Last year I signed up for the I Quit Sugar challenge with a few friends. It was hard going giving up fructose for five weeks and quite a few other sugars for 8 weeks - not because I had sugar withdrawals (I didn't) but because the diet was so bland and joyless for me (here's my rundown of the pros and cons). I am not entirely convinced that coconut oil is the saviour Sarah Wilson proclaims it to be (there's a lot of it in the diet and it starts feeling like she's getting kickbacks from the coconut industry, much like Michelle Bridges and the obscene amount of ricotta in the 12WBT). But I did get a bit of a taste for coconut. And appreciate 'sweets' that aren't so sweet.
These coconut macaroons are a bastardisation of the traditional recipe which calls for a hefty amount of sugar. Instead, I replaced the sugar with Rice Bran Syrup (a fructose free and not-so-sweet syrup approved by the IQS gang) following Pastry Affair's lead for replacing the dry sugar with a liquid (she uses maple syrup).
In the traditional recipe you beat egg whites and the sugar together. Here's what I did:
- Beat three egg whites until stiff peaks form
- Gently warm or nuke 1/4 cup rice bran syrup until it's a little runny but not hot (if it's too warm it'll cook the egg whites)
- Mix in 1 tsp of vanilla extract and a pinch of salt to the syrup
- Gently add the syrup mixture to the egg white and beat to mix in (you'll lose some of the stiffness from the eggs - it might even get a bit soupy - don't worry too much)
- Gently stir in 1.5 cups of unsweetened dessicated coconut until all the coconut is coated in the eggy mixture (you could also use shredded coconut that you whiz up in a food processor yourself - this will be more damp than dessicated coconut, so you may need a little more).
- If it's still 'soupy' add more coconut. The final micture should be a little sticky but hold together when you shape into balls
- Shape into balls (or use a piping bag and make cute little 'kisses' or besitos de coco) and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
- Pop in the oven at 170 degrees celcius for 10-20 minutes depending on if you want white macaroons or toasted coconut macaroons. I like mine toasted.
- Let cool on the tray for five minutes before cooling completely on a rack.
You can vary these in lots of ways. Traditional macaroons are made with almond meal instead of coconut, so you could substitute in nut meals and experiment with the texture. I added in powdered ginger to this bunch but you could add in any spices you think would go with coconut or nut meals - cinnamon, nutmeg, aniseed/anise, chinese five spice, etc.
Dear Boy approved of these only-slightly-sweet treats, and was covered in coconut after helping me make and eat them. He only held still long enough after-the-fact to let me get a picture. Macaroon demolished.