I know what you are thinking. A post Easter treat? Surely after a weekend of stuffing our faces silly full of mini eggs and enough chocolate to sink a ship the last thing we need is a treat, right? If you’re anything like me, this lovely lovely long weekend will have been one of indulgence, one where you let loose a little with family/ friends and allowed yourself to relax, eat the cake, put away the laptop and not worry about the consequences of any of it. Wasn’t it great? Today I’m trying to will myself back to the gym and back to a routine, trying to tell myself that the healthy lunch that awaits me is exactly what I want to eat and trying to avoid any more chocolate binges. Yup, treats are out.
But hear me out. I guarantee there’s some chocolate left over, half opened wrappers sitting tempting you from your desk, bars casually adorning your kitchen cupboards and barely touched sweets taunting you from the sofa? The temptation is too much. You want it gone. But you’re short on time, can’t be bothered to bake anything elaborate and have minimal ingredients to work with. What do you do?
Well aside from throwing all the chocolate away, which frankly is far too extreme an act in my books, the only option is to use it all up in one easy recipe and I have just the ticket. Let me introduce you to the Scottish Macaroon Bar (not to be confused with its French counterpart the Macaron which is significantly different), a ridiculously sweet and tasty bite which is as easy as pie (actually no – it’s way easier than making a pie) to make, requires no baking (none whatsoever, nadda, unless you count toasting some coconut but even that’s optional) and uses a grand total of four ingredients which probably feature in everyone’s cupboard (one of them is a potato and everyone has one of them kicking around).
I actually first created this recipe for a project with Albert Bartlett potatoes and their #Theydomore campaign. I was asked to come up with a recipe which used potatoes in an unexpected way and I couldn’t think of anything more unexpected than smothering one in dark chocolate and coconut. Right now you’re probably staring at the screen exclaiming ‘potatoes? with chocolate? does that really work?’. I know because I had the exact same reaction when my Mum suggested this recipe, reminding me of the times I helped her make them as a little girl, but I promise it does work and they taste delightful (due to that Scottish trick of overdosing on sugar). It also doubles up as the perfect recipe to use up all those annoying ingredients and get that leftover chocolate out of your eyeline.
Either ship the finished goods off to your nearest office of hardworking souls, and be glad to see the back of that temptation, or keep them in the fridge for when sweet cravings come a calling. These little morsels of sugar filled tatties (I promise you can’t taste the potato) are so sweet, one small bite will be enough to satisfy any 3pm craving and won’t feel nearly as guilt inducing as scoffing a whole bag of mini eggs.
Here’s the four magic ingredients and the, no bake, no hassle, way they’re put together…
What you’ll need… (makes around 20 squares)
450g icing sugar
225g chocolate (you can use any chocolate but I stuck with dark as the bitter taste works well with the sweet filling)
110g desiccated coconut
How it’s done…
1. Start by peeling and boiling your potato until it feels soft when you prick a fork through it. Drain the water and use a masher to mash it down into as smooth and lump free a mixture as you can (no one likes lumpy mashed tatties right?)
2. Leave the mixture to cool slightly while you line a tray with greaseproof paper and measure out your icing sugar.
3. Once the potato mix has cooled, add in your icing sugar a little at a time, mixing well each time until you have a smooth, creamy paste. Top tip – At first the mix looks very odd, and you think you’ve gone completely wrong but you haven’t trust me, just keep adding the sugar, keep mixing and eventually it comes together.
4. When your mixture is stiff yet sticky, and hard enough to roll or shape into small squares, it’s ready. If not add more icing sugar until it’s not completely sticking to your hands.
5. You can toss a little icing sugar on your tray if it helps and then simply shape the mix into squares or rectangles and place on the tray. I made long rectangles and cut them afterwards but you can easily make small squares or even round dollops at this stage.
6. Pop the tray in the freezer and leave to set for around about an hour. It can sometimes take less or more time but hey, you don’t need to keep checking it (it won’t matter if it stays in there longer) so just leave them be, go make a cuppa/ do some work and come back when you’re ready.
7. Once you reckon they’re almost set, you can toast your coconut. Put half of the coconut on a lined tray and place in the oven for a few minutes on a low heat. It won’t take long to toast so keep an eye on it. Once golden brown and crunchy, mix in the other half of the non toasted coconut for a mixed white and brown decoration effect. Top Tip – this step is totally optional but the toasted coconut adds a nice crunch and the colours look pretty.
8. Melt your chocolate over a pan or in the micro, remove your bars from the freezer (and cut if needs be) and then dunk each one in the melted chocolate, roll in the desiccated coconut and leave on a plate to set slightly. Top tip – this part can get pretty messy so if you have kids this is when to get them involved, they will LOVE it.
9. Once set (will only take a few minutes) you’re free to enjoy this hard crunchy bar with a hot drink and a satisfied belly.
10. Keep in the fridge so they stay hard and crunchy.