Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Gluten free

This seems to be the food trend for 2010 among people I know: well, if three people constitutes a trend, that is. But it has given me pause during this Boston stay, since I've been going for a lot of catch-up visits at other people's houses, and my go-to hostess gifts have mostly been cheesy nibbles or bread. At such a time, stymied by being unable to bake almost anything, isn't it heartening to remember that chocolate by itself is gluten-free, as well as (almost) universally beloved?

Coconut clusters
After requesting coconut-toasting tips on Twitter, all of which turned out to be variations of "Don't turn your back on it," I decided to give my slow cooker yet another challenge--which it handled brilliantly. This recipe was entirely based on what I had on hand, as you will see when you read further, and I will definitely be tweaking it when I make it again (which I will also definitely be doing). But it came out pretty fabulous for a first effort.

1 cup unsweetened coconut
1 bar (113 g/~4 oz) dark chocolate*

Lightly grease the inside of your slow cooker, and then turn to high. Dump in coconut and spread out across the bottom. Put lid on askew (this is to keep condensation from forming). Check and stir coconut every 10 minutes or so, until it is toasted a light brown (mine took about 30 minutes).** Remove and set aside.

Immediately drop chocolate into slow cooker. Replace lid askew, and allow to melt (since the slow cooker is already hot, this should be quick--say, 10-15 minutes). Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

When chocolate is melted, turn off slow cooker and remove lid. Dump in coconut and stir to coat completely with chocolate. Remove clusters with a teaspoon and place on parchment-lined tray. Leave in a cool place to set and harden.

Makes about 24 1-inch clusters.

* I didn't feel this was quite enough chocolate, so will probably increase next time.
** The coconut gets drier (of course) and thus crispier as it toasts, so I'm going to experiment with getting a balance of toasted and still-chewy coconut. I think this will be easier to do using the slow cooker method, since I had to move everything around to make sure it toasted evenly: if I don't, I'll get some texture variation.


Celia said... Best Blogger Tips

They look delicious, Lemon! I often make something similar with toasted almond slivers. Hope all is going well in Boston! Celia

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks, Celia! Inspired by you, my next chocolate-related project is learning to temper--reports to follow from a kitchen somewhere in Kansas!

Sad Rabbit said... Best Blogger Tips

Mmmmmm.whats not to like?

My slow cooker has been a bit abandoned of late..mostly cos i am TOO LAZY to do anything which requires anything more than open tin and heat......

Roving Lemon said... Best Blogger Tips

Well, I don't think these would replace a tin of baked beans--but maybe provide something to look forward to for afters....

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