Sunday, June 17, 2012

Strawberry Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits with Almond Crumble (Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

I love it when an idea for a recipe pops into my head, and when I make it, it's actually better than I imagined. That is what happened today! I wanted to make a gluten free strawberry cheesecake-type thing. I figured I could make some kind of crumbly crust with almond flour but I didn't have any heavy cream for the cheesecake part. But I remembered that can of coconut milk sitting in my fridge just waiting to be made into coconut whipped cream :) And that is how this coconut cheesecake concoction was born. It tastes so good!! And who doesn't like desserts served in wine glasses?

Strawberry Coconut Cheesecake Parfaits with Almond Crumble

Makes 2 large parfaits

1 can full fat coconut milk (the Whole Foods 365 brand seems to work best), refrigerated overnight
1/2 c. softened cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c almond flour
1 tbsp coconut palm sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted (or oil of choice, but butter will taste best)
about 10 strawberries, chopped

1. Open your refrigerated can of coconut milk, and using a knife, put it about halfway down side of can, slowly cutting around the can (the fat of the coconut milk will have solidified so you need to get it out). Now cut the piece in half and use your knife to get the solid pieces out, trying not to get any of the liquid underneath. Place in medium sized bowl. Whip with electric mixer for about a minute.

2. In a small bowl, combine cream cheese, agave, and vanilla. Beat with electric mixer until combined. Add to whipped coconut milk and fold in until combined.

3. In very small bowl, combine melted butter, almond flour, and coconut palm sugar. Mix until combined (this will be a sticky mixture).

4. Put a large spoonful of coconut cream cheese mixture in your parfait cups. Next, sprinkle on some almond crumble, then add some chopped strawberries. Repeat once more. End with a dollop of cream cheese, more sprinkled almond crumble, and one strawberry cut in half for presentation.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Chocolate Almond Banana Biscuit-wich (gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

This was a tasty afternoon treat for my kids and I. I set them up a picnic outside with a simple trail mix on the side. We all loved it (especially me)! I know it looks like dessert, but it can actually be eaten for lunch!

This recipe was inspired by a recipe by Chocolate Covered Katie, and if you haven't checked out her page yet, you really need to. She posts such good, and also healthy, recipes!!

Chocolate Almond Banana Biscuit-wich

Serves 4

Coconut Flour Biscuits
1/3 cup coconut flour
3 tbsp butter, softened

2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 eggs
dash of salt

1. Preheat oven to 400 F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
2. Mix all ingredients in medium bowl with an electric mixer. 
3. Form 8 biscuits on your baking sheet, using your hands to shape them into 1/2 inch thick circles.
4. Bake 11-14 minutes until slightly brown.

Chocolate Banana Almond Butter
3 tbsp almond butter
1 1/2 tbsp hazelnut butter (you can sub a different nut butter, but this is my favorite)
1/2 large ripe banana (keep the other half for the sandwich)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients together in a blender, food processor, or just mash and stir it all together by hand. You can store extras in the fridge for a few days.

a few strawberries, sliced
other half of the banana, sliced

Spread both sides of the biscuits with the butter mixture, then place sliced strawberries and bananas on both sides. Put them together and eat!!

Trail Mix
If you were interested in what I used for my simple trail mix, here's what I put together (my 2 year old ate it, but my 4 year old wouldn't:

carob chips
sunflower seeds (no shells)
pumpkin seeds
almond slivers

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Almond Milk Chai Custard Tarts with Pears (gluten-free, refined sugar-free)

Beautiful, right? It tastes as good as it looks!

This recipe was based off of a wonderful recipe over at Roost. I loved her idea but wanted to change some things about it. Some of her ingredients were hard to find and I didn't feel like driving all over to find them, so I changed some things. I also wanted the crust to have some sweet in it. So this is what I came up with...

Almond Milk Chai Custard Tarts with Pears

Makes 6 mini tarts ( I used these 4" tart pans)

Almond Flour Crust
1 1/2 c. plus 1 tbsp Almond Flour
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 c. melted coconut oil

1 tbsp agave nectar
1/2 tbsp water

Grease 6 4" tart pans with oil. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. Divide crust into 6 equal sections and press into pans. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, until the edges are slightly golden brown. Let cool on wire racks until ready to use.

Riesling Poached Pears
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups Riesling
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod (reserve seeds for chai custard)
1/4 cup agave nectar or honey
2 slightly firm but ripe pears (any kind will work, i used d'Anjou pears)

Put all ingredients except for pears in a medium to large pot and bring to a boil. While waiting for it to boil, peel the pears and cut into quarters, and remove the cores. Slowly slip the pears into the boiling liquid and reduce to medium heat. Let pears simmer for about an hour or until very soft. When done, remove pears with slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to garnish custard.

Almond Milk Chai Custard
2 cups UNSWEETENED almond milk

3 chai tea bags (I used Trader Joe's Spiced Rooibos Ruby Red Chai)
3 egg yolks
1/4 c. agave nectar

1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp cornstarch
vanilla seeds (scraped from the vanilla pod used in the poached pears)

1. Pour almond milk into medium saucepan, cook on high until just before boiling. Remove from heat and place the tea bags in the milk. Let sit for 15 minutes (move the tea bags around every once in a while).
2. Meanwhile, in large bowl beat eggs yolks, agave and spices with electric mixer for about a minute. Add corn starch and beat until smooth and creamy.
3. Remove tea bags from milk, making sure to press the bags against the side of pan, squeezing as much liquid into the milk as you can.
Slowly add about ½ cup of the warm milk to the egg yolks, stirring constantly with wooden spoon. Add the rest of the milk, still stirring constantly, until well incorporated.
5. Pour mixture back into pan and but back on the stove and cook at just under medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon (do not let it boil!!). This might take up to 10 minutes.
6. Pour into a bowl and stir in vanilla seeds. Refrigerate for about an hour, until thickened a bit.

Cut pear quarters into about 5 slices each. Spoon custard into tarts and fan out each sliced pear quarter out on top of custard. You will have extra pear which you can distribute evenly between tarts or just save for later. (The pears taste great on top of yogurt and granola in the morning.) Sprinkle cinnamon over top if desired.

If your tart pans are like mine, you can remove the outer tart section from the bottom part of the pan, and serve tart on just the bottom part of the pan.

You may refrigerate any tarts in airtight container if not being eaten right away

Today's Thoughts...
I really love to bake new things, and create new recipes. But baking stops being fun when things start to go wrong. Does anyone agree with me on this? I was trying to make the custard and the first way I tried was just not working for me. I was getting so frustrated and was about to give up (I had already wasted 10 eggs by this time)! But I tried one more time, tweaking the recipe and using a different method, and it finally worked!! The custard turned out perfect, and I was really glad I kept at it. When recipes aren't going the way they should, I wish I could just see it as a challenge, but instead I come close to tears, lol. Do you get frustrated when things go wrong, or do you see it as a challenge? 

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