With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, romance is in the air. What better way to celebrate than a cozy night in with a romantic feast for two. Coming up with ideas for savory courses is easy enough when you are adhering to a healthy diet but finding a little something special for after can prove a lot more challenging.
With the supermarket aisles laden with sugar-filled treats at this time of year, it can be hard to resist. However, these refined, sugar-free coconut meringue kisses are the ideal treat to fill that sweet void. Free from gluten and dairy, they are almost too good to be true. However, to avoid arguments on Valentine’s Day you will probably have to share them.
Surprisingly simple to make, all the effort is in the prep before the oven takes over and then the meringues are left to firm up. Unlike with regular sugar meringues, these coconut kisses are made with xylitol that, while being a lot kinder to your health, requires a significantly longer drying time to allow the meringues to achieve that all-important crunch. The key here is to make them a day ahead so that they will be perfectly set and crisp for the big day. It is also important to grind the xylitol to as fine a powder as possible as this ensures a smooth, crisp meringue.
The strawberry and cream filling is the perfect marriage of fruit jam and coconut milk. The jam comes together in only a matter of minutes and is free from any added sugar or sweeteners. The coconut milk holds its own incredibly well in place of traditional whipped cream and makes the ideal alternative for those avoiding dairy.
As with a classic meringue, the base of the coconut kisses is formed from whisked egg whites. When consumed, eggs provide our bodies with an abundance of nutrition and healthy fats. However, the whites alone should not be dismissed. Egg whites contain very little in the way of fats as this is predominantly concentrated in the yolk. However, they provide a whole host of other nourishing benefits. High in protein, egg whites support muscle growth and repair. They also contain collagen, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles, so what’s not to love?
Sugar is replaced in the recipe by powdered xylitol. Sugar replacements are often demonized for being devoid of real nutritional value. However, studies reveal that xylitol shows promise in maintaining good dental hygiene and fighting tooth decay. Xylitol is also a safe sugar alternative for those following a ketogenic diet.
Packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, strawberries are a rich source of vitamins and minerals essential to good health. Research suggests that strawberries provide cancer-fighting benefits alongside heart-protective qualities.
As the perfect alternative to dairy, coconut milk is packed with essential fatty acids. Shown to lower cholesterol, this healthful anti-inflammatory fat assists in supporting healthy digestion and weight loss.
This recipe makes 24 individual meringue cookies to be turned into 12 perfect coconut kisses to share with your valentine.
For the meringue cookies:
- 3 small egg whites
- 1 cup powdered xylitol
- 1/4 cup desiccated coconut
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cups fresh strawberries
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 can (13.5 ounces) full-fat coconut cream
- 2 tablespoons powdered xylitol
- Heat the oven to 195 degrees Fahrenheit and line a shallow oven tray with parchment paper.
- Add xylitol to a food processor and blend for five minutes to create a fine powder from the granules. Set aside.
- Add egg whites to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer and fit the whisk attachment. Whisk the egg whites on a high-speed setting for about 30 seconds.
- Add the powdered xylitol a tablespoon at a time slowly into eggs whites as they are being whisked.
- Continue to whisk on high speed until the mixture is perfectly white and fluffy yet firm. The mixture will have increased in volume and should not fall out of the bowl when turned upside down.
- Fit a piping bag with a round 1 cm nozzle. Fill the bag with the meringue mixture and pipe spirals of meringue onto the baking paper, starting at the outer edge and finishing at a peak in the center. The meringues will be about 4 cm wide, leave a few centimeters between each meringue on the tray.
- Place the meringues in the warm oven and bake for 90 minutes.
- The meringues will still feel sticky when they come out of the oven, so resist touching them. Scatter the desiccated coconut over the tops of the sticky meringues.
- Leave the meringues to cool and firm overnight. This will give them the perfect crunchy texture. Once the oven has cooled, you can leave them in there.
- To make the sugar-free jam filling, add the strawberries and water to a medium pan over high heat and bring to a rapid boil for 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat and allow the fruit to bubble for an additional 5 to 7 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid sticking and break the strawberries down with a spoon as they cook.
- Once all the liquid is evaporated, you will be left with a thick fruit jam. Remove from the heat to cool and refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the coconut cream filling, separate the fatty coconut cream at the top of the can from the coconut milk. Reserve the coconut milk to use in another recipe.
- Beat the cream and xylitol together and transfer the cream to the freezer to firm.
- Remove from the freezer 20 minutes before assembling the meringues and beat with a fork or whisk to a thick, creamy paste. You do not want this to liquefy, or it will not hold in the meringues.
- When you are ready to serve the coconut kisses, spread a layer of jam onto the underside of one meringue and a layer of coconut cream on the other. Join the two meringue halves together, so the cream and jam meet.
- Serve meringue kisses immediately.
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 90 minutes Drying time: Overnight
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Calories: 225 Fat: 18g Carbs: 5.2g Protein: 3g
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