Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies || Coconut flour Brownies (Paleo)

 

  I wonder who discovered brownies and whether it was an accidental discovery? Was it a cake batter not rising adequately or a cookie batter becoming a bit runny? Well, we will never know for sure. But when I googled this question, it seems that in 1906, a cookbook author, Fanny Farmer adapted her chocolate cookie recipe to a bar cookie baked in a rectangular pan and this was published in the Boston Cooking School Cookbook1. Well, whoever discovered this cross between a cookie and a cake, definitely raised the bar (pun intended 🙂 ) on ‘snacking’ ! Can you imagine what kids’ school events, bake sales, other fund raising events and office parties would be without the ‘much coveted brownies’ ?

When I see folks going for the boxed brownie mix, it really saddens me! Ugh! I have a funny recipe related to this. So my very first month at work here in the US (many many moons ago :)), our departmental assistant baked these delicious brownies that were so perfect – a bit dense from outside but when you bit into it they were really gooey and so chocolatey. I was impressed. That was my first time eating a brownie ever! (yeah since in the late 1990s until I left India, brownies were not available there, alas!).  Since I loved baking, I immediately asked this assistant if she would share her recipe with me. She just looked at me and said ‘Oh I just add 3 eggs instead of two’.  I felt a little surprised by that response but more than that I felt embarrassed in front of my other colleagues that I wasn’t even aware of the general brownie recipe which everyone seemed to know about!  Well, it was only later that a friend told me that most folks generally use a boxed mix! what a tragedy! What is funny is that I don’t even think that using the boxed mix saves any time! So why add a few dozen chemicals into your body unnecessarily?

Anyways, sorry for that detour there! Getting back to homemade brownies, I have a few recipes that I have regularly used in the past. And then in the past couple years, I have been trying to bake healthier versions of brownies. One of them is the Black Bean Brownies.  My kids absolutely love this one.  So of late I have been meaning to try paleo brownies and I had pinned a few recipes.  Finally this past weekend I got a chance as we were having a get together with our friends and I had signed up to bring dessert!  So I chose a recipe that used coconut flour instead of almond flour since one of the kids was allergic to nuts. As I began ready to bake, I realized that I was out of maple syrup and so I replaced maple syrup with coconut sugar.  And then as I was wondering if the consistency of the brownie would get affected because of this change, my oven timer went off and I realized that I had just finished roasting a pumpkin. So you can guess what happened next! Yes, some pumpkin puree went into my brownie batter 🙂

Pleased to report that four kids cleaned up this batch in a matter of minutes! And since I knew what went in these delicious and moist brownies, I did not mind it all 🙂

The below recipe is adapted from ‘Paleo Chocolate Brownies’ from Empowered Sustenance.

Better Body Foods - coconut Flour

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Chocolate Pumpkin Brownies (Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Snacks
Cuisine: American, Fusion
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
A delicious and moist brownie made with coconut flour, cocoa and pumpkin puree and topped with dairy free chocolate chips
Ingredients
  • ½ cup minus 2 tbsp coconut flour (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 3 eggs, at room temperature
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • ¼ cup thick pumpkin puree, packed
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup dairy free chocolate chips(optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F (180 deg C) and grease a 8 by 8 in baking dish using coconut oil. Line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and beat using a hand-held electric blender. (You could use a stand mixer too).
  3. Add the coconut flour, cocoa, coconut sugar and the melted coconut oil. Continue mixing and then add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, salt and baking soda. Mix till well blended. The mix will be a bit thick and not too runny which is ok.
  4. Dump mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top if adding. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before cutting into squares.
Notes
Check for doneness beginning at 18 mins since you don't want to overbake them.

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Pumpkin Banana Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)

Finally we can say that fall has arrived in New England. This year the weather has been highly unusual with us seeing really high temperatures even in September. I bet that confused the trees and they forgot that their leaves needed to change color 🙂 I had been quite disappointed until now since the lovely and spectacular foliage that we usually are so blessed to witness, was not to be seen.

But that was until last week and now this week suddenly we started seeing colors everywhere. All of a sudden, driving the kids around town for their activities seems so pleasurable! I will occasionally also stop the car and take pictures, which results in the kids letting out sighs and protests 🙂 But I don’t care – I have got to get those pics!

After fall photography, fall baking was next on my list. My neighbor gave us a giant pumpkin that they grew in their backyard! It was so huge that I had to ask my husband’s help to cut into 4 pieces which then I roasted in the oven to get the puree. I also reserved the seeds as I normally do and toasted them too. Read my post on how to roast a pumpkin and on how to toast the seeds here.

I usually bake a pumpkin bread which is always loved by the kids.  This year I wanted to try and make a healthier version and so I searched for paleo versions of pumpkin bread. I found a recipe that looked good from ‘DoyouevenPaleo’ – Paleo Pumpkin Banana bread. I liked that since I had a very ripe banana that I wanted to use 🙂 But that recipe had almond flour and since I did not have that, I wanted to try making it using coconut flour. So I modified the recipe and tried it using coconut flour also adding some coconut oil to ensure the cake came out moist and not dry.  I added some walnuts for crunch factor since my husband loves nuts. But you can easily omit that and make this a nut free cake. Since I am writing this post, you can see that my experiment was a success! The kids and my husband said it was delicious. Since it has eggs, I did not try it – I am wary of reintroducing eggs. Perhaps next year! Anyways, glad the recipe turned out good. So now I can make this regularly for the kids since I have about 6 packs of pumpkin puree in the freezer!

Pumpkin Banana Bread (Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo)
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast, Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American, Fusion, Paleo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12
 
A scrumptious and healthy version of Pumpkin bread that is grain free, dairy free and refined sugar free, made using coconut flour
Ingredients
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 4 large eggs
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice
  • ½ tsp allspice
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, mashed banana, eggs, maple syrup, and mix until smooth using an electric mixer (or you can use a stand mixer). Add the coconut flour, tapioca flour, coconut oil, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix using mixer to blend well together. Add the walnuts and mix gently.
  3. Line a 9" x 5" loaf pan with parchment paper and pour in the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Notes
You can omit the walnuts and keep this cake totally nut free.

 

Mango Cashew Cake (Mango Cashew Pie)

In the raw cakes world, this would be called a vegan cheese cake. But I found that my followers were a little confused when I posted my first vegan cheese cake made with berries and cashews. So I will just call it ‘cashew cake’. Although it has cashews, coconut and dates too. And maple syrup. And some lemon juice and coconut oil. Don’t you love it when you can list all the ingredients in a cake using your 5 or 6 fingers? As opposed to that cake that you get from the supermarket bakery, which has like what close to 50 ingredients some of which you cannot even pronounce forget recognize.

Yes we like it simple. We like it clean. We like it healthy. Since that first time I made my first raw cake (cashew cake), I have made it 2 more times. Once I just kept it plain with vanilla flavor and added strawberries on top! The family loved it. The next time I made it for mother’s day where I made a 2 layer one with strawberry layer on top. And that was super and fabulous and totally delicious! Yes all the moms in our Mother’s day party were impressed. And the kids loved it too. (Btw, to see my day to day posts, please follow me on instagram. You see guys, I cook way more than I can write a blog post on. so I use instagram now to post my day to day recipes!)

So after mixed berries and strawberries, the next one I was dying to make was …yes you guessed it! Mango, of course!  Mangoes being my favorite fruit and them being in season it made perfect sense to make a Mango cashew cake.  So with some friends visiting us this past long weekend, I had the perfect opportunity to make the ‘Mango cheese cake’ and also showoff my ‘raw cake making’ talents to them 🙂

Btw, I just realized that we could call this cake a ‘pie’ too. Incidentally, Mango pie used to be the most common dessert that I used to make until recently. I have posted my famous Mango pie recipe before. And I still make it for some special occasions. However, in terms of a healthy dessert, this Mango Cashew Pie would be the winner hands-down. Refined sugar free, Dairy free and Gluten free! Eat as much as you like 🙂 Our guests appreciated this cake a lot. It was a beauty.  I also made a video of it. Here it is!

Mango Cashew Cake (Mango Cashew Pie)
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, Healthy Dessert
Cuisine: Raw, Vegan, Fusion
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8-10
 
A delicious cake(pie) made with cashews, mangoes and coconut.
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup finely shredded coconut (desiccated coconut)
  • 9-10 dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • Pinch sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 2 cups cashew nuts soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream(or thick coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh ripe mangoes
Instructions
  1. Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 12-24 hours.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. For making the crust, in a food processor blend all the crust ingredients except the shredded coconut. Then mix this with the shredded coconut in a bowl to form a thick mixture. Press this mixture to the bottom of the pan. Freeze the pan for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients except the mangoes to get a thick creamy filling.
  5. Pour ¾ of the this filling mixture onto the pan after the base has set. Then to the rest of the filling mixture, add the mangoes and again blend to get a creamy smooth mixture. Pour this over the top of the white filling layer. Place pan back in freezer for at least 5-6 hours.
  6. Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake. Place pan over warm water for 5 mins to help slide the bottom easily.
Notes
For making the crust, I do not blend the shredded coconut with the dates since then the mixture becomes too fine and the crust will become a hard crust. When you have loosely packed crust, it firms up perfectly after freezing. You can add more maple syrup if you prefer more sweetness.

 

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan ‘Cheese Cake’

I have to confess…until a few months ago I did not know that there were an increasing number of folks in the world who were following a totally ‘raw foods’ diet!  My first reaction was – wow, that’s great – so healthy and ‘no need to cook’!  I looked over a lot of raw food bloggers’ websites  and saw how creative they were getting with their raw food recipes!  Gosh, it is mind boggling! Personally for me I don’t think I can manage a complete raw food diet since I would crave for warm food from time to time!  However, hats off to those who can pull it off and doing well with it.

So anyways as I have started following more raw food bloggers on my instagram, I continue to get inspired by their creations. One of these was the ‘raw cheese cake’ which is only made using nuts, dried fruits and other fruits! Watching numerous such vegan ‘cheese’ cakes and reading their recipes, I have been meaning to try making one for a few weeks now. The fact that I am currently on a AIP (autoimmune protocol) version of the Paleo diet was one reason – cos I am not allowed to eat nuts on this diet :(.  However, last week was hubby dear’s birthday. Him being a lover of cashew nuts , I thought why not give this raw cheese cake a try?

I looked for recipes and found that the basic recipe was pretty much same – nuts and dates for the crust or the base. And then a cashew nut cream filling. Then you can use your imagination for flavors – I decided to use mixed berries to create a two layer cake. And then topped it with a lot of fresh berries.  I also decided to do the crust only with shredded coconut and dates. I was so proud of my creation!  Our rhododendron had just blossomed too and the color of the topping of the cake perfectly matched with the light purple flowers! What a beautiful evening it was – my husband absolutely loved the taste of the cake!  He said it was better than any dairy cheese cake that he had before! The kids also loved it. I also had a couple bites – I had to see the result of my efforts, you see? 🙂  – Creamy, mildly sweet filling combined with the wonderful coconut crust  made for a delectable dessert! Simply superb is my verdict.

Btw, I would like to mention here a few of the bloggers who have inspired me to make this cake and whom I love to follow:

Edgar raw: https://www.instagram.com/edgarraw/?hl=en

Olivia from Lovehealthok : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoCEQG-JcqA

Sophie from A squirrel in the kitchen : http://asquirrelinthekitchen.com

Bringing this raw, vegan cake to the Plant based Potluck party this week.

Venturing into the Raw foods world: A super yummy vegan 'Cheese Cake'
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert, sugar free dessert
Cuisine: Vegan raw cake
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
For the crust:
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 9 dates
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted
  • Pinch sea salt
For the Filling:
  • 2 cups cashew nuts soaked overnight
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp coconut cream
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup mixed berries
Instructions
  1. Soak cashew nuts in warm water and let sit for at least 24 hours.
  2. Line the bottom and sides of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper.
  3. For making the crust, in a food processor blend all the crust ingredients except the shredded coconut. Then mix this with the shredded coconut in a bowl to form a thick mixture. Press this mixture to the bottom of the pan. Freeze the pan for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the filling by blending all the filling ingredients (without adding any water) except the berries to get a thick creamy filling.
  5. Pour ¾ of the this filling mixture onto the pan after the base has set. Then to the rest of the filling mixture, add the berries and again blend to get a creamy smooth mixture. Pour this over the top of the white filling layer. Place pan back in freezer for at least 5-6 hours.
  6. Remove pan from freezer about 30 mins before serving the cake.
Notes
For making the crust, I do not blend the shredded coconut with the dates since then the mixture becomes too fine and the crust will become a hard crust. When you have loosely packed crust, it firms up perfectly after freezing.

Christmas Cake (Dry Fruit and Nut Cake)

dsc_1726-1Now this is a cake that I have been meaning to make for ever. I have looked at several recipes over the past few years and saved a few too. But somehow not got around baking it.

Growing up in Mumbai, Plum Cake was a common pantry item. Yes I am serious – you would find store bought Plum cake anytime in our kitchen. It was probably related to my dad’s love for this cake I guess. As a result, whenever we had unexpected guests, they were promptly served some plum cake with tea 🙂  We sisters for some reason over the years began to not like this cake as much – I think it was  a consequence of it being available 12 months of the year I guess 🙂 But now after several years, memories of the moist cake filled with the delicious flavors of dried plums soaked in rum, made me want to try baking it. Plus the fact that I could load it with a ton of healthy ingredients – dried fruits and nuts made it even more attractive.

Early this year I came across a wonderful recipe on Pinterest which specifically had the recipe for Kerala Christmas Cake.  Looking over the recipe and seeing the huge amount of dry fruits it asked for , I knew this was the one I wanted to make. I also made a note that I would replace the all purpose flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  However, in our mad baking frenzy yesterday, I forgot to use whole wheat flour. I did use a wide mix of dry fruits – dried plums(prunes), dates,dried figs,dried cherries, dark raisins and dried cranberries.  img_0014I soaked the dry fruits only 24 hours in advance vs the 1 month in advance that the recipe called for.  I also did not use rum as the recipe called for but used a dash of cherry flavored brandy that I had lying around in my pantry along with some apple juice. I also reduced the quantity of sugar since I was adding so much dried fruit. My kids don’t like too strong orange flavor so I replaced the orange marmalade in the recipe with honey. And just used a dash of orange juice to give a citrusy flavor. Finally I also added pumpkin spice since everyone in my family loves that particular blend of spices.

dsc_1745-1The mixing of the batter was some work and I am glad I had my kiddos helping me. The egg yolks and whites have to be beaten separately etc.  All the hard work paid off and the cake came out simply fabulous.  So flavorful and moist.  And so so rich and delicious. ! The only one downside was that I had not chopped the dry fruits very fine so it was hard to get thin slices of the cake. But that’s after all not such a bad problem to have I guess 🙂

This recipe makes two large cakes and we are bringing these to our Christmas gathering with friends. I am sure these will be devoured in no time!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Christmas Cake (Dry Fruit and Nut Cake)

  • Servings: Makes 2 large round 8-9 inch cakes
  • Time: 60 minutes preparation time and 60 minutes baking time
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Print

Recipe adapted from Lifescoops

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 Cup  – granulated Sugar plus 1 tbsp water
    5 Cups – Dry Fruits(I used mix of dark Raisins, dried Cranberries, dried Cherries, dried Figs, Prunes and Dates)
    1 Cup – Water
    1/4 Cup – Cherry flavored brandy
  • 1/4 cup apple juice

    Ingredients for Cake
    2 1/2 Cups- All Purpose Flour (Maida)
    1 ½ Tsp – Baking powder
    ½ Tsp – Baking Soda
    1/2 Tsp – sea salt
    1 /2 tsp – Allspice
    1/2 Tsp – Cinnamon
    1 Tsp – Pumpkin spice
    —-
    2 and 3/4 sticks (approx 310 gms) – unsalted Butter
    2 cups- granulated Sugar or raw cane sugar
    5 – Egg Yolks
    —-
    1 Tsp- Vanilla essence
    3Tbsp – Honey
    2 tbsp orange juice
    —-
    5 – Egg Whites

    —-
    1 Cup – Chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Directions

Soaking the dried fruits:

  • At least a day or two in advance,  soak the dry fruits. (You can do weeks in advance too)
  • Finely chop the dry fruits and keep aside. In a non-stick sauce pan, add the 2/3 cups sugar along with the tbsp of water and let it heat on medium so that it starts to caramelize. Once the sugar caramelizes or turns into brown color (will take about 10-12 minutes), stir occasionally to mix the sugar to avoid burning. Once all the sugar is caramelized – i.e. turned into brown liquid, take the sauce pan off the heat and carefully add the 1 cup water little by little. Be very careful to avoid splashes as the caramelized sugar would be extremely hot. Stir well.
  • Now Add the chopped dry fruits and reheat mixture until it starts boiling.
  • Take it off the heat and add 1/4 Cup Brandy and 1/4 cup apple juice
  • Let the mixture cool completely; cover the container and keep at room temperature until you bake the cake.

Baking the Cake

  • Preheat the oven to 350F/ 175C
  • Grease 2 cake pans (I used an angel pan and a round 8 inch pan) and line it with parchment paper. Lightly brush with butter. Keep aside.
  • Sift the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and spices and keep it aside.
  • Mix the butter and sugar together in  stand mixer (or an electric mixer) and add the egg yolk one by one until everything is incorporated.
  • Add the soaked dry fruits along with any liquid and mix.
  • Stir in the flour mixture in batches and mix.
  • Add Vanilla extract, honey, Orange juice
  • In a big bowl, beat the egg white using an electric mixer until they form stiff peaks(for about 5 minutes).
  • Fold the egg whites into the cake batter slowly little at a time.
  • Pour the cake batter into prepared pans and bake for 1 hour or until the inserted toothpick comes out clean.

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