Coconut manna, also known as coconut butter, is made by blending coconut flakes until they become a smooth and buttery substance that is well placed in soups, sauces and dessert. Now coconut oil is THE darling of the health food world, being rich in medium chain triglycerides, which are said to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia and make healthy brains even healthier; so when I heard talks of coconut manna I didn't pay any mind- I had my coconut oil and that was all the coconut I needed. But you see, as AMAZING as coconut oil is, coconut manna is almost right on par and boasts something that even the dynamic coconut oil cannot- fiber. When the meat of the coconut is pressed to extract the oil, the remaining pulp is discarded or used for flour, thereby removing all the glorious fiber; but coconut manna is made by blending the meat into a rich substance, meaning we get all the antibacterial, antiviral and antimicrobial effects of coconut oil, in addition to the life promoting fatty acids, but we get the bonus of the fiber- 2 g per tablespoon to be exact!
So what does this have to do with dessert?
Well, coconut manna has built in dessert qualities, being coconut and all; and by blending the manna with hemp seed milk, dates and cinnamon, we create a dessert base that is ever so versatile. You can take the aforementioned ingredients and heat them on the stove top to create a dairy free caramel or you could blend those ingredients, form the mixture into balls, roll them in toasted coconut and create a dessert that is so much more than the sum of its parts. Not only is this dessert one of the tastiest desserts I've shared in some time, vegan or not, but it's akin to cookie dough; and in addition to being tasty, they are convenient. Vegan cookie dough balls can be made and kept in the freezer for a sweet treat at a moment’s notice, as they keep their malleable texture even when frozen; but I highly doubt these will last- they don't at my house.
So where does one get coconut manna? Well, you can buy coconut manna in stores, but it can be relatively expensive; or you can make you own. I'm partial to the latter! All you need is desiccated coconut flakes, preferably organic, and a high powered blender (vitamix or blendtec) or a food processor. Place the desiccated coconut into the blender or food processor and blend. For those going the blender route, you will blend, scraping the sides down periodically, for about 3-5 minutes, and coconut butter will be achieved. For those using a food processor, your journey to coconut manna will take a little bit longer, about 10-15 minutes; but I assure you, it won't need babysitting, just fire on the machine, scrape the sides down half way through and in 10-15 minutes you will have your own coconut butter! It keeps well in the freezer (up to 2 months) and you can use it in variety of ways- to thicken soups or sauces and of course to make cookie dough balls.
Vegan cookie dough balls prove, once and for all, that Vegan desserts are delicious!
Cookie Dough Balls [Vegan]
- 8 pitted dates, chopped
- 1/2 cup hemp seed milk, warmed
- 3 tbsp coconut manna
- 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted*
*the key to perfectly toasted coconut is to heat a pan on medium high heat, once hot, removed from heat and add the coconut flakes; and toss. This ensures no burning and perfectly toasted coconut each time.
- Combine the warmed milk and coconut oil. In a food processor add the remaining ingredients except the toasted coconut flakes. Turn on the machine and slowly add the liquid, stopping to scrape down the sides periodically; blend until smooth, about 10 minutes. Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set.
- With moist hand, using a teaspoon measure, roll the dough into balls; and roll the balls in the toasted coconut to cover completely.