Flourless Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies

This time of year is full of indulgences and honestly, there is nothing wrong with indulging, especially when it’s done consciously, with joy, and in the company of those we love. I think whatever we choose to consume shouldn’t leave us feeling crummy though, unless those consequences are worth it and you know what you’re getting into (if you stew over your choice or feel guilty about it after the fact, it’s not worth it). Personally, I want a treat that doesn’t wreck me or send me into a tailspin and make me want all the sweet things. In my opinion, those consequences are not worth it.

Fortunately, there are ways that I can have my cake and eat it too. This holiday brownie recipe fits the bill. It’s made of high-quality ingredients, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t leave negative after effects. It is, however, decadent, rich in chocolate flavor, and offers a festive dash of peppermint. After all, chocolate and mint are a classic holiday combo. These would be great without the mint though too, so if peppermint is not your thing, go ahead and omit it. Either way, it’s likely these brownies will not last long. We went through two batches quite quickly — just the two of us. It took me a couple batches to get it right, so we ended up with double and both were worth eating!

Meanwhile, catch me making this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live later this afternoon, between 3-4pm PST. Watch the replay of my segment HERE.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 drops dietary-safe peppermint essential oil OR 1 tsp peppermint extract (where to get high-quality essential oils)
  • 2 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond meal/flour (I like this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 88%)

For the ganache:

  • 3 oz good-quality dark chocolate, broken into squares (I used 88%)
  • 3 Tbsp grass-fed butter, ghee, or coconut oil

Garnish:

  • 2 Tbsp melted coconut butter, or to taste (I like this brand)

Directions:

  1. Line a 8×8 baking pan with parchment and set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. In a separate medium-size bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, except for the chopped chocolate.
  3. Slowly whisk dry ingredients into wet. Whisk until smooth. Then, fold in the chopped dark chocolate with a spatula.
  4. Pour batter into lined baking pan and bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool in pan.
  5. For the ganache, melt 3 oz dark chocolate and 3 Tbsp butter in a double boiler on the stove, stirring occasionally. Alternatively, you can melt in the microwave, but be sure to do it on a lower power setting and keep a close eye. If your microwave has a melt feature, you can go that route as well.
  6. Once brownies are cool to the touch, pour the ganache on top and spread with a spatula in an even layer or gently shake pan to spread. Chill in the refrigerator until ganache is set. Then, drizzle with melted coconut butter and slice into desired-size squares.
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Vanilla Cinnamon Espresso Hazelnut Butter

This recipe meets all the criteria (and more) of a great nut butter. It’s creamy, salty, nutty, and a little crunchy. It’s also subtly sweet with added elements of cinnamon, coffee, and vanilla. The coarsely ground coffee is what adds the slight grainy texture and crunch, and it’s magnificent. All in all, it’s a match made in heaven. I think it might be the best nut butter I’ve ever tasted — not even exaggerating. It’s out-of-this-world good! Enjoy it straight off the spoon or spread on apples, pears, bananas, or in my sunny cinnamon sammie recipe (instead of the sunflower seed butter). It’s also delicious drizzled into plain yogurt.

Also, note that I used decaf beans in this recipe, but you can use regular as well. I don’t like to consume caffeine after 12-ish p.m. and don’t tend to eat nut butter in the morning, so opted for decaf beans. Use whatever you like.

On another note, I’m off to NYC early this morning with my close friend, Heather. We have been looking forward to this trip for months and it’s finally here! We’ve got some fun things in the works, but are leaving plenty of room for trekking and exploring. We’re kicking off our trip this evening with, Sleep No More and I’m super excited…a little scared too! Be sure to follow me on Instagram if you want to see what I’m up to (and eating) in NYC!

Cheers!

Ingredients:

  • Heaping 2 cups raw hazelnuts
  • 1 Tbsp coarsely ground high-quality coffee beans (I used decaf beans from a local roaster)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (use 1/4 tsp if you want it less salty)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tsp coconut sugar, optional

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast hazelnuts in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant and light golden brown. Give pan a shake halfway through roasting time.
  2. Once hazelnuts are cool enough to handle, remove some of the skins (doesn’t have to be perfect!). It’s up to you how much you want to remove, but less skin will result in a creamier consistency (the skins can also be bitter). You can also place the hazelnuts on a damp kitchen towel, fold it over, and rub the skins off inside the towel.
  3. Next, add hazelnuts (minus the skins) to the food processor. Blend for about 5-6 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Once creamy, add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust flavors as you like.
  4. Store in a glass jar at room temperature and use within a week. Will last a week or so longer if you store it in the refrigerator.

Grain-Free Chunky Apple Pumpkin Bread

pumpkin apple bread 2With its harvest flavors and warm spices, this delectable bread screams fall. Not only that, but it also creates a cozy, irresistible aroma in the house. It’s not too sweet, and the texture is adorned with tender apple pieces and crunchy walnuts. It took me a couple attempts to get this bread right and while the first loaf tasted wonderful, it was way too moist and would not hold together. But, it was definitely still worth eating! After making some tweaks the second time around, it came out perfectly.

This bread tastes lovely on its own, but is also enjoyable with butter, ghee, or nut butter spread on top. However you slice it, you can’t go wrong!

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup grass-fed butter, melted, plus a little extra for greasing loaf pan
  • 1 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree
  • 3 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup raw walnuts, chopped
  • 1 cup baking apple, peeled, cored, and diced (I used a Mutsu)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan with small amount of melted butter. I used this loaf pan, which is a medium size.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Then, add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir until smooth. Lastly, fold in the apple and walnut pieces.
  3. Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and place in preheated oven. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then carefully remove and place on a cooling rack. Let loaf cool completely before slicing.
  4. Store leftover bread in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Yields: 1 loaf

Pumpkin Caramel Chocolate Cups

Halloween is getting closer and I thought it best to honor the holiday with these perfectly sweet pumpkin caramel cups. And, I gotta say…these are straight up divine. The combination of sweet, salty, and pumpkin spice flavors with a delicate bite and soft center is just right. It’s ridiculous, really.

You will end up with a little extra date caramel, but luckily, there are many other ways to use it: spread onto dark chocolate squares, use as a dip for apples or pears, mix into yogurt, stir into nut butter, dollop on top of baked acorn squash or sweet potato, or simply eat with a spoon.

By the way, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live yesterday and made my pumpkin spice chocolate clusters. These are another winning combo and great for Halloween as well! Watch the replay of my segment HERE. Also, if you can believe it, this month marked my one-year anniversary of going on the show!

Cheers and enjoy!

Caramel ingredients:

  • 10-12 medjool dates, pitted and soaked for 5 minutes in boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • 4-5 Tbsp full-fat coconut milk (I used this brand)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Dash of sea salt

Chocolate ingredients:

  • 8 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
  • 5 Tbsp coconut sugar, or more if you want it sweeter
  • Dash of sea salt

Garnish:

  • Maldon sea salt, to garnish (find HERE)

pumpkin cups and date caramel

Directions:

  1. Add the softened dates to the food processor, along with the water, 4 Tbsp of the coconut milk, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, sea salt, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Pulse to combine. If mixture still seems a bit too thick or chunky, add the remaining 1 Tbsp of coconut milk and blend again until smooth. Set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Be careful not to get any moisture in the chocolate or it will seize! Once melted, stir in the coconut sugar and pinch of sea salt. Whisk until dissolved.
  3. Line a mini muffin pan with paper liners and add about 1 tsp of the melted chocolate to each liner. Then, add about 1 tsp of the date caramel to each and flatten out slightly (and gently) with back of spoon. Top each cup with another 1 tsp of melted chocolate. Garnish each cup with Maldon sea salt and place in fridge to set. If you want these to set faster, you can place in freezer.
  4. Store any leftover caramel in refrigerator and use within a week.

Yields: ~21 cups

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Clusters

Okay, it’s October and I’ve officially transitioned into pumpkin spice mode, but within reason. I figured I had to create some sort of sweet bite utilizing pumpkin spice since it’s kinda expected this time of year. And, really, I don’t mind being a taste-tester since I don’t make stuff like this very often. I especially love licking the spoon, but sometimes let my husband in on the experience too.

Meanwhile, these clusters are a lovely balance of nuttiness, crunch, spice, salt, and sweet. The pumpkin pie spice becomes more prominent overnight, making these even better the next day. These are super simple to make too, but I do warn you to be careful when melting the chocolate. Moisture, even one drop, will make your chocolate seize and though it is potentially fixable, it’s a pain in the butt and not fun. I speak from experience — this happened the first time I tested this recipe. I was able to fix the chocolate after a Google search, but it took a long time and a lot of fuss. I’ve had it happen another time a long time ago too, but had to totally pitch the chocolate. So sad. Don’t let it happen to you!

Cheers and enjoy!

P.S. Catch the replay of me making these on KATU Afternoon Live from October 18 HERE! This was also my one-year anniversary going on the show!

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup large flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 3/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds/pepitas
  • 6 oz unsweetened baking chocolate (I used this brand)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar, or more if you want sweeter chocolate
  • 1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Maldon sea salt, to garnish (find HERE)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place raw pecans, pumpkin seeds, and coconut on a large baking sheet. Mix together and toast in the preheated oven for 5 minutes. Give a stir and if needed, toast for another 1-2 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
  2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler over medium-low heat. Be careful not to get any moisture in the chocolate or it will seize! Once melted, stir in the coconut sugar, pinch of sea salt, and pumpkin spice. Whisk until dissolved.
  3. Remove chocolate from heat and stir the nut mixture into the chocolate. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and drop chocolate clusters in 1-2 Tbsp portions. Finally, garnish with Maldon sea salt.
  4. Leave on counter to set or place in the fridge to speed things up a bit.

Yields: 18-20 clusters, give or take (depending on size)

Cashew Butter and Jelly Bars

My gosh, these bars are something special, and my inner child is especially satisfied by such a delightful treat. These take me back to PB&J days as a kid, something that was often a staple in my lunchbox. Mom almost always used homemade jam and her strawberry was my favorite. It was probably the sandwich I ate most growing up (side note, but I also used to like bologna and ketchup sandwiches).

Back-to-school time isn’t too far away and that’s what inspired this rendition of a classic creation. I don’t have kids of my own (I do have two fur kids though), nor do I plan to have kids, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have a back-to-school treat! But, back-to-school or not, kids or no kids, these are wonderful anytime and for all. Also, I will be featuring this recipe on KATU Afternoon Live later this month, so stay tuned! UPDATE: watch the replay of me making these on KATU Afternoon Live HERE.

Feel free to experiment with almond or sunflower seed butter, if you prefer. If you eat and tolerate peanuts, you can even use peanut butter, of course. The cashew butter is so good in this recipe though and a nice change of pace — at least for me (I really don’t eat cashews or cashew butter very often). The strawberry filling is so fresh and jammy tasting, but not overly sweet. And, overall, the bars as a whole are not too sweet either. If you ask me, these are just right.

Cheers and enjoy!

INGREDIENTS

Filling:

  • 16 oz fresh strawberries, sliced and hulled (if need be)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 Tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp water

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 Tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cashew butter (I used this brand)

Topping:

  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp unsweetened cashew butter, divided
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, chopped (note: I dry toasted mine beforehand, but that’s optional)
  • Light sprinkling of fine Himalayan salt, optional (if using salted cashews or salted cashew butter, you may not need)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add strawberries and honey to medium saucepan over medium heat. Mash strawberries with a potato masher to break up the large pieces and release juice. In a small dish, dissolve the arrowroot powder into the water. Then, once the strawberries are mashed, but still a bit chunky, add the lemon juice and dissolved arrowroot mixture, and stir. Simmer over medium-low for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. In a food processor, gently pulse together the coconut flour, coconut sugar, and sea salt. Then, add the coconut oil, cashew butter, eggs, and vanilla. Pulse until mixture forms a ball.
  4. Press dough into bottom of 8×8 pan with fingers (note: greasing pan isn’t necessary, but feel free to line with parchment paper for super easy removal, if you like). Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until light golden brown.
  5. Remove from oven and pour strawberry filling on top. Then, dollop cashew butter on top in teaspoon-sized increments (8 tsp total). Gently swirl cashew butter around with a chopstick or spoon handle. Sprinkle with the chopped cashews and the Himalayan salt, if using. Bake for another 20-25 minutes or until strawberry topping is warm and bubbly.
  6. Let cool completely (about 2-3 hours) and then cut into desired-size squares. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Hibiscus Raspberry Rum Popsicles

hibiscus rum popsicles 3Alright, this is the last recipe in my popsicle series. Hopefully, three in a row isn’t overkill, but the recipes are all different and regardless, it’s summertime, so it’s appropriate! Plus, I’ll be talking about these recipes (and demoing how to make my chocolate mint popsicles) on KATU Afternoon Live next Wednesday, July 26. UPDATE: watch the replay of my popsicle segment HERE.

Meanwhile, these frozen treats are extra special in the sense that they are for adults only. And, actually, a bit of rum takes these from popsicle to poptail. To be honest, I hadn’t heard the term, poptail until I did a little research on boozy frozen treats. Of course, the term makes sense though and I’m rolling with it.

If adding alcohol to popsicles isn’t your jam, omit the rum and add some extra iced tea instead (and maybe some more raspberries too). If you’re going for the spiked version, but don’t have rum on hand, vodka is a great substitute. Also, you can experiment with a little less if you don’t want to taste the alcohol as much. If you opt to experiment with more, be careful because too much alcohol and these won’t freeze.

I have to admit, these are way better than I anticipated. They are quite refreshing and fruity with a kick of rum. The texture is a little slushy, which I enjoy, and check out that gorgeous color! All around, I think these are pretty exceptional.

Cheers and enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1 cup fresh-brewed unsweetened hibiscus iced tea, brewed according to package instructions (I used the brand, Smith Teamaker, which is made here in Portland. These are also larger tea bags, made for iced tea)
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp rum (white or gold)
  • Extra raspberries for adding to each mold, if desired

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on medium-low for about 20-30 seconds, or until raspberries are pureed and everything is mixed well.
  2. Pour into popsicle molds (I used these molds), leaving about 1/2″ of space at the top. Distribute a few raspberries into each mold and then top with the remaining mixture. If desired, use the popsicle stick to stir the mixture in each mold.
  3. Freeze overnight. Once ready to eat, rinse mold under warm water briefly to remove popsicle.

Yields: 6 popsicles