Coconut Oat CrunchiesPosted: April 21, 2013 Filed under: Biscuits, Budget, Traditional 23 Comments
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.
This is how I learned to cook/bake from the women in my family and it is an approach I’ve passed on down to my daughter. Admittedly, the reality is this approach is often down to financial constraints or simply forgetting to buy ingredients, but I think it makes you the better cook for it and I’ve often found that slavishly following a recipe does not always guarentee success!
Wotchers Unpollyannaish! And hear, hear! 😀 M-A
They look lovely and chewy, a must for my favourite type of biscuit. Hey ,you could have the ‘Delia effect’ for Holland & Barrett Coconut butter ! It’s important to use up the ingredients we buy as they have a short shelf life. It’s sad to leave them until the day we have a cupboard check & things have to go out like the rose syrup I bought about 3 years ago and some whole nutmegs that I had forgotten about (circa 1998…they had no ‘sell by date’ but were purchased in a French hypermarket in Calais ,by me,& I haven’t even been to France since then !
Wotchers CarrieT! And they’ll be fine! Just brush the dust off 😉 M-A
I love the way you write MA, I can almost “hear” you… sounds silly I know – sorry! And your approach – use what you can and do not panic if you don’t have nutmeg(!) hehe is music to my ears… I fret over not having the required ingredients for a recipe – though I’ve been pleasantly surprised, more often than not, whereby I have substituted/changed or left an ingredient from a recipe and the results have been unaffected or have in fact turned out better. Anyhow, thank you for giving me some confidence and for yet again sharing a lovely recipe. I’ve never bought coconut butter before; only almond butter etc. but I think I may have to invest in some now 🙂
Couldn’t agree more with your sentiments but you do need to be a confident person or have gained that confidence in the kitchen. I cook a lot on the other side of the ‘pond’, too, but never dream of ruining an apple pie with the amount of cinnamon they suggest. For my British palette I want to taste the apples, Americans hanker the spice which masks the apples. No one is right it is as you say, experiment. Love your blog. Will give these a go.
I too am of the That’ll Do school. The Daughters like to tell people that their abiding memory of childhood is asking what dinner is and being told ominously, “It hasn’t got a name yet”. I expect you’ve seen The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit – brilliant book for those of us who like to improvise!
BTW, my youngest daughter has been recommended to replace fats with coconut oil so will be trying this recipe with that…
The grumpy person in our recently-opened H&B assured me there was no such product as coconut butter! The green shop wondered whether cacao butter might work.
Wotchers AoTN! Sorry to hear about your grumpy sales person. If you click the link at the bottom of the recipe, it’ll take you to the Holland and Barrett website, to the product that I used. Have fun! M-A 😀
I was going to ask where to find coconut butter but having read the comments above, I think I know where to start my search. There certainly wasn’t any in my local supermarket this morning.
Wotchers Liz! If you click the link at the bottom of the recipe, it’ll take you to the Holland and Barrett website, to the product that I used. Have fun! M-A 😀
FINALLY got around to making these today. I found the coconut oil in H&B but as it is rather expensive, I decided not to use it. Dairy is not my enemy, but saturated fat is so I replaced the coconut oil with a reduced fat product. Recipe turned out well, really easy to make and rather tasty.
Quite by accident I forgot the flour! And I am usually such a good multitasker! I kept checking your recipe to see how wobbly these should be when I took them out of the oven.. So I left them in another 15 after reducing the heat.. Granted they are probably a bit greaser than they ought to be, but delicious all the same! I only noticed the flour ingredient when I sat down with a cuppa to try one!
Wotchers Sallyann! Huzzah for a happy accident! M-A 😀
i LOVE that you chop and change too – isn’t it so much more exciting to bake that way? Make up your own versions of well known classics! These look lovely by the way. Your adaptions obviously work wonders x
Wotchers jmcvl! And thank you 😀 M-A
Hi! Just seen the final episode here in Sweden, yes we are a bit behind, but i enjoyed every second of it and you guys are so much better than the ones in our version. Glad I found you blog, thanks a lot 🙂
Wotchers Madeleine! Thank you for the kind words. I was able to watch the Danish version, but not the Swedish one – unless it’s available online? M-A 😀
You cook exactly the way I was raised to do so as well it seems! Well, actually I’ve had to learn to ~not~ ever follow a recipe exactly because the few times I was slavishly devoted to every line and gram of perfect repetition of a recipe it’s gone seriously pear-shapes. My husband still gets a case of the twitches when he recalls my last recipe repeating attempt. (I’ve cooked since I was a little girl and even with a vast cookbook library – I think I’ve well passed the 1,000 book mark – and loads of experience I still don’t understand how a dumpling recipe in a magazine churned out the scary grey orbs of doom that occurred. Not only did they look like the part of the bull the bull would most miss, they destroyed our dinner plans AND the pan they were cooked in. Ultimately, we just went out for dinner!) So I always have to switch up something when I cook! Which has come in handy since I have to dodge & weave a bit anyway due to allergies and celiac. I do so love reading your posts. You were my favorite for the win and I am hoping that one day soon you will be writing not just your recipes and posts here but putting out some proper books to add to my shelves. You have a simply wonderful writing ‘voice’ and your food just looks (and tastes as I’ve played with several of your recipes) amazing.
Wotchers Jenna! Thank you for the kind words M-A 😀
[…] my explorations, (on the internet of course!) I discovered this site of Mary-Anne Boermans, Time to cook on line. She was one of the 12 bakers that got through to the finals of 2011 Great British Bake Off. Mary- […]
Cant these be in American measurements?
We use the metric system in the UK, so no.
Weighing ingredients is much better for cooking and baking than using volume measurements.
I recommend buying a digital scale to make measuring ingredients easy.