Super Gooey Chocolate Coma Brownies

ImageI will be the first to admit that I fail a LOT when it comes to grain free / sugar free baking. My family will also vouch for the fact that it makes me very upset when I do. I know, “don’t sweat the small stuff!” But for me, baking is more than just a hobby, it’s something I really love, and am usually pretty good at. Although there are lots of treats I can whip up on a whim, my baking often involves quite a bit of time recipe searching, researching diet-specific substitutions, creating, and waiting (impatiently!) for it to come out of the oven, as well include many nutrient dense ingredients that are not cheap! Not to mention, I hate wasting food, so I usually end up forcing my less fortunate baked goods upon my family (though they seldom argue), or eating them myself… leaving me still with an unsatisfied craving. Lately, I’ve had a doozy of less than fantastic creations. I mean, they’re usually good, but I’m picky. I like my healthy treats to taste unhealthy. Clean eating with a dirty mind! Out of frustration, I had decided to take a break from baking. I know, tragic. But then, I wanted chocolate, and pinterest was taunting me with pictures of delectable looking chocolatey treats! So I caved. And a miracle happened. An insanely delicious, “fool any non-paleo, gluten eating being”, fabulous kind of miracle. In brownie form.

Image^^^ The extra gooey one I cut right from the middle of the pan. Guilty.

I decided I wanted Betty Crocker brownies. (I mention Betty a lot, we were close back in the day.) Straight from the box.. but without the sugar, corn syrup, flour, and hydrogenated oils. I have an amazing brownie recipe that I love already, but it’s just not quite fudgy enough, and is a little heavy on the coconut flavour for what I was going for here. I wanted gooey, soft, fudgy, put-you-in-a-chocolate-coma type brownies. And that’s what I got!! Adapted from Recreating Happiness’ recipe for “The Perfect Fudge Brownies,” these are THE REAL DEAL. I mean, the name says it all. They taste like they came from a boxed mix! In the best way! My mom, who is not paleo, even agreed; she loved these, and she’s picky about her chocolate! Oh, and they’re also gluten free, grain free, and other than dark chocolate, contain only natural sweeteners. Hello! Win. Win. Win.

Tastebuds dancing. Tummy smiling. Chocolate coma induced. Success all around! =)

Super Gooey Chocolate Coma Brownies
Gluten Free, Grain Free, Naturally Sweetened

Ingredients:
2/3 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 cup dark chocolate chips
3 tbsp. butter
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
Additional chocolate chips

Directions
Preheat oven to 325°F.
1. Melt unsweetened and dark chocolate with butter in a double boiler. Once melted, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
2. Pour the chocolate into a mixing bowl, and beat in the coconut sugar and honey until smooth.
3. Add eggs, and beat on low/medium for at least 30 seconds. This helps create a nice shiny crust on the top of the brownies!
4. Stir in vanilla, then stir in almond flour and baking soda together.
5. Stir in additional chocolate chips. I used lots of dark and milk (paleo fail-eo!) Callebaut chocolate!!
6. Pour batter into a parchment lined or greased 9 x 9 pan.
7. Bake for ~25 minutes, give or take, your knife should come out clean (unless you hit a chocolate chip!), but they should still be ooey gooey on the inside!
8. Eat them hot and fresh out of the pan! Trust me on this one!

Paleo Chocolate Marshmallow Cups

ImageIt’s Halloween, and there is LOTS of candy around, but I am not giving in! Those bite sized chocolate bars look so enticing… but then I remember that they are sugar and chemical laced, and it’s not so hard to resist. So I opted to make my own Halloween treats this year, without all the yucky stuff! And ooh. They are yummy in my tummy!

ImageOne of my favourite blogs, How Sweet It Is, posted these Homemade Mallo Cups the other day, and I just HAD to make a paleo friendly version. So I got out my handy dandy Kitchenaid mixer, and got on it!! The results were little cups of gooey, marshmallowy heaven, enrobed in deliciously rich homemade chocolate. Mmm! The marshmallow cream is perfectly fluffy, and of course, naturally sweetened with honey and coconut palm sugar. The chocolate is smooth and dark, and creates an irresistible crunchy shell. It too is sweetened with honey, and made with organic cacao powder, cocoa butter, and coconut oil! Superfood candy! I love it!!

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Paleo Chocolate Marshmallow Cups
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Gelatin Free

Ingredients:
Marshmallow Fluff:
(Yields.. a lot!)
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Chocolate:
(Yields enough for 12 mini marshmallow cups)
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup cocoa butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder or cacao powder
1/3 cup honey (give or take depending on desired sweetness)
1 tsp. vanilla

Directions
Chocolate:
1. In a small pot, add coconut oil, cacao, and honey, and stir over low heat until melted and combined.
2. Stir in vanilla, and remove from heat.
3. Pour a small amount into lined or coconut oiled mini muffin tins, then freeze until set.

Marshmallow Fluff:
1. Whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks have formed.
2. Combine honey, coconut palm sugar, and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Use a candy thermometer, and boil the mixture until it reaches between 240°F and 245°F. This should take a few minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Turn the mixer on low, and very slowly drizzle the syrup into the egg whites. Very slowly! If you go too fast, the eggs will scramble, and that would be devastating!
4. Once incorporated, add the vanilla, then increase the speed to medium high and whip until your fluff is glossy and creates stiff peaks. This could take anywhere from 5 – 10 minutes depending on your mixer.
5. Add a little scoop of the fluff to the muffin cups, on top of the now set chocolate, and pour an additional layer of chocolate on top of the marshmallow.
6. Place in freezer to set.
7. Store in fridge or freezer, and store remaining fluff in the fridge.
8. Indulge in a healthier Halloween treaty!! =)

*Note: This recipe makes A LOT of fluff. I made 36 mini marshmallow cups with it, plus Fluffernutter ice cream, and had some left over! It filled two thirds of my Kitchenaid stand mixer bowl! So feel free to half the recipe or use the excess to make a whole lot of s’mores. =)

Paleo Banana Bread Truffles

ImageRemember yesterday’s Paleo Banana Bread? Well you’re going to need to make another loaf. Because you’re going to want to make these Banana Bread Truffles.

I have an obsession with making truffle-like desserts. My absolute favourite, pre-paleo days, were cake balls. Delicious little balls of Betty Crocker cake (no one does it better than Betty!), mixed with sickly sweet frosting, and coated in chocolate. I used to make these little balls of sin and bring them to dance class..  Now before I continue, I would like to clear up the misconception that dancers don’t eat. Oh, we EAT. A whole heck of a lot. So these cake ball truffles? They were gone in mere seconds. But healthy? Yeah, I wouldn’t bank on that. My obsession had already developed, however, so when I went grain and sugar free, I started experimenting with making healthier treats in truffle form. Cookie dough truffles! Brownie batter truffles! Protein ball truffles! And now.. Banana bread truffles! I have yet to replicate the cake ball truffle… but these babies are SO delectable that I don’t even feel to…. Yet. =) I mean, let’s take a loaf of sweet and scrumptious banana bread, paleo-fy it, make it into cute little truffles, and coat it in dark chocolate.

I think I just died and went to heaven, and you’ve been invited.

Paleo Banana Bread Truffles
Grain Free, Gluten Free

Ingredients:

Paleo Banana Bread
1/2 cup coconut cream (scooped off the top of a refrigerated can of coconut milk)
1/2 large overripe banana
Dark chocolate chips, or your own homemade chocolate

Directions
1. Bake and cool banana bread.
2. Mash the banana, and mix it into the coconut cream.
3. Break up the banana bread and crumble into a bowl. Add the banana cream mixture, stirring until well blended. You should be able to form the “dough” into balls.. You may need a little more or less of the banana cream!
4. Form into balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined pan, and freeze for at least half an hour, or until cold and firm.
Try not to be impatient!
5. Melt dark chocolate chips in a double boiler, or however you prefer, and coat the frozen banana bread balls in chocolate.
6. Place the balls back onto the lined pans, and back into the freezer until chocolate is set.
7. Best when stored in an airtight container in the freezer.

“Believe It Or Not” Healthy Double Chocolate Cookies

ImageOh you better believe it.

So I’ve had this mad craving for a Betty Crocker chocolate brownie. You know, those ones that you make from the boxed mix, and are untouchable, even by the homemade variety?! Yeah, those. Well I refused to succumb to those sinful sugar bombs.. so instead I made these babies.. then ate 3.

Sometimes I think I should just eat the damn brownie.

But then! I remember that these particular cookies are made with healthy ingredients! With actual nutritional value! Instead of corn syrup, these are sweetened with pureed raisins or dates, which boast an impressive nutritional profile in comparison to other sweeteners. Instead of wheat flour, these are made with ground almonds, which contain healthy fats, fibre, and protein. Instead of partially hydrogenated soybean and/or cottonseed oil (eek!), these are made with avocado, which is another amazing source of healthy fats, fibre, and potassium! Combine these nutrient dense ingredients with organic cacao powder, and high quality dark chocolate (we’ve gotta give a little!), and you have some INSANELY delicious, and HEALTHY cookies! Yes, these are considered straight up health food in my eyes. It helps me justify eating several at once. =)

ImageOh, and did I mention that they taste amazing too? The cookie by itself is not overwhelmingly sweet, but has a rich, decadent flavour, and unbelievably fudgy texture. The addition of the dark chocolate chips lends just the right amount of sweetness, and adds ooey gooey, melty goodness to every bite. Basically, these are a delectable, fudgy brownie, in a convenient cookie form. Craving crushed.

Make them now. Thank me later.

“Believe it or Not” Healthy Double Chocolate Cookies
Gluten free, grain free, sugar free, and dairy free (if made with dairy free chocolate chips)

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups almond meal (I grind my own in my Magic bullet)
1 cup cacao or cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ripe avocado
1 cup dates or raisins, pureed
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
As many dark chocolate chips as you can possibly cram in there!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. In a large bowl, mix together almond meal, cocoa powder, and baking soda.
2. Using a food processor or good quality blender, puree raisins or dates first, then blend in avocado, vanilla, and egg until smooth.
3. Combine wet ingredients into dry mixture. Mix until incorporated.
4. Add dark chocolate chips and stir until evenly distributed.
5. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 9 minutes.
6. Eat one fresh out of the oven. Store remaining cookies in sealed container in the fridge or freezer.

*Note: These taste awesome both warm, or frozen. Yum!!

Recipe credit to my beautiful baby sister Kelynn!!

Gluten Free Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares

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Before our gluten and sugar free days, one of my sister and I’s favourite treats were Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares. Filled with brown sugar, caramel ice cream topping, and white chocolate confectionery, they were definitely an ultra-sweet treat, but the furthest thing from healthy. Well the other day, I decided I wanted them. However, there was NO way I was going to put all of that processed sugar into my little body! So I practically emptied my pantry onto my kitchen counter, and got to work!  =)

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The result? A soft and crumbly, cookie-like crust, sweet smooth caramel, and velvety white chocolate. All combined to create this decadently gooey dessert that will make you want to eat another.. and another!! And let me tell you.. I will always make homemade white chocolate from now on!! I have never been a huge fan of how sicky sweet store-bought white chocolate is. In my opinion, it just doesn’t belong in the chocolate family! However, this homemade version is dairy free, refined sugar free, and is made with organic cocoa butter, which lends a creamy and real chocolatey taste! That’s right, white chocolate that actually tastes like chocolate! Just thinking about it makes me want to whip up another batch, so on that note..

Oatmeal Caramel White Chocolate Chip Squares
Gluten Free, Refined Sugar Free, Egg Free

Ingredients:
White Chocolate:
1/3 cup creamed honey
1/3 cup melted cocoa butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp coconut flour

Caramel:
2 tbsp water
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp butter

Oatmeal Crust:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 3/4 cup oats
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/8 cup Steviva Blend (or an additional 1/4 cup coconut palm sugar)
3/4 cup butter

Directions
White Chocolate:
1. Melt the cocoa butter in a pot on medium low heat, then pour it into a bowl.
2. Add the honey (I used creamed, but liquid might work) and vanilla, and whisk it! Lots!! It doesn’t want to combine but it will!
3. Whisk in 2 tbsp coconut flour.. don’t worry, it doesn’t make it have too much of a coconut-y flavour, and it’s necessary for binding!!
4. Place in freezer until set.

Caramel:
1. Place water and coconut palm sugar in a pot, and bring to a boil, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
2. Add coconut milk and vanilla, and let it boil on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly as well. The mixture will slowly begin to thicken into a dark caramel!
3. Once thickened, remove from heat, and stir in butter.
4. Allow it to sit and cool.

Oatmeal Squares:
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. Cream butter and sugars.
2. Add almond flour, coconut flour, and oats, and mix well.
3. Pat half the batter into an 8 inch parchment lined or ungreased pan, and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes.
5. Cut the white chocolate into little chunks, and spread over the crust, then pour and spread the caramel over the chocolate. Crumble the remaining oatmeal batter on top.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until edges and crumble on top are starting to become golden.
7. Enjoy this unbelievable yummy treat!!

*Note: If you choose to use homemade white chocolate, it will melt inside the squares, and will kind of meld together with the caramel. But don’t worry. The taste is still very much there, and it’s freaking awesome!

Paleo Double Chocolate Cupcakes

ImageLet’s talk about cake. I’ve never been a fan of chocolate cake. I know, who am I?! It just doesn’t do it for me. Chocolate? Yes please. Brownies? Heck yes. Chocolate cake? Meh. But these cupcakes have converted me! The best part? They’re grain free, naturally sweetened, and full of good, healthy fats! Plus chocolate! Winning combo in my opinion!

Paleo Double Chocolate Cupcakes
(Adapted from Living Healthy With Chocolate’s Coconut Cupcakes)
Grain Free, Gluten Free, Sugar Free, Dairy Free

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour (I ground my own.. if you use store bought, you will need closer to 1/4 cup)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
6 tbsp. cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 cup full fat coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
Chocolate chips (optional)

Ganache:
Dark chocolate chips
2 tsp. full fat coconut milk

Directions
Preheat oven to 350°F.
1. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients.
2. Combine wet ingredients, then add the dry mixture, and mix until incorporated.
3. Add chocolate chips if desired! (I know you do!)
4. Spoon batter into lined muffin tins, to about 2/3 full.
5. Bake for 20 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.
6. For ganache, melt dark chocolate and slowly add coconut milk, being careful not to seize the chocolate.
7. Spread ganache over cooled cupcakes, and enjoy!

Hello World!

ImageHi! I’m Cassandra, and I’m a baking / cooking / dancing / eating / fitness addict. About a year ago, I converted to a mostly grain free and sugar free lifestyle, and it turned my world upside down.. in the best of ways, of course! Since then, I’ve made a challenge of turning past “cheats” into healthy, guilt free treats, to satisfy my (mega) sweet tooth! I created my instagram account, @cassandrabakes, to share my creations, and after an overwhelming demand to post my recipes, I’ve succumbed to the blogging world. So here goes nothing! I hope to get your mouths watering with a whole lot of recipes inspired by paleo, grain free, gluten free, sugar free, and vegan lifestyles… with a bit of wiggle room!