Eid Treats # 2: Coconut Macaroons

I don’t know about you, but I have some recipes that cannot be shared here on the blog. They are so top secret, that only a few pairs of eyes have ever witnessed their birth in my kitchen.  People have asked me for the recipes and I have to politely decline. It’s not that I purposely want to be mean; it’s just that some of them are my special signature desserts and I want to keep them close. If I passed out the recipes to every person on the street, that “special-ness” would dissipate.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. Many friends and family that I know like to keep one or two recipes secret. There are even bloggers out there who openly admit that they will not share everything with their readers.  One such blogger is Gesine from Confections of a (Closet) Master Baker.  I came across her blog after reading her book “My Life From Scratch.” Gesine works magic in her kitchen and spices up her blog entries with snarky, in your face commentary that will keep you on your toes and coming back for more.

Getting back to recipe protection, Gesine made a name for herself by baking up delicious French Macarons. On her blog, she notes that a guy named Gary e-mailed her and asked her for the recipe. Did he HONESTLY think she would give him the recipe that gave her her livelihood?    DUH!  Instead, she gave him a coconut macaroon recipe to try.  I ran with it and tweaked it ever so slightly (instead of vanilla extract, I used vanilla bean paste so there were millions of tiny vanilla bean specks running throughout the macaroons).  The next time I make these babies, I’d probably cut down on the sugar or used unsweetened coconut and let them brown up just a tad more.

Coconut Macaroons

Scooped macaroons ready to go into the oven

4 egg whites
3 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Combine all ingredients into a heatproof glass or metal bowl and set atop a pot of simmering water (about 1-2 inches of water in the pot).

Make sure the bottom of the bowl does not come into contact with the simmer water.  Stir the mixture occasionally, ensuring to scrape the bottom of the bowl, to prevent ingredients from burning.

After approximately 10 minutes, the mixture should be hot and slightly thickened.
With a medium or large cookie scoop, drop batter onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes until edges are golden brown.

Cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheet, than remove using a offset spatula to a cooling rack.

**UPDATE DECEMBER 6, 2011


I asked Gesine the best way to store the macaroons so they don’t dry out. They last for one day outside, but if you find yourself not eating all of them at once, put them in the freezer. When you are ready to eat them, thaw them out and warm them in the oven. The macaroons will last for a little bit less than a month if stored properly in the freezer.

Dried Fruit

This Eid went by in a blur. We flew in to TO, blinked our eyes, and bam it was over! Seriously, as soon as we got off the plane, it was like we hit the ground running. Every single day there were things to bake, gifts to buy, home to clean, clothes to iron, people to call, and appointments to go to. It almost felt like we didn’t have a chance to sleep, eat, or breathe. I still don’t know how I managed to get to the gym to work out.

And because everything was a blur, I didn’t get an opportunity to blog about the treats I made until now.


First, I must inform you that the pictures in the next few posts were taken from my iPod and tweaked using Instagram.  I left my camera back in LA and had to make due with some grainy shots.  Oh well….

This first treat is so easy to make, you can do it blind folded (but you really don’t want to do that because you might burn yourself and/or the chocolate).


Dark Chocolate Dipped Dried Apricots


20-30 dried apricots
1 bar Lindt Excellence Madagascar 65% Dark Chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup sliced almonds, crushed into small pieces
Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.  Place the crushed almonds in a bowl and set aside.

First, get a large pot and fill it with 1 to 2 inches of water and place it over low-medium heat until the water begins to simmer. Take a glass or stainless steel bowl that has a diameter larger than the pot and place it on top.  Make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water. Place most of the chocolate (three-quarters worth) in the bowl and let it melt, while stirring occasionally. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from heat and stir in the remaining chocolate until melted.

Take the dried apricots and dip them half-way into the melted dark chocolate.  Then roll the apricots in the crushed almonds and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
Once the chocolate has set, about 20-30 minutes, place the apricot pieces into cellophane bags and tie with ribbon if you want to give them as a gift, or place them in an air tight container. 

Apple Pie Pockets

YOU Can’t Reach For Anything NEW If YOUR Hands Are Still Full of Yesterday’s JUNK. ~ Louise Smith

If you’re just tuning into my blog, or are getting to know me personally, there is one thing you should know about me. I am an obsessive quote collector.  I always travel with some paper and a pen just in case I come across a quote that I want to add to my collection.  I pin quotes on my Pinterest board, clip them from magazines, calendars, books, and newspapers, tag and share them on Facebook, and write them down in my very own quote book.  I started that quote book after my father passed away in December 2009 after discovering quote clippings in his wallet.

Quotes, whether they be one sentence or an entire paragraph, speak volumes and have the power to shift your mood. Sometimes those words running across the page give you advice that no friend or parent could give. They shed light on difficult situations, help you gain perspective, and analyse things from a different point of view. Simply put, I love quotes. And the fact that my father collected quotes too makes me feel connected to him even more.

~*~*~*~

Growing up, my mom and I would go grocery shopping on Saturday mornings. As soon as the store would open, we would get what we needed and be home before the weekend shopping rush would start.   Sometimes, my dad would come along, or would get some things from the store the night before.  And almost always he would buy danishes, donuts or apple pie for us to enjoy. Now whenever I see danishes, apple pie, or coconut covered donuts, I remember him.  

In October, Loblaws was selling PC’s apple-shaped pocket pie maker, and because apple pie is near and dear to me, I picked one up and all the ingredients listed on the box to make these cuties.

Apple Pie Pockets

3 Gala Apples, cored, peeled and chopped into chunks (The original recipe called for Granny Smith, but I don’t like Granny Smith so I used Gala instead)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 package of butter puff pastry sheets, thawed but cold
1 egg, beaten

In a pot, stir together apples, sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.  Let the mixture stand for 10-15 minutes or until some juice has been released.  Bring to a simmer over low-medium heat and cook for 10 minutes or until apples are tender and juices are thickened.  Chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment.

Unroll one sheet of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Using the apple pocket pie maker, cut four apple shapes using one side of the pie maker. Repeat with other side of closed apple pocket maker and additional sheet of pastry.  There will be 8 pieces- 4 bottoms and 4 tops with the vent.

Open apple pocket pie maker and dust slightly with flour. Gently press in one of the dough cut outs. Fill centre with 1/4 cup of cooled filling. Brush edges of dough lightly with beaten egg. Lay vented dough cut out over top, lining up edges; press mold shut to seal edges.  Lay finished pocket onto prepared baking sheet, vented side up.  Repeat for each pocket.  Brush tops of pockets lightly with beaten egg.  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pocket is evenly golden and crisp.

**Some notes:

If you don’t have the pocket maker, you can create free-form shapes with puff pastry and stuff it with the apple filling.
If you don’t want to make all of the pie pockets, DO NOT brush the tops of the pies with the egg. Instead, layer the pies between waxed paper, put them in freezer bags and stick them into the freezer for a later date.  I wouldn’t keep them in the freezer for more than one month.

Palak (spinach)

I love palak! It’s really healthy and can be made in so many different ways.  This recipe is actually for Palak Paneer, but because I don’t usually have Paneer (soft Indian cheese) in my fridge, I excluded it from this dish.

Palak Paneer without the Paneer
4 packets chopped frozen spinach, thawed in wrappers
5 Roma tomatoes, washed and diced
6 green chilies, washed and chopped
1 onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp dried Kasur Methi (fenugreek leaves)
6 tbsp 2% milk
cayenne pepper to taste
salt to taste
water (optional)

Place thawed spinach in a mesh sieve or small-hole colander to drain out excess liquid.
In a large pot or sauce pan, cook diced onion in olive oil over medium-low heat until golden-to-dark-brown. Be careful not to burn onions.  Add minced garlic, ginger, chilies and cook for 1-2 minutes. Do not leave the stove! Stirring is very important here because minced garlic has a tendency to burn.  Once the garlic has taken on a slightly pink hue, toss in the tomatoes and fry them until some liquid is released.  Add in thawed spinach and the dried fenugreek leaves and cook for a few minutes while stirring frequently.  Add salt and cayenne pepper to taste ( tip: start off with 1/2 tsp each and increase the amount as the spinach cooks down).   If you find the spinach is sticking, add 1-2 tsp of water.   Stir in the garam masala powder and milk and turn the heat to low, cover the pot with its lid and let the spinach steam.   At this point, it’s all about taste and texture and that means taking a spoon and taste-testing to see if the spinach is cooked through and has all the flavours.

Once the spinach is cooked, it’ll look like one big chunky mess.  Let it cool slightly and then scoop it out into a food processor.  Spin it around in there until most of the ingredients have been pulverized. The result should be smooth yet slightly chunky, greeny goodness.  Serve with hot, buttery naan!