Chocolate Nut Butter Fudge

fudgeby Karen Frazier

I bought a few cans of coconut milk the other day and found, as often happens, the coconut milk had separated into cream at the top of the can with the water condensing in the bottom. This separation of the solids and liquids, I realized, is the perfect way to add a creamy element to a lot of different foods.

My first thought was using these coconut milk solids (the coconut cream) to make icing, since they had a texture similar to chilled butter, albeit a bit creamier and less dense. However, I didn’t feel like messing with paleo flours to bake a cake or brownies, but I still wanted to mess around with the cream a bit.

Then it hit me. If I mixed the coconut cream with a nut butter and some melted chocolate, it would develop a fudge-like consistency. Or that was my hope. So I gave it a try, and it worked. The result was a creamy, low-carb, vegan, paleo, tasty fudge with the perfect texture and the exact right level of sweetness.

You’ll need to use canned coconut milk here – the full-fat kind, not lite coconut milk. Usually you can tell if the solids and liquids have separated by giving the can a shake and listening. There won’t be a liquid sloshing sound. If, for some reason, it hasn’t separated, then you can refrigerate the unopened can overnight, which should do the trick.

The cans of coconut milk where this is most likely to happen are those without any additives or emulsifiers – so check the ingredients and make sure it only lists coconut cream and water. This is the type that is most likely to separate.

When you open the can, pour away the water and use a rubber spatula to scrape all of the solid coconut cream out. Some stores also sell coconut cream, and you can use that, as well.

Choose a nut butter that works with your diet. If you’re paleo, sugar-free, organic almond butter works well here. If you’re not paleo, then use organic, sugar-free peanut butter instead. I don’t specify an amount of liquid stevia (for paleo), or liquid sucralose (for non-paleo, low-carb) because sweetness preferences vary. I tend to like my dessert not very sweet, so I don’t add a lot of sweetener. To get the right amount of sweetness, add a bit of the liquid sweetener (5-10 drops), taste, add more, taste – and continue until you reach the desired sweetness level.

Chocolate Nut Butter Fudge

  • 2 ounces unsweetened dark, vegan chocolate
  • 1/3 cup nut butter
  • 1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk, drained or 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Liquid stevia or liquid sucralose to taste
  1. Line an eight-inch square pan with parchment.
  2. In your microwave or on the stove, melt the nut butter and chocolate. If melting on the stovetop, do it on low heat and stir frequently. In the microwave, cook on high for 30 seconds, stir, and repeat until smooth.
  3. In a medium-sized bowl or stand mixer, beat the melted chocolate and nut butter, coconut cream, vanilla, and sweetener until smooth. Taste and add more sweetener as desired.
  4. Pour into the prepared pan using a rubber spatula to spread it in an even layer. Freeze for one hour. Cut into squares, and store the fudge in a zipper bag in the fridge or freezer.

photo credit: Coffee Fudge via photopin (license)

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Drunken Steak

drunken steakby Karen Frazier

If you have steak that’s looking for a good time, then drunken steak is for you. It’s a really delicious way to prepare skirt steak or tri-tip.

  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha
  • 1 skirt steak
  1. Whisk together the bourbon, soy sauce, garlic, and sriracha.
  2. In a shallow bowl or a zipper bag, marinate the steak in the above mixture for eight hours.
  3. Grill on high heat for three to five minutes per side.
  4. Cut the steak against the grain into thin strips.

Low-Carb Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

IMG_1460by Karen Frazier

When I take a day off from paleo, it’s often for dairy foods. However, I always try to keep carbs deeply in check and still use the healthiest forms of the ingredients I can find. So while I may occasionally make, oh….say….a cheese cake, I make it as low in carbs as possible. I also do it infrequently – once or twice a year – so when I do, it’s a real treat.

Jim’s favorite low-carb cheesecake is a pumpkin-bourbon cheesecake with Chinese five spice powder, but I love peanut butter. So I thought I’d try to make a cheesecake that has peanut butter cup flavors, but keep it relatively low-carb.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 3/4 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 cup Swerve sweetener, Truvia (the kind without sugar), or erythritol
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed butter

For the filling:

  • 4 (8 ounce) packages grass-fed cream cheese, softened
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup grass-fed sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups Swerve sweetener, Truvia (not the baking blend, which has sugar), or erythritol

For the topping:

Instructions

For the crust:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch spring-form pan with grass-fed butter on the bottom and sides.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the pecans, peanuts, sweetener, and cocoa powder for ten one-second pulses.
  3. Add the butter and pulse for ten more one-second pulses.
  4. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared spring form pan and set aside.

For the filling:

  1. In a stand mixer, food processor, or a large bowl (you can use an electric mixer to mix), combine all of the filling ingredients. Process or mix until smooth.
  2. Pour into the prepared spring form pan, spreading it over the top of the crust.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the middle is set, 50 to 55 minutes.

For the topping:

  1. In a small bowl, beat the sour cream, peanut butter, and sweetener until smooth.
  2. Spread the mixture evenly over the top of the cheesecake as soon as it comes out of the oven. Return the cheesecake to the oven for five minutes.
  3. Cool the cheesecake on a wire rack for two hours.
  4. In a small bowl, mix together the chopped peanuts and the chocolate chips.
  5. Sprinkle evenly over the topping.
  6. Run a butter knife around the inside edge of the pan.
  7. Release the cheesecake from the spring form. Refrigerate for two more hours.

Low-Carb Nachos

IMG_1462by Karen Frazier

I’m a big believer in the 90/10 principle of a paleo diet. Stick with paleo foods 90 percent of the time, and about 5 to 10 percent of the time you can sneak in a little something extra. For me, that something extra is often dairy. While I have a dairy allergy, it isn’t debilitating, although I will be stuffed up and inflamed for a day or two after eating it. Still, occasionally I sneak it in – just not very often.

However, even during that 10 percent of the time, I try to stay low-carb. I always avoid sugar, grains, gluten, starchy foods, and most processed foods. In fact, for me, dairy (and occasional sweetener like stevia/erythritol combos, or peanuts/peanut butter are my non-paleo foods I enjoy.

And every once in a while, I get a powerful hankering for nachos. That’s when I pull out these low-carb bad boys that have all the stuff that tastes marvelous with fewer carbs than traditional nachos. The dish is pictured here with a low-carb vodka, soda, lime cocktail.

This recipe serves 3 to 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound grass-fed ground beef
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups grated grass-fed Colby Jack cheese
  • 4 ounces grass-fed Monterey Jack cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup guacamole (or more)
  • 2 tablespoons grass-fed sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Chopped green onions (for garnish)

Instructions

  1. In a large saute pan, cook the ground beef on medium-high, crumbling as you cook, until browned, about five minutes.
  2. Reduce the heat to low. Add the water, chili powder, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for four minutes. Set aside.
  3. Line your microwave with a piece of parchment.
  4. Working a quarter cup at a time, mound the Colby-Jack (or cheddar) cheese on the parchment, and then spread it into a thin layer in a rough circle.
  5. Microwave for two minutes on high, or until the cheese is browned and crisp.
  6. Peel the cheese from the parchment and place it on a cold ceramic plate to cool. Continue working with the Colby-Jack cheese until you’ve used it all.
  7. Break the large pieces of cheese into smaller bite sized pieces, putting them on a plate.
  8. Sprinkle the cheese chips with the grated Pepper Jack cheese. Microwave for one minute, or until cheese melts.
  9. Top with the ground beef, guacamole, sour cream salsa, and sprinkle with the green onions.