Coeliac Awareness Week 2011. The aim is to help people better understand the symptoms of coeliac disease, how to deal with it on a day-to-day basis and generally improve the understanding. Coeliacs have to exclude all wheat, gluten, rye, barley and its derivatives from their diets as the protein contained within these grains can’t be dealt with by the body, damaging the gut and leading to other health problems.
I have been diagnosed as coeliac for less than a year but already I feel able and confidant enough to lead a perfectly normal life. I have discovered it’s not so much about cutting foods out, but more about substitutions. People shouldn’t feel deprived that they have to exclude cakes and treats from their diet, simply experiment and try out some different flours, you may get some odd results along the way but the resulting treats can be very rewarding, not to mention tasty. I am also starting to feel more confidant about going out for meals. I’ve learnt not to panic at the prospect of an evening out with friends. I have found that most places are more than happy to discuss dietary requirements and are very willing to swop rice or potatoes for the bread or pasta dish listed on the menu. If anyone is interested in more info I strongly recommend visiting the Coeliac UK website which is a hub of useful support and information.
Anyway, back to cookies! These macaroons are the good old fashioned, thick and chewy type of macaroons. They were around long before the delicate French Macaron came into fashion and for me, much tastier.
They are meringue based with lots of coconut and some ground almonds thrown in for texture and flavour. They are delicately crisp on the outside with a soft, slightly chewy interior. The gentle outside toasting enhances their nutty flavour, with the natural sweetness from the coconut coming through as you chew.
They are thick, substantial, sweet and delicious. Quick and easy to put together, not a grain of flour in sight and as an added bonus they’re also dairy free!
In support of Coeliac Awareness Week I challenge you all to look at what you’ve eaten today and see if you can adapt it to being gluten free, or go one better and try to eat gluten free for the day tomorrow. Missing gluten should never mean missing out!
Coconut & Almond Macaroons
2 eggs whites
1 tsp lemon juice
100g caster sugar
50g ground almonds
200g desiccated coconut
1 tsp vanilla extract
Line a large baking tray with a silicone mat or greaseproof paper. Preheat the oven to 170C.
Whisk the egg whites until just starting to foam. Add the lemon juice and whisk until soft peaks form.
Keep whisking, adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time, followed by the vanilla extract. Whisk until glossy, thick and shiny.
Scatter over the almonds and coconut and fold in using a spatula.
Use a tablespoon to measure out moulds of the coconut mixture. Place onto the lined baking tray, with 2inches in-between each one.
Press the tops lightly, until they become level in height, but still remain very thick.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden brown (10 minutes to start, then rotate the tray and bake for 5-10 minutes more).
Cool on the tray for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
Makes 11-12 large macaroons