Swimsuit season can eat my ass. I’ll be the one who says it. I don’t care how hot you think your body is, when swimsuit season comes oozing along, all of a sudden the most confident among us are reduced to a mass of writhing insecurities and self-hatred. Sure, we try to “own it,” but that sometimes is easier said than done. Especially when you live in Stepford, CO. OMG WHERE ARE THESE ROBOT BARBIES COMING FROM??
Poor E isn’t going to learn how to swim until we either a) visit a retirement community where I can strut my stuff without worrying about the bodies of those around me, or b) he’s old enough to skinny dip with members of the opposite sex. So…16? I’m guessing? Please God no?
So, as the weather gets warmer, thus begins the ever-futile battle to morph my DNA into that of Heidi Klum by sheer force of will. Or by drinking, as I currently am as I write this, moss-colored shakes of cucumbers, spinach, strawberries, kefir, and grass-fed vanilla whey protein powder. Which are alarmingly delicious, if you close your eyes and just try really hard to envision your shake being Ian Somerhalder. Or cake. Or cake shaped like Ian Somerhalder.
For you. Obviously for me, I only picture cakes shaped like my husband. I’m a lady and I’ll thank you to remember that.
Yesterday, after a 5 mile trek along the trail behind our house, my friend and I decided to embark upon a baking journey that is every bit as unhealthy as it is overly complicated to prepare.
French macaron sandwich cookies with coconut caramel filling
As a general rule, if a recipe has that many words in it, it’s probably going to be annoying. And, true to form, it was.
Also, the cookies were cloyingly sweet, which was too much for even me, and I have tiny needle marks between my toes from injecting myself with pureed swedish fish from time to time.
I am doing it wrong.
But what I took away from this experiment was that the coconut caramel? OMFG. Drizzled over chocolate or vanilla ice cream? Yes, yes a thousand times yes. And it was really easy to make, so please give it a shot. The remains are currently languishing in my refrigerator waiting for me to settle down with a spoon and some emotions and start eating.
They great thing about it is that it’s sweet, but also has a deep bitterness that really pleases all the parts of your tongue. A little salt wouldn’t go amiss here, and neither would some fresh ginger or cardamom. But I kept it clean and simple and just used vanilla bean, coconut milk, lemon, and sugar.
Also? Anyone who says they don’t like coconut is a fool. I always assume they have only ever eaten flaked coconut, because I can’t think of a damned thing that cannot be improved by the addition of coconut milk. Not coconut cream, and not coconut milk that is in the same format as soy milk or almond milk. I mean the cans of unsweetened coconut milk that are used in Thai, Indian, Malaysian, Amaysian cooking. You can find them for about a buck at your local ethnic grocery store, which beats the pants off the $3/can you pay in your regular, white bread, American grocery store. It’s great in soups, desserts, shakes, curries, pan sauces, etc. Get some.
And once you’ve gotten some, make this caramel and pour it on things. All the things. It’d be amazeballs on banana sauteed in butter and served over pound cake, for example. Or as a drizzle on top of an apple tart. Or, as previously mentioned, over the top of a rich vanilla ice cream. Or poured over your feelings and eaten with a spoon. We’re not in the business of judging (we totes are).
- 1 C coconut milk (unsweetened, stirred well)
- 4 C sugar
- 2 t fresh lemon juice
- ¼ C water
- ½ vanilla bean, scraped
- In a small pot, pour your coconut milk and vanilla bean with scrapings
- In another, larger pot, mix together your sugar, water and lemon juice until it looks relatively combined
- Turn the heat under the sugar mixture and cook until it becomes dark amber colored and smells like caramel
- Do not stir the sugar mixture unless absolutely necessary, or it will get grainy. Use a wet pastry brush to wash any sugar granules off of the sides of the pot as it cooks
- In the meantime, bring the coconut milk and vanilla to a boil and turn off the heat. Remove the vanilla bean pod.
- Pour ½ of the sugar mixture into the coconut milk, whisking, then return all of that back into the rest of the sugar mixture and whisk well.
- Remove from heat, and allow to cool until it reaches the consistency you want
- It keeps well in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks, but it won’t last that long.
If you want to add aromatics like ginger, or if you want to add some salt to the caramel, those items can be added to the coconut milk before you bring it to a boil. A hunk of fresh ginger should be removed before you add the sugar mixture to the coconut milk.