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Coconut Pecan Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache Centers (Low Carb and Gluten Free)

I have to confess, I am not that much of a tea drinker. Don't me wrong, I like tea, I like it a lot. But when it comes to my hot drink for the morning, I am a coffee drinker, through and through. I consider tea a midday or afternoon drink. The problem is, any caffeine after about 1pm and I don't sleep well. With three kids, sleep is at a premium and I don't want to do anything to mess with it. So tea ends up relegated to that occassional afternoon when I need a pick me up and am willing to suffer the consequences.

The funny thing is that I adore the idea of afternoon tea time. I adore it, and could easily picture myself sipping tea and nibbling scones and other treats, a la Enid Blighton or Jane Austen. So when Foodbuzz, the food ad network of which I am a part, proposed a Tea Party Takeover on March 25th in support of the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, I couldn't help but sit up and take notice. The "takeover" is Foodbuzz's Top 9, in which they highlight the Top 9 posts of the day. As much as I like to be included in the Top 9, and have been fortunate to be featured there quite a few times, I have to confess that wasn't my real motivation. No, no, my real motivation was the fact that it was Tea Time with Kelly Ripa and Electrolux. Really, how could I go wrong, creating a tea party recipe for Kelly Confidential and Electrolux, and Foodbuzz, who will donate $50 for every tea party recipe created by Foodbuzz Featured Publishers? Every woman should be concerned with ovarian cancer, it is a disease that strikes so many women all over the world. Anything I can do to help promote the cause is fine by me - and you can do your part too, by visiting Kelly Confidential and picking out your perfect "Tea Party outfit"

The obvious thing would have been for me to create a recipe for scones, for which I have a lasting love. Scones and clotted cream are the ultimate tea time treat, in my opinion, but tea parties are associated with any number of sweet finger foods. As I happened to have three egg whites in my fridge calling my name, I decided that scones could wait and that I needed to make something with these egg whites. Waste not, want not, after all. And egg whites, being naturally low carb, are a good ingredient for a diabetic tea party. Why not? Diabetics deserve tea parties too. So I cast around for some ideas and finally hit upon macaroons. Not the infamous macarons, of which I have yet to work up the courage to try. But good, old fashioned, coconut macaroons. With a twist.

I suppose I could have just done regular macaroons. But this is supposed to be a party, and when it comes to parties, I let it all hang out. In fact, I usually go overboard. So when I conceived of this recipe, I instantly started scheming on how it could be jazzed up to be more decadent and thus more party-worthy. And so, macaroon nests with a center of chocolate ganache came to mind. I did consider something lighter, like lemon filling, as I had just made some Meyer Lemon curd a few days ago. But lemon curd isn't really lighter, being made with all sorts of egg yolks and butter, it just seems that way. And I felt that chocolate ganache would stand up better to the intensity of both the pecans and the coconut. Besides, it's chocolate, and everyone likes chocolate. Even, or perhaps especially, at tea-time.

Pecan Coconut Macaroons with Chocolate Ganache

3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup granulated erythritol (or granulated sugar)
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 1/4 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
1/2 cup finely ground pecans
3 tbsp butter
1 85% cacao Lindt bar, chopped (or 3.5 oz chocolate of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 325F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whip egg whites with salt, vanilla and cream of tarter until they are frothy. With the beater running, slowly add erythritol or sugar and agave nectar and keep beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in coconut and ground pecans.

Drop by small spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. Use the spoon to create a well in the center of each macaroon and build up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn off oven and prop open the door with a wooden spoon and let the macaroons cool in oven for about an hour.

In a small metal or ceramic bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir until smooth. Drop spoonfuls of melted chocolate into the center of each macaroon. Let cool until set.

Makes 24 cookies. Each cookie has a total of 9.2g of carbs, but only 3.2 if you subtract erythritol.

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