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Candies and Confections
This recipe was inspired by a recipe I saw for grasshopper bark on pinterest. I immediately set to researching as many versions of dairy-free homemade white chocolate I could find. The best paleo white chocolate recipe to start with came from this recipe from the Paleo Parents (no weird sweeteners, no bizarre binders, just clean paleo… er, well, paleo with sugar). I have modified the recipe slightly to use less sugar (with that powerful mint flavor, you don’t need as much sugar). I also decided against the use of food coloring to make the white chocolate green, but you could definitely add that if you wanted to (in that case, I would use white sugar instead of evaporated cane juice so you get a brighter color).
I used unsweetened 100% dark chocolate for the base layer in this bark because I liked the contrast of the bitter dark chocolate and the sweet minty white chocolate. You could substitute a bittersweet chocolate if you prefer.
I don’t know how many servings to call this. Respectably, 4 or 5, but too easy for one person to gobble down before anyone even knows it’s been made (speaking from experience here…).
Ingredients (White Chocolate Layer):
- 3 oz cocoa butter (by weight)
- ¼ cup evaporated cane juice (for whiter chocolate use white sugar)
- 2 tsp arrowroot powder
- ½ tsp peppermint oil
- Blend sugar in a food processor or blender until it forms a fine white powder (I used a Magic Bullet). Mix sugar with arrowroot powder and set aside.
- Melt cocoa butter in a medium bowl in the microwave or over low heat on stovetop. This takes longer than you think, so keep setting the microwave for one more minute, stir and check, one more minute, etc. I think it took about 4 minutes in total, but it would depend on how big your chunks of cocoa butter are.
- Once the cocoa butter is melted, mix in sugar and arrowroot powder a little bit at a time whisking thoroughly to help the sugar dissolve.
- Once the sugar and arrowroot powder is fully incorporated, add the peppermint oil.
- Let the white chocolate cool until it is thicker, but still warm enough to be liquid (if it’s too runny, it won’t make a nice swirl patter when you pour it over the base layer).
Ingredients (Dark Chocolate Layer):
- Prepare an 8”x8” glass dish or cake pan by lining with a sheet of wax paper (you could also try greasing with butter or palm shortening). You could use a 9”x9” pan, but your bark will be a little thinner. A great alternative would be a silicone cake pan because no liner would be necessary.
- Melt chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave or over low heat on the stove top. As soon as it’s melted, stir in vanilla (this just helps soften the chocolate slightly).
- Pour into prepared dish or cake pan and spread out to evenly cover the dish.
- Pour the cooled but still liquid minty white chocolate layer over top.
- With a knife, trace swirly patterns through the melted chocolate until it looks pretty.
- Refrigerate until set. Remove from pan (the wax paper will make this job really easy) and break into pieces. Enjoy!
Marzipan (also known as almond paste) is an almond-based confection that originated in Persia and is now very common in European desserts. Growing up, we used to get the most amazing marzipan at a local family-owned bakery. They sold little marzipan animals, chocolate-covered marzipan sticks, and had several types of cake and tarts that were covered with marzipan and/or decorated with marzipan fruit. And what better way to celebrate launching the new blog than with a recipe for a versatile and decadent paleo treat!!
Marzipan is so versatile. You can form the marzipan into a loaf and slice wedges or cubes and enjoy it straight. You can dip the slices into melted dark chocolate for an extra decadent treat (if you’re going to do this, I find it easier to freeze your wedges of marzipan before dipping and dip into melted but cooled chocolate). If you want to use this marzipan to make fancy treats or cake decorations, the normal method for molding into shapes is to constantly dust with icing sugar as you shape it like playdough (it gets a little stiffer this way and holds its shape better). Because icing sugar is not paleo, I suggest using arrowroot powder or a very finely ground pastry sugar (which is typically ground as fine as icing sugar but without the cornstarch added). You can color your finished product by dusting with powdered natural food colorings or spices.
This paleo version of Marzipan borrows from the traditional French variation. The only special tool you really need is a candy thermometer. A standing mixer is also very useful unless you want an excuse for a really good forearm workout. This is a fun recipe to play with. Different cultures around the world use different nuts and seeds as the base for this treat (although if you’re going to substitute a different kind of nut, you may need to adjust the amount of honey). However you choose to enjoy this marzipan, I hope you do! This recipe makes quite a generous quantity, but it freezes well.
- Fill your sink or a large bowl or saucepan with cold water (maybe throw in a few ice cubes).
- Pour honey into a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer attached to the side.
- Heat honey over low heat (or medium-low) until the honey reaches 240F (this should take a long time, something like 10 minutes, with no need to stir while the honey is heating).
- Remove pot from heat (but leave the element on the stove on, and turn up to medium-low if you had it on low) and remove the candy thermometer from the pot. Place the bottom of the pot in the prepared cold water. Stir the honey until it is thick and creamy (this will take 3-4 minutes and will feel like an eternity for your arm).
- Stir in almond flour and egg white. Place back on the heat and stir constantly for 2-3 minutes, until thick.
- Pour into the bowl of a standing mixer with paddle attachment. Set mixer to low and allow to mix until cooled to room temperature (this will probably take 20-30 minutes). Alternatively, you could pour out onto a clean surface (counter or baking sheet, maybe lined with parchment paper since this stuff is pretty sticky) and turn/kneed with a pastry scraper until cool.
- Place in a sealed container and refrigerate overnight to set. Enjoy!
I adore ginger, especially sweet ginger, so for me, there are few things better than the dark chocolate ginger combination. Plus this fudge is egg-free, dairy-free, and nut-free. It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture thanks to the coconut oil and can be eaten directly out of the fridge or freezer (which means that even keeping it in the freezer doesn’t slow me down!). These can be a bit delicate to cut into squares. I remove the entire batch out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut in small squares rather than rows to keep it from cracking. It helps to pre-cut them in the pan before they are completely set (say after about 20 minutes in the fridge).
The first step is to make yourself a batch of Honey-Candied Ginger and save the syrup! The syrup is the key to this fudge’s amazing flavor. I prefer to separate the ginger and the syrup if I know I’m going to be making fudge because the ginger is easier to cut when it is dry and the syrup is easier to measure (you will likely have a little syrup leftover, but no ginger leftover). One of the best parts about this fudge? It’s actually appropriate for maintenance-level GAPS and SCD (when cocoa is reintroduced). Some people following the Autoimmune Protocol may even tolerate it (careful with the cocoa content because it is high in phytic acid).
Ingredients (Ginger Fudge):
- 1/3 cups Ginger Syrup, cooled to room temperature
- ½ lb Candied Ginger
- 2 cups Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (this is a good time to break out the Gold Label)
- 1 cup Raw or Natural Unsweetened Cacao Powder
- 1. Chop candied ginger into fairly small pieces.
- 2. If ginger syrup is too thick to mix, that’s okay, just heat it up for 10 seconds in the microwave. If it melts the coconut oil when you add it, that’s okay, either leave at room temperature until it hardens again or put in the fridge for 20 minutes (this is also a good trick if your kitchen is warm enough that your coconut oil is too soft).
- 3. Mix coconut oil, ginger syrup and cocoa powder in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium speed until fluffy.
- 4. Add chopped candied ginger and mix just to combine.
- 5. Spread into a 9”x9” baking pan. Chill in the refrigerator until set (at least 1 hour). Cut into squares and enjoy (store in the fridge or freezer).
There is something just so delicious about the sweet potent punch of candied ginger. As a kid, I never understood the enjoyment my mother took from candied ginger. As an adult, I think I may love it even more than she does, if that’s even possible. Ginger is also a wonderful digestive aid. I find it especially useful on days when I eat something I shouldn’t (whether inadvertently or with full knowledge of what an idiot I’m being) to help calm my digestive tract and speed the recovery process along. This candied ginger is very easy to make. And by using honey instead of the more common table sugar and/or corn syrup, this recipe is not only paleo, but also GAPS-, SCD-, SIBO-, and Autoimmune Protocol-friendly.
When you make this honey-candied ginger, you will also end up making ginger honey. Don’t throw this ginger honey away. You can either store the ginger in the honey or store them separate (either way they will keep for several months in your fridge). Many people enjoy candied ginger plain, but it’s also delightful dipped in dark chocolate (I’ll be posting my recipe for ginger fudge on Friday). Chopped candied ginger is a delightful addition to many cookies and muffin recipes. Ginger honey can substitute for any liquid sweetener in your favorite recipes and you can make a pretty awesome chicken wing marinade from it. And perhaps one of my favorite desserts is to add some chopped candied ginger and a drizzle of the ginger honey to slices of fresh apricot, peach, or pineapple.
1. Peel ginger and slice as thinly as possible. I used my Mandoline Slicer set on 1/8” thick.
2. Bring ginger and 2 cups water to a boil in a pot over high heat. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, then uncover and continue to simmer another 10-15 minutes, until tender (depending on the thickness of your slices).
3. Drain all but ¼ cup of water from the pot. Add honey to pot. Simmer uncovered over lowheat for another 30 minutes until ginger has turned darker in color and slightly translucent. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn.
4. Remove from heat. If you want to store the candied ginger in the syrup, simply pour the contents of the pot into a glass jar to cool. Otherwise, strain ginger syrup from the candied ginger by pouring through a strainer or remove individual pieces of ginger from the pot using a fork. Enjoy!
April 30, 2012 in Candies and Confections
The great thing about giving up egg whites is that I’m inspired to try new recipes for treats without eggs! This fudge is ridiculously easy to make and delicious (addictive really, I had to stop making it because I couldn’t help myself). It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture thanks to the coconut oil and can be eaten directly out of the fridge or freezer (which means that even keeping it in the freezer didn’t slow me down!). These can be a bit delicate to cut into squares. I remove the entire batch out of the pan onto a cutting board and cut in small squares rather than rows to keep it from cracking. It helps to pre-cut them in the pan before they are completely set (say after about 20 minutes in the fridge).
- 2 cups extra virgin coconut oil (this is a good time to break out the Gold Label)
- 1 cup raw or natural unsweetened Cacao Powder
- 1/3 cup Grade B Maple Syrup (you could also substitute Honey)
- 1½ cups Walnuts (Raw or Roasted), roughly chopped
1. Whip coconut oil in the bowl of a standing mixer until fluffy (2-3 minutes).
2. Add cocoa powder and maple syrup and continue to whip until completely combined (about 1 minute, but you might need to scrape the sides a couple of times).
3. Add chopped walnuts and mix just to combine.
4. Spread into a 9”x9” baking pan. Chill in the refrigerator until set (at least 1 hour). Cut into squares and enjoy (store in the fridge or freezer).
Do you need help finding any ingredients? Check out Important Pantry Items for the Paleo Baker.
Cadbury Creme Eggs are my all-time favorite treat. In the past (like when I was 120 pounds heavier than I am now), I would start buying them as soon as they were available in the stores before Easter and stock-pile them for the months afterward (I would literally eat 2-3 every day for months). So to see them appear in the stores this year (full of crazy amounts of sugar and dozens of ingredients that my family and I just don’t eat anymore) filled me with a mixed sense of nostalgia, revulsion, and temptation. It quickly became my obsession to create a version of these with something like one third the sugar content and without any gut-irritating ingredients. Now, I feel like I can indulge that creme egg craving, without causing serious damage to my gut and without completely derailing my efforts to be healthy.
Yes, this recipe contains sugar. If you’re wondering about the use of sugar in a paleo treat, you might want to check out Is Sugar Paleo? and maybe TPM Tidbit: How I Feel about Paleofied Baked Goods. Also, this recipe makes at least 4 dozen creme eggs, so it works out to just less than 2.5 tsp of sugar per egg (compared to about 6 tsp of sugar in the Cadbury version).
The first step for making creme eggs is to make a fondant. Two tools that you absolutely need for making fondant are a Oil & Candy Thermometer and a Standing Mixer with a metal bowl (okay, you could actually mix the fondant by hand in a slow figure eight motion with a spatula in a glass or metal bowl for thirty minutes after removing from the heat, if you really wanted to). But other than having to watch the temperature as it simmers, it’s actually really easy to make. As the fondant cools, I mix in a little extra water to thin it out and some vanilla for flavor. At his point, this is the non-corn syrup version of what the creme egg center is made of (and if you really, really wanted to OD on sugar, you could use it straight). I then “dilute” the fondant with Palm Shortening, resulting in a much lower sugar creme filling and adding some healthy fats too! Note: Extra Virgin Coconut Oil does not work. It separates from the fondant and creates a disgusting mucus-like texture. I think that grass-fed butter may work, but I haven’t tried it. As an aside, if you were interested in making fondant for other purposes (decorating a cake, for example), don’t thin it out with water as it cools and then knead the dough by hand after it’s done mixing to room temperature.
This fondant recipe makes enough fondant for about 4 dozen creme eggs (depending on the size of your Candy Mold). It would keep a very long time in your fridge (at least a few months), so if you don’t want that many eggs, you could just save the remaining fondant for the future.
A note on assembly: the instructions are lengthy, but I assure you these are quite easy to make. This was my first time making fondant and my first time working with Candy Molds. You can see from my photos that my eggs aren’t perfect, but they still look pretty darned good if you ask me. So, don’t worry if your eggs aren’t quite perfect. By the time you are staring at a basket full of them, you really won’t care!
Ingredients (Honey Fondant):
- 2 cups organic granulated sugar (it would be healthier to use Sucanat, but your “whites” won’t be as light)
- 1/3 cup Honey
- 1 cup + ¼ cup water
- 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract (you will get even whiter “whites” than I did if you use Clear Vanilla)
1. Combine sugar, honey and 1 cup of water into a pot with a Oil & Candy Thermometer attached to the side.
2. Bring to a boil over low heat. You might want to stir a couple of times at the beginning but once it starts to simmer, don’t stir it.
3. The temperature will slowly increase. Bring it up to 238F-240F and then immediately remove it from the heat. It should take something like 15 minutes to get up to temperature.
4. Pour into the metal bowl of your standing mixer and mix at low speed with flat beater or paddle blade.
5. During the first five minutes of mixing, slowly add the extra ¼ cup water and then the vanilla (just a few drops at a time).
6. Let the fondant slowly mix while it cools down to room temperature. This will take roughly forever, depending on the temperature of your kitchen (well, maybe 30 minutes, but it will likely feel like forever). Pour into an airtight container and let it sit at room temperature for 12 hours, or overnight.
Ingredients (Creme Egg Center):
- 2/3 cup fondant (about half of the batch)
- 1 cup palm shortening (add more for a less sweet egg; I like Tropical Traditions or Spectrum Palm Shortening)
- 1 tsp Turmeric
1. Mix room temperature fondant with palm shortening. Divide creme into two bowls, roughly 2/3 in one bowl (for the whites) and 1/3 in the second bowl (for the yolks).
2. Add turmeric to the 1/3 bowl. Mix well (makes a lovely yellow color but the dominant flavor is still the vanilla).
3. If you are going to use molds for assembly, chill the yellow creme in the fridge for at least 1 hour but leave the white creme at room temperature. If you are going to shape my hand, chill both in the fridge.
Ingredients (Creme Eggs):
- 6 oz 70-85% dark chocolate, (I used 4 squares of Unsweetened Chocolate and 2 squares of Semi-Sweet Chocolate to get about 85%).
- White and yellow creme
Candy Mold Method (assuming you have 2 identical “half-egg” molds):
1. Melt chocolate on low heat in a small saucepan, double boiler or in the microwave on medium power. Let it cool until quite thick (the warmer it is, the thinner your chocolate shell will be)
2. Using the back of a teaspoon, a small spatula, a pastry brush, or a clean paint brush, coat your mold.
3. Place in the freezer for 1-2 minutes for the chocolate to harden. Remove from the freezer.
4. Spoon enough white creme into the mold to fill about ¾ of the way to the top (a little more than 1 tsp in my molds).
5. Use a spoon or small scoop (a Melon Baller was perfect size for my eggs) to create a ball of yellow creme (this is much easier if the creme is cold). Place on top of the white creme near the base of the egg, so create the “yolk”. It’s okay with the yellow creme ball is above the top of the mold. Place these “yolk halves” in the freezer to harden (about 20 minutes).
6. Coast the second mold with chocolate. Place in the freezer for 1-2 minutes to harden.
7. Using a small paint brush or back of a spoon, add a little melted chocolate around the rim of each egg half (this is the glue that will hold the two halves together).
8. Spoon white creme into the molds, filling about 1/2-3/4 of the way. You might want to try one or two to get the amount right. Too much will spill out when you assemble the two halves, too little won’t be the end of the world but you’ll have a bit of a hollow egg.
9. Remove the yolk halves from the freezer. Gently pop out of the molds and ease it onto the new halves you just made.
10. If you have molds like mine with a stick hole for lollypops, use a little melted chocolate and a small brush to paint over the hole with chocolate. Also paint over any part of the seam where you can see the two halves didn’t join well.
11. Put the eggs back in the freezer and let harden 20 minutes before popping out of the molds.
12. Repeat until you have used up all your creme (or have as many creme eggs as you want). Store in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat them (they taste best at room temperature but don’t take very long to thaw).
Free Form Method (for if you don’t want to buy molds):
1. Make a small ball of yellow creme (a Melon Baller works well).
2. Use about twice as much white as you have yellow and use your hands to press all around the yolk and form into an egg shape (remind you of playing with play d’oh?).
3. Place on a baking sheet or plate gently insert a toothpick or kabab skewer into one end of your creme balls.
4. Put in the freezer for at least 20 minutes to harden.
5. Melt chocolate on low heat in a small saucepan, double boiler or in the microwave on medium power. Let it cool until quite thick (the warmer it is, the thinner your chocolate shell will be)
6. Remove creme balls from freezer and dip into melted chocolate. Roll back and forth while the chocolate hardens. Place back on the plate and put them back into the freezer for another 10-20 minutes.
7. Remove from the freezer. Remove the toothpick or skewer. Paint over the hole with a little extra chocolate.
8. Repeat until you have used up all your creme (or have as many creme eggs as you want). Store in the fridge or freezer until you are ready to eat them (they taste best at room temperature but don’t take very long to thaw).