Week two of international month brings us to what I can now with all authority say is a delicious African dessert. There are apparently many different versions/ways of making Kashata which, in my opinion, makes it a little easier to play around with and turn it into whatever strikes your fancy. Essentially it’s an African coconut and/or peanut brittle. Or more accurately, kind of like a cross between a cookie and brittle. If you try and Google Kashata, you’ll see what I mean about how different this dessert can be. I Googled images for it mostly to make myself feel better after I got a little overzealous and screwed it up a bit (aka a lot 🙁 ). But when life throws you lemons, I say cover it in chocolate and no one will be the wiser (unless you’re an idiot like me who proclaims their mistakes from the rooftops instead of just pretending like that’s what I’d intended all along 😉 ).
Basically, the version of these that I had opted to make were supposed to be peanut/coconut bars (bars being the operative word here, not the crumbling mounds that they became). After I removed the mixture from the stovetop though, I said to myself “Psshht…this is clearly still way too liquidly to solidify, I don’t care that 10 different reference websites I looked at all told me essentially the same liquid to dry ratios, they clearly don’t know what they’re talking about.” And then, like the arrogant neophyte that I was, I mad-scientist-like just started tossing extra peanuts and coconut flakes into the mixture until I thought the consistency seemed right/better (I imagined the music from that Sorcerer’s Apprentice scene from “Fantasia” playing as I tossed said ingredients into the mix). Note to self (and others out there who think they know better than time-tested science): If everybody and every recipe says the same thing, there might (just maybe) be a reason for that 😉 .
Then came the moment of indecision – this was a totally crumbled/crushed mess (except for the 3 “bars” I managed to salvage for the photo op so that I could still pretend for the first 5 seconds of this post that all went according to plan). Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your viewpoint), this was a delicious (albeit a smite on the sweeter side) mess, and the thought of just tossing it all in the compost felt sacrilegious. So what to do when you end up with a tray full of what essentially looked like crumbled up cookies? (I was as sad about it as you would be when you get your groceries home and realize the box of cookies you bought got completely crushed by everything else being piled on top of it. Thank you 16 year old cashier, you’ve quite literally crushed the sweetness from my life. Who knew you could have such power?). Pour a bunch of melted chocolate over it and make chocolate covered Kashata mounds instead! All the same delicious taste you know and love, but now with chocolate!
Ah chocolate, literally the glue that holds everything together 😉
Now I’m not just saying this because I’m looking to pretend that my massive error in judgement was really some sweet sweet genius (but who am I to stop you from thinking that if you want? 😉 ), but I actually think I liked my chocolate version of these better. Although they’re not exactly what I would call visually stunning, the crunchiness of the peanuts, plus the texture of the coconut flakes, and sugar and chocolate, they pretty much tasted like a high end Bounty bar. So basically what I’m saying is, this two for one dessert is “Bound-T” be consumed rapidly by me and I would definitely make it again 🙂
Yield: Approx. 24 cookies
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- pinch of salt
- 10-15 gratings of fresh nutmeg (or use 1/4 teaspoon of powdered, or omit altogether)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 cups peanuts
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Optional Chocolate Mounds Version
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
- 2 teaspoons coconut oil
1. Grease an 8-inch baking pan
2. In a heavy saucepan over medium high heat, combine coconut milk, sugar, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon*
3. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved, then DON’T TOUCH IT!! (if you really must, you can swirl the pan slightly if you’re worried it’s starting to burn on the bottom, but stirring will cause crystallization which is not what you want in your candy).
4. Cook for about 10 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken and caramelize (or about 240F on a candy thermometer).
5. Add the peanuts and coconut and stir in quickly until fully combined.
6. Remove from heat and spread into your prepared dish smoothing out the mixture with a spoon.
7. Allow to cool completely until it firms up and cut into bars.
Additional Directions for Chocolate version
8. If your bars weren’t already falling apart like mine were, then toss the bars into a food process and give it a quick pulse or two (you don’t want it to turn into a paste, so you still want it a bit “chunky”). Or just chop roughly if you don’t want to have to clean your food processor (for which I will never blame you, those things are pain in the arse to clean). Transfer to a large bowl.
9. Melt chocolate chips and coconut oil together either in the microwave (1 minute, then stir until completely melted), or on the stovetop.
10. Pour over crushed Kashata bar mixture.
11. Line a baking sheet with wax or parchment paper.
12. Using a tablespoon, scoop out mounds of your chocolate mixture and place on baking sheet. Place in the refrigerator or freezer to firm up.
*After watching an episode of Alton Brown’s Good Eats about candy, I opted to place my sauce pan in a cast iron skillet to get a more even heat since candy is notoriously temperamental. This is by no means required, but might be worth doing if it’s available to you.