Coconut Oat CrunchiesPosted: April 21, 2013
The story of this recipe is an example of how I make recipes work for me. That’s right – make.
I’m not at their beck and call, I bend them to my will (and store-cupboard).
Before you start backing towards the door, eyes flickering to the window as a potential back-up escape route because I’ve completely lost the plot, let me recount a pertinent anecdote.
When I was young, a friend got a job making desserts for a local hotel. She had to supply six on a weekly basis, to be delivered on a Friday afternoon. I called round one Thursday during one of her baking sessions. She’d made five of the six required desserts and was at a bit of a loss as to what she could make to complete that week’s delivery. Wanting to help, I grabbed one of her books and began flicking through the recipes to find something suitable. As I read out the titles, my suggestions were dismissed on the grounds of having been previously and recently made for the hotel, or as being too similar to what had already been prepared. Finally, I found something that I thought might fit the bill (I can’t even remember what it was, to be honest). My friend seemed to think so too, and so I passed over the book so she could read the recipe. “Oh no”, she said “I can’t make this. I haven’t got any nutmeg.”
For a second, I honestly thought she was joking. The nutmeg constituted a tiny fraction of the ingredients, and amongst all the other seasonings, wasn’t contributing greatly to the (imminent poncy foodie jargon warning) flavour profile of the dish. In any case, she had a store-cupboard stocked with a slew of possible substitutions – cinnamon, mace, ginger, allspice, cloves – as well as the license to just omit it altogether. However, none of these options were deemed acceptable, despite much reasonable persuasive discussion, and so the dessert never got made.
I found this episode very difficult to understand. I grew up in a household where, although it contained several cookbooks, the cooking was done from scratch and largely without their assistance. Both my mother and grandmother cooked, having learned the basics when young, and just applied and adapted them as occasion or ingredients dictated. My mother perfected this adaptation technique to a frankly alarming degree – so much so that in my head I imagined her to be an Honours graduate from the “That’ll Do” School of Cooking. In the midst of cooking and at a loss for some ingredient or other, she would fling wide the cupboard doors and cast her gaze upon the contents. Invariably her eyes would light upon something in the depths and she would seize it with a triumphant cry of “That’ll do!” and into the dish it would go.
Alas, there was also a downside to this impulsive mode of cooking, and at a later date I might be tempted to relate the tale of “Soup”, but not today, because today is all about *sings* Oaty biscuits! Oaty biscuits! Who doesn’t love a bikkit in the af-ter-nooooooon!”
So anyways, a friend recently had to go on an extremely restricted diet: no fish, seafood, dairy products, soya products, egg yolks, iodised salt etc. and asked me if I could make her something she could look forward to as a treat amidst all the restrictions. Since she liked coconut, and I had several egg-whites in the fridge, I was all set to make traditional Coconut Pyramids. However, on opening the kitchen drawer of ingredients, I spied the pot of coconut butter I’d bought recently for a biscuit recipe (note to self: look out that recipe and photo, because it was great!). A quick check online and I found a coconut oat biscuit recipe containing butter, which I replaced with the coconut butter. I was out of golden syrup but I did have agave syrup, and the recipe contained no salt (which, although a rare user of salt myself, in oat-based dishes I find it is a must), so I added some. It wasn’t necessary to substitute the caster sugar, as I had recently re-filled the jar, but I would have been equally prepared to use light brown, Demerera, dark or light Muscovado or granulated.
The aroma from these biscuits once they come out of the oven is fabulous – not just coconut or even Coconut – but COCONUT!! They conjure up images of long white beaches, pina coladas and coconut scented suntan lotions – perfect now that the air temperature in the UK has finally dragged itself into double figures.
Coconut butter can be used in a whole variety of dishes as a direct substitute for butter, both sweet and savoury, and although it will have just a slight coconut taste, there’s few dishes that this won’t enhance.
I guess that all I’m trying to say here is have fun with your recipes, don’t be enslaved by them. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t got or don’t feel inclined to buy Coconut Butter. With this recipe you can swap the butter (or margarine) and golden syrup back in, switch up the type of sugar and omit the salt. Your choice – always.
Coconut Oat Crunchies – Dairy Free
160g rolled oats
90g dessicated coconut
175g caster sugar
125g plain flour
1/4tsp cooking salt
50ml agave nectar
150g coconut butter
1tsp bicarbonate of soda.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C, 160°C Fan.
- Grease and line a baking pan with baking parchment. Exact size and shape isn’t important. For reference I used my roasting pan of dimensions 20cm x 30cm. If you use a smaller pan, the biscuits will be slightly thicker and you should increase cooking time a little to compensate. Lightly grease the parchment paper.
- Mix the oats, coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a bowl.
- In a large saucepan, heat the agave nectar and coconut butter until warmed and melted.
- Add the bicarbonate of soda to the pan and when it froths, remove from the heat and add the dry ingredients.
- Stir well to thoroughly combine, then press into your prepared baking pan and smooth over.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until the biscuits are lightly browned.
- Cut into squares/fingers whilst warm, and then leave to cool in the tin.
- Store in an airtight box.
 Technically, it’s called coconut oil, but its solid like butter and comes in a large jar. Available at Holland and Barrett, a wholefoods store in the UK.