I remember a lot of things about my childhood with great clarity:
...the smell of my grandmother's kitchen on Sunday afternoons
...the birthday of my first real crush (and most memorable heartbreak)
...the name of my first grade teacher
...and the crunch and creaminess that was only enjoyed in a Samoa Girl Scout cookie once a year
My grandmother's kitchen is without activity these days. "His" birthday passes without fanfare (boy am I glad HE wasn't "the one"), and Samoas are now basically replicated under other names by major food companies year round... and as I've come to realize, aren't really worth the fat, calories and "other stuff" they're made with anyway.
That's one of the main reasons I decided to take on the Samoa for this month's challenge of Frozen Desserts. I could've done a Samoa cookie on the blog some time in the future - yes. But with the heat we're enjoying down my way, I saw this as the perfect time to let a fond-food memory meet its modern-day make over.
I'll admit that this ReDux post departs from my strategy last month of really shaving calories off a refreshing summer beverage. I haven't done the nutritional analysis, but if you know anything about the calories of avocados, coconuts, coconut oil and honey, you can likely do the math yourself. When Deanna, Serena and I founded The ReDux we agreed that this would not be all about the numbers; it's about enjoying whole foods in new, healthy and fun ways.
...and this one is fun....
Fun for your mouth.
Fun for us to discuss.
There has been (thankfully) a welcome shift in recent years about the absolute need for benefits of healthy fats. The humble avocado that was once mistakenly shunned (not so much by learned health professionals, but in the traditional public eye) for its fat content is now raised to super food status. I've been dying to make an "ice cream" from avocados for a while and this seemed like the perfect chance. Avocados, as you likely know, harbour some very powerfully heart-protective mono-unsaturated fats and yield a creaminess unrivaled by most of it plant-based counterparts. On that we all agree.
The saturated fat found in the coconut and coconut oil is, well, a different story ...and frankly one that I think is still being written. There is emerging research that suggests perhaps the once bold and all-inclusive statements and warnings against saturated fat shouldn't have been quite so universal. Just as there are different types of "fats" (mono, poly, etc.) there are different types of fatty acids (lauric, stearic, etc.) within each of those broader categories. (Side note: It's a little more complex than this, but for simplicity's sake... let's go with this explanation).
I can't say for certain that coconut oil lives up to every single health benefit being touted at the moment, nor do I think it's quite the food-evil as perhaps it once was believed to be. I think we simply don't know everything yet for sure. But I can say that coconut is a naturally delicious food and from a culinary standpoint, the oil generated from it is unlike any fat you've ever used in your cooking. It imparts a subtle tropical flavor and given that controversial high saturated fat content, lends itself to dessert uses (as in a pie crust) typically reserved for either butter or shortening.
For me, there is enough research out there to at least feel confident that it's likely the least detrimental of the solid fats available to develop a delicious dessert, and perhaps more likely, a fat that actually contains some beneficial compounds for health. And with the great taste to go along with it, I feel more than comfortable making it one of many tools in my kitchen's quest toward deliciously healthy dishes.
I'm going to enjoy a piece of the pie.
How about you?
Frozen Samoa Pie
2 cups unsweetened coconut
4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (use coconut flour to make gluten-free)
1 tablespoon honey
flesh from 2 ripe avocados
4 - 5 tablespoons honey (to taste)
1/4 cup dark cocoa
1 tablespoon Kahlua or strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons coconut milk
pinch of Kosher salt
Garnish: melted chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
Toast coconut in a large skillet over medium heat 5 minutes or until golden; reserve 1/2 cup and set aside.
Combine 1 1/2 cups toasted coconut, melted coconut oil, flour and 1 tablespoon honey in a large bowl; press into and up sides of pie plate. Set aside.
Add avocado, remaining honey, cocoa, Kahlua, coconut milk and salt to bowl of a food processor. Process until completely smooth. Spoon into pie shell and sprinkle with reserved toasted coconut. Freeze at least 4 hours or until firm. Just before serving, drizzle with melted chocolate.
Please take a moment to jump over to these fellow ReDux blogs to see what they're serving up for this month:
Greek Yogurt Pavlova Popsicles
Cherie Schetselaar - Grain Crazy
Blackberry Lemon Almond Torte
Emma Cutfield-The Hearty Heart
Coconut Ice, Blueberry and Cocoa, Joint Healing Dessert
Carlene Helble- Carlene's Figments
Peanut Butter Banana 'Ice Cream' Sandwich
Janel Funk - Eat Well with Janel
Peanut Butter and Jelly Ice Cream
Kat Lynch - Eating The Week
Coconut Chia-Seed Fruit Pops
Dr Barb, Nutrition Budgeteer
Simply Fruit Mango-Pineapple Sorbet
Rebecca Scritchfield - MeFirst
5-minute Frozen Peach Pie
gretchen - kumquat
chocolate "ice cream" bars
Emily Greenfield - The Nutriscientist
Honey and strawberry semifreddo
Liz Marr - Liz On Food
Peach Lavender Ice Cream
Elizabeth Jarrard- Don't (White) Sugar-Coat It
Adult Popsicles: Frozen Boozy Treats
Regan - The Professional Palate
Frozen Samoa Pie
Liz Weiss & Janice Newell Bissex - Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen
Healthy Blueberry and Mango Snow Cones
Jessica Fishman Levinson - Nutritioulicious
Alexandra Caspero- Delicious Knowledge
Mango & Coconut Popsicles
Karman Meyer- Nutrition Adventures
Coconut Ice Cream with Strawberry Puree
Yuri - Chef Pandita
Acerola Chia Lime Popsicles
Kristen Bourque- Swanky Dietitian
Peanut Butter Coffee Popsicles
EA Stewart-The Spicy RD
Luscious Lemonade Pie
Danielle Omar - Food Confidence RD
Banana Soft Serve
Katie Caputo- East Meats West
Auntie Rosie's Ice Cream Pie
Alysa Bajenaru - Inspired RD
Kara Lydon - Peace, Love, and Food
Peanut Butter Banana "Ice Cream" With Dark Chocolate
Serena Ball- Teaspoon of Spice
Splendid Key Lime Frozen Yogurt
Nicole Ferring Holovach - Whole Health RD
Peaches and Rum Ice Cream Pie
Lisa @ Healthful Sense
Peanut Butter Vanilla Soft Serve
Jackie Mills - Delicious Diabetes Cooking
Summer Fruit Popsicles
Audra Losey - Nutrition Know How
Kristina LaRue - Love and Zest
Frozen Berry Yogurt
Frozen Peanut Butter Pie