Monday, March 28, 2011

Cranberry Coconut Munchies (Gluten Free)


I am in need of warmth. Winter in the Northeast has been relentlessly cold. Yes, I know I should not complain, considering world events and natural disasters that have taken place recently. In truth, I am very grateful for all that I have, and have learned to create pleasant substitutions for things that I miss. 
So what foods do you associate with warmth? If I had a magic wand, I would wave away and magically appear in the tropics, slurping away on a straw with a giant coconut in hand. Nothing like coconut to quench your thirst.
Since I am not a fairy princess- much to my dismay, I figured let me bake something that will induce the feeling of warmth. Cranberry coconut munchies, adapted from the eclectic Vegetarian cookbook by Nicola Graimes, is just that. I love recipes that combine ingredients from different regions that just work. These cookies are a mix of the traditional American cranberries with the tropical coconut. It's amazing how these two ingredients come together to form an alchemy in taste- like they were meant to be together.
These coconut cookies speckled with orange zest and cranberries have a tart-sweet crunch lending to an exotic flavor. Such a simple dessert, that is ready in no time for afternoon tea or coffee.  Can be kept in an airtight container for up to a week.

Serves 20

ingredients
2 egg whites
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup almond meal
1 cup dried unsweetened coconut
Zest of 1 small orange
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1/3 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

1   Preheat oven to 300°F. Line 2 baking sheets with wax paper.
2   In a medium size bowl, with an electric mixer beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. This should take a few minutes.
3   With a spatula, fold the sugar, almond meal, coconut, orange zest, vanilla extract, almond extract into egg whites to form a sticky dough. Then gently fold in the cranberries.
4   Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the baking sheet. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown at the top.
5   Cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack until completely cool.
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