Monday, March 16, 2015

To me, chocolate and coconut are the perfect pair just like peanut butter and jelly.

This weekend, I finally discovered a gluten-free snack that combines chocolate and coconut together in the perfect package! And these cookies are also dairy-free and nut-free.

My dear Australian friend recently brought me back one of the coolest magazines I’ve seen in awhile. The new special edition of Donna Hay’s magazine features tons of gluten-free recipes that I can’t wait to try.

I whipped up a batch of her Choc-Coconut Bites and added toasted coconut and cocoa nibs. As soon as I took a bite of these chilled morsels, I thought of the irresistible Girl Scouts’ Samoas Cookies. That’s exactly what these taste like, to me, minus the cookie bottom and caramel. I suppose you could add these items, but I don’t think the cookies really need them and especially not if you’re trying to do a low-sugar diet as well.
For those of you who may not know, Girl Scouts’ cookies are sold once a year in the U.S. and are a BIG deal. My favorites have always been Thin Mints (one of the original cookies) and the Samoas, which were added in 1975.  In 2011, the cookies formerly known as Samoas — shortbread cookies coated in caramel, toasted coconut and chocolate stripes — were changed to the name Caramel deLites. However, I’ve been living abroad since 2010 so I’m still going to call these cookies Samoas.

Anyway, these Gluten-Free Almost Samoas Cookies will surely soothe your sweet tooth, and they’re husband approved! Just be sure to store the cookies in the refrigerator as they will melt in your hands.

(NOTE: All of these ingredients are easy to find in the many organic shops located in Warsaw.)

Gluten-Free Almost Samoas Cookies
Adapted from this recipe by Donna Hay Magazine
Yields: 20 2-inch (5 cm.) cookies

240      g.         desiccated coconut flakes
60        ml.       coconut water
125      g.         coconut oil, melted
125      ml.       brown rice syrup
1          tsp.      vanilla bean paste

For the chocolate coating:
80        g.         coconut oil, melted
90        g.         brown rice syrup
25        g.         cacao powder, sifted

For garnish: toasted coconut flakes and raw cocoa nibs

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the coconut flakes, coconut water, coconut oil, rice syrup and vanilla and stir to combine.

Press this mixture into a ¼-sheet tray (approximately 9x12 inches) that has been lightly greased and lined with baking paper. I did not fill up the full tray so that my cookies were 1/3-inch (.8 cm) thick. The original recipe calls for a 20cm x 20cm (8x8-inch) tray, which would yield fewer but thicker cookies. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until firm.

To make the chocolate coating, place the oil and rice malt syrup in a glass bowl and microwave briefly until warmed and melted. Add the cacao powder and whisk until smooth.

After 30 minutes, remove the coconut mixture from the refrigerator, and cut out 20 circles with a 2-inch (5 cm.) cookie cutter. You will need to remold the scraps and refrigerate the mixture again to yield the full 20 circles.
To dip the cookies, place one on a fork and dip into the chocolate coating. Place each round onto a wire baking rack over a piece of baking paper to collect the excess coating.

Garnish the top of each cookie with a pinch of toasted coconut and cocoa nibs. Place in the refrigerator again for at least 10 minutes or until set. Serve chilled. 
Once the cookies are set, you can place them in a plastic container lined with baking paper between each layer.
(NOTE: Here are 6substitutes for brown rice syrup if you can’t find it where you live.)

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