Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.

Macaroon Saturday!

Morning: clear
Music: Dave Brubeck's jazz
Mood: sunny 

Good morning, kids!

Or, shall I say, good afternoon, that is, since it's coming up on 5pm and all.

I had the best intentions of posting this recipe right away, Bundt Cake Saturday-style, but the morning got away from me and the sun called us outside and before we knew it we were hiking up Inverness Ridge, new hiking shoes laced tight, just across Tomales Bay.

So here we are on the other side of the day, and the sun's making its way toward the horizon again, which means a perfect opportunity to fill up the coffee cup, put the feet up, and knock out a wee recipe for you.

We've been making homemade almond milk for a few months now (well, ever since the earth-shattering introduction of the Vitamix).  It's a game-changer, for sure, especially in breakfast smoothies.  You can just pucker up and really taste the legit almond flavor oozing out.  The thing is, though (in case you're not familiar with the process), when you make almond milk, you're always left with a solid hunk of almond nut pulp with which you've gotta figure out something to do.

We had good intentions of creating all kinds of rad concoctions with the nut pulp that was quickly beginning to litter our fridge: hummus (which we did, and it was deriscious), flourless chocolate cake, etc.  But too many weeks were going by without our actually making use of the thick, nutty stuff that sat invisible, unloved, on the bottom shelf, gathering dust behind the vodka and the broccoli.

This morning I woke up to day-old nut pulp in the fridge.  It was the first Saturday I didn't have to teach in a month, so I lounged in my pajamas and enjoyed the unfamiliar lull.  But then I ran across this recipe for Almond Coconut Macaroons, and I hit the kitchen like a lady on a mission.

So easy!  So delicious!  So resourceful!  So gluten-free!  And especially good if you've got wee ones around who just might be great at rolling some extra-fine dough in their fat little fingers.

I found this recipe and tweaked a few things.  The key here is to just play with it.  The original recipe looks like this:

            (Raw, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free) 
             Makes 18-20 Macaroons 
1 1/4 cups almond milk pulp, strained 
1 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut  
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup  
1 generous pinch salt  
Scrapings of 1 vanilla bean, OR 1 tsp good vanilla extract  
Blend all ingredients together in a food processor until they form a dough. Add a little more agave or some water if the mixture is too thick.  Line a dehydrator sheet with Teflex and scoop the macaroons out by round tablespoons onto the sheet. Dehydrate at 115 degrees for 6 hours, or until macaroons hold together well but are still a little soft.

That said, I changed a few things up:

I wanted something a little more chocolatey.  So I added 1/3 cup of baking cocoa, then blended the ingredients for about 30 seconds in the Vitamix (on High).  I ended up having to add 1/2 cup of water, and found the macaroons a touch less sweet than I'd have liked.

Lesson being: add an extra 1/3 cup of agave nectar to the original recipe, see what happens when you blend it, and then maybe still add a little water as you find necessary.

Use a spoon to remove the dough from the blender, roll it into tiny balls using your hands, gently roll those balls in finely-shredded coconut, and then place on parchment paper a few inches apart.

I don't have a dehydrator (do you?), so I experimented.  Heated the oven to 350 degrees, slid those puppies in for 10 minutes, and pulled them out just in time for the coconut to toast a wee bit.  I didn't really notice a huge difference in the "before" or "after," so feel free to disregard that and eat them as-is, especially if you're attached to keeping them raw.

The best part about this recipe is how much potential you have to tweak it.  If I were to make this same variation again, I might add a teaspoon more vanilla so the taste is more evident.  All afternoon I've been making mental notes on future variations that I wanna try.  Give these a whirl and let me know how they turn out:

  • Add melted chocolate chips or Heath bar crumbles for a sweeter touch
  • Add cayenne pepper to give the chocolate some kick
  • Add lemon zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract to get a nice lemon-almond flavor.  OR add a touch of lavender for some lemon-lavender heaven.
  • Add orange zest or 1 1/2 teaspoons orange extract, either with the chocolate variation or with 1 teaspoon of cardamom for a more savory flavor
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of almond or cinnamon extract for a unique kick
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of peppermint extract and then roll in crumbled candy canes for a holiday feel
  • Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of chai masala spice and then HOLY GOD will that be good.
  • If you don't really care about the whole potentially-plastic-processed foods factor, get some of that old-school Jello instant gelatin (say, raspberry or cherry-flavored) and roll the balls in it.  Deriscious.
  • Roll the balls in chopped almonds, pecans, walnuts, or macadamia nuts

Be creative.  You get the picture.

Just as I'm finishing proofing this post, I hear word from the kitchen that we've got a new batch of nut pulp ready to rumble.  Here we go, dessert-lovers.  Something tells me we're gonna find a reason to drink a helluva lot more almond milk around these parts.


Update (as of Monday afternoon):

We made the Lemon Coconut variation last night. Check 'em out at left. They were delicate and delicious. Easy, too.


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