Desserts, Snacks

Vanilla Coconut Popsicles

One of my earliest memories is eating a coconut popsicle. A creamy white pop with little bits of shredded coconut sprinkled throughout. I don’t remember where I was, or who I was with, specifically. And maybe the memory is actually a blur of many popsicles, the result of countless visits to roaming trucks and Central Park kiosks, but I can close my eyes and see my fingers ripping through the flimsy plastic. I know I was three or four, and the moment I unwrapped the pop, it began melting down the stick in the hot Manhattan sun, cream getting dangerously close to my fingers. I’ve had many a coconut “froz fruit” since those first few, and this happens every time. I’m a little more okay with the meltdown now, (I’m fairly sure I was the only kid to really really really hate being sticky) and every time I pass a truck it takes everything in my power not to buy three.

In celebration of summer and Billy’s #popsicleweek (!!) I felt it was high time to take a whack at these in my own kitchen.

All I hoped to achieve with my own version of this popsicle was that slightly chewy consistency that comes from all pre-packaged ice cream truck confections. Let it be known I’m not talking about that taffy-like quality that New England-style ice cream does so well (shoutout to Herrell’s in Northampton, which supplied me with my delightfully chewy birthday ice cream sundaes and homemade chocolate whipped cream from 2011-2015). No, I’m talking about the kind of icy texture that comes only as a result of bumping around in the back of a Mister Softee freezer for months at a time, temperature going up and down by day, even by hour. The treats start to melt, then freeze back up, then melt again. Once they’re unwrapped and bitten, it’s clear the contents aren’t a solid mixture, but a hundred million coconut-flavored snowflakes.

It’s impossible to create the real thing, but I’ve come pretty close. I added a hit of vanilla, which is technically not part of the classic pop, but I think it added a little something special. The recipe is wildly simple too, for more time eating popsicles and less time debating whether this was worth it, and if you should’ve just walked outside to a truck.

A note on the sweetener for this recipe: Anything will do, it simply depends on your preference. If you want to notice the flavor, use honey or maple syrup; if you don’t, use powdered sugar. Completely your call. As for the chocolate, I personally prefer dark chocolate in general, but I’ve found that semisweet makes for that classic, barely cloying magic shell-type coating, which is actually kinda great. Again, the choice is yours.

There can never truly be enough popsicles, so do yourself a favor and head over to the #popsicleweek homepage on Wit & Vinegar for about a million more wildly creative and delicious-sounding frozen treats.

Vanilla Coconut Popsicles

1 (13.5 ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
±2 tablespoons desired liquid sweetener (honey, syrup, coconut nectar, etc.) OR 1/4 cup powdered sugar (see note above)
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

Optional:
2-6 ounces 80% dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped (you’ll need more for dipping, less for drizzle)
1 teaspoon coconut oil
flakey sea salt

Place all ingredients in the first list except shredded coconut in a blender and blitz for 25-40 seconds, or until well mixed. Add shredded coconut and blend for a few seconds just to incorporate. Pour mixture into a prepared popsicle mold. Freeze for about 4 hours.

If you’re interested in doing a chocolate dip or drizzle: Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a double boiler, then remove from the heat. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper. If dipping: Pour the chocolate into a tall heat-proof jar. Un-mold the pops one at a time, dip, let excess chocolate drip off, then place the pops on the baking sheet and return to the freezer for a few minutes. If drizzling: Working quickly, un-mold all the pops and place then on the baking sheet. Drizzle the chocolate on with a spoon, then return to the freezer for a few minutes.

🔜🔜🔜 #popsicleweek

A post shared by Rebecca Firkser (@ruhbekuhlee) on

 

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Book Review, Desserts

Coconut Orange Cookies

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.

NOTE: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this review. Check out this review on their website too!

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Breakfasts, Desserts

171

No-Bake Seedy Mocha Coconut Slice (V, GF)

First post back in my trusty Jersey kitchen! I’ve missed it so. The weirdly yellow speckled floors. The full-sized food processor. THE DISHWASHER. I can’t even describe how many times in the past few days I’ve started washing things by hand and then remembered I can just toss it in a thing that will clean the dishes for me!! No more waking up to a sink full of things I was too lazy to clean the night before. Truly a miracle.

As much as I love having certain things back, it sure is weird being in a real house again for the long haul. I realize like four times a day l have yet to turn off all my alarms telling me about work shifts at the museum and production meetings at the theatre. I can’t remember where I left my bag or shoes or iPod or sunglasses because I can’t just throw them into the same corner of my apartment every time I come home anymore (my roommates totally loved me, can you tell?) I’m taking a big risk if I leave my computer plugged in unattended because a certain member of the household likes to sharpen his fangs on electrical cords when no one is watching. On the other hand, it’s a dream come true to be able to jump in the car and be five minutes away from Whole Foods. It’s actually going to become a problem soon. I like grocery shopping way too much, don’t judge meeee. I’m also growing quite fond of this whole waking up to a pot of coffee already brewed thing. And having a big tv instead of my tiny laptop to re-watch all of Mad Men explore important documentary films. I’ll start my summer job soon enough, but until then I’ve really been getting into having nothing to do. And I’ll continue being a big fan for maybe another week, then I’ll start to go insane and probably begin crafting again. But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Let’s talk about food. Specifically this recipe. It originated from a recipe by my all-time favorite vegan blogger Ashlae of Oh, Ladycakes. While rummaging in the fridge for dates, I found a container of prunes. And because I’ve been trying real hard to broaden my food-horizons lately I ate one. I was not a fan. Que sera, sera. However, the texture was very promising, as in it resembled a perfectly moist date. Lo and behold, pruney date crust is slammin’! And while I’m not too fond of them on their own, when blended with super sweet dates and nuts and coffee and chocolate, they add a whole new world of flavor. So don’t knock it til you try it, trust me! The greatest thing about this treat is that it’s totally substantial enough to be breakfast, but decadent enough to have for dessert (with a healthy dollop of whipped cream, duh.) PS- if you have a nut allergy, omit the almonds and almond milk; bump up the oats to 1 1/4 cup, the pepitas to 1/4 cup, and swap the almond milk for the water your dates/prunes have been soaking in! Also thx to Emily for being my hand model extraordinaire~

Slice (adapted from Ashlae Warner, via eHow)

1 cup raw almonds
3 tablespoons pepitas
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 teaspoon coffee grounds
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
heavy pinch vanilla sea salt (or just normal, I won’t tell)
12 deglet noor dates
3 prunes
2 tablespoons cocoa nibs
1/4 cup almond milk (or date water)
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (optional)

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
3 tablespoons maple syrup

shredded coconut, chopped almonds, cocoa nibs, crystalized ginger, dried chopped fruit, etc. (for topping)

Make the crust: Place the dates and prunes in a bowl and cover with hot water. Set aside for at least ten minutes. Drain, reserving the water to replace almond milk in this recipe (or for adding further deliciousness to a smoothie!) Blend the almonds, pepitas, coconut, oats, coffee, cocoa powder, and salt in a food processor until it turns into a fairly fine meal. Add the dates, prunes, cocoa nibs, and extract (if using) and blend until combined. Add the almond milk or date water and pulse until the mixture forms large crumbs. Press the mixture into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom (or if you’re me and just moved all your kitchen equipment from one home to another, use whatever you have hanging around that vaguely resembles said tart pan; in this case, a spring form pan. See, they’re not just for cheesecakes!) and put it in the freezer to make it bake.

Make the topping: Whisk together the coconut oil and cocoa powder until smooth, it will resemble melted chocolate. Add the maple syrup and whisk well. (Spoiler alert: this is the BEST and easiest vegan chocolate frosting if you’re ever in a pinch.)

Put it all together: Take the crust out of the freezer. Working quickly, spread the topping over the crust with an offset spatula and sprinkle with additional desired toppings! Good luck getting this to last over two days, but Ashlae assures us it will keep in the freezer for up to 6 weeks!


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Drinks

136

Coconut Dirty Chai Smoothie (V)

I don’t know if I’m technically allowed to call this drink a smoothie. It is cold and you do make it in the blender, but there’s no fruit. So then I thought maybe it’s supposed to be called a frappé- technically a Greek style iced coffee, but American bastardization has since changed the word to “frap” and the definition to “blended coffee drink”. And yes, this drink is blended and it does in fact have coffee in it. But it doesn’t work because “frap” is, in my opinion, a truly gross word. Don’t ask me why, but I cringe when I hear someone order one. I don’t care if you’re trying to sound like an old pro at Starbucks (plz just say frappucino, somehow that’s better), if you don’t know how to pronounce words with the acute accent, or if the menu actually says frap; it’s just always terrible. I’d say it’s somewhere in between “fro yo” or “ho cho” on the list of cutesy food words that make me gag. So I think I’m just going with smoothie, semantics be damned. You can, of course, call it whatever you like in the privacy of your own kitchen- I’m not here to yell at you! Anyway, I figured there’s probably only a few weeks in the blended drink season, so I might as well share this recipe now! Although come to think of it, weeks may be pushing my luck now that I’m about to be back in New England where summer = 75 degrees, so odds are if I make this again I’m also going to need an overcoat. Eh, I think it’s worth it. You’ll see when you try it! Also this is a fully vegan smoothie, even though the cup I used says “dairy”…oops?

Smoothie (serves 2)

5 oz light culinary coconut milk

6 oz coconut almond milk (sweetened or unsweetened)

2 tbsp. vegan chai latte powder

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1+ tbsp. maple syrup, honey, or agave (your choice)

1 shot espresso

ice

Add everything to a blender. Adjust sweetness to your liking and ice according to your desired thickness. OR if you don’t have a blender/prefer your drink stronger: combine all ingredients except ice in a mason jar, close the lid tightly, then shake well. Pour over ice!

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Desserts

130

Almond Chocolate Mousse (V, GF)

These recipes come from Oh, Ladycakes, a really incredible baking blog. Not only are the photos absolutely beautiful, everything made for the blog is vegan! While I am not a vegan, I really love exploring vegan baking. It’s like being a mad scientist only you end up with dessert and not turning yourself into a giant lizard or something. Vegans really know their stuff in terms of good alternative fats, as butter, eggs, and cream are personae non gratae in their kitchens. Here’s something I’ve learned: baking tips from bloggers are sometimes wrong. Sometimes home cooks get lucky when following their hearts in terms of making changes to recipes, then when someone else tries to duplicate said recipe it just doesn’t work. Here’s another thing I’ve learned: vegan bloggers are often exempt from this list. They HAVE to be. For example, when making ice cream, if a proper alternative to egg yolks is not established, there will be no ice cream. And then the vegan will probably be sad, as one often gets when one cannot have ice cream. So if you ask me, trust the vegans. They may not eat bacon or eggs, but they know their stuff in the kitchen.

Mousse (makes 4-6 servings depending on how big; altered slightly from Oh, Ladycakes)

6 oz dark chocolate (65% or higher)

3/4 c. unsweetened almond milk

Coconut Whipped Cream

Fill a large mixing bowl halfway with ice cubes and set aside. Place four-six small jars near your workspace. Add the chocolate to the top of a double boiler (or a heat safe bowl) over and inch or two of boiling water and melt completely. Once it’s melted, remove from heat and set the double boiler insert over the bowl of ice. Add the milk and stir with a spatula until mostly combined (don’t forget to scrape the bottom and edges of the bowl too!). Using a hand mixer on medium-low speed, beat the mixture for 3-5 minutes. It will get very bubbly, and then then rippled lines will start to appear as the mixture thickens. Once all you can see are lines, mix for an additional 10 seconds then immediately pour the mousse into the jars. (If you overmixed and the mousse is too firm to pour into jars, simply return the bowl to the double boiler, melt the mixture completely, and begin again!) Tap each jar on the counter to remove any air bubbles, top with lid, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until set.

Top with coconut whipped cream (scroll down) and cherries, toasted coconut flakes, chocolate shavings, sprinkles, fresh berries, whatever you like!

 

 

 

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Musing

How To Make Coconut Whipped Cream

I’m hoping to be able to share several “How To” posts in addition to my regular recipes. They could be simpler basics that do not warrant a lot of explanation but happen to find there way into a lot of my food (looking at you, almond butter) or perhaps less glamorous components to a longer recipe (you’ll see). Anyway, the following is a recipe from my favorite vegan baking blog Oh, Ladycakes. The girl knows her stuff. In my opinion, this *completely vegan* whipped cream is better than the real thing. I promise you, I’m not one to say that often, but I really do believe it in this case. The coconut is so much more interesting than normal cream. You’ll get it when you try this! Recipes of mine that get insanely better when coconut whipped cream is used: (to name a few) Avocado Chocolate Pudding, Almond Chocolate Mousse, Chocolate Coconut Pound CakeCream Puffs with Caramel Glaze, Key Lime PieDark Chocolate Pudding and Strawberry Shortcake!

 

Whipped Cream (V, GF)

1 can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight (I just used the whole container of this– no leftovers)

1-2 tbsp. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Open the can of coconut milk and scoop the thick top layer (or if using the afore-linked container, the whole darn thing) into a large deep mixing bowl. Blend the fatty coconut milk with a hand mixer on high speed for 15-20 seconds. Add as much or as little powdered sugar as you like and mix until combined. Add the vanilla extract and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes (until light and creamy). And boom, you’re done! This whipped cream is best served immediately, but can be stored in an air tight container in the fridge for up to three days. It will harden when chilled, so when ready to serve, simply blend with a hand mixer on high speed until creamy again.

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Drinks

120

Coconut Honey Latté

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Coconut oil is magic, did you know that? It’s chock full of medium chain triglycerides, which is science for healthy fats that help the body efficiently burn energy! Coconut oil also can help fight off yeasts, fungi, and bacteria. It helps increase metabolism and can improve insulin use within the body. Not to mention it’s an excellent moisturizer for skin and hair. Superfood, amirite? It can easily replace butter in many baked recipes, but it’s not hard at all to sneak a teaspoon or two for an added boost into smoothies, milkshakes, and, you guessed it- even coffee! Hence this post. Another one of coconut oil’s magic properties is that when you blend it up with coffee and milk it creates an INSANE foam. Like, super thick and pretty café-quality foam*. Believe it. Such a great way to boost energy in the morning or (if you’re me) at 4 pm, when the morning coffee has faded. Enjoy! Also I am aware that honey isn’t technically vegan, as many bees are essentially exploited and uncompensated for their work. I’m not technically a vegan, so I do eat honey.  And obviously there are vegans who abstain from animal byproducts for other reason, and do in fact eat honey. And then there are carnivores who just don’t like honey. So whatever your feelings on the substance, you can go for it or sub agave/maple syrup!

*A note on the photos/general life lessons learned: the first time I made this latté it came out incredibly. The foam was foamy, but it also managed to hang on to that lovely golden color that happens when coffee is mixed with milk (see above photo). Then I made it again because I wanted to share even more pictures of my coconut flavored success and it still came out appropriately foamy, but just, not AS good as it did the first time. So I made another. And another. No dice. And you know what I learned? Some things just aren’t worth it. Did it taste good? Absolutely. Did it still look nice in the pictures? Sure! Just not as nice as it did, but so what! Lesson = stop caring so much about whether the foam is perfect and start caring about actual things (like what is happening in Iraq/Ukraine or how I’m going to pay off my student loans when I graduate next year with a BA in theatre design or how I continue to eat salmon when apparently it’s destroying the environment even if it’s wild-caught). Let’s just breathe deep and blend some coconut oil.

Latté

1 shot espresso

1/4-1/2 c. almond milk (or whatever milk you like)

1 tbsp. solid coconut oil

1 tsp. honey (or agave or maple syrup)

Pull the espresso shot. Place in a blender along with milk, oil, and honey. Blend until frothy, about 30 seconds. Yum!

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