Paleo Fudgy Brownies

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It seems that the only thing I’ve been craving lately is chocolate. I’ll take it any way I can get it – in coffee, in a cookie, even in savory sauces. This weekend I couldn’t get my mind off the delicious brownies that were sold in my old café. They were gooey, rich and had just the right crunch on the top. These are the caveman version with walnuts, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, and an intense chocolate punch worthy of the Paleo Fudgy Brownie name.

Ingredients

11 oz. maple syrup
2.25 oz. cocoa
8 oz. sunflower butter
1 T. vanilla
3/4 t. baking powder
3/4 t. salt
1 large egg, whisked
4 oz. walnuts
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate chunks

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325°F and coat an 8″ square pan with avocado oil (any oil will do).
2. Warm up the maple syrup in a saucepot on high heat, just until it bubbles.
3. Reduce the heat to low and add the cocoa in 3 batches, whisking it in completely before adding the next portion.
4. Whisk in the sunflower butter, combining until homogenous.
5. Turn off the heat, then add the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and egg. Whisk until combined.
6. Fold in the walnuts and chocolate chunks.
7. Pour unto prepared pan and spread evenly.
8. Bake 35-45 minutes, or until the top is set and it is somewhat firm to the touch. Don’t overbake it if you like fudgy brownies!
9. Let cool and for the best results, cut with a disposable knife (or a knife coated with oil, so the crumbs won’t stick).

Almond Flour Pancakes

One dish that I miss more than any other since going paleo is a fluffy, warm stack of pancakes. We used to have a weekly tradition every Sunday morning of meeting our friend Bre for breakfast. More often than I’d care to admit, we’d end up at The Original Pancake House. They don’t have ordinary pancakes, they have the queen of gluten-filled pillows: sourdough pancakes. You can smell them outside the front door, their sweet and sharp aroma is irresistible.

Recently I’ve spent many Sunday mornings attempting to make a suitable paleo replacement for pancakes. The sweet potato version that I came up with are good, but not always what I’m looking for, especially on a warm weekend. I’ve scoured the web in search of the perfect recipe. Most of them are dry, dense, and taste like you took a bite out of a coconut – not at all what I was hoping to achieve. Finally, the culmination of many failed attempts has resulted in what I think is the best replacement I’ll ever get for those sourdough beauties, without devouring the real thing. Keep in mind, these pancakes don’t have the delicious pungent flavor as the original, but they do have the taste and texture of a standard breakfast pancake.

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Almond Flour Pancakes
3 ea. eggs, separated
.5 oz. high quality butter, melted, cooled to room temperature
2 oz. coconut milk
.5 oz. raw honey
1 t. vanilla extract
6 oz. blanched almond flour, sifted
.5 t. baking soda
.25 t. baking powder
.25 t. kosher salt
1 t. ground cinnamon

Method:
1. Separate the eggs, combining the yolks in a large bowl and the whites in a medium bowl. Set the whites aside.
2. Add the melted butter, milk, honey, and vanilla to the yolks, whisking thoroughly.
3. Combine the flour, soda, powder, salt and cinnamon in a small bowl.
4. Add flour mixture to wet ingredients, whisking completely to combine.
5. Whip the egg whites to stiff peaks (about 2 minutes on medium speed).
6. Fold 1/3 of the whites into the batter – this will help to soften it’s texture in preparation for folding in the rest of the whites.
7. Add another 1/3 of the whites into the batter, gently folding them in so as to retain their aeration.
8. Fold the remaining whites into the batter, ensuring that they are completely incorporated without over-mixing.
9. Preheat a non-stick skillet with coconut oil or pan spray over medium-low heat.
10. Scoop with a 2 oz. portion scoop for a 4″ pancake (you can prepare whatever size you prefer) onto the greased pan.
11. Cook over medium-low heat on the first side until the edges begin to set and you see bubbles forming in the middle, 2-3 minutes.
12. Gently flip the pancake and continue cooking on the second side until the pancake is set in the middle (you can check by gently pressing on the center of the pancake).
13. Hold warm until you’ve cooked all pancakes, serve with maple syrup, preserves, honey, or a dash of cinnamon.

Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Our recent switch to a Paleo lifestyle has been admittedly easier than I thought it would be. I have had a few cravings, but nothing that couldn’t be curbed with a hard boiled egg or a piece of fruit. However, it recently hit me that my beloved, delicious, spicy pumpkin pie was no longer on my list of “acceptable” foods for Thanksgiving! My heart started beating faster, my leg started to twitch, and for the first time since we embarked on this journey, I seriously considered sneaking something into the house that I knew we shouldn’t be eating.

Luckily for us (and our waistlines, triglycerides, and blood sugars), I have a knack for baking and I was pretty sure that I could come up with a delicious version of a pumpkin pie that would fit the bill for our Paleo diet. Initially, I thought it would be pretty easy. Obviously the crust would be the most challenging aspect due to the wheat flour it needed, but the custard itself shouldn’t be too tricky. After 5 attempts, I hit the jackpot and created what I think is a pretty stellar substitute for the pumpkin pie I grew up loving.

The recipe below includes teff flour. I have done a lot of research trying to find out if it is acceptable on a Paleo diet. As of today, I have found no definitive answer. Some say it isn’t, because it is technically a grass. Others say it is, because it is essentially gluten free, doesn’t have as much phytic acid (which makes minerals nearly useless when eaten), and it is loaded with nutrients. It is a staple in the Ethiopian community and is often eaten fermented into flatbreads (which makes it even better for you). With that said, it was the best option for a pie crust that gives good flavor, great mouthfeel, and stood up to the pumpkin custard. While I wouldn’t suggest inhaling pounds of teff every day, I would also say that everything can be eaten in moderation. Even though you’ll probably want to devour this entire pie…

The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don't get with almond flour.
The crust bakes up beautifully and has a great texture that you don’t get with almond flour – it resembles the texture of a graham cracker crust.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard - low and slow.
The secret to a great pumpkin pie is baking it as a custard – low and slow.

The Crust

Ingredients:

2 cups teff flour
1/2 cup macadamia oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 t. salt

Method:

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix thoroughly to combine.
2. Press the mixture into a 9″ pie plate, making sure to press all the way to the top of the sides. It is important to get an even thickness throughout.
3. Freeze completely.
4. Pre-heat your oven to 350°F. Bake the crust for approximately 35 minutes. Start checking it early to prevent over-baking. It should be firm to the touch, and will have lightened in color.
5. Chill the crust until your custard mixture is ready.

The Custard

Ingredients:

6 ea. large eggs
15 oz. pumpkin puree (canned is fine)
2/3 cup almond milk, unsweetened
2/3 cup heavy cream
5 oz. coconut palm sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1.5 t. ground cinnamon
1.5 t. ground ginger
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground nutmeg
3/4 t. salt

Method:

1. Pre-heat your oven to 300°F.
2. Combine the eggs and pumpkin puree in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
3. Add the almond milk, cream and coconut palm sugar. Continue whisking to completely incorporate the milks.
4. Finally, add the vanilla, all the spices and the salt. Combine.
5. Pour into your pre-baked crust and set into a baking dish (big enough to hold some water).
6. Place the baking dish into your pre-heated oven and fill half-way with hot water.
7. Bake until the custard is set in the middle, about 2 hours. If it still jiggles in the middle, it may need longer. Start checking it after an hour and a half. If it over-bakes, there will be a noticeable crack in the center after it cools.
8. Let cool to room temperature, then finish chilling in the refrigerator to ensure a complete set.

A Few Notes:

– You can use any lightly flavored oil in the crust, including melted butter or ghee.
– Honey can be substituted for the coconut palm sugar, but it will be significantly sweeter. Reduce the measurement to 4 oz.
– It is always best to freshly grate your nutmeg for the best flavor. If you are using pre-ground nutmeg, increase the measurement to 1.5 t. per 9″ pie.