Daily Israel Report

Shabbat Dessert: Coconut Cookies

Arutz Sheva brings you a tasty baked dessert to enliven your Shabbat and Holiday meals!
By Sima Herzfeld
First Publish: 5/18/2012, 3:18 PM

Coconuts
Coconuts
Sima Herzfeld

While I am not a big fan of baked desserts, there are times when they are appropriate.  While baking recipes will often call for butter, Jewish law prevents eating a dairy dessert after a meat meal.

Traditional Jewish dessert recipes, such as yeast cakes and kichelech, overcame this problem by creating desserts which technically did not need any fat.  Modern Jewish baking recipes have adapted dairy dessert recipes, replacing the butter with margarine.  Unfortunately, as many of us well know, margarine is extremely unhealthy.

Hydrogenated fat, margarine, or trans fat, is one of the worst things that a person can put in their body.  In addition to being linked to coronary heart disease, it also tastes terrible.  I personally can’t stand that scum that sticks to the tongue and the roof of the mouth after having (accidentally) eaten something with margarine.  

Not only that, I know that the scum that is on my tongue is the same scum that is sticking to my intestinal wall as well as clogging up my arteries.  So, what are the options?  Many of us believe that canola oil provides a healthier alternative.  This is not necessarily the case, as the oil on supermarket shelves is refined.  The refining process depletes the oil of vital nutrients and, while it removes the taste of rancidity, the harmful effects of rancid oil remain behind.

The recipe below recommends using coconut oil.  While again, I think everyone is better off without cookies, I know that some of us, at least some of the time, might on occasion eat a cookie or two.  In which case, I try to make the baked goods as delicious, and as healthy as possible.  Coconut oil was not traditionally used in baking but rather as a skin moisturizer and a hair conditioner.  

As a practitioner who bases her beliefs on proven ancient traditions, I still think that it is better not to bake with coconut oil, but rather to stay completely away from baked desserts.  Since I know that the vast majority of people won’t do that, I will have to say, that after butter, the best choice of fat to use in baking would be coconut oil.

The myth that coconut oil is bad for you is unfounded:
  1. Coconut oil is beneficial for the heart. It contains about 50% lauric acid, which helps in preventing various heart problems including high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure and it does not lead to increase in LDL levels.
  2. Coconut oil strengthens the immune system as it contains antimicrobial lipids, lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid which have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties.
  3. Coconut oil contains lesser calories than other oils, its fat content is easily converted into energy and it does not lead to accumulation of fat in the heart and arteries. Coconut oil helps in boosting energy and endurance, and enhances the performance of athletes.
  4. Coconut oil is now shown to be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
  5. Coconut oil stops tooth decay.  (I would still recommend brushing your teeth after a eating a cookie).

My daughter used the recipe below to make cookies for her brother’s bar-mitzvah.  They were so good that unfortunately there are none left.  I am hoping that we will get lucky and she will make us another batch.

Ingredients:
  1. 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  2. 3 tbsp hot water
  3. 8 tbsp coconut oil
  4. 1 cup whole spelt flour (or wheat)
  5. 1 cup white spelt flour (or wheat)
  6. 2 tsp baking powder
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. 1 cup sugar
  9. 2 tbsp orange juice
  10. 1 tsp vanilla
  11. 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  12. Preheat oven to 180 c (350 f).
Pour the hot water over the ground flax seed and allow to sit for five minutes.
Cream the sugar and the coconut oil.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to 1/2 cm thickness and use a cookie cutter to cut out desired shapes.
Place the cookies on a greased cookie sheet and decorate with the chocolate chips.
Bake in a preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Sima Herzfeld is a nutritional healer and teaches healthy cooking classes.