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….
- It’s full of sugar.
- It’s full of dairy.
- It’s full of red dye.
- 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.
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!