Thursday, July 7, 2011

My life has been sugar (ie sucrose) free for almost 18 months, but more recently, I've also almost completely eliminated anything sweet. No fruit, no honey, the closest thing to dessert I had in 3 weeks was soup made from butternut pumpkin and carrots and seasoned with coconut oil and nutmeg. This was to get the healing from my latest flare into the fast lane. I also eliminated eggs, nuts and dairy, as per Jordan and Steve's four horsemen.

Two interesting observations arose from this experience. After a couple of days, I had no sugar cravings at all. And my sense of what is sweet has totally changed.

After 3 weeks and now feeling really good, I decided to have a play with some very low sugar confectionery  This fits in well with the theme of this months Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free, It All Ends here (a la the final Harry Potter film), hosted by Diane of the Whole Gang.

My aim for my confectionery was to keep the fat content as high as possible (I'm still trying to regain a few more kilos), and the sugar as low as possible (as I'm still aiming to minimise the amounts of inflammatory foods in my diet).

My first port of call was coconut oil - I love the taste of the oil, and it combines well with other flavours. So my starting point was to melt coconut oil, a tiny amount of honey and some lemon oil. I have to say, I thought it was pretty good at the time, but now I realise I was just in a totally sugar deprived state and anything vaguely sweet tasted good. So I had to branch out a bit more for the next attempt. This brought to mind coconut concentrate. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is basically finely ground coconut meat. It has a very high fat content (around 70% I think), and is also fairly grainy, kind of like coconut flour. It is solid a room temperature, and if you want to melt it, you have to do so on a really low heat, otherwise it burns.

I find it convenient to melt a lot of it at a time (I get in in 1kg bags) and pour it in to ice cube trays to have convenient little portions of it, which I throw into anything in which you might use coconut milk. (I do the same thing with coconut oil (in winter, when it is solid at room temperature) and cocoa butter too).

Anyway, back to the confectionary. I did go through a phase of just eating the ice cubes of coconut concentrate - I find there is something oddly appealing about the grainy thick texture, and the coconut flavour is really strong, and it has something candy-like about it, even though it isn't sweet. So, I figured it's 70% coconut oil, why not dilute it with more coconut oil to keep the coconutty flavour, but minimise the grainy texture (and the fibre content). I've concluded that a ratio of 2:1 oil to concentrate is my preferred ratio, and that it needs minimal honey - maybe a teaspoonful to a cup of coconut mixture. But I think the quantities are very much a matter of personal taste, so here's the method; play around with the ratios as you see fit

Coconut candy
Coconut oil
Coconut concentrate
Flavour oil (optional)

Melt the oil and the honey on a low heat. Remove from the heat and add the coconut concentrate. Cover and leave until it is all melted (if the concentrate does not melt, you can place the whole lot over a very low heat, but watch it carefully). At this stage add the flavouring if you want to. I have done lemon and orange oil, both if which are nice, but possibly a little subtle against the strong coconut flavour. I think mint might be good, but don't have any oil to try it out.

Bearing in mind that you have 3 substances, all with different melting points, the trick is to get everything thoroughly combined and then into moulds before it sets. If you have the time and the patience, I recommend allowing it to cool at room temperature as this give you a lot more time in which the mixture is at a temperature that it will thoroughly combine. If you cool it in the fridge or freezer, you might miss the moment and end up with a triple layer effect with sticky honey on the bottom, and not be able to spoon it into the moulds.

Either way, stir it regularly (more often the colder the temperature) and when it starts to turn into a paste, check whether the honey is settling out at the bottom. If it is, leave to cool a little longer. 

Once the ingredients are able to be thoroughly combined, spoon it into moulds (chocolate moulds, ice cubes, or just spread as a block onto greaseproof paper). Leave until thoroughly set, or refrigerate depending on the ambient temperature.

Serve after dinner with a good black coffee.

Vaguely chocolate like confectionary

(sorry for the long winded name, but I do get annoyed at the SCD thing of saying 'this is just like X' and then making it, and it isn't much like X at all. Particularly when what you've made is tasty in it's own right. So this is somewhat chocolately, but I'm not going to call it chocolate)

Cocoa butter
Ghee (you could probably use unsalted butter, but I'm not eating butter at the moment. If you want to make your own ghee, check out how here.

Again, the quantities are somewhat in your hands. I've found a ratio of 1:1 cocoa butter to ghee gives a fairly smooth buttery consistency. (My previous attempt of 1:2 resulted in something much too reminiscent of whipped butter for eating by itself). The honey ratio need to be a fair bit higher than the coconut one. Maybe a big tablespoonful to a cup of the butter mixture.

Follow the above method. You can certainly flavour it if you like, too, or add chopped dried fruit or nuts. I most recently used a vanilla bean which I split, scooping the seeds into the mixture, and leaving the pod in while I melted the fats too.

The cooling process for this one is even more temperamental than the coconut candy. Be very careful that the honey is not separating out, but don't stir too vigorously or you will end up with whipped butter.

Spoon into moulds, or use to coat other thing, like nuts, or balls made out of energy bars, or spread into a block.

Serve with dessert that would go with something chocolatey (like this), or on its own with after dinner coffee.

And this is where it ends (dinner... and the post)

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