On a relaxing Sunday, I found some time to prepare a little treat for myself for the week ahead. Because I work at home, I find it helpful to have (somewhat) healthy sweets on hand to grab when I need a snack, to keep me from opting for a less healthy alternative. In this case, the recipe came from a cookbook entitled Raw Food, Real World by Matthew Kenney and Sarma Melingailis, which is such a beautiful book it could double as the coffee table variety. The recipes I’ve tried are delicious, if complicated. I received this book as a gift a few years ago when I was preparing to try an all raw vegan diet. As it turned out, that lifestyle (and it is a lifestyle, not just a diet choice) was not for me, but I did add a few of the recipes from the book to my repertoire before I gave up. This macaroon recipe was one of those.
The coconut oil, almond meal and unsweetened shredded coconut contribute a substantial amount of fat, but it’s good, energizing fat. It may be appropriate to point out here, for those of you who don’t know, that fat is not the enemy, and coconut oil has been given a bad rap over the years. As with anything, moderation is key. [More on coconut oil] They are sweetened with maple syrup. Purist raw foodies may object here that maple syrup does not technically qualify as raw, and they would be correct. Maple sap is heated to reduce it to a syrup. That being said, I tend to agree with the authors when they say that you do need to live a little from time to time – especially when it comes to dessert. The only other ingredients are sea salt and vanilla extract. It is a pleasant surprise that such a simple, short list of ingredients could produce such a delicious snack.
Some special equipment is required; you’ll need a dehydrator. I mixed the ingredients manually with a pastry blender, but of course a simple fork will do. Mix thoroughly – the coconut oil is the consistency of Crisco and you want to make sure it gets mixed in well so you don’t have chunks. Then I formed the macaroons with a melon baller. If you want them to be uniform in size you’ll need to press the batter into your melon baller with your fingers before you slip it onto the tray, so you create pretty little mounds that present very well. I covered my dehydrator tray with some plastic wrap. If you have screens for your dehydrator, that would be the preferred, more sophisticated option. (I’m saving up for a higher-end dehydrator, and when I get one, I’ll invest in some tray covers. For now, I’m using plastic wrap.)
1-1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
1/2 cup maple syrup
2-1/2 T coconut oil
1/2 T vanilla extract
1/4 t. sea salt
The process is simple. Mix all the ingredients together, form the batter into balls and place the balls on the dehydrator trays, then dehydrate until the crust is hard but the inside is soft. It may be helpful to know that this could take a day or two, as is often the case when using a dehydrator, depending on the humidity of your climate and the moisture of your ingredients.
Katherine's Note: I am very lucky that the first time I had these rapturous cookies was in a special location. Stefanie and I were camping in a group up at Kyle Canyon near Mount Charleston last year, and under the canopy of large old Ponderosa Pines, Stefanie brought these out at breakfast and we had them along with some fine tea made from nettles harvested the day before on a hike up the Fletcher Canyon Trail. We also had a great fruit salad that I made for the trip that I believe included fresh cherries, mangoes, plums, nectarines and grapes, mixed with a sauce made of blended mangoes, cherries, and a little lemon juice and honey. Yum!