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

Advertisements

Fourth of July Panna Cotta

Fourth of July is only five days away! Can you believe it? I’m never totally ready for it to come because summer always seems to fly by in the blink of an eye after the Fourth is over. We don’t have any plans other than working a little that morning (I am anyway — not sure about Jesse) and keeping our kitties company in the evening. Our cat, Frankie, is terrified of fireworks and loud noises in general, but our other cat, Dutch doesn’t seem to mind much. Anyway, we want to be there for Frankie since she gets so stressed out. Poor kitty. During the day, maybe we’ll go for a bike ride or something. We’re playing it by ear.

Meanwhile, if you’re looking for a festive, healthy, and patriotic dessert to make, look no further. I’ve got you covered with this non-dairy Fourth of July panna cotta featuring coconut milk, blueberries, and raspberries. It has a hint of lemon flavor thanks to the lemon essential oil and tastes wonderful with the fresh berries.  If you don’t have access to the lemon essential oil, you can substitute lemon extract instead (1 tsp is probably enough, but it depends how lemony you want it). Strawberries would also be a great addition to this dessert if you want to add some extra red color and more berry flavor.

On another note, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live yesterday and made my summer “grain” salad with lemon tahini dressing. Watch the replay of the segment HERE.

Ingredients:

  • 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (this brand is great and has no gums)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 Tbsp cold filtered water
  • 1-1/4 tsp gelatin powder, preferably grass-fed (I recommend this one or this one)
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey, or more if you want it sweeter
  • 4 drops high-quality, dietary-safe lemon essential oil (learn where to get therapeutic grade oils here)
  • Fresh blueberries and raspberries or strawberries, for serving
  • Toasted slivered almonds, for serving
  • Unsweetened coconut flakes or chips, for serving

Directions:

  1. Pour water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder, allowing it to bloom. Set aside.
  2. Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan and heat on the stove over medium heat. Whisk in the vanilla and honey. Once the honey is fully dissolved, add the gelatin mixture and whisk until dissolved. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon essential oil.
  3. Divide mixture equally among three individual size glasses or small bowls (small mason jars also work well). Place in fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
  4. Once set, top with desired amount of fresh blueberries and raspberries. Garnish with the slivered almonds and coconut.

Yields: 3 servings

Banana Cream Pie with Cocoa Crust

banana cream pieI had a random inclination to create a banana cream pie, so I followed my instincts and made one. I’m not sure where the desire came from, as I’ve never made banana cream pie before and have hardly ever eaten it in my life, but I figured it’d be a fun (and tasty) experiment. Plus, it gives all of you a dessert idea for Easter, if you’re celebrating. All around, I think it’s a great dessert for both spring and summer though.

There are a few steps in this recipe, but nothing is too complicated and the end result is delicious. If you want, you can even just make the filling and eat it as a pudding. If you do so, I recommend lining the bottom of the dish with banana slices, as you do for the pie.

Cheers and enjoy!

Cocoa almond crust ingredients:

  • 1-3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 1/4 cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp organic palm shortening (I used this one)
  • 1 egg, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey

Crust directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Add almond flour, cocoa powder and sea salt to food processor. Briefly pulse to combine. Then, add the shortening, egg, vanilla and honey. Pulse again until mixture is well combined and starts sticking together.
  3. Press mixture evenly into a 9.5-inch pie pan, using your hands. Then, poke several holes in crust with a fork.
  4. Bake in preheated oven for 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven and cool.

Filling ingredients:

  • 1 13.5 oz can full-fat coconut milk (I like this one, which has no gums)
  • 2-1/2 medium just-ripe bananas
  • 1-1/4 tsp gelatin powder, preferably grass-fed (I recommend this one or this one)
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1-2 Tbsp raw honey or more to taste if you want it sweeter
  • Homemade coconut milk whipped cream, for topping, if desired (highly recommended)
  • Cacao nibs, for garnish, if desired
  • Extra just-ripe banana slices for garnish, if desired

Filling directions:

  1. Slice one of the bananas into about 1/4″ thin pieces and arrange on top of the crust.
  2. Add about 1/4 cup or so of the coconut milk to a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat. Once warm, whisk in the gelatin powder until completely dissolved.
  3. To a blender container, add the remaining coconut milk and 1-1/2 banana, along with the vanilla extract, pinch of sea salt, raw honey and gelatin mixture. Blend on high until smooth.
  4. Pour filling on top of cooled crust (it’s okay if it’s still a little warm) and place in fridge to set for a few hours.
  5. Once set, top with coconut milk whipped cream (or homemade dairy-based whipped cream if heavy cream is tolerated), cacao nibs and extra banana slices, if desired.

Grain-Free Snickerdoodles

snickerdoodle-2

I can’t believe it’s the holiday season! This year has been such a whirlwind and full of change, but it’s hard to believe that it’s already almost over. Regardless, I love the holiday season and am happily embracing it. I’m even going home to Michigan for Christmas this year…the first time in five years!

Anyway, since it is the time of year for goodies, I thought I’d try my hand at grain-free snickerdoodles. These did not disappoint and could not be any easier to make. The texture is soft and pillowy with a light crust on the edges. The flavor is slightly sweet, tangy and of course, cinnamon-y. The cream of tartar is actually what gives the cookie its signature tang and reacts with the baking soda to create the crackled appearance. The cream of tartar also accounts for the perfect chewiness.

When first researching snickerdoodle recipes, I was actually kinda thrown off by the cream of tartar. I had to do a little more digging, but soon understood that from a snickerdoodle purist standpoint, it’s a must. Traditionally, it was always used to make snickerdoodles and without it, it’d just be a crunchy cinnamon sugar cookie (it keeps sugar from crystalizing!). It truly is the age-old snickerdoodle secret and enough for me to want to include it in the recipe.

Another thing about a classic snickerdoodle recipe — there is no vanilla extract. This is actually quite rare for a cookie recipe, but from what I learned, vanilla mellows out the tangy flavor from the cream of tartar. Who knew? So, in an effort to keep the cookie more classic, I also opted for no vanilla. And, truthfully, I didn’t miss it.

On another note, I went back on KATU Afternoon Live in November and made my herbed turkey potato stew. Watch the segment HERE. Stay tuned because I’ll also be going back on December 16 to make my no-bake rum balls!

snickerdoodle-bite

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups blanched almond flour (I used this brand)
  • 1 tsp non-irradiated cream of tartar (I used this brand)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted softened butter, preferably grass-fed
  • 3 Tbsp coconut sugar, plus another 3 Tbsp for rolling
  • 1 large egg, preferably pasture-raised
  • 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or use a non-slip baking mat like this one. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the almond flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In another large bowl, cream together the softened butter and 3 Tbsp of coconut sugar. Once light and fluffy, beat in the egg. Then, slowly add the dry mixture until combined.
  4. In a shallow dish, mix together the cinnamon and remaining 3 Tbsp of coconut sugar.
  5. Scoop out 1 Tbsp of dough and roll between hands to form a ball. Then, roll the ball in coconut sugar and cinnamon to coat. Place on prepared baking sheet. Gently flatten dough with palm of your hand.
  6. Bake in the prepared oven for 8-9 minutes or just until edges are barely brown.
  7. Cool on baking sheet for several minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Yields: 20 small cookies

Grain-Free Blueberry Cobbler

img_3638

Blueberry season and fresh-picked berries call for cobblers and crisps, and my friend recently reminded me of this. I can’t tell you the last time I even made something of the sorts. Overall, I don’t do that much baking, but it is fun to take on a baking project every now and again. Not only that, but baked goods make the house smell so comfy and cozy. Sometimes, I feel like the smells are the best part!

Overall, the cobbler turned out well, but is best eaten day of and shortly after it comes out of the oven. Yes, it still tastes great the next day, but the dough part gets a little soggy from all berry juice. I actually didn’t mind it at all, especially because the flavor is still there and the dough is a little gritty versus totally mushy (since it’s almond flour/meal). You can be the judge though, but know that you’ve been forewarned, especially all you texture peeps out there.

Meanwhile, feel free to add your own flair to the cobbler — different berries and spices, shredded unsweetened coconut, nuts, etc. There’s a lot of room for variety with something like this, so have fun with it!

img_3634

For the berries:

  • 2.5 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 Tbsp coconut flour

Pour berries into a 9×9 baking dish. Mix with the coconut flour. Set aside.

For the dough:

  • 1 cup almond flour or meal (I used fresh ground from sprouted almonds)
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 6 Tbsp cold unsalted grass-fed butter, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, plus extra for drizzling, if desired

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour/meal, coconut flour, sea salt, nutmeg, baking soda, lemon zest, lemon juice vanilla and honey.
  3. Add the butter and blend with your hands or with two knives until course crumbs form. Add the coconut milk and mix until a wet, shaggy dough forms.
  4. Drop mounds of the dough on top of the berries. It doesn’t have to be neat — we’re not going for perfection here. It’s not supposed to be perfect, in fact!
  5. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until dough is brown and berries are bubbly. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving, then serve immediately.
  6. Serve with coconut milk drizzled on top, if desired. Coconut milk whipped cream would also be delicious.

Yields: 4-5 servings

Double-Layer Chocolate Coconut Cake

Double-layer chocolate cake with coconut vanilla frosting. A special treat, indeed.

Remember how I said I’d post my Easter dessert later on? Well, here it is, a chocolate layer cake with coconut vanilla frosting. It was my first time making a grain-free chocolate cake and I’m happy to say that it turned out quite well. Jesse really liked it too, and he topped it with the dark chocolate body paint he got from my mom and sister. Remember how I opened it on his behalf at my wedding shower? See mom, it’s not tucked away in the bathroom cupboard, like you urged not to do! The paint brush isn’t getting any use though, as Jesse uses a spoon for drizzling! I admit, it does look (and smell) like really delicious chocolate and it is quite dark. Jesse says it’s very good.

The cake was adapted from The Healthy Chef’s naked chocolate cake recipe and the frosting was adapted from The Detoxinista’s lemon coconut frosting.

Clearly, Jesse was excited about his chocolate body paint.
Clearly, Jesse was excited about his chocolate body paint. Big drizzle much?

For the coconut vanilla frosting (double batch):

  1. Measure out all the ingredients and toss into the blender. Make sure to measure out the coconut flour exactly. Also, this can not be done with a hand mixer or whisk. You need to use a blender and be very patient!
  2. Blend for 30-45 seconds or until everything is mixed together well. Pour into a bowl once done. The mixture will not be thick yet. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours to set. I recommend letting it sit overnight.
  3. Before using, remove from refrigerator and mix well. Then, let the frosting soften to room temperature for a bit. This will make it much easier to spread.

For the cake:

  • 8 pastured eggs
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil, ghee or butter (I used a combo of coconut oil & grass-fed butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1.5 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  1. Preheat the oven to 320 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine coconut flour, cacao or cocoa powder, baking soda and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In a kitchen mixer or large bowl, beat together eggs, melted oil, vanilla, honey and apple cider vinegar. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer works just fine.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet and blend. Once batter is blended and smooth, stir in shredded coconut by hand.
  5. Line two 9-inch cakes pans with parchment paper and grease the sides with coconut oil. Pour batter evenly into both pans.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cakes were done at about 24 minutes.
  7. Once done, remove from the oven to cool. Once cool, frost one of the cake tops with the frosting and stack the other cake on top. Then, frost the entire top and sides of the cake.
  8. Store any uneaten cake in the refrigerator.

Garnish with a fresh strawberry, if desired.

Spicy Red Velvet Brownies

red velvet brownies

I’m not a big Valentine’s person and don’t care much about the pseudo holiday, but I still always end up doing a little something for Jesse. I think it’s because I was raised celebrating Valentine’s Day, both in school and at home, and a part of me still enjoys doing something cheesy or cute. What can I say? I don’t go all out though and always keep it low key. We usually have dinner at home with a special dessert, and I like to surprise Jesse with a few special dark chocolates from a local chocolatier. Jesse sometimes buys me flowers, but not always. He says he always wants to, but our Siamese cat, Mila, loves to eat them. And then get sick. We end up having to hide the flowers in the laundry closet when we’re not home because of her. We have a very small place too and aren’t able to make any part of our home off limits, except for closets. We can’t even have plants in our house, besides bamboo, because she’ll go to town on it.

This recipe was inspired by Elana’s Pantry Purple Velvet Torte. It was my first time making a dessert with beets, and I will say, it worked out very well. There’s still a little bit of beet flavor, but the honey tones it down and the cocoa makes for a nice complement. Additionally, these are incredibly moist. That would actually be how I’d describe the brownies if I could only pick one word. Maybe red (or reddish) too, if I could pick two words.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups red beets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup grass-fed butter, melted
  • 4 pasture raised eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa or cacao powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 cup homemade chocolate chips
Biggest beet ever. I only needed this big beet for the recipe because it yielded plenty on its own.
Biggest beet ever. I only needed this big beet for the recipe because it yielded so much.

Directions:

  1. Place beets inside a steamer basket in a pot, and cook for 15-20 minutes or until fork tender.
  2. Once done, add the beets to a high-speed blender with the vanilla and honey. Blend a couple minutes, or until smooth and well combined.
  3. Add the cinnamon, cayenne, sea salt, cocoa powder and homemade chocolate chips. Blend on high for a minute or so. Then, add the melted butter and blend again.
  4. If the beet mixture is still warm, which it most likely will be, temper the beaten eggs by mixing a little of the beet mixture into the eggs. Once mixed, pour the eggs into the blender. This will ensure you don’t end up with scrambled eggs in your brownies! Blend for another minute, or until mixed through.
  5. Grease an 8×8 pan and pour batter evenly into pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (it’ll still be beet red though!). Let cool for at least 25 minutes before cutting, as it takes some time for the brownies to set up. If you cut into them too early, they will fall apart.
  6. Once cool, cut into squares or use cookie cutters to make shapes. I made heart shapes for Valentine’s Day.

red velvet brownies 2