Christmas is such a wonderful holiday… celebrating the gifts of love and friendship… enjoying time with our family and friends. For me, it’s a joyful time. In the kitchen, I want comfort and cozy… and I want tasty, healthy food that doesn’t take all day to make! I confess that I usually try new recipes at holiday time. This year is no exception. I’d love to share the inspiration for my 2 favorite dishes with you and hope that they can be a spark for you too!
Okay, the ladies over at PPK are simply brilliant. With a few modifications of the PPK vegan Macaroon recipe my Gluten Free Vegan version was born. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy coconut and the macaroon is just one of those things that’s eluded me… but no longer! Now you can enjoy them too! I played with these a little and my favorite variation was pressing a whole almond into the top of the mound of dough, baking and then drizzling with chocolate instead of dipping the bottom… kind of like an Almond Joy if you’re into that!
3 oz extra firm silken tofu
¼ cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup sorghum flour or ¼ sorghum + ¼ cocoa powder (for a chocolicious version)
¼ cup almond meal
¼ cup arrowroot starch
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
whole almonds, optional
½ cup chocolate chips, melted using a double boiler
Variations recommended by PPK:
Chipper: Add 1 cup mini chocolate chips to the batter
Touch of Orange: Add 2 tsp orange zest and omit almond extract
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheets with parchment.
Puree tofu, oil and milk in a blender or food processor until smooth. Scrape the sides to get everything back into the mix. Add the remaining ingredients except the coconut. Pulse to combine. Tip out into a large bowl and mix in the coconut. The dough will be stiff.
Scoop tablespoons of dough out of the bowl and onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I use my nifty Pampered Chef medium ice cream scooper to get uniform balls of dough. These cookies don’t spread, so you can get a TON onto a baking sheet. But, don’t overcrowd them or they will take longer to bake. 15 minutes in your preheated 350 degree oven should do the trick… golden bottoms and lightly toasted tops.
Transfer to a cooling rack while you melt the chocolate (I like the double boiler method where you place your bowl with the chocolate over a pot with a bit of boiling water on the stove… the bottom of the bowl shouldn’t touch the water, rather it should be big enough that it rests on the rim of the water pot so the steam and heat from the boiling water will gently melt the chocolate as you stir.)
Once the chocolate is melted dip the cooled cookies in and coat their bottoms. Then set them back onto the parchment lined baking sheet to set. Pop them in the fridge if you need them quickly, otherwise, a while at room temp will also set them up just fine.
The other super stars of our holiday feast were these chickpea almond tart shells. Green Kitchen Stories is a new blog to me, but I am already in love! David and Luise created a stellar GFV menu for Bon Appetit and their filled version of these shells was totally inspiring! The recipe posted here includes my modifications based on our tastes. I found the original recipe to be a bit too salty so I’ve cut the salt. Also, the coconut oil I use is raw and tastes very coconutty, so for our tastes and with the pantry items we use I prefer to use Earth Balance to play off the nuttiness of the almond and chickpea flour without giving the added coconut note (even though I love coconut… it just didn’t work for me here). I added flaxseed meal to bump the nutritive value of the shell and loved the extra nuttiness that the flax gave. So, try the original version and try my version… then make your own! The beauty of cooking is that you have the freedom to create things that suite your tastes.
I spread a thin layer of garlicky roasted eggplant puree on the bottom of each baked shell, then added a layer of braised kale (chopped kale, garlic, shallot, parsley, veg broth), and topped with a dollop of herbed mashed potato.
Served these alongside Quinoa studded with cranberries, pecans and roasted yams; mesculin greens with raspberries; steamed carrots seasoned with cardamon… and the meal was divine.
Chickpea Almond Tart Shells
Makes 6-8 tart shells depending on the size of your pans
1 cup chickpea flour (besan)
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
¾ cup almond flour or almond meal
1/3 cup potato starch, tapioca starch, or cornstarch
1/8 tsp sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp fresh herbs of your choice or 1 ½ Tbsp dried
6 Tbsp Earth Balance + 6-9 Tbsp cold water
special equipment: small tart pans
Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine all ingredients in your food processor and pulse until a nice dough forms. Tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface (using either the chickpea or almond flour). Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces and press into your tart shells. If your pans are non stick there shouldn’t be a need to oil them, but if they’re not then definitely give the pans a quick coating.
Take a piece of dough and press it evenly onto the bottom of the 1st tart pan, then work it up the sides. Use your thumbs to keep the dough from going over the edges while forming a nice uniform thickness on the sides. Since I don’t know the size of your tart pans, you may need more of less dough to make this work. The shells that we liked the best had less than ¼ inch thickness to the sides and bottom. They bake up crisp and are not dense.
Place tart pans on a baking sheet and pop into the preheated oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden and fragrant.
Remove the sheet from the oven and let the shells cool before filling them. The bottoms will get soggy if you leave a filling in for too long, so be prepared to serve within about 45 minutes from the time you fill these little beauties.