I worry about making “special” desserts for the holidays. Use the wrong GF flour and you’ve baked a brick instead of a treat. If eggs and butter are really important to the recipe, will flax seed and coconut oil be up to snuff? Or will they throw the whole thing off. Can you use a vegan Creme Fraiche? It doesn’t help that I like to experiment on family and friends. If I’m going to make it, everyone should taste it along with me.
I also worry about the family jokes. They see me coming a mile away and I know I’ve got a tough (but loving) audience, who question my dietary needs as it is, they don’t necessarily want to taste them. I have seen the noses wrinkle, the tongues scrape the inside of their mouths as they try not to let the “yuck” escape from their lips before they have even tried something. Although, I have built up a bit of credibility. There’s that Chocolate Pumpkin Tart. I’ve baked this for 3, maybe 4 years in a row. It is, hands down, the best combination of chocolate and pumpkin I have ever come across.
This year I found something vegan, gluten free and not baked. I bookmarked it for later, no way was I going to put all three of those in front of my family, I didn’t want to torture them, after all, I wanted them to enjoy this treat. Vegan and Gluten Free can be enough, but to throw in the no-bake factor? I continued my search and found Pumpkin Hand Pies, Pumpkin Bars, Chocolate and Almond Butter Fudge, and an apple pie where the apples were shaved into strips, then arranged like roses on top of a pie crust. Amazing really, but listen, I only had 30 hours until meal time, and I had to work my full time job, go to the grocery store, take care of the kiddo and make 3 other dishes for the big day. Rose Apple Pie was out.
I went back to the recipe and read it again. And again. I didn’t have any shredded coconut. I had no Xylitol or sugar (yes, it’s true, no sugar in the house, how can I possibly survive?). I did have coconut oil. And Vegan Chocolate. And Almonds.
I popped the kiddo in the car early, before I had to start answering the work emails, and we headed to the grocery story, list in hand so I would stick to it. Shredded coconut. Ugh, just the sweetened kind. I put the sugar back on the shelf. There was a bag of Xylitol, but it was to expensive, and if the coconut was going to be sweet, I didn’t need the sugar. Bummer, I didn’t want the sweetened kind, and why only one brand? I scanned the “natural” section again, and bingo,
I didn’t get to start my food prep until after dinner, but this was quick, I measured the ingredients, and pushed the
I lifted the button to “On”. Nothing. I moved the button back to the neutral position, my eyes tears a little, my daughter looking up at me with big eyes. ”It’s broken Mommy, ” she said,
“No,” I insisted. I checked the plug again, determined. I moved the bowl in and out of the lock position, I checked the lid. Everything was as it should be. ”On” worked. I exhaled, realizing I had been holding my breath.
Processing the shredded coconut and sugar released a sweet tropical island smell. It almost smelled like I was at the beach, but then I just got hungry. I melted the coconut oil, the recipe calls for only 6 tablespoons, I drizzled in the coconut oil and vanilla and finally the salt. I thought the mixture would ball up, but it didn’t. I took the lid off and tested the dough, but it fell apart. The coconut oil needed to harden. I popped the bowl into the fridge.
I was impatient and two minutes later I was testing the dough again, still not satisfied with amount of crumbling. I melted more coconut oil, another 6 tablespoons, and ran the Cuisinart again until it was all blended. I stood back and promised to wait 10 minutes this time and popped the bowl back into the fridge.
I dug around for a small ice cream scoop. I’m not sure why I even looked for one, I don’t have one. The melon baller might work, and I grabbed a spoon too, cleaned up my spot on the counter and got ready to roll.
The timer beeped in 10 minutes (I know why that sound sounds the way it does, but it is pretty harsh.) I tested the dough. Perfect, sort of. It was still pretty soft and crumbly and I could feel the sugar grains. But I was out of time, I still had to prep 3 other dishes.
The melon baller didn’t work. The dough stuck to it and when I tried to pop the formed cookie out, it crumbled. Clock is ticking. I tried a spoon, but it was too big. I grabbed a smaller spoon to scoop, worked perfect for portion control. I formed the balls gently with my hands and placed them on the cookie sheet. In a few minutes, I was done. My hands covered in coconut and sugar. It smelled so good, I rubbed my fingers together first and realized this was a great exfoliant, I rubbed my hands together before rinsing, not only were my hands amazingly soft, but the coconut lingered on my skin, and I was eager to taste these treats.
The recipe said these would set at room temperature, but with the minutes flying by, I popped them into the fridge while I melted my chocolate and cut up the almonds. Minutes later, the dough was hard. They remained on the pan while I drizzled chocolate over each ball, then quickly sprinkled the almond bits, hoping the chocolate would hold them into place. I put the sheet back into the fridge and cleaned up by sprinkling the rest of the almonds on the melted chocolate and popping a spoonful into my mouth. I can absolutely assure you that chocolate and almonds do mix.
I cleaned up and moved onto my next dish a Cranberry Salsa (another post), but that was done quickly and jarred for the next day.
As I placed the Coconut Delights into a storage dish, we each ate one. I can’t possibly describe the taste, these were creamy and sweet, but not too sweet. They were coconut, but not over-the-top coconut. I honestly didn’t know how these were going to last through our drive to the peninsula.
But they did. There was just enough for each person to have one, and since you really only need a bite of a treat (not 30 bites), it was perfect. I did see Uncle J lick the chocolate and almonds off, he must not like Coconut. And Cousins M and L, well, they have us all wondering if coconuts have balls.
You can find the recipe here:
Thankfully, I bought way too much coconut, and since they don’t take long to make, another batch will be up shortly.
Before the Coconut Balls, we made GF Vegan