Coconut is a divisive ingredient. A little like coriander or anchovies in the way that people seem to either adore it or despise it. Coconut is a magnet to me. In a bakery, if something has coconut in it, I will find it and I will want it. Add chocolate and I will want it even more. So it’s no surprise that this pie called to me, because it is really like a macaroon’s more sophisticated cousin. Once you’ve tasted it, you will know that it is hard to classify this pie. It’s a little bit like the best chewy chocolate macaroon you’ve ever tasted, and a bit like a Bounty bar, and a bit like a fine dark truffle. All. At. Once.
To make this scenario even more perfect, I am happy to report that it is dead easy. Probably the easiest pie I’ve made so far in this venture.
So go make one.
Let me start off by saying that before yesterday, I had never made gluten-free, dairy-free anything. To be honest (this might offend a few gluten-free dairy-free people out there), at the beginning of my search, I wondered if searching “gluten-free vegan pie” would yield the same results as googling “yucky pie” or “boring healthy pie”. Sometimes I’m not the postergirl for open-mindedness. I now know that there was no call for that kind of sarcasm or snootiness. I know this because I managed to make gluten-free dairy-free baby pies that were pretty yummy, and along the way I found a host of vegan and gluten-free blogs that had plenty of tempting and beautiful looking food. I ended up making something that I could imagine making again, which I hadn’t expected.
The gluten-free and dairy-free combo is what made the exercise a lot more challenging. Every time I found an interesting gluten-free recipe I’d discover it had butter in it, or milk. Add to this that the birthday baby hasn’t yet been exposed to nuts, so I couldn’t incorporate any ground almonds or almond milk to add another layer of richness. At one point, I emailed my friend to ask, jokingly, if her baby was allowed to have bourbon. She said okay as long as it was only a little (probably afraid to add another thing to the “no” list). I replied that I’d been kidding and she fired back quickly to say that she’d obviously failed the underage drinking for kids test.
No surprise that this challenge was an uncomfortable experience for a perfectionist. My pie needed to taste good and look good – not just good, great. It needed to look like I’d been baking gluten-free dairy free delights for years. I did not like the fact that many of the recipes I found listed ingredients that sounded like they belonged in a science lab: sorghum flour, guar gum, xanthan gum… This was a strange new world indeed, and I was not feeling like I wanted a cupboard full of guar gum. I just wanted to make a baby a birthday pie. Gluten-free girl and the chef is the place to hang out to feel way less scared of gluten-free cooking. Unfortunately many recipes I found there had dairy. I did some more digging and thought I found the answer… Continue reading