The berries are here and just in time for all of the 4th of July-themed foods! Isn’t it just a beautiful site? I recently purchased my first flat of berries which left a giant strawberry shortcake-sized hole in my heart. I loved Hostess shortcake as a kid, but that food isn’t an option today. In 2 days we will be refined-sugar free for 3 months with 9 to go, so finding this cupcake recipe by Pretty in Primal was icing on the proverbial cake. The texture of the cake is spongy and moist, either right out of the oven or a few days later. I cut one in half, placed sliced strawberries on top and took a bite. Then I ran to give Jon his half so he could meet me in the kitchen to fight over the remaining cakes.
I count my blessings one survived.
- 4 eggs
- 3/4 cup coconut milk (one without additives; coconut and water only)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup granulated maple sugar
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar (or omit maple sugar and use 1/2 cup coconut sugar)
- 1/2 cup fine almond meal (or blanched almond flour)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
- 1/4 tsp pink salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- In one large bowl, mix all ingredients together with a handheld immersion blender, mixer or fork. Sifting your coconut flour will eliminate chunks of the dense flour-trust me.
- Line 10 cups in a muffin pan and fill 3/4 with batter.
- Bake for 28-30 minutes until golden brown (and you can hardly stand it).
- Cut them in half and serve with sliced farm-fresh strawberries if you can! If you’re not sugar-free then try a cool whip-like topping called Tru Whip which uses non-hydrogenated oils (trans fats).
One Paleo shortcake: 4 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 5 g protein, 9 g carbs, and 130 calories per muffin (using coconut sugar).
One Hostess shortcake: 0 g fiber, 12 g sugar, 1 g protein, 20 g carbs and 110 calories.
A Samoa cookie is so many of my favorite things packed together that it is my favorite girl scout cookie; beating out the close rival Thin Mint. The gluten and corn syrup in Girl Scout cookies doesn’t make it a fair fight for a lot of us though. So gluten-free guru Elana Amsterdam has kindly made a substitute, this one is gluten free, and dairy/soy/sugar free! If you use a substitute for the 1 egg then they’re vegan too!
Paleo Samoas (adapted from Elana Amsterdam)
- 2 cups blanched almond flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, ground
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp pink salt
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1 egg (or chia egg** or flax egg)
- 3 T coconut oil, melted
- In a food processor or bowl combine dry ingredients, then add wet until dough forms.
- Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes.
- Roll and flatten a dough mound onto a cookie sheet.
- Use a knife to cut holes in center of rounds if desired.
- Bake at 350° for 10-11 minutes and cool completely. Yields 16-18 cookies.
While Elana’s sauce sounds utterly wonderful, I have experience with a caramel-like topping that is consistently delicious with the perfect texture. The key is to make sure you have a vanilla extract with alcohol in it. I’m not picking a good/bad thing here, you just don’t get the foaming catalyst for the baking soda.
Shredded Coconut Caramel Topping (from Caramel Corn recipe)
- 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/3 cup coconut sugar crystals
- 4 T honey (it will not work without this, trust me!)
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract*
- 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
*I use Simply Organic vanilla, and noticed it has alcohol in it. I have noticed the foaming action doesn’t occur when you use imitation alcohol. Taste is normal, but it’s syrupy rather than foamy.
- In a small sauce pan add coconut oil, coconut sugar crystals and honey. Mix with a wooden utensil occasionally.
- Simmer on medium low for 5 minutes until bubbly.
- Remove from heat and add baking soda then vanilla (in that order for the foaming reaction). It will get all bubbly foamy and cool!
- Add shredded coconut and mix around for 10 seconds or so and pour spoonfuls onto cookies.
- Allow to cool and top with drizzles of chocolate.
Chocolate Drizzle Topping:
Raw Vegan Chocolate Ganache (yields 1 cup)
- 3/4 cup Grade B maple syrup
- 3/4 cup cacao powder
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Mix all ingredients together, it will thicken quickly so keep a bowl of warm water to maintain a liquid texture. It is the most delicious frosting!
- Melted vegan dark chocolate 70% cacao or better, melted to pour over final cookie
**When I used the chia egg, I also used a muffin pan to mold the cookies. They ended up a bit thicker, but they taste just like cake!! Win win! Vegan, delicious AND unique. I guess that’s the definition of awesome.
I also made blanched almond flour by using this method here. While I enjoy the crunchy texture of the Paleo Cookies, the blanched almond flour is so fine it lends something special to the Samoas. You can buy slivered almonds and grind them into flour, or you can blanch, skin and grind your almonds. It doesn’t add an unreasonable amount of time to the preparation, but you certainly have the option!
Last year I made a pumpkin pie that was a dietary-restriction dream come true; vegan, soy-free, lactose/casein free, gluten and sugar-free. I remade that recipe this Thanksgiving, but this time I simplified the recipe by providing my exact method below. (It made the recipe look long and scary, when it’s really not!)
Pumpkin Pie Filling – yields 1 9″ pie or 14-18 mini pies
- 2 1/2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (see below for fresh pumpkin prep)
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk
- 4 tsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 T arrowroot powder
- 2 tsp agar agar powder
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 tsp ginger
- 1/8-1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 4 T honey
- 1 T coconut nectar (or more honey)
- Preheat oven to 400º F (375º for mini-pie crust).
- Combine prepared pumpkin puree with all ingredients and blend until smooth using a VitaMix or hand blender. You can store it in the fridge for a day or two before use.
- Pour filling into prepared crust. You may have a bit of leftover, so try not to overfill. If using a store-bought crust bake for 1 hour, if using the mini-pie crust recipe bake for 35-40 minutes.
- Remove from oven and let cool completely before serving. For best results, chill in the fridge for 1 hour after it’s room temperature before serving.
The only way I was able to make the Easy Nut Crust work with the filling was to make mini pies in a cupcake pan. After 2 burned crusts, Jon and I were practically forced to eat all of the ‘failed’ pie filling, poor us! The mini pies are fantastic though! If you have a delicious soy/sugar/gluten/flax-free, vegan, bake-able pie crust recipe please share it with me!
Easy Nut Crust Recipe for Mini Pies
- 1 1/2 cups almond meal
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 T honey
- 3 T coconut oil, melted
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Rub coconut oil in cupcake pan molds.
- In a bowl, mix almond meal and salt.
- Add to almond mixture, honey, coconut oil and vanilla.
- Mix well and gently press 1-2 T of dough into cupcake molds using fingers or spatula. An ice cream scoop works wonders for pressing the crust into the cupcake molds.
- Fill with pie filling, about 2 heaping spoonfuls, and bake at 375°F for 35-40 minutes, until center doesn’t jiggle.
- Use a knife to loosen the cooled mini pies, and use a spoon to get them out. Allow to cool completely before serving.
How to Prepare Fresh Pumpkin for Pumpkin Pie
- 1-2 Sugar pumpkins, 3-4 lbs each. Each pumpkin will yield 2.5-3 cups of puree. 1 pie, 1 pumpkin!
- Slice pumpkin in half and scoop out seeds and stringy dark orange bits. If you have trouble cutting the pumpkin in half, roast them for 15 minutes or so.
- Place pumpkin open face down in a baking dish. Pour 1/4 cup water into the baking dish and cover with foil.
- Bake at 375° F for 45-50 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
- Allow to cool completely and scoop flesh out of skin. Puree pumpkin mixture in a VitaMix or using a hand blender.
- **FANCY VERSION: Mix together 1 T coconut sugar, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture onto the exposed pumpkin flesh and prepare as above. You’re basically pre-seasoning it and the smell is intoxicating!
I recommend giving the fresh pumpkin prep a try. It is really worth the extra effort!