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Going nuts for coconut

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I love checking out the grocery aisles before Passover and this year was no exception. There was the usual offerings of duck sauce, gefilte fish and macaroons, but much to my delight, there was something new: a wide variety of pure coconut offerings, which I think are game changers.

Coconut flour, coconut butter and canned coconut milk and cream are now available with Passover hekshers. As a holistic nutritionist and recipe developer, I was very excited, because these coconut products are healthy and offer some new options for parve Passover dishes, especially desserts.

I immediately went online to search for cake recipes with coconut flour. I also consulted with food maven Norene Gilletz, the author of 12 cookbooks and long-time CJN food columnist. She says that cooking with coconut flour is tricky, because the results can be dry. She was right.

I found a recipe for coconut flour chocolate brownies on the Allrecipes website. My husband said that  “It tastes like a Passover cake,” which was definitely not a compliment.

It was very dry, so I repeated the recipe and, this time, I added three whipped egg whites, some flaked coconut and I reduced the amount of coconut flour. The result was a dense, but moist, cake, especially when topped with chocolate ganache icing (a recipe for which I found on the Spruce Eats website).

I also altered Martha Stewart’s online recipe for lemon curd. I omitted the toasted coconut and substituted coconut oil for the butter and potato starch for the corn starch.

The result was a nice, tart lemon curd that could easily be added to a ready-made kosher for Passover pie shell for a quick dessert. There’d be plenty of egg whites left over for a meringue topping, since the curd recipe calls for eight egg yolks.

 

Dense Chocolate Cake

o 45 ml (3 tbsp) finely ground flaked sweetened or unsweetened coconut

o 125 ml (1/2 cup) cocoa powder

o 75 ml (1/3 cup) virgin coconut oil

o 6 eggs

o 250 ml (1 cup) white sugar, divided

o 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract

o 75 ml (5 tbsp) coconut flour, sifted

o 3 egg whites

o 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) salt

o 125-175 ml (1/2-3/4 cup) parve chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 180 C (350 F). Grease a 23 x 33-cm (9 x 13-inch) baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Stir cocoa powder and coconut oil together in a saucepan over low heat until coconut oil has melted, about 5 minutes. Remove it from heat and let it cool.

Beat the eggs, 150 ml (2/3 cup) sugar and vanilla extract together in a bowl. Stir in the cocoa mixture. Add the coconut flour and flaked coconut into the egg mixture and beat with an electric hand mixer until there are no lumps. Pour the mixture into a large, clean bowl and set it aside.

Rinse the mixing bowl and, using the whisk attachment on the hand mixer, combine the egg whites and salt and whisk. While the egg whites are getting whipped, gradually add the remaining sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Add 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture and then incorporate the balance of the beaten egg whites and the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool. Remove it from the pan before icing it with chocolate ganache (see recipe below).

Makes 12-15 servings.

 

Chocolate Ganache

o 450 g (16 oz) dark dairy-free chocolate, coarsely chopped

o 1 (400-ml) can coconut milk (not a light variety)

o 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) vanilla

 

Place the chocolate in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the coconut milk until bubbles begin to appear around the edges and steam rises from the surface. Pour the hot coconut milk over the chopped chocolate and let stand without stirring for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Let the ganache cool for 15-20 minutes before icing the cake.

Refrigerate the cake after it’s iced.

 

Martha Stewart’s Lemon Curd

o 250 ml (1 cup) sugar

o 15 ml (1 tbsp) potato starch

o 5 ml (1 tsp) finely grated lemon zest, plus 125 ml (1/2 cup) fresh lemon juice

o 5 ml (1 tsp) finely grated Meyer-lemon zest, plus 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (regular lemons can be substitute for Meyer lemons)

o 2.5 ml (1/2 tsp) kosher salt

o 8 large egg yolks

o 150 ml (10 tbsp) coconut oil

 

In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, potato starch, zests and salt. Whisk in egg yolks, then both lemon juices. Add butter and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the butter has melted and bubbles begin forming in centre of the pan, about 9 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

Pass mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the curd. Let cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until very firm and cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Makes about 350 ml (1½ cups).

Mixture must be refrigerated before it can be used on a pie crust.