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Wednesday
Mar072012

PANTRY STAPLES: COCOA COCONUT BITS

These may be the new favorite treat around here. I tried a brand called Hail Merry coconut macaroons at a friends house last weekend and with their simple ingredient list, I knew I could recreate them myself. A small ingredient list, all in one bowl AND delicious. I don't like selling people on recipes, but decadence doesn't often come by so simply.

In keeping up with the proposed Pantry Staples series, I am adding a few notes on my most frequently used fats. The list is pretty short, but there are controversies over canola, grape seed, corn and other vegetable oils, so I stick to the few mentioned here. Again, I am not a dietitian nor do I have any nutritional degrees. These are my opinions based on experience and light research.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is a monounsaturated fat which is said to be a "good fat" that can help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. The range of flavors in olive oil is pretty impressive. You can get under ripe, grassy, creamy, fruity and more. Depending where you live, there may be a local brand at your farmer's market, but there are a ton of markets and specialty stores with great brands as well. I typically have two bottles - one moderately priced one that I use for cooking (which should only really be used for moderate heat for the integrity of the flavor and nutrition), and another slightly pricier bottle that we use for dipping and homemade salad dressings, where the flavor is truly appreciated. Speaking of dressing, I love using this lemon oil from Stonehouse. Not overly lemony, just perfect. It usually has a shelf life of about a year, and should be kept in a cool, dark place to keep it as fresh as possible.

Extra Virgin Coconut Oil: This is my quickest answer to a non-controversial, high heat fat. It is a saturated fat, so it has made a strong come back from a history of being frowned upon for that reason. There are studies that say it is easier to digest than other fats, and the presence of certain acids make it good for skin care, stress relief, weight loss and immunity. It is a solid at room temperature, much like butter, so can be gently melted to be used in baked goods or warmed in a pan for a sauté.

There are some brands that smell more coconut-y to me, but for the most part, I find the flavor pretty versatile. You want to purchase an extra virgin, unrefined version. I keep mine in the pantry because I use it pretty often, but if you don't, it lasts longer in the refrigerator.

Nut Oils: These babies come with a higher price tag and distinct flavors, so I mostly use them as finishing oils or in salad dressing. A nice drizzle of hazelnut oil on some roasted squash, or pistachio oil in a quinoa salad - they have the essence of their nut, while also giving that moisture to the overall texture. The flavor changes with heat, so if anything, only use them with low heat. Like nuts in their whole form, they can go rancid fairly quickly, so should be kept in the fridge if you don't use them often. Be sure to check the dates where you purchase these oils too, as you want to buy from somewhere with a quick turnover to help ensure you're getting a fresh bottle.

Organic Butter: While dairy is composed of saturated fats, which affect cholesterol levels, butter is a natural food, so it still comes out as a better option than some of the other oils marketed as "healthy fats."There is no substitute for this flavor, first and foremost. I like butter on fresh, crusty bread or on top of weekend pancakes, but try and be conscious about using it in moderation. Because of the milk solids, butter burns at high heat, so is best used with lower heat cooking or in baked goods. The work around for this heat specific temperment is to clarify the butter, which is a simple process that removes the milk solids, so you can cook with it at higher temperature. My New Roots has a great post on how to make it and why. I do my best to buy organic dairy whenever possible. These days, it's pretty easy to find.

Sesame Oil: This oil has both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and several vitamins and minerals. Like any of the other oils, these health benefits are still to be considered with a high caloric content, so should be used in moderation. The flavor is pretty assertive, so I use sesame oil when that flavor is welcomed, mostly Asian inspired meals. It can handle higher heats, but definitely has a nutty flavor to it. You can purchase plain or toasted sesame oil, and while I love the flavor of the toasted, it is pretty strong, so with cooking, I often go half toasted sesame and half coconut oil to mellow it out and avoid any burning smells or flavors. I keep the toasted variety in the fridge for a longer shelf life.

COCOA COCONUT BITS // Makes 20

Because these are vegan, they can also be enjoyed raw. You can scoop them into balls, chill them for about an hour, and enjoy as such. I baked mine at a low heat, because it gives them a texture of somewhere between truffle and cookie and I really love that. A crisp crust and a soft center. Perfection.

1 1/2 cups dried, unsweetened coconut (sometimes tough to find at markets, easy to get online)

1/2 cup natural cocoa powder

1/3 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup grade b maple syrup

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

In a mixing bowl. Combine the coconut, cocoa powder and rolled oats together. Stir in the maple, coconut oil, vanilla and optional dash of cinnamon. Mix to coat everything evenly. Set in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 215'.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a mini scooper or your hands, make 1 inch balls and set them on the baking tray (they don't spread, ample space between is not important). Bake them on the middle rack for 20 minutes. Remove to cool.

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Reader Comments (73)

i have everything for these in my pantry, i know what i'm making for a get together tomorrow!

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterhannah

These look delicious! We are in for a very rainy weekend where I live so these will definitely be on my to-do list!! Thanks for the informational post on fats/oils. I almost exclusively use unrefined virgin coconut oil in any of my vegan baking, and even non-vegan baking. It's an awesome thing to have in the pantry!

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCourtney

These look amazing, delicious, ans so simple! Thank you for the additional health benefits and tips, I love that you take the time to share that info with us, because it is priceless info we should all be aware of. So thank you!

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterfabiola

love these!

Coconut and chocolate are true pleasures...these look absolutely delicious!

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna @ the shady pine

PINNED IT! om nom nom...

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlinsiloo

Perfect! I was just daydreaming of macaroons. If you're lucky enough to live in a populous diverse area (shoutout to Chicago) so-called "ethnic groceries" are a great place to find so-called "alternative oils" and often at lower prices than at, say, Whole Foods. Also a great resource for similarly moderately-priced flours like sweet rice, corn flour, tapioca, etc.

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I have had this restless craving for something just like this lately. As always, you hit the nail on the head.

March 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimberley

I'm so happy I found your blog! You take wonderful pictures, and I am going to try your recipes this weekend :)

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThea

today is the first day of my eldest's march break. these are a perfect treat to celebrate, and its so great that they're so kid-friendly.
xox!

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentertara

Thank you for this recipe! I'm always on the look out for good afternoon snacks for my littles. Oh, and me, too. :)
Lovely lovely photos.

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersarah

I substituted chopped toasted almonds for the oats. Yum!

March 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterApril

Sara, I had to fight every urge to stop doing what I was doing and make these truffle/cookies the minute I read your post. I assure you I'll be making these ASAP!

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCookie + Kate

Where does one find extra virgin coconut oil? Is there a substitute if I can't find it?

March 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

@Kathy- If you have a trader joes near you, they have the best price. Otherwise, any health good store will have it or there are a plethora of brands on Amazon!

March 10, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Have you tried avocado oil? It's a new favorite for salad dressings for me. I just purchased some walnut oil and have pretty much been obsessed with it. Must try hazelnut next. All of these nut oils are gonna put a serious dent in my pocket!

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKasey

My girlies are going to LOVE these!! What a delightful treat, and perfect for an upcoming holiday when we avoid eating leavened foods. Cannot wait to make them and to share them. Thank you!

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

sounds yum!!! am I able to substitute anything for the maple syrup? like honey?

March 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLena

my new favorite dessert!! they are delicious.. I can't stop eating them.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Wow, anything with coconut wins me over. This looks delicious!!

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKimber

These remind me of the coconut haystacks I used to get every time we went to the oregon coast when I was a kid, only much healthier I'm sure. Can't wait to try them!

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJillian

My new favorite sweet! So simple and so delicious!!

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

Ooooh, yum! I love the idea of a cross between a truffle and a cookie - a great texture! These look awesome.

March 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie@Cozydelicious

I'm a coconut fan. I can't get enough... have loved it since I was a child. These little bits look marvelous!

Maple syrup? I'm at your mercy.

I love these-- the raw option is almost as appealing as the cookie/truffle baked version! And thank you so much for your breakdown of health-supportive fats... I always smile when I see people extolling the virtues of coconut oil. Not only is it one of the healthiest fats around, it's texture and taste truly shine through every dish! I can't get enough of the stuff. Beautiful post, as always!

March 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThe Cozy Herbivore

I made the raw version of these using a fresh coconut instead of dry and the oil, and I used almond meal instead of oats. Fantastic dark chocolate coconut truffle! Thanks for the inspiration!

March 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily

First time on your blog - absolutely loving it! These cocoa coconut bits are so tempting.

March 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDivya

I love all your info on oils. I have not tried a recipe yet with coconut oil in it's liquid form. I am going to replace the vegetable oil in my favorite chocolate cake recipe with coconut oil and see how it turns out. Fingers crossed! I do use coconut oil when I pop my popcorn though and it's perfect.

These cookies look easy and delish!

WOW! Just came across your blog via 101 cookbooks and I want to make everything I see! It's beautiful.

March 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteramanda

These are delicious! I can hardly keep my fingers out of the mix while it sits in the fridge.

March 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKim K

These look so good, so simple, so healthy!

March 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlanna

These are the EASIEST to make and sooooo damn good! I've made them two times this past week and they all have been eaten up by my household. I'm excited to try some with almonds as another commenter did. Thank you Sara!

March 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKristi

Hail Mary macaroons are the best! The chocolate are great and even though I've always preferred chocolate to vanilla I have to say their vanilla macaroons are AMAZING! I have often thought of trying to recreate them as well, but have not taken the time yet to do so. I'll have to give this recipe a shot as soon as I get some coconut!

March 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane

This was a brilliant recipe. Thanks for sharing!

March 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCara

These are so delicious and addicting. Do you have the nutritional/calorie stats for them?

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPinky

I had pnined this. I used fitclick.com I think calories for one out of the 20 would be 88, 7 gr. fat, 1 gram protien, 9 carbs. My recipe made 26. Not sure why I had more. maybe I needed to make them bigger. lol I probably shoud have melted the coconut oil. I should mention too I used the refined (not extra virgin) coconut oil. I was confused on which oil to use as I bought it for a different recipe I planned on making Hope this helps. If you follow WW 3 points plus per bit.

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

@cheryl - thanks so much for sharing that!!

March 31, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

@Sara Your welcome :) I was wondering could I use agave nectar instead of the maple syrup or half agave and half maple syrup?

April 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCheryl

These look amazing, and I bet taste the same way. I shall try them, thanks for the post.

April 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlessandra

I adore your writing style! you have such a great voice! love your blog.
x

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterandrea

Could you clarify the oven temp? I baked them at 215 and they didn't crisp

April 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterInga

@inga - they don't crisp like a cookie per se, you are more so just drying them out, which makes the outer layer a bit crisp. If you found them too moist for your liking, you could try them at 325 for less time for a more defined crust.

April 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

I have made these twice now for my diabetic bf and we both love them. the first time I didn't realize the cinnamon sprinkler had come off the top of my spice jar and I ended up with a lot of cinnamon in them, but they were still super yummy. Cinnamon is good for helping keep blood sugar down so I am adding extra cinnamon the second time too! Thanks for the great recipe!

April 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBridget S

What if I rather not use Coconut Oil? What do you suggest substituting?

May 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

@carolyn - haven't tried another substitute but maybe a bit of butter and olive oil could do the trick?

May 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

Oooh, these look lush!! Am definitely going to give them a try!! Do they store well? (mind you, they might not get a chance...)

@ruth - we ate one cold the day after and I liked it! They dry up just a bit, keep them covered.

May 15, 2012 | Registered CommenterSara

@sara - thank you! will do that, not sure they'll last that long for it to be a problem though :)!!

@carolyn & ruth & sara--We used olive oil instead of coconut oil and they came out great! My husband and I have only been eating like one per day, and ours taste just as good two weeks later. We've just kept them in a tupperware container on the kitchen counter

May 25, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

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