The Whole Coconut Cookbook is a collection of fresh gluten- and dairy-free recipes starring that famous fibrous drupe, the coconut. Nathalie Fraise‘s collection of recipes explores every meal (plus snacks and dessert) injecting each recipe with every iteration of coconut. Some recipes are now-classics you can’t seem to open a brunch menu without, (chia pudding, grain-free granola, nut butters galore) the recipes for which taste good, but weren’t especially stimulating. Others, upon my recitation of their titles aloud, elicited reactions along the lines of “wait, what?” (banana cauliflower Farina.) However, the majority of Fraise’s recipes are new ideas I can’t wait to make and eat (green onion patties with spicy peanut sauce, coconut sesame noodles with bok choy and tamarind dressing. cheesy paprika popcorn, vanilla rosemary crème brûlée helllllo.)
According to the introduction, Fraise grew up in Madagascar. Her regular experience with coconuts involved trucks toting the fruit into the town where she lived, and others (when traveling near the coast,) involved buying them directly from children who’d plucked them from their own trees. It’s safe to assume Fraise knows what she’s talking about. And if you doubt her, just check out the back of the book where she lists pages of resources, recommended brands, and texts she consulted in order to make this collection of recipes so successful. I found all necessary ingredients at Whole Foods.
Before you get cooking from this book, here’s a list of coconut-based items you’re going to need:
– coconut oil
– coconut butter (which is different from coconut oil; it’s simply coconut meat that’s processed into a thick butter)
– a few cans of coconut milk
– coconut flour
– coconut palm sugar
– coconut nectar (thick syrup, technically the raw liquid sap of the coconut blossom)
*Pick up a copy of the book for more useful ingredients and descriptions*
I chose to make Fraise’s coconut orange cookies, which were essentially an almond flour-riff on macaroons. Chewy, moist, and just salty enough for a dessert, plus topped with toasty sesame seeds, these little cookies were a wildly pleasant surprise. They also go very well with white wine, just saying. I think the next time I make them, I may bump up the sesame factor by adding a good dollop of tahini to the batter. If you’re looking for a way to jazz up your dessert table this Passover, I’d highly recommend taking these cookies for a test drive. They’re thickened with arrowroot starch instead of cornstarch, and the combination of coconut and almond flours + alternative coconut-based sugars make for a pretty complex flavor. Check out these articles if you’re nervous about Passover recipes that include baking powder.
Cookies (from The Whole Coconut Cookbook, makes about 2 dozen cookies)
2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coconut flour
2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut butter
1/3 cup coconut nectar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Preheat oven to 350º F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the almond flour, shredded coconut, coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, arrowroot, baking soda, and salt.
Combine coconut oil and coconut butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Melt gently, then whisk in the coconut nectar, vanilla, and orange zest. Pour into flour mixture and combine.
Drop heaping tablespoons of dough (I used my trusty cookie scoop, rolled the cookies into balls with my hands, then flattened them very slightly). Place on the prepared baking sheets, separated by a couple of inches. Do not overcrowd, as they spread while cooking. Sprinkle with sesame seeds (or better yet, roll the whole top of the cookie in seeds). Bake in the middle rack of the oven, until golden brown on top, 7-9 minutes. Make sure the bottoms do not burn.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a wire rack, and allow to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days.