Two years ago, I finished my yoga teacher training with some amazing women. While, of course, my yoga practice shifted in immeasurable ways due to an intense four weeks of 8-hour days of yoga (and yoga lectures and practicum and note taking and reading), I was unprepared for the way my circle of friends would broaden. I was unprepared for how much more I would laugh.
These women whom I have had the privilege to know are funny (as in wickedly funny), gracious, generous, and just plain ambitious.
To celebrate the fact that two years have passed since we met, we held a little reunion party in the hills up in Orinda. And there was no way I was showing up empty handed. These ladies can cook (or buy really great turkey meatballs at Whole Foods), so I knew I had to bring my A-game. Who better to guide me with a natural, organic dessert than Heidi Swanson--101 Cookbooks blogger, author of three healthy and natural foods cookbooks, and Bay Area resident?
While this dessert is heavy on the sugar (indeed, I think cutting a little might be okay (what is it with me and wanting to cut back on sugar these days?)), I could justify the sweetness because, it's true, I did go buy organic natural cane sugar. (Yet, you could just use regular granulated sugar if that's what you have on hand). Look! I was being healthy (or so I justified). What I loved the most, though, was the salt. From time to time a little salt would burst through--either from the filling or from the pistachios--and knocked up against the creaminess of the coconut, the freshness of the blackberries, and the sweetness of the (organic natural cane) sugar: it was just perfect. It seemed a general success with the crowd, too, for I returned home with one lone square in the corner of the pan (to share with the husband).
Indeed, the recipe is entitled Macaroon Tart, and it does taste like a giant macaroon, only better because it's in bar form (easier to tote from plate to mouth) and has fruit and nuts (all the better to justify its health benefits).
Further, don't be shy. This crust and filling would work well with any fruit and nut combination that suits your fancy or is in season. Cherries and almonds? Cranberries and walnuts? Peaches and pecans? Apricots and cashews? You knock yourself out.
Finally, what a joy it was to sit around long into the evening, eating really wonderful food with these women. As the Bay Area fog rolled in over the hills and the sun went down, we laughed a lot, talked yoga, put our entrepreneurial spirits together, laughed, took some pictures, and laughed. It was a perfect early August night.
Adapted from Heidi Swanson's Super Natural Every Day
24 bite-size servings
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
3/4 cup sifted and lightly packed natural cane sugar
1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
10 tbsp (5 ounces) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 cups unsweetened finely shredded coconut
1/2 cup sifted and lightly packed natural cane sugar
4 large egg whites
8 ounces fresh blackberries, halved
1/3 cup pistachios, crushed
1. For the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the middle of the oven. Butter an 8x 11-inch tart pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, coconut, sugar and salt. Stir in the melted butter and mix until dough is crumbly but no longer dusty looking. Firmly press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan (it should form a solid, flat layer). Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove and set aside to cool for a few minutes.
3. For the filling: In the meantime, prepare the coconut macaroon filling by combining the coconut, sugar, and egg whites. Mix until well combined.
4. Evenly distribute the blackberries across the tart base. Then using your hands, drop little dollops of the macaroon filling over the tops of them, and mush and press the coconut topping around into the spaces behind the berries. Be sure to let at least some of the colorful berries pop through for visual flair.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the peaks of the macaroon filling are deeply golden brown. Let the tart cool, then garnish with the crusted pistachios before slicing into small squares.