Every year as the cold weather sets in I staunchly declare that I will stick to my fitness regime, that I won’t succumb to those fatty/sugary/salty cravings and that I won’t complain about the rain/wind/grey skies. Hmph. Who are you kidding girl? When those sneaky winter blues and the “I-want-to-face-plant-into-a-bowl-of-fresh-summer berries, or more likely, a-big-fat-double chocolate-brownie-mm-mm” mindset emerges it’s good to be reminded that winter is a superb season. It provides a multitude of delicious culinary opportunities – soups, hearty stews, various bakes and pies resplendent with seasonal veg such as beetroot, cauliflower, brussel sprouts (yes, brussel sprouts), leeks, silverbeet and sweet potato…the list goes on. However, if you thought this was going to be a post incorporating some of the aforementioned healthy veg, you’ll be sadly mistaken. Despite the wonderful array of healthy seasonal recipes available, it’s the pastries, sweets and rich cheesy, cheesy, cheesy dishes that beckon. Let’s blame it on our ancestors – after all they were hardwired to reduce their energy expenditure and increase their consumption of calorie dense foods as the air turned chilly. Mole-like burrowing under the duvet and second helpings of pudding is therefore justified. Just sayin’.
So here’s the stitch – it’s a Saturday, you’ve heard your alarm go off (you say you’ll still get up for those morning runs) and you’re currently blatantly ignoring it, with you’re pillow jammed over your head. It’s raining, the trees look as though they’re doing some strange funk dance in the wind and you know, you just know, that it’s going to be bitterly cold outside. To run or not to run? That’s up to you…I’m not brave enough to answer tricky life questions like that. Sorry. But, I can offer you something else, something far more useful…Coconut Jam Slice.
So. You can A) go for a run, come back looking like a drowned rat (though an extremely heroic and triumphant one at that), jump into a steaming hot shower, enjoy some brekky (perhaps this or this), roll up your sleeves and make a batch of Coconut Jam Slice as a reward. Or, you can choose option B) which is essentially the former, minus leaving the house to exercise. And, because it’s winter you can still ‘reward’ yourself with this slice as, hey, you’ve gone to the effort to make it (it’s a three step process involving time, patience and love), and it’s damn cold out there. Again, the choice is yours. Either way you’ll get some slice – a win-win situation! And, when those winter-induced sugar/butter cravings come knocking, you’ll be a happy chappy with this baby to turn to.
With a soft-cookie (you can thank the cornflour for that) rather than a crunchy-munchy-biscuity base, and a light, crumbly, coconut spiked topping it’s a fan-diddly-tastic afternoon treat. The base and topping aren’t super duper sweet and are thus complimented very nicely indeed by the oozy jam center. Any jam works, however opt for a red/purple hued variety, such as raspberry or plum, if you want some pizazz in the looks department!
Apart from your exercise/not to exercise dilemma (which may not be a problem if you possess willpower made of steel or, for that matter, a gym membership), the rest of you rainy Saturday is sorted. Put the billy on while you carve up your splendid creation, then grab a piece (or two) along with that book you’ve been meaning to finish for yonks and settle yourself on the couch for a cozy afternoon. Enjoy.
Coconut Jam Slice
Makes one 18x28cm slice
75g unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp vanilla essence
2/3 cup plain flour
¼ cup self-raising flour
1 tbsp cornflour
½ cup jam – strawberry, mulberry, raspberry, plum all work well (homemade is best!)
60g unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
¼ cup self-raising flour, sifted
1 ½ cups desiccated coconut
Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 18x28cm baking dish with baking paper.
Sift together the plain flour, self-raising flour and cornflour in a bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl beat the butter until creamy. Add the caster sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the egg and vanilla essence until well combined. Stir through the sifted flours to form a soft dough. Don’t over mix.
Spread the dough evenly over the base of the pan, smoothing out with a damp spatula if necessary. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until just firm and beginning to turn golden brown at the edges.
Meanwhile, prepare the topping.
Place the butter in a bowl and beat until creamy. Beat in the caster sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg and beat until incorporated. Stir through the sifted self raising flour and desiccated coconut to form a crumbly mixture.
Once the base is cooked, set the pan on a heatproof mat and spread with the ½ cup of jam. Sprinkle/drop the topping over the jam and use your fingers to lightly press it down just so that the whole base is covered – you don’t want to actually squash the topping.
Return to the oven and bake for a further 12 minutes or until the topping is lightly browned.
Set the pan on a wire rack and leave to cool for 15 minutes before removing the slice from the pan and leaving it to cool completely on the wire rack.
Once cool, cut into squares or rectangles.
Will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container. Can be frozen, however handle it gently when bagging up!
Source: Base a Taste Without Waste original, Topping adapted from Margaret Fulton Baking: The Ultimate Collection.