Wednesday, April 13, 2011

blackberry and coconut macaroon tart

sliced

For the last few weeks, I’ve been going nuts as it feels like every single person I know that has a food blog, has read a food blog, is a fan of food blogs or eats food itself has been gushing over Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks new book, Super Natural Everyday. But not me! Because although I pre-ordered mine in early March, it didn’t arrive for what felt like an eternity. Every morning, me and my tiny partner in crime would take the elevator (always his favorite part of the day) down to the basement, where unclaimed packages often linger by the Super’s apartment and came back empty handed. Then we would sigh, get to work load up Twitter on my laptop and read that another two friends were gushing over a book I was being cruelly deprived of and shake our tiny fists at the Amazon Gods and cry, “Why must you make us wait?!”

dry ingredients
adding melted butter

Neither of us are very good at waiting, you see. Nevertheless, one fine day last week a box finally arrived and after careful toddler investigation of the package (Can I stand on it? Can I lift it? What will it taste like if I lick it? Can I jump off the 2-inch box and applaud myself when I land on my feet?) I was given permission to open it, take another magical elevator ride to the basement to drop off the box with the recycling and then finally his dad returned home and I was granted an entire bath and bedtime ritual to curl up with Heidi’s newest book.

blackberried up

And it was absolutely worth the wait. I don’t spend a lot of time gushing over food blogs I read here (mostly because I’m too busy prattling on about elevator rides, obviously) but 101 Cookbooks has always been one of my favorites, because it always manages to inspire me with the creative spins on dishes. In Heidi’s hands, roasted delicata squash becomes a salad with kale, marcona almonds, harissa and miso; typically custardy tartlets are given a yogurt makeover and gnocchi, instead of drowning in a heavy sauce, is toasted and tossed in a salad with shallots and shell beans. It has a focus on natural foods — grains, alternative flours and sweeteners — but like another book I fell in love with last year, it doesn’t beat you over the head with the healthfulness of it all. There’s butter. There’s cream. And there are desserts.

ready to bake
with pistachios

My first pick from the book was indeed a dessert — with Passover next week, I suspected it could adapted to be flour-free — but it’s no everyday coconut macaroon. It shirks the usual macaroon conventions, getting reinvented as a coconut-crusted tart, studded with fresh blackberries and sprinkled with crushed pistachios. I used salted ones, which added a perfect contrast on top of the spiky pillows of sweet toasted coconut. I suspect if you’ve been avoiding macaroons because you thought they could only be sticky hockey pucks found this time of year in cardboard cans (surely I’m not the only one familiar with these!), this recipe could be the open door to usher them back into your home.

blackberry and coconut macaroon tart

One year ago: Easy Jam Tart
Two years ago: Simple Potato Gratin
Three years ago: Fork-Crushed Purple Potatoes and Whole Wheat Apple Muffins
Four years ago: Potato Rosemary Bread

Blackberry and Coconut Macaroon Tart
Adapted from Super Natural Everyday

My attempt to swap the whole wheat flour with matzo cake meal was only moderately successful, though I’m not sure if it has to do with the baking-unfriendly bread of affliction or the fact that my coconut was “medium” not “fine” as suggested. If you’re trying it with matzo meal, it might be worth it to grind everything together in a food processor and if you need an extra tablespoon of melted butter to pull it together, go for it.

Some long-winded notes about volumes: The original recipe called for an 8×11-inch tart pan, which I did not have, or the equivalent of in volume. I ended using 2/3 of the crust recipe and 3/4 of the filling (2/3, which would have been correct, seemed like too much of a headache with 4 egg whites) to fill a 13.75×4.25-inch tart pan I have (but never use, because no standard recipes work in it!). Instead of suggesting pan sizes you probably don’t have, I’ve done what I should have from the get-go and scaled the whole recipe to 3/4 of the original volume which should nicely fit in a 9-inch round tart pan (with removable bottom) or an 8-inch square cake pan with the understanding that the first bar will probably not come out cleanly! Unless you have an 8-inch square cake pan with a springform or removable bottom, in which case, I’m jealous of how well supplied your kitchen is!

Crust
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white whole wheat flour, spelt flour or matzo cake meal
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon natural cane sugar (I used a coarse Turbinado because I had it on hand)
Generous 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling
1 1/2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
6 tablespoons natural cane sugar or lightly packed light brown sugar
3 large egg whites
6 ounces fresh blackberries, halved (feel free to swap any berry/cherry you can find in season)
1/4 cup pistachios, crushed

Make base: Preheat oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom or an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment. Generously butter parchment and sides of pan.

Combine flour, coconut, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in melted butter until evenly distributed in dry ingredients. Press mixture firmly in the bottom of the pan to form a solid, flat layer, like a shortbread cookie base. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes while you prepare the filling.

Assemble tart: Stir together coconut, sugar and egg whites. Evenly distribute blackberries across tart base. Using a small spoon or your fingertip, drop little tufts of macaroon filling around the blackberries, allowing them to stay at least partially uncovered.

Bake for 20 to 25 until the peaks of the macaroon filling are bronzed. Let tart cool, then garnish with the crushed pistachios (I pressed mine in just a little bit, so they’d stick better) before slicing into skinny wedges or small squares.


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