Now that Halloween has come and gone, it’s time to focus on the next big event in the this holiday marathon: THANKSGIVING.
A time when we come together with friends and family to loosen our pants and indulge on all the sweet and savory recipes we love, brimming with tradition and childhood memories. As well as lots and lots and lots of sodium.
But before you toss Grandma’s casserole in the trash forever, take a breath. And then take a look around your kitchen and grocery store. Because there are plenty of food swaps and ingredient tricks that will help kick the sodium down a notch (or two) while keeping your favorite dishes on the table.
And we’re going to cover ALL OF THEM in the coming months.
To start, let’s go to the end. Specifically, dessert. When we either grow an extra stomach or channel our inner competitive eater, and stuff a a slice or three of pie into an already full pouch. It’s an act of ambition and determination. But that’s not the issue here. It’s the sodium in the crust; which if you buy pre-made will generally land you around 130mg of sodium per 25-ish gram serving for a graham cracker crust, and around 200mg sodium per serving for a dry mix. If you make it yourself, graham crackers still mean over 380mg sodium per 1 cup, crushed. And if you’re like me, the kind of dough you make from scratch (even WITH low-so baking powder and baking soda), requires time and measured ingredients. Which I don’t have or do during holidays.
So take it from this lazy low-sodium cook, and this year, replace the high sodium crust with these super easy macaroon tarts. It alls begins with a very basic macaroon cookie, which only requires three things: Shredded coconut, egg whites, and vanilla for flavor. Of course, you can get crazy and add cardamom or chai tea, but that’s up to you.
Next, you make the cookie, which only requires one thing: Your hands. You can go the simple route and just form a round mini-tart-sized blob. Bake halfway and then carefully (cause it’s hot, duh), use your thumb to actually form an indent for pie filling. Next option, actually use your fingers to mold a tart shape crust when it is still in its uncooked form. Or, use a muffin tin with greased silicone liners or metal tartlet pans and fill with the macaroon mixture, pressing into the bottom and sides to form the tart crusts, baking as directed. It’s your call. They all work.
As for filling, this recipe is for a lemon custard. But this Thanksgiving, you can also skip the custard and fill the tart shells with whatever pumpkin pie filling you love or are already making for other guests. Then, top with whipped cream and sprinkle of cinnamon or a few pomegranate seeds for color. Or, better yet, make this simple chocolate sweet potato frosting. Mix in 1 teaspoon or two of pumpkin pie spice (until it tastes right). Fill the tart shells with the frosting and top with whipped cream.BERKELEY, CALIF – NOV 2014: Macaroon Custard Tarts. For Jessica Goldman Foung cookbook. PHOTO BY JOHN LEE
MACAROON CUSTARD TARTS from LOW-SO GOOD (photo by John Lee)
- 3 eggs, separated, at room temperature
- 1 cup [200 g] granulated sugar 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 1/2 cups [350 g] unsweetened finely shredded coconut
- Zest of 3 limes, plus 1/4 cup [60 ml] lime juice
- 2 Tbsp cornstarch
- 3/4 cup [180 ml] cold water
- 1/2 cup [60 g] fresh raspberries
- Powdered sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 325°F [165°C]. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites, 1/2 cup [100 g] of the granulated sugar, and the vanilla together with a fork. Fold in the shredded coconut and all of the lime zest. Make 20 mounds of the macaroon mixture, about 11/2 Tbsp each, and place in the prepared baking pan. Wet your hands slightly and use your fingers to create 2-in [5-cm] tart shapes by making a deep indent in the center and high sides. Bake until the edges of the tart shells become golden in color, 18 to 20 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the remaining 1/2 cup [100 g] granulated sugar and the cornstarch. Gradually whisk in the cold water. Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowl, and whisk into the mixture in the pan. Over medium heat, whisk the water-egg mixture constantly while bringing it to a boil, 2 to 3 minutes. After the custard is thick and boiling, continue to cook for about 30 seconds, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the lime juice.
Spoon the lime custard into the center of each tart and up to the brim, about 1 Tbsp per tart, leaving the tarts on the pan. Bake until the custard has set, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the tarts cool for a few minutes in the baking pan before moving to a cooling rack. Top the custard-filled tarts with fresh raspberries and a sprinkle of powdered sugar to serve.
Other Variations & Short Cuts: Need a short cut? Skip the custard, and mix orange marmalade with whipped cream. Fill the macaroon crusts with the orange cream once they’re fully baked and cooled. Didn’t use all that custard? Mix it with berries and whipped cream for tomorrow’s dessert, or into your morning yogurt or oatmeal for a decadent breakfast treat.