Tag Archives: chocolate

Paleo double chocolate muffins/cupcakes and coconut cream frosting.

These cupcakes may be decorated for Halloween, but let me begin by sharing something that I just learned:

Paleo baking isn’t scary!!!

To keep the record straight, I have no intention of abandoning my beloved grains. But I had lately begun to notice that so much of my cooking was bordering on Paleo anyway–without being a buzzword–that it seemed like a logical experiment, especially when I learned that my oldest’s 1st-grade teacher is celiac.

So what is Paleo cooking? Basically the idea, and hence the name, is to eat what was available to our cave-dwelling ancestors (but a whole lot tastier and with more variety!): meat, eggs, seafood, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. No dairy, grains, sugar, or artificial junk. (Obviously the sprinkles are NOT Paleo.)

So clean eating is basically Paleo + dairy and whole grains. And when you’re eating dairy-free anyway, the only thing you have left to cut out is the grains! Again, I don’t plan to cut out grains altogether, but occasional paleo choices have helped me lower my carb intake and see results around my waistline, even when indulging in occasional treats like this one.

These are really just muffins with frosting, and they taste just fine without the frosting. In fact, my coconut-averse middle child (is she really my child???) prefers them without the frosting, but they’re so much more fun to decorate with it!

The verdict? Let’s just say that her teacher asked to know my secret to successful gluten-free baking.

Double Chocolate Paleo Muffins/Cupcakes

(original recipe here)

  • 3/4 cup almond meal
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder (darker is better if you like richer muffins)
  • 3 Tbsp Enjoy Life or other allergy-friendly mini chocolate chips
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • optional: 1/2 scoop protein powder (we used Vega brand chocolate flavor)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp unsweetened applesauce or coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 9 cups of a muffin tin with paper liners, or use a silicone muffin tin.
  2. In a smallish bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, applesauce or oil, honey, and vanilla until smooth.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients, mix until well incorporated, then stir in chocolate chips.
  5. Pour scant 1/4 cupfuls of batter into papers. Bake 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Coconut Cream Frosting

  • can full-fat coconut milk, refrigerated at least 24 hours
  • 1/2 tsp (or to taste) vanilla
  • 1 tsp (or to taste) honey
  1. Keep can steady and DO NOT SHAKE while removing from the refrigerator and opening with a can opener. Skim the cream off the top and spoon into a small bowl.
  2. Add vanilla and honey; whisk well for 2 minutes. If desired, place back in the refrigerator to firm up more.
  3. Frost muffins and decorate as desired.

Dairy-free | Soy-free | Gluten-free | Paleo


Filed under Recipes

Double-chocolate avocado whole-wheat muffins.

That’s quite a mouthful of a title, isn’t it? Let’s give them a tastier (i.e. not healthy-sounding) nickname: Happy Chocolate Muffins. Or something.

muffinsWho else has a picky eater in their house? My 15-month-old is ours. She won’t drink milk, so we’re still nursing (even at night – woo-hoo!), & though she’s consistently at around the 90th percentile for height, over the past 6 months we’ve seen her weight drop from 50th… to 30th… to 14th. One month we learned she lost a pound. Yikes! So under doctor’s orders I’ve been trying to find creative ways to incorporate the healthy fats she’s not getting from whole milk or the many foods she won’t eat into foods she will eat. I plan to post some of the tips & tricks I’ve been learning in the near future, but in the meantime, here’s my latest discovery:

Using avocado instead of butter or oil in baked goods.

Huge revelation!

Avocados are amazing. According to WebMD, “Avocados are a good source of fiber, potassium, and vitamins C,K, folate, and B6. Half an avocado has 160 calories, 15 grams of heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and only 2 grams saturated fat. One globe contains more than one-third daily value of vitamin C, and more than half the day’s requirements of vitamin K.”

So after one particularly scary weight check at the doctor’s office, I bought an avocado on sale & then asked my friends on Facebook for ways to sneak it into a picky toddler’s diet. I got tons of great ideas! Smoothies, mashed with bananas (that worked, like, once), & baked into stuff. One friend sent me the recipe below.

On the first try, these were tasty… if a little dense. The original recipe called for using all whole-wheat flour. The girls didn’t seem to mind, but, my husband said it tasted like a “chocolate bran muffin.” I remade them last night with half whole-wheat, half all-purpose, & they were an even bigger hit! If you’re concerned that your kids (or your husband!) will suspect & thus not eat the “healthy” muffins, start with the proportions below; then, if you want to make it healthier, gradually increase the proportion of whole-wheat. And don’t say anything about the avocado; you can’t taste it, & it’ll just give them a reason to turn up their noses at these. There’s no point if they won’t eat them, right? I also added flaxseed for more healthy fats, omega-3s, lignans, & fiber.

The original recipe was for mini-muffins, but since I don’t have a mini-muffin tin (what?!), mine are regular-sized. Mini-muffins are a perfect size to put in your little one’s lunchbox when school starts next month.

  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal (pour into 1-cup measuring cup before adding the flour & then fill the rest with the flour)
  • 1 1/3 cup (minus 2 Tbsp.) all-purpose flour*
  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour*
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 large, ripe Hass avocado
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (if making mini-muffins, use mini chocolate chips)

* The original recipe calls for all whole-wheat flour, but my family is more likely to eat them this way.

  1. Preheat oven to 375. Spray wells of muffin tin generously with cooking spray. (I tried using papers, but they stuck like crazy. So don’t be like me.)
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. Beat the avocado & sugar together around 3 minutes, or until smooth. Isn’t that beautiful?avocado
  4. Beat in liquid ingredients. Slowly add dry ingredients, stirring until incorporated.
  5. Fold in chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon into wells of muffin tin. Bake for 18 minutes for regular muffins, or 15 minutes for mini-muffins. Makes 2 dozen regular muffins or 4 dozen mini-muffins.

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Filed under Healthy living, Recipes

S’mores Bars.

Wow. Just wow. Blondies + s’mores = droooooooool…

I pinned this months ago, but I’ve never been a consumer of Marshmallow Fluff — in fact, any time I think about it, the line from Julie & Julia comes to mind, “What eez zees marshmallow fluff?” But I followed Mel’s advice & overcame my Fear of the Fluff. SO WORTH IT.

Overcome your Fear of the Fluff & make these. Now. (Original recipe here.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about a sleeve of graham crackers, crushed)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups marshmallow fluff or creme
  • 2 cups chocolate chips (I used semisweet, but milk would be more authentically s’mores)
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, leaving an overhang on the short edges, & spray the foil with cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  3. In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream together butter & brown sugar. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
  4. Reduce speed to low & gradually add flour mixture until combined.
  5. Divide dough in half. Press one half into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer.
  6. Dollop on the marshmallow topping & gently spread in an even layer.
  7. Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top.
  8. Scatter remaining dough in clumps on top, leaving some of the marshmallow & chocolate peeking through.
  9. Bake 30-32 minutes, or until golden & the marshamllow is good & toasty.
  10. Let cool completely before removing the bars using the foil, cutting, & enjoying.

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Filed under Recipes

Easy Valentine’s Dessert: 6-Ingredient Molten Chocolate Cakes.

For those of you looking for a last-minute dessert idea for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day, here is a molten chocolate cake that tastes every bit as fancy as the restaurant ones, but is easy enough to leave plenty of time for romance!

These beauties became a family tradition for us the first Valentine’s Day after The Munchkin was born, when we weren’t able to go out. This year we actually got a babysitter & get to go out for the first Valentine’s Day since then, so I decided to make them tonight for Sunday Dinner so I could share the recipe with you. I’m sure that My Husband The Eater minded terribly.

I think I first got this from Kraft food&family magazine. This recipe yields 4 small cakes; you can easily halve it for just the two of you, or make the full recipe & save the other 2 to eat later (though they will be less molten). I won’t judge you one bit…. since that’s what we do every year.

  • 4 (1 oz.) squares Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate (or for more richness, use 4 oz. of your favorite bittersweet chocolate)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 6 Tbsp. flour
  • whipped cream or ice cream, for serving
  1. Preheat your oven to 425. Butter or grease 4, 3/4-cup custard cups or souflee dishes. Place them on a baking sheet.
  2. Microwave chocolate & butter in a large microwaveable bowl on high 1 minute or until butter is melted. Stir with a wire whisk until the chocolate is melted too.
  3. Stir in sugar with the whisk until well blended.
  4. Whisk in the eggs & egg yolks. Stir in flour.
  5. Divide the batter equally among prepared cups. Bake 13-14 minutes or until the sides are firm but the centers are still soft.
  6. Let stand 1 minute, then gently run a small knife around the cakes to loosen them. Carefully invert them onto dessert dishes & serve immediately with ice cream or whipped cream.


Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Patriotic Napoleons for Primary Election Day.

The Primaries are tomorrow here in Florida. The race has been hot, to say the least, with almost every single evening commercial break being completely taken up with campaign attack ads. Having already done my civic duty — it’s really easy to vote early here — I thought I’d commemorate the craziness with a little patriotism.

(You don’t need to explain the irony to me of using a French-named dessert… Maybe you could use this for Bastille Day this summer.)

I saw this easy Napoleon recipe on TidyMom a week ago & knew I needed to make it. I love that the thick pudding/whipped cream mixture is essentially a quick pastry cream! Her version uses raspberries & bananas, which sounded good, but strawberries & blueberries are in season here, & I have to tell you, they’re the best I’ve ever tasted. Living in the same county as the top growers for Florida strawberries, we’re getting Farmer’s Market quality in the grocery store! It’s unbelievable. So I thought I’d complement those berries with chocolate & cinnamon instead of TidyMom’s caramel & brown sugar.

That’s the great thing about this: you can do it however you want! I actually was going to do bananas too, but a certain husband ate the last one. Honestly, though, I don’t think we missed them!

One quick note: in the future, I think I’ll use puff pastry instead of crescent dough for a flakier, more authentic texture.

  • 1 (8 oz.) can refrigerated crescent rolls (or use puff pastry)
  • cinnamon sugar
  • 1 cup cold skim milk
  • 1 box (4-serving size) French vanilla (regular vanilla works fine too) instant pudding & pie filling mix
  • 1 cup prepared whipped cream*
  • thinly sliced fruit of choice (bananas, strawberries, raspberries, whole blueberries)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
  • vegetable oil

*I made mine with very little powdered sugar so that it wouldn’t be overwhelmingly sweet. You could also use Cool Whip.

  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Cover a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Unroll your crescents into 4 rectangles. Pinch shut the seams that turn them into triangles. Use a pizza cutter or very sharp knife to cut each rectangle into 4 smaller rectangles, approx. 4″x2″. Place on prepared baking sheet & sprinkle each with cinnamon sugar.
  3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until golden & beginning to puff. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together milk & pudding mix until smooth & beginning to thicken, then refrigerate 30 minutes, until set.
  5. Fold in whipped cream. If you’re serving this later, cover with plastic wrap & refrigerate until ready to serve. If you’re serving immediately, continue.
  6. Microwave chocolate chips in a small bowl until melted. Stir in enough oil to thin the chocolate to where it is “drizzle-able” (pretend that’s a word).
  7. Construct Napoleons as follows: one crescent rectangle, dollop of pudding mixture, sliced fruit, another crescent rectangle, another dollop, more fruit, & one last crescent rectangle. Drizzle with chocolate. For small children, just dollop some pudding in a bowl, place a crescent rectangle in the pudding, & top with fruit & chocolate drizzle.

Get Your Craft On Tuesdays


Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Reindeer cookies.

The Munchkin has been looking forward to making these for DAYS. & they turned out just as great as we hoped they would!

I had originally thought to do spice cookies, but The Munchkin said peanut butter, so that’s what we did! Lucky for us, Bakergirl had already made delicious peanut butter reindeer cookies! Hers are for mini reindeer, but I had full-sized “features,” so I made them full-sized. It yielded 18 cookies instead of 40.

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • scant 3/4 tsp. salt (I felt it was plenty salty from the peanut butter)
  • pretzels (I think chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels would “stick” better)
  • green M&Ms
  • red Cadbury Christmas Mini Eggs (or you could use peanut M&Ms, but I’m kind of obsessed with the Cadbury Mini Eggs, so we’re using those)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together first 5 ingredients in your electric mixer. Add egg & beat until just blended.
  3. (Optional: combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.) Add to the wet ingredients & mix until just incorporated.
  4. Roll into 2-inch balls. Pinch one end between your thumb & forefinger for the “chin.” Then flatten between your palms. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet; I fit 9 on a sheet to keep them from spreading.
  5. Bake 9 minutes or until set in the middle & just starting to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven, & immediately (carefully!) press the pretzels in for antlers. Do this for all of the cookies right away; the pretzels don’t stick as well as the other “features.”
  7. Let your kitchen helper help you press in M&Ms for eyes (M side down, of course) & a Cadbury Mini Egg for a nose.

I was amazed at how good The Munchkin got at decorating these!

Her first attempts were rather… Picasso-like…

But by her 6th one, everything was in its proper place!

Who knew that cookie decorating could teach a two-&-a-half-year-old anatomy?
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Filed under Holidays, Recipes

Pumpkin-Chocolate-Chip Squares.

The Munchkin speaks very well for being 2 & a few months. She’s doing full sentences, & pronounces most words correctly, with the exception of the toddler W for Ls & most Rs. However, there’s one word in particular that she doesn’t say right, that I am just fine with her mispronouncing for the next month or two: pumpkin.

She pronounces it “pumpmick.” & it is so darn cute!

Saturday morning, My Husband The Occasional Perfectionist was trying to help her say it correctly. To his credit, he did get her to go from “wewk” to “milk,” but I’ll admit I wasn’t overly heartbroken when it didn’t quite take. A few minutes later she was saying the blessing on breakfast & trying to say “we thank thee that we get to go to the pumpkin patch today.” At first she said her usual “pumpmick,” but then paused, remembering that it wasn’t right. She then corrected herself: “mumpick.” Another pause; that didn’t sound right either. Finally she gave up & finished the prayer in a hurry: “name of Jesus Christ, amen.”

Thankfully, it’s still “pumpmick.” & she got her very own Munchkin-sized pumpmick at the pumpmick patch.

Now for some pumpmick — I mean, pumpkin — squares.

These are to die for. Period. I make these countless times every fall — it helps that the recipe uses exactly half a small can of pumpkin, so you just have to use up the rest, right? I mean, just look at all those moist, delicious crumbs! Martha really does it right.

  • 2 cups — spooned & leveled — all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice*
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 pkg. (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a 9×13 pan with foil, making sure that the foil goes up the sides.
  2. Combine the dry ingredients in a medium bowl; set it aside.
  3. Cream butter & sugar together until it’s smooth. Then beat in the egg & vanilla; scrape sides of bowl. Beat in pumpkin puree, making sure there’s no unincorporated butter mixture at the bottom.
  4. Mix in dry ingredients on low just until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out with just a few of those moist delicious crumbs I mentioned.
  7. Cool completely in the pan. (Yeah, right. You smell it & resist.) Use the foil edges to lift the bars from the pan, then peel off the foil & cut with a serrated knife. Enjoy!
Tidy Mom

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Filed under Holidays, Recipes