SALTED CARAMEL AND PEANUT BUTTER RAW SNICKERS SLICE

Even though I’m not dairy free or vegan I like to try healthier recipes from time to time. They’re loaded with protein, good fats and sweetened with dates instead of processed sugar – a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without feeling the guilt. Danny and I may have made 2 batches when we went vegan for a month…and may have eaten them the same day we made them 😉 We couldn’t resist the yummy layers of sweet, nutty, caramel and chocolate goodness.

10X10” glass dish
Makes 8 slices

Ingredients

Base
2 tbsp. rolled oats
1/2 cup roasted almonds (or almond meal)
3 soft medjool dates
1 tsp. coconut oil
1 tsp. coconut butter

Peanut Butter Nougat
1 1/2 cup cashews (soaked in water over night)
3 soft medjool dates
1 tbsp. almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter

Caramel
2 tbsp. tahini butter
2 tbsp. peanut butter
4 soft medjool dates 1
1 tsp. sea salt flakes
1 tbsp. coconut butter
1 tsp. vanilla bean paste or extract

Chocolate Topping
3 tbsp. raw cacao powder
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. coconut butter

Crust Base: Throw ingredients into a food processor. Pulse until combined. Line the dish with the crust and press evenly until covered. Set aside.

Peanut Butter Nougat LayerAdd all peanut butter nougat ingredients into your cleaned food processor (I used our Vitamix…so blender or food processor will work). Blend until very smooth. Add water if needed to reach a “thick pour” consistency. Pour over the crust and use a spatula to spread it evenly. Place in the freezer.

Caramel Layer: Place all ingredients in your cleaned food processor and blend until smooth. Add more salt or soft dates until desired taste is reached (some like it salty, some like it sweet). Take dish out of freezer and pour on the next layer. Place back in freezer while you prepare the chocolate layer.

Chocolate Layer: Place all chocolate topping ingredients in a heatproof bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until “chocolate” is liquefied, smooth and the oil has mixed into the cacao. Pour evenly on top of the dish and place back into the freezer for 5 hours or until the raw snickers dish has completely hardened. When ready, pop it out of the dish by pulling on the plastic wrap. Peel off the plastic and cut the dessert with a large knife into desired size squares.

*Top with sea salt flakes


Valentine’s Day Edition: Ladurée French Macarons

Ladurée French Macarons
A few years ago, I posted a recipe for Ladurée macarons that seemed to be a big hit with readers. I thought making a special Valentine’s Day edition would be fun. Same recipe with a cute Valentine’s Day Twist. Just grab some edible markets from Amazon and turn these classic treats into a special Valentine’s Day dessert.

This is a macaron shell recipe from Ladurée — the crème de la crème of macarons in the world! And I whipped up the filling recipe myself…

Makes approximately 50 macarons
Bake at 300F
Macaron Shell Ingredients
2 ¾ cups + 1 tbsp (275 g) fine almond flour
2 cups + 1 tbsp (250 g) confectioners’ sugar (aka powdered sugar)
6 +1/2 egg whites (room temp)
1 cup + 1 tbsp (210g) granulated white sugar
3 drops of whatever food coloring you desire
Directions for Macaron Shells:
1. Combine the ground almond flour and the confectioners sugar in a food processor. Pulse a few times until the mixture resembles a fine powder {do not over mix or you will end up with paste! Nooo!}. Sift through a sieve to remove any lumps.
2. In a large bowl {I use my KitchenAid}, whisk 6 egg whites until foamy. Once they are frothy, add a third of the granulated sugar {precisely 83.3 oz}. Whip until the sugar has dissolved. Add another third of the sugar. Whip for 1 minute. Add the last third of the sugar and whip for one minute. Egg whites should be glossy and hold soft peaks. Using a spatula, delicately fold the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar into the whipped egg whites. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining 1/2 egg white until just frothy. Then add it to the final mixture, folding gently to slightly loosen the macaron batter.
3. If you only want to make one color of macarons, then add your desired food coloring to the batter bowl. If you want multiple colors, divide your batter into separate bowls and add coloring to each. Try not to over mix.
4. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag {you can also use zip lock bags with a cut corner}. Pipe small macaron rounds 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a  lined baking sheet. I like to line mine with a silpat or this fancy macaron mat. Parchment paper will also do. Lightly tap the tray on the counter to release any air pockets. Allow the macarons to sit uncovered for 10 minutes, so a thin dry coat forms on the top {you should be able to gently touch them without the batter sticking to your finger}. Now they are ready for the oven. Only bake one tray at a time. Bake at 300F for approximately 15 minutes or until they form a smooth shell and little foot.
*You can prepare the next tray while you wait for the first batch to bake.
5. Ok here is where you’ll need to be extra patient. Wait until the macarons have completely cooled before peeling them off the mat. If they stick, they are not ready. * My method {because I’m impatient} to speed things up, try placing the hot baking sheet on top of cold damp dishtowels. This can cut your waiting time in half!
Macaroon Filling Ingredients
8 tbsp jam
4 tbsp soft butter
splash of whipping cream
Fills approximately 50 macarons
{If you want to make different flavors on a smaller scale just measure 2:1 ratio for jam and butter}
Macaron Filling Instructions
Easy part!
1. You can use any flavor you want. For these macarons, I made different flavors for each color — peach, strawberry, blueberry and chocolate. Mmmmm. My friend gave me some amazing homemade jams that I mixed with butter and a splash of whipping cream.  Your measurements will vary depending on how much filling you want for each flavor. Just mix jelly, butter and whipping cream until you reach a semi-solid consistency at room temp. This one is pretty hard to mess up.
*I used Nutella for the chocolate hazelnut filling.
Good luck my friends!
Ladurée French Macarons
Ladurée French Macarons

Blood Orange & Passion Fruit Panna Cotta

Blood Orange Passion Fruit Panna Cotta
Blood orange and passion fruit panna cotta with no refined sugars, a little less fat than the traditional method and more protein! Oh yeah! And it’s sexy enough to be the star of your Valentine’s Day dessert – guilt free! Happy almost Valentine’s Day friends. I hope you have some special plans with the one you love, whether is be a night out on the town or snuggled up at home watching your favorite shows…it’s all good.

Makes 6 4oz servings
Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 tbsp cold water
1 cup non fat greek yogurt
1 cup half & half
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 tbsp freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Directions
In a small dish, mix gelatin powder and water together. Set aside

In a small saucepan, combine half & half with honey and simmer until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Remove from heat. Add gelatin and greek yogurt into the half & half – honey mixture. Whisk until smooth. Add vanilla and blood orange juice. Whisk again.

Pour into silicon molds or small jars. Refrigerate for 4 hours. Serve with passion fruit and blood oranges.
Blood Orange Passion Fruit Panna Cotta Blood Orange Passion Fruit Panna Cotta Blood Orange Passion Fruit Panna Cotta


Vanilla Bean Purple Sweet Potato Creamy Cashew Berry Cake

How about a slice of vanilla bean purple sweet potato creamy cashew berry cake? These cakes are vegan, gluten free, wheat free, refined (cane sugar) free, dairy free, soy free and yes they’re still delicious! Flavor packed little squares! Here is the easier-than-you-think recipe!

Ingredients: 

Crust
6 soft dates (pitted)
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp almond meal
1/2 nuts (almonds, peanuts whatever you have)
1/2 cup rolled oats

Bottom Layer
1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 3 hours and drained)
1/2 purple sweet potato (peeled and steamed)
2 tbsp coconut BUTTER (melted)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp water

Top Layer
1 cup cashews (soaked in water for 3 hours and drained)
10 raspberries
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp maqui powder
1 tbsp pomegranate powder
2 tbsp beet (finely shredded)
2 tbsp coconut BUTTER (melted)
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1 tbsp rice flour
3 tbsp water

Directions
Make each layer separately in the food processor (wash the container between each layer). Starting with the crust – throw all ingredients into the processor and blend until a ball is formed. Crust should be pliable and easily to shape without falling apart. Line square glass dish with parchment paper and press the crust into the paper and the edges of the dish. Spread evenly.
Wash out the food processor and blend the first layer ingredients together until smooth and silk. Pour into the dish. Wash and repeat with the second layer.
Place the layered “cheezecake” in the freezer for 3 hours. Cut into squares and top with desired goodies (I used chocolate covered cacao nibs and blackberries). If you want to drizzle it with a magic chocolate sauce shell, mix 1 tbsp cocoa powder with 1 tsp of coconut oil and maple syrup. Serve when cakes are thawed, yet still cold. Like cheesecake.


Champurrado

Champurrado
Every time we drive to the cabin I ask D to take the slightly longer route so we can stop at the taqueria shop on Ramona Expy. They make a mean champurrado – a Mexican hot chocolate thickened with corn flour masa. It’s pretty amazing. Here’s how I make it back at home:

Ingredients
2 cups of water
3 star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp fresh nutmeg
1/2 c. corn flour masa
4 c. milk
1 Mexican Abuelita (or Ibarra) chocolate tablet (chopped)
1/2 cup piloncillo (unrefined whole cane sugar) or sub with brown sugar

Directions
In a large pot, combine water, star anise, cinnamon and nutmeg. Boil. Cover and simmer for 15 min. Slowly add corn flour masa stirring to remove clumps. Add milk, chopped Mexican chocolate and piloncillo. Stir until the chocolate is melted and the sugar has dissolved. Let simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve hot!