Category Archives: Sweets

Vanilla Macaroon Melts

“Have a macaroon,” my great aunts would say, pulling an old Manichewitz tin from the cabinet.  Florence and Lily were my grandmother’s little sisters, who never married but instead grew old together in New York’s East Village. Their apartment on E. 6th Street contained an ancient sofa I never dared sit on, an electric piano, mysterious bedrooms, a television tuned into the news, thick carpets, and thick layers of dust– at least in their final years.  I once got trapped in their bathroom for at least 15 or 20 minutes.  They said things like “Jeepers!” and on some Thanksgivings my dad would pick them up and bring them over so my sister and I could meticulously make them brie and cracker sandwiches.  It wasn’t until I was older that I could appreciate their spunk and wit, and their love for both the city and one another.

I have no idea whether or not Florence and Lily (yes they are always together in my mind) would like these vanilla macaroon melts; they’re a far cry from those Manichewitz cookies.  Still, I’d like to think they’d approve of the update.  After all, they were modern women who loved a good bite.

  

*Do not use regular raw almonds here.  The measurements will be off and the skin will change the texture.  Unless I’m baking, I stay far away from (unsoaked) whole raw almonds because I’ve discovered the hard way that I cannot digest the skin.  At all.  Apparently I’m not alone.
*I measure the coconut oil in its solid form, then scoop it into a mug and microwave for 20 seconds to melt.

½ cup blanched sliced almonds
½ cup unsweetened shredded/desiccated coconut, plus a bit extra for sprinkling
¼ cup virgin coconut oil, melted
1/16 tsp sea salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp maple syrup

  • Line a small baking sheet or tray with 10 mini muffin liners.
  • In a food processor, process the sliced almonds and coconut for about 1 minute, forming a coarse flour/meal.
  • Add the melted coconut oil, salt, vanilla, and maple syrup.  Process for another 30 seconds or so, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl if needed, until well combined.
  • Spoon the mixture into the mini muffin liners, filling up about half to two-thirds way full. Sprinkle the extra coconut on top.  Freeze for 15 minutes, to quickly firm up, then transfer to the refrigerator.  Keep refrigerated.

Yield: 10 macaroon melts

Vanilla Maple Tahini Truffles

vanilla maple tahini truffles

Recently I went out west.  It had been a really (reallllly) long time since I had been on a real trip anywhere, and I relished every moment.  First Philip and I went back to 95 degree summer weather in Austin, TX.  We wandered through an enchanted park, explored a cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites and tiny sleeping bats, ate delicious breakfast tacos from a food trailer (check!), visited the flagship Whole Foods (I know… but it is actually really cool), hung out on a rooftop with a friend from home, visited the capitol building, marveled at grackles, drank delicious coffee and juice, and interacted with friendly locals who would not seem at all out of place in a Linklater movie.  Then it was on to Los Angeles, a city which had long been on my list of places to visit.  Ever since I was Weetzie Bat books loving kid, I dreamed of LA’s hills and canyons, its punks and starlets, its purple jacaranda trees and old Shangri-LA magic.  Now that my friend Charles was getting married at the Malibu West Beach Club, I had an excuse to go.  And while I wasn’t crazy about all the driving and big box/chain stores everywhere, I was indeed enamored with pretty much everything else: the dessert hills juxtaposed with the blue Pacific, the coyote we saw one night casually trotting across the street, colorful flowers and equally colorful homes, teetering palm trees, winding roads, charming plant-enveloped alleys, the incredible architecture and landscaping of the Getty Center, dreamy Mulholland Drive, the PCH… I want to go back!  Best of all I got to spend time with dear friends at a truly lovely celebration.  The day after the wedding, we checked out of our hotel, got some iced coffees, and went back to Malibu Beach.  After soaking the bottoms of our jeans (despite our best cuffing efforts), we decided it was warm enough to go all the way in the water and besides, when was the next time we’d get to go swimming in the Pacific?  We changed into our bathing suits in the car and took turns holding the car keys while the other went in the water.  Then it was fries from In-N-Out, a quick drive through Echo Park, and finally LAX, where we returned the car and waited around for our after midnight flight home.  Naturally it took us some time to get back into the groove of things.  (I literally did not know where I was when I woke up in my own bed the next day.)  And the erratic weather– 80 something degrees and sunny followed by total blustery cold dreariness and full on fall– certainly didn’t help.  Still, home is where the cat is.  And the seasons, too.

tahini ballschopped dark chocolate

These vanilla maple tahini truffles are perfectly autumnal and so tasty.  They’re easy to make, too, unless you count the waiting parts.  I’m pretty crazy for tahini and maple syrup (see my recipe for vanilla maple tahini spread)– so much so that sometimes I’ll skip the mixing and simply heap the two ingredients precariously onto a spoon and then shovel it directly into my mouth while standing over the sink.  Because you know, dishes.  Anyway, it was only a matter of time until chocolate entered the mix.  These truffles are sweet and salty and feel just indulgent enough, the kind of treat I think we could all use right about now, wherever we are.

½ cup tahini
heaped 1½ tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract
1½ tbsp refined coconut oil, melted, plus another scant 1/8 tsp
1/16 tsp fine sea salt
one 3.2 oz bar of dark chocolate, chopped
bit of flaky sea salt

  • Use a food processor to mix tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, and fine sea salt until well combined, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the machine running, slowly pour in the melted 1½ tbsp coconut oil and process until smooth. Transfer to a dish and freeze, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes, or until firm but not totally frozen.
  • Line a plate with parchment paper. Use your hands to roll tahini mixture into balls, approximately 1” in diameter, and set on the lined plate. Freeze for 25 minutes.
  • Melt chocolate with scant 1/8 tsp coconut oil in a double boiler over low heat, stirring frequently. Alternatively, melt in the microwave in short increments. Once melted, remove chocolate from heat. One at a time, drop each tahini ball into the chocolate and use a fork to roll it around, then gently lift and let excess chocolate drip back down through the fork tines. Place back on parchment lined plate and sprinkle with a little flaky salt. Freeze for 10 minutes, then transfer to a container and store in the refrigerator.

Yield: About 15 truffles

vanilla maple tahini truffles

Blueberries with Matcha Whipped Coconut Cream

blueberries with whipped matcha coconut cream

Maybe it’s because I indulged in an exquisite green tea macaron from Confectionery last week.  Or maybe it’s because right after that Phil and I got sucked into a documentary on the Japan channel (and now I want to go live in the Japanese countryside and farm heirloom rice and drink from natural spring waters and make my own miso with adorable, healthy food loving children).  Or maybe it’s because it’s summer and hot AF and I’m craving fresh, clean flavors.  Whatever the reason, I’ve had whipped matcha coconut cream on the brain.  I had originally intended to serve it with raspberries, but the blueberries at the market just looked so much better (and yes, they were cheaper). I still think this would be good with raspberries, and probably peaches as well, but I urge you to try it with blueberries.  The flavor combination is sublime.

1 13.5oz can (full fat) coconut milk
1 tsp matcha powder (I used this kind)
1 tbsp sugar
blueberries (or fruit of choice)

  • Turn can of coconut milk upside down and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
  • Remove can from refrigerator, turn right side up, and open. Slowly pour out the watery liquid, and set aside for another use. Scoop out the thickened cream and place in a medium bowl along with the matcha and sugar. Use a hand mixer (or stand mixer with a whisk attachment) on speed 2 to whip the mixture until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Serve as a topping for berries, or refrigerate until ready to use.  The whipped cream will firm up significantly in the fridge, so you may wish to re-fluff it with the mixer just before serving.

Yield: About 1 cup whipped cream

Strawberry Shortcake Shake

strawberry shortcake shake

The mornings are now cool and the evenings breezy, but– at least in my neighborhood– afternoons continue to be hot and sunny. I’m still taking my coffee iced at least most of the time, still stuffing my face with tomatoes and peaches, still scratching mosquito bites. It’s technically still summer. So it’s rather perfect timing that Philip and I recently acquired our very own Vitamix (many thanks to my sister Norah for the Crate & Barrel gift card! one of the many perks of getting married). I finally get to see what all the hype is about and am totally geeking out. When I tried this shake with strawberries, almond butter, and coconut, I was instantly reminded of a Good Humor Strawberry Shortcake ice cream bar. The speckled pink and tan kind with the deep cerise middle I so loved as a kid. Indeed, this shake is pretty and sweet and completely delightful– the perfect after school, after work, anytime treat.
*This shake is quite thick– like ice cream!– so feel free to add more almond milk if you’d prefer something more straw-friendly.

¾ cup unsweetened almond milk
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
3 tsp agave nectar
2 tbsp plain almond butter
pinch of sea salt
2 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups frozen strawberries

Add all the ingredients, in listed order, to a high speed blender and process until fairly smooth, about 45 seconds or so. You may have to stop once or twice to scrapes the sides of the blender with a spatula (or tamper).

Yield: 2 servings

 

Stevia-Sweetened White Chocolate Coconut Mousse

white chocolate mousse

Sometimes New York City feels enchanted.  This past Saturday, after a falafel dinner and bottle of white at our favorite Middle Eastern joint, Philip and I meandered through Manhattan’s Riverside Park, through the
tunnels and along the Hudson River. It was raining and magical and pretty damn romantic. This was near where my parents lived when they lived in the city, when they were first married, many moons ago before I was born.  It’s also old stomping grounds for my Columbia alum boyfriend. However, to me, the oasis of green, the echo-y tunnels, and the salty river air all felt novel.

cacao butter

I’m looking forward to many more adventures this summer—spontaneous or otherwise– and more time outdoors in general. I also plan to experiment more with low-sugar desserts. Stuff that tastes like a treat but doesn’t make my guy (or anyone else for that matter) feel like crap.  I based this recipe off of my recipe for chocolate mousse, swapping the baking chocolate with creamy cacao butter and adding vanilla bean.  (Bonus to working with cacao butter: soft hands!)  Like the chocolate mousse, this dessert contains no sugar (unless you count the optional addition of fruit)– yet is still perfectly sweet, flavorful, and thoroughly indulgent.

white chocolate mousse

1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
½ cup grated cacao butter (or cocoa butter)
1 tbsp agar powder
30 drops stevia extract
fresh or frozen berries for serving, optional

  • Transfer coconut milk to a measuring cup and stir in the vanilla seeds. Let sit for about 10 minutes.
  • In a double boiler, gently melt the cacao butter over low heat, stirring frequently. When melted, add the coconut milk-vanilla mixture, agar powder, and stevia.  Whisk well.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and let cool for a little while. Then cover and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours, or until firm.
  • Using an electric mixer, mix for 4-5 minutes, until smooth and fluffy. Garnish with berries, if desired, and serve. If not using right away, keep in the refrigerator until ready to do so, then fluff again with electric mixer just before serving.

Yield: About 1 1/3 cups

white chocolate mousse