As I may have mentioned before, Mr Duckie often travels for work. He has flown with quite a few different airlines, but this week was his first time on Virgin Australia. We caught up with an old uni friend on the weekend (also a frequent flyer) who told us about his experiences flying on Virgin, including how they were now giving out a complimentary snack on the flight. Mr Duckie looked puzzled. "Don't they normally give food?" he asked. When we explained to Mr Duckie that in fact, there was no in-flight meal, he looked horrified. "But what am I going to do for food!" he cried.
Luckily I had already planned to make these cookies. I have been rather intrigued by the coconut oil phenomenon for quite some time now. We even had a small discussion in class about whether coconut oil is in fact healthy! The main concern surrounding coconut oil is that it is high in saturated fat - in fact, according to the label on my jar of coconut oil, it contains 93.5% saturated fat. According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines 2013, saturated fats are linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and as such should be limited. However, proponents of coconut oil argue that most of the saturated fat in coconut oil is in the form of lauric acid, which is a a medium-chain fatty acid. It is claimed that lauric acid can improve blood cholesterol, assist in weight loss, and has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Coconut oil is also promoted as a useful moisturiser for skin and hair.
At the moment, it appears that more research needs to be done in order to clarify and confirm the benefits of coconut oil, especially given that there is such strong evidence on the need to limit saturated fats. Whilst I would be happy to use it as a moisturiser (in fact, I did try some on my hands and it smelt very nice!) I don't think I'd start using coconut oil as a replacement for olive oil or canola oil.
In any case, I was very curious to find out whether coconut oil did in fact smell and taste of coconut. I was not disappointed! As I opened the jar, I got a waft of fragrant coconut. I then tried tasting some of the oil on its own (as I saw a well-known celebrity chef do on TV - although I only had a tiny dab of oil, rather than a whole spoonful!), and I found that the coconut oil had a pleasant, mild coconut flavour and smooth texture.
|A spoonful of coconut oil straight from the jar|
These coconut cookies are doubly coconutty from the combination of the coconut oil and the shredded coconut. Luckily for me, there was a special on figs at the supermarket, so I was able to add them into my cookies. I think you could easily replace this with dried figs or any other dried fruit of your choice.
|Yay fresh figs!|
My kitchen was filled with a delicious coconut aroma as these cookies were baking, which helped to cheer up a dreary, rainy morning. These cookies were also very easy to make - I pretty much just mixed everything in one bowl, then dolloped the dough onto trays! The cookies were crisp on the edges and soft in the middle whilst warm (I couldn't resist trying them straight away!), and they became more chewy once they had cooled. The diced figs also provided bursts of flavour and softness throughout.
So, although I am not yet convinced of the health benefits of coconut oil, I do have to say that the coconut oil was the winning ingredient in this recipe, as it added a distinct coconut flavour to the cookies!
Just a note: don't put your coconut oil in the fridge like I did, as it will go very hard and it will be very difficult to spoon it out of the jar! If you do find your coconut oil is too hard, try putting it into a bowl of hot water and this will soften and liquefy the oil and hopefully let you spoon it out!
Chewy fig and coconut cookies
Adapted from allrecipes.com
1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 figs, diced
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Line two baking trays. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, beat coconut oil, raw sugar and caster sugar until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until fully combined. Sift over the flour mixture, add shredded coconut and mix to combine. Stir in diced figs.
3. Drop teaspoonfus of dough onto prepared trays. Bake for 15-20 min or until golden.