Delicious/Nutritious: Coconut is nature’s candy

Simple Coconut Macaroons

Slightly sweet with a definitely distinctive flavor, coconut has one of those “love it or hate” it tastes. If you’re one who loves it, there are many ways for you to enjoy the rich, pleasing taste — coconut milk, water, oil, manna, flour, flakes, shreds, sweetened tendrils and palm sugar.

Delicious

Coconut is like nature’s candy. Versatile and a good way to bring nuance to savory and sweet foods alike, I cook with it often. I use coconut milk in place of water in rice and soup, and often sprinkle a little unsweetened coconut on top of bananas and oranges for a simple kid-friendly dessert.

I am not much of a baker, so I am always looking for ways to make simple treats for my children, beyond opening a box of brownie mix. Coconut affords me an easy way to make a treat with few ingredients and not much expertise. I decided that my simple macaroon recipe is the perfect thing to share because — while it seems like an overly obvious choice — it highlights coconut, is made with basic pantry ingredients, and can be whipped up in no time if someone is dropping over for coffee or your children are begging for some sort of dessert in a dessert desert like my house.

Simple Coconut Macaroons

Ingredients

2 eggs

No-Bake Double Coconut Brownies

12 ounces of coconut

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of salt

Directions

Mix the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla together with a whisk. Then add the flour in and fold together. Last, add the coconut.

Drop by large tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes at 325 F.

So simple! They go great with chocolate, and are extra fancy if a little melted chocolate is drizzled on the tops after baking and cooling.

Nutritious

It’s no secret in this space that I love coconut oil. It’s my oil of choice in nearly everything I bake. This is for many reasons: the healthy medium-chain fatty acids that comprise it, the high smoke point and the delicious taste.

Therefore, it’s no surprise (probably) that I love the many iterations of coconut. To me, it’s a delicious super food. A bit of nature’s (unsweetened) candy. To my husband, it’s basically food-grade suntan lotion. But we’ll agree to disagree on that point. (At least he doesn’t mind the oil.)

In the following recipe, I use coconut in several iterations. Not only in the traditional shredded presentation, but also in its oil and palm sugar forms. The result is a frosted brownie made without refined sugar and topped off with a snowy coating of pure coconut.

No-Bake Double Coconut Brownies

1 cup walnuts

1-1/2 cups Medjool dates, pitted

1 cup unsweetened coconut, divided

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

Directions

Combine all ingredients except for a 1/2 cup of the coconut in a food processor. Mix well until the dough sticks together. Press into a parchment-lined pan. You can use a 8-inch or 9-inch square or circle, or a 7-by-11-inch glass pan. The smaller the pan, the thicker the brownie. Put into the freezer while you make the frosting. Set the extra 1/2 cup of coconut aside for sprinkling.

Frosting

6 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut palm sugar

1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

In a food processor or a small blender, whip coconut oil until smooth. Add in the maple syrup and extracts and whip until combined. Add the coconut palm sugar and combine again.

To assemble: Remove the pan from the freezer. Spread on the frosting with a spatula. Immediately cover with the extra 1/2 cup coconut. If you wait too long, the frosting will get too hard and the coconut won’t stick really well. Put it back into the freezer for at least 5 minutes before cutting into bars. Store in the freezer.

— Megan Stuke (Delicious) is a working mom, a practical cook and an impractical hostess. Sarah Henning (Nutritious) is a writer, blogger, vegetarian and mom.