)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5-6 drops red gel food coloring (liquid will work)
5 drops green gel food coloring (liquid will work)

For assembly:
1 10-ounce jar jam (raspberry and apricot are traditional)
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Read this recipe before proceeding. None of the steps are difficult, but there are a lot of them. The active work time for this recipe is between 2-3 hours, and there is one 4 hour chill.

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3* 9×13-inch pans. Line the bottoms with parchment and grease again. Set aside.

Separate egg yolks from whites. Set whites aside in a very clean, dry bowl.

Pour sugar into a large mixing bowl. Pinch almond paste into small pieces. Turn your mixer to low and allow to mix until the largest pieces of almond paste are the size of small peas. Add butter and mix until fluffy. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Add half the almond flour, the baking powder and salt, and beat until combined. Mix in remaining almond flour. If using a stand mixer, transfer batter to a separate bowl.

Wash and dry mixer attachments, along with a medium mixing bowl. I also like to wipe down the equipment with vinegar, just to ensure that everything is completely clean before I add the egg whites. There is no way to salvage this recipe if the egg whites are contaminated with oil, yolk, or even water.

Transfer egg whites to the very clean, dry medium mixing bowl. Use the very clean, dry electric mixer to whip them until stiff peaks form, about 2-3 minutes.

Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir 1/3 of the whipped egg whites into the almond mixture. Gently fold half the remaining egg whites into the mixture, followed by the other half.

Divide batter into three bowls (about 1 1/4 cups batter in each). Leave one plain, dye one pink(red, and dye the remaining one green.

Taking care to wipe down silicone spatulas, spoons, etc., between colors, transfer batters to the three pans. Use an offset spatula to smooth batter to the edges of the pans, taking care to wipe it clean between colors.

Bake the pink/red and plain layers for 10-11 minutes. They will look underdone, but a toothpick inserted in the centers should come out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Bake the green layer for 10-11 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool in their pans for 5 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.

Prepare the jam. Transfer jam to a small microwave safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds and stir to see if it’s loose enough to sieve. If not, microwave in 15 second increments until it is (it shouldn’t take more than 30 seconds).

Place a wire mesh sieve over a heatproof bowl. Pour warm jam into the sieve and use a spoon to press it through. Discard solids.

Assemble layers. Top the pinkish-red layer (still on the rack) with a piece of parchment. Top with a cutting board or sheet pan (top side down) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the rack/layer/board situation and invert. Remove rack and discard pinkish-red layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of strained jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert plain layer over the pinkish-red layer. Peel off and discard plain layer’s baking parchment. Spread 3-4 tablespoons of jam over the entire layer.

Carefully invert green layer over the green layer over the plain layer. Peel off and discard green layer’s baking parchment. Replace with a new sheet of parchment. Place a rimmed sheet pan over the top of the parchment.

Set this entire contraption in the refrigerator. Place a few canned goods in the sheet pan to weigh down the layers. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Remove layers contraption from refrigerator. Remove weight, sheet pan and parchment over the green layer. Use a serrated knife to slice off a thin edge all the way around.

Prepare the chocolate. Combine chopped bittersweet chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, just until smooth.

Spoon half the chocolate over the green layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Remove layers from freezer. Top chocolate with a sheet of parchment. Top with a cutting board (or sheet pan) over the parchment. Use both hands to grab the cutting boards on both sides of the layers. Holding them tightly, invert. Remove cutting board and discard parchment over the pinkish-red layer.

If chocolate has cooled too much, reheat for 10-15 seconds. Spoon remaining chocolate over the pinkish-red layer. Use an offset spatula to smooth it just to the edges. Use the cutting board (or sheet pan) under the layers to transfer them to the freezer* for 10 minutes, or until chocolate is set.

Slice cookies into 1 1/2×1-inch pieces. I use a serrated knife, but press directly down instead of sawing. Wipe down knife between cuts.

Serve cookies. Leftovers will keep in an airtight container container in the refrigerator for several days. Put wax paper between layers of cookies to prevent sticking.

Note:

If you do not have 3 9×13-inch pans, you may bake the layers one at a time, washing and drying the pans between layers. Cover any batter with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature until you need it.Flourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow CookiesFlourless Italian Rainbow Cookies

Mango Granita

Mango GranitaI first came across a granita recipe in the summer of 2009 and thought “That looks easy and delicious. I’m going to make that.” And then ten years passed.

But I did make granita, and it was/is easy and delicious, and now I’m here to tell you to do the same. Maybe skip the ten years of procrastination though.Mango GranitaMango GranitaIf you are wondering what the heck I’m talking about, granita is a semi-frozen Sicilian dessert–basically a classy snow cone. The texture is fluffy and snowy, but instead of being ice flavored with brightly-colored syrup, it’s made from real fruit with very limited added sugar, and you don’t need a special machine to make it.Mango GranitaTo make this Mango Granita, you’ll need:

  • a few pounds of fresh mango. You could probably use thawed frozen if that’s all you can find.
  • lime juice for brightness. Lime and mango are great together.
  • the tiniest amount of sugar to round things out. Yes, ripe mango is already very sweet, but cold temperatures mean that flavor doesn’t always shine through the way it does at room temperature. I like to add two tablespoons of sugar to the entire recipe. That small amount makes a big difference!
  • a pinch of salt for balance. You can leave this out if you want to, but salt is rarely a bad idea.
  • a blender (or food processor), a dish, a fork, and time.

Mango GranitaMango GranitaThe process is simple. Blitz all the ingredients in a blender until smooth, then pour the purée into a large dish and put it in the freezer for an hour.Mango GranitaWhen that time is up, remove the dish from the freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to drag the frozen purée into the looser center. This will begin the process of making fluffy, snowy ice crystals. At first, you may feel like you’re dragging a fork through soup, but an hour later, it’ll be a different story.Mango GranitaAnd then, thirty more minutes will go by and crystals will really begin to form! The grainy texture is the “gran-” in granita.Mango GranitaYou’ll know it’s ready when it looks like this:Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita is as delicious as it is beautiful—light and refreshing and perfect for these sweltering last few weeks of summer! The texture is somewhere between a snow cone and a sorbet. Where you might think this would be icy, it’s super smooth and surprisingly creamy. This is the sort of dessert that is great for any occasion from watching Netflix in your PJs to a cookout to a dinner party. It’s vegan, nut-free, low calorie and low sugar–a wonderful option for a crowd!Mango GranitaMango GranitaBefore I get to the recipe, here are a few more tips for granita success:

  • use the largest dish you can. The shallower the layer of purée, the faster it will freeze.
  • you can use any fruit you like! I love mango, but peaches, melon or berries would be magnificent here!
  • make granita on a day you’ll be spending a lot of time at home. This recipe is low maintenance, but the ice crystals need to be scraped every hour at first and then every half-hour. Give ‘em one final scrape before serving.
  • for the love of everything, don’t wait ten years to make this. Ideally, you should make Mango Granita as soon as possible. Like tomorrow.

Have a great weekend, y’all!Mango Granita

Mango Granita
makes about a quart

3 large ripe mangoes (about 3 pounds), pits & skin removed, sliced
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt

Combine mango, lime juice, sugar and salt in a high-powered blender and blitz until smooth. Pour into a large shallow dish (I used a 9×13-inch casserole). Freeze for 60 minutes.

Remove cold mixture from freezer. Starting at the outer edge, use a fork to scrape/drag the icier edges of the mixture into the center of the dish. Mixture will still be quite loose. Return dish to the freezer for 45-60 minutes before repeating scraping. Continue to scrape every 30 minutes for the next 1-2 hours, or until the texture is fluffy and snow-like.

Freeze until ready to serve. Give one last scrape before serving in small bowls.

Leftover granita will keep in the freezer for about a week. Scrape before serving.Mango GranitaMango GranitaMango Granita