Cherry Almond Coconut Kisses (vegan, grain-free)

I think Santa might like these...

I think Santa might like these...

I think I need to start a recipe make-over series. More and more what I’m finding that I am doing is taking traditional family recipes and reworking them to fit my increasingly complex dietary needs. Take this recipe, for instance. I’d pretty much completely forgotten about it. But, last week my mom emailed to ask if I had the recipe for our traditional coconut kiss cookies so she could make them for my dad. They’re a favorite of his. I did have the recipe. It goes like this:

Traditional Coconut Kiss Cookies

1 pound sweetened moist coconut
1 cup maraschino cherries, chopped
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon almond extract

Mix all ingredients, drop by spoonfuls and bake for 22 minutes at 325°.

You might be able to see the issues I’d have with this recipe, but just in case you can’t….

  1. It’s full of sugar.
  2. It’s full of dairy.
  3. It’s full of red dye.
  4. It’s full of high fructose corn syrup.

But, the combination of cherries, almonds and coconut is a favorite flavor profile of mine. Time for a recipe makeover! I’m fairly happy with the results, though I think that next time I do it, I’m going to use finely shredded coconut, instead of the flaked variety. I’m not keen on the flaked texture after all this time eating the shredded kind.

The best part of this recipe, though, is that it was the impetus for making home made sweetened condensed coconut milk – something I’ve been meaning to try for a while. And, you know what? It rocks! So, bonus 3 in 1 recipe post today, the traditional cookie, the new and improved healthier cookie, and the “ingredient within” recipe.

Coconut Cherry Almond Kisses

Coconut Cherry Almond Kisses

New and Improved Cherry Almond Coconut Kisses

1 cup sweetened, condensed coconut milk (see recipe below)
1/2 packed cup dried cherries (I used a cherry medley of bing, rainier, and montmorency)
1/2 cup slivered almonds
3 1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1 t. almond extract

Preheat oven to 325°. Mix all ingredients together. Scoop small mounds with a cookie or small ice cream scoop. It works best if you pack it together a bit. Bake for 15 minutes, or until edges are golden and crispy.

Home-made Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk

1 can full fat coconut milk or unsweetened coconut cream
1/2 cup palm sugar

Combine both ingredients in a heavy bottomed saucepan and place over lowest heat possible. Simmer gently until reduced to 1 cup and darkened in color. Be patient, this takes a long time – over an hour for me. But, it’s worth it and it will make your house smell simply amazing!

For more slightly indulgent recipes, check out Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays. For more gluten-free goodies, check out Gluten Free Wednesdays.

This entry was posted in coconut, cookies, grain-free, holiday, nuts, vegan and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Cherry Almond Coconut Kisses (vegan, grain-free)

  1. Tiffany says:

    Thanks for the vegan sweetened condensed milk recipe! Very useful.

  2. Amanda says:

    This recipe sounds great! I love traditional recipes veganized. I am sure they taste better than the original! 🙂

  3. Babygirl says:

    These just looks delicious.. Ahh I am hungry now lol

  4. Ricki says:

    OMG, how delicious does that sound?? I do the same thing all the time w/ old recipes. This is a brilliant re-make. And I can’t wait to try that condensed milk! Love the trio of cherries in there, too. 🙂

    Hope you have a wonderful holiday, Deanna!

    • Deanna says:

      Thanks, Ricki – I hope you have a wonderful holiday, too! (I have so many uses for that condensed milk. I might have to make it in bulk and freeze it. 🙂 )

  5. Maggie says:

    Deanna you rock! I love doing the same thing, it’s way more fun to reinvent than it is to make the same old thing. I think it’s really cool that you’re making healthy treats – will your Dad try them 🙂

    • Deanna says:

      Thanks, Maggie. No, he won’t try them because I brought them to a potluck and they mostly got gobbled up. There aren’t enough left to haul out to Arizona with me for Xmas. Besides, my mom made the version he likes. He’s tried other stuff I’ve made, though – like the peanut butter peck cookies and the chocolate crinkles.

  6. Google really deserves some credit for giving me the link to your blog.

    I’m trying to cut the dairy usage in our home, and this is a great way, along with an amazing recipe.

    I especially adore your recipe for homemade sweetened & condensed coconut milk.
    Up until a year ago I used to buy the regular kind, but it finally got to me that the product is not natural, and the idea of cow milk going through that procedure became quite disgusting to me.

    the only thing I might change in your recipe is placing raisins instead of the cherries, my kids are just funny that way 🙂

    Thank you,
    Itai Matos (tfim)

  7. Annette says:

    This coconut sweet milk is SO delicious I wanted to drink it! Haven’t tried the cookies yet (they’re in the oven) I used finely shredded coconut.
    Can’t wait to use this milk in a Vietnamese iced coffee.……mmmmm

    • Deanna says:

      Oooo,Vietnamese iced coffee and Thai iced tea. I hadn’t even thought of that. I can’t wait to use it in this old fudge oat bar recipe that my family loves. But, it’ll be later – after the holidays and the January cleanse. 🙂

      Hope the cookies turn out for you. Let me know how they work with the finely shredded coconut. I’m pretty sure they’ll be better than with the flaked.

  8. Deanna! I love this re-make! What a brilliant and healthier twist on these! I think my kids would have a blast making these with me!! Yum!

  9. naomi devlin says:

    Cherry, coconut and almond is one of my favourite combinations too – although coconut and I don’t get on that well, so I tend to use the milk and oil rather than the flesh. I wonder if these would work with flaked almonds in place of the coconut shreds?

    Dried cherries are so delicious too! Why would anyone even bother with the glacé kind?

    Thanks for your comment on the blog. x x x

  10. Sophie says:

    MMMMM,..I love both versions!! And home made dairy free condensed milk,..this is awesome too!
    From now on, I too can enjoy condensed milk!!!

  11. Beth says:

    These look absolutely delicious! What a perfect, little treat!

  12. Pingback: pepparkakor « Eli's Lunch Box

  13. Helen says:

    I realise this is an old recipe but I hope you’re still checking the comments. I was wondering if you know how much the coconut milk reduces exactly? I don’t know the volume of the can you used.
    I’m hoping it goes from about 1.5 cups to 1?

    I’m also hoping that I can use this coconut condensed milk in other recipes in place of dairy – it sounds like it’d be particularly good in a lime pie, mmm.

    • Deanna says:

      Hi Helen,
      Yep, I reduced the whole can down to 1 cup. I just checked my cans of coconut milk and it looks like they’re 14 fluid ounces. (I could have sworn they were 15 ounces, so maybe it’s another instance of the food industry decreasing can sizes on us, eh?)

      I’ve not used it in other recipes, but I bet you could. Lime pie sounds yummy!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s