Chocolate Walnut Fudge

December 29, 2010

Walnut fudge

Something about this time of year seems to put people in the mood for baking cookies and making candy. Why is it so many holidays are associated with sweets? I don’t have the answer, but I do have a recipe I’d like to throw into the ring with those who have taken traditional fudge and tried to do a healthier version of it. Healthy fudge; is that an oxymoron? I think for me, falling into the trap of New Year’s resolutions spurred me on to give this recipe a go before the first of the year arrives. So if you have made some resolutions that don’t include things like fudge, there’s still time before the year’s end!

I was very pleased that this recipe was a success, because it comes from an older traditional version. It was very tempting to follow some of the recent successes people have had making fudge with the “healthy” version of marshmallow fluff (aka meringue). This is because I recently tried my hand at making homemade meringues (the candy) in an attempt to free up some much needed space in my fridge. I had an excess of egg whites from all the eggnog I’d been making. I’d say the meringue was a success and will be posting about it very soon, but let me say that I don’t recommend increasing the recipe unless you have lots and lots of time to devote to baking meringues. I had meringue candy spread out all over my kitchen and dining room.
meringue
Near the end, I decided to mix it up a little and put some cocoa powder, cacao nibs, and chopped (crispy) pecans into the batter. Those seemed to be the ones everyone preferred. They tasted somewhat like miniature chocolate chip cookies.

chocolate-cacao nib-pecan meringues

Probably the thought of looking at more meringue influenced my decision to try a non-meringue version of fudge as much as anything. I went to one of the few cookbooks I saved from my pre-real-food days to see what recipe it offered. Right away I knew it would be even more challenging, because it called for unsweetened chocolate and all I use is cocoa powder from our food co-op. A quick search of the internet gave me a substitution ratio, so back to the kitchen I went to give it a try.

fudge recipe alteration

As you can see, this cookbook is old and well used. (Note the recipe above it is the marshmallow version!) My daughter was on a rare visit here, so I didn’t get any pictures of the fudge making process. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

Ingredients:

1 cup (raw) milk
6 Tbs cocoa powder
2 Tbs ghee (or softened butter)
2 cups turbinado (raw) sugar
2 Tbs pure maple syrup (I used grade B)
Few grains salt
2 Tbs ghee (or butter)
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped (crispy) walnuts (optional)

Butter an 8-inch-square cake pan and set aside. Measure the cocoa powder and 2 Tbs of ghee into a heavy saucepan and turn burner to warm (this is the lowest setting of my stove top burner). Mix until all of the cocoa powder is completely moistened and the ghee is just beginning to melt. Add the milk and turn the heat up to “moderately low,” which on my stove was 3-4. (My stove top knobs have the following settings: Lo, numerals 1-9, Hi) Stirring fairly often, incorporate the cocoa with the milk as well as you can. (You may still see flecks of cocoa in the milk) Once it is combined, add the sugar, syrup, and salt, and turn the heat up to medium (#5 on my stove top). Stirring frequently, bring the mixture to a boil (this took several minutes). Once it reaches a boil, cover the pan with a lid for one minute, then remove the lid and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until a candy thermometer registers 236o F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, you can test it by dropping a small amount of the mixture into cold water. If it forms a soft ball, it’s ready. I don’t remember exactly how long this took, but I think it was like 15 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 Tbs of ghee or butter, along with vanilla, but DO NOT STIR. Cool to 1100 F. (lukewarm), which took about an hour. Beat by hand until fudge thickens and loses its gloss. This took several minutes, so my daughter and I took turns. Add nuts and pour into the buttered cake pan. When firm, cut into squares. Makes about 1 pound. Store in tightly covered container.

Chocolate walnut fudge

This fudge was just the way I remembered it from younger days and I would definitely use this recipe if I were to make it again.

This post is part of Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival, hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Cacao Nib Walnut Cookies

December 17, 2010

cacao nib walnut cookies

So far this holiday season, I’ve managed to avoid making and consuming sweets. In fact, because this has been a huge downfall for me each year, I’ve deliberately avoided it. There’s nothing like having a little granddaughter over to put me in the mood to bake, though. Especially when she keeps asking when we can make cookies. Since we’ve both been sick, and since we were both feeling better, today seemed like a good day to bake cookies. I pulled out three or four recipes and let her pick. We actually made two different kinds, but I’m only going to post about the ones she liked best.

We used a new type of sugar that I’d never seen before. I ordered it from Pure Indian Foods when I ordered my ghee last week. It says it’s naturally purified and the ONLY 100% organic sugar in the U.S. Here’s a blurb from their website:
“Heavenly Sugar preserves most of the natural vitamins and minerals of whole cane juice. Due to the naturally higher vitamin and mineral content, Heavenly Sugar is absorbed more slowly into the bloodstream.”

heavenly sugar

Here’s my little helper, pouring it into the mixer.
Kaitlyn pouring sugar

We did run into a couple of problems midway through making the cookie dough. I realized my recipe was one I’d converted in a big rush and it had some errors. Like listing a teaspoon of baking soda in the ingredients, but no place in the instructions for adding it. And finding in the instructions that I was to add some baking powder that was no where to be found in the ingredients list. Worst of all, after adding the ingredients in succession straight into the mixing bowl, I found this statement:

“Add to batter along with salt.”

Batter? And there was no hint as to what it was I was supposed to add along with the salt. The next line instructed me to add the salt with the flour! At that point we were totally winging it, but somehow they turned out fine. In fact, they are yummy! I love how cacao nibs add a tiny crunch to the cookie. This was the recipe in the end:

Cacao Nib Walnut Cookies
(makes 3 dozen)

Ingredients:

1 cup of butter, softened
1 cup “Heavenly” sugar
3/4 cup organic dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 Tbs vanilla extract
3 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup cacao nibs
1/2 cup chopped crispy walnuts

Note: if you follow my blog at all, you know that the butter is grass-fed, eggs are pastured, ingredients are organic, vanilla is homemade, baking powder is Hain’s potato starch (NEVER corn, which = gmo), and crispy nuts are Nourishing Traditions style.

Cream butter and sugars together in mixing bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time.
adding the eggs
(She does a great job cracking and adding eggs!)
Add the vanilla. (She turned the mixer off before each addition, then turned it back on to continue) In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix. Add to sugar mixture, along with cacao nibs and walnuts and mix till combined. I used my medium sized Pampered Chef scoop.
scooping cookies
Well, I scooped some and Kaitlyn scooped some.
Kaitlyn scooping
Bake at 350o for about 10 minutes or until edges are nicely browned.
cookies done

For a 5 year old, she makes a mean imitation of a chocolate chip walnut cookie! I think we’re set for a while.
🙂

cookie jar full

This post is my entry in this week’s Fight Back Fridays blog carnival. Thanks, Kristen!

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GF Poultry Pot Pie

December 9, 2010

Slice of turkey pot pie

One of the neat things about joining up with a blog carnival is getting to see all the wonderful recipes other bloggers submit. This is one of those recipes I found when I posted my sourdough dinner roll recipe on last Monday Mania’s blog carnival. This recipe took me back to those long-ago Thanksgivings when my kids were little and I used to make pot pies out of the leftover turkey. Of course, back then I didn’t have a clue as to real nutrition, though I thought I was doing great things by cooking from scratch. So, even when I’d put the last of this year’s Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer after numerous turkey meals, I pulled it back out when I saw this pot pie recipe. I was especially attracted to it because of the almond flour crust. I am always looking for recipes that don’t use grain, in my effort to limit (and hopefully, eliminate) grains from our diet1. This recipe looked like something I could handle, and since I wasn’t quite ready to deal with the lamb shoulder roast I had thawing, I decided to go for it. I have made some adjustments, partly because of what I had on hand and partly because of how I like my pot pie. The original recipe can be found here, at Scratch.Love’s blog. I encourage you to go check it out. She has some awesome, good-for-you recipes there, along with some beautiful pics! You can also follow her on Facebook. This is the recipe the way I made it, though I doubled the recipe and subbed the word “poultry” where I used turkey. (The following recipe is for 1 pot pie)

Poultry Pot Pie
makes one 9″ pot pie

Filling:

1 1/2 cups poultry, diced
1 1/2 cups homemade poultry broth
1 1/2 cups sweet potatoes, diced
1 cup onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup frozen organic corn (exclude for grain-free version)
1 cup frozen organic green beans, cut up
1 tsp garlic powder (original calls for garlic clove)
1 Tbs coconut oil or ghee (I used half of each)
1 Tbs arrowroot powder
1 Tbs water (I used cold stock)
2 tsp ground basil (original was parsley, but I’m all out)
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp garam masala (original recipe uses poultry seasoning)
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp green peppercorns, ground

Crust
(Adapted from a recipe by Elana Amsterdam in The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook)

2 cups blanched almond flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp coconut oil, melted (I used ghee)
1 tsp parsley (again, I used basil)
1 tsp all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

Dice raw vegetables and meat. I have to add here, I picked up this great tip from Real Food in Little Rock’s blog (also from Monday Mania) for an easy way to chop onions.
diced onion and celery
diced sweet potato
green beans and corn
diced turkey
My turkey was a mix of white and dark that was partly frozen when I chopped it up.
In a pan, melt the coconut oil or ghee. Add the onions, celery and sweet potatoes and cook until onions are soft. Add the poultry stock and spices to your vegetable mixture.
veggies simmering in stock with spices
Simmer on low while you make the crust.

In a bowl combine all ingredients. Divide mixture in half and form each into a ball. (Mine is 4, because I doubled the recipe)
dough for crust
Put dough in freezer for at least 5 minutes to chill. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP! (Unless, like me, you need a lesson in patience) Take one ball out and place between two sheets of waxed paper/parchment paper. Roll into something resembling a circle.
roll dough between sheets of waxed paper
Carefully transfer to a 9″ pie plate and trim the edges.
bottom crust
Cook at 375o for 12-15 minutes or until slightly brown. While crust is baking, add poultry and partially thawed corn and green beans to stock/veggie mix and heat through. Mix together arrowroot powder with the water. Pour the arrowroot mixture into the pie filling and blend well. When pie crust is done, remove from oven, cool slightly, then spoon reduced filling into the crust.
filled crust
Take the remaining dough from freezer and roll into another circle. Place on top of the pie, removing extra dough around edges. Though the original recipe didn’t call for it, I cut some openings in the crust for steam to escape.
top crust
Put on top of a cookie sheet and place into the oven at 375o for 20-30 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before serving.
Poultry pot pie
This was so yummy and wonderfully savory. Thanks, Scratch.Love!

Update:
This post was done when we were working on being gluten-free, but have since gone grain-free. I made this today as a beef pot pie. I had a little trouble with the top crust, but it still tasted great! This time I eliminated the corn and used sweet potatoes and butternut squash (cubed) and some green beans along with some leftover roast beef. I used the au jus from the roast, which gave it a nice richness, and also used fresh whey for the water in the crust recipe. I found it gave the crust a little more depth of flavors. I’ll be working on incorporating more whey where liquids are called for, so I don’t have to keep pouring it out on my plants. (Formerly, I used it a lot in baking, but I’m not doing much baking now)
Beef pot pie:
beef pot pie

This post is part of the Real Food Wednesdays blog carnival.
This post is part of Fight Back Fridays blog carnival hosted by Food Renegade.

1 I personally believe grains are not unhealthy when properly prepared and cooked. I do believe they can be a problem for people with compromised health. While we have health issues we are still working on, for which I’d like to eliminate grains, I believe one day we will be able to enjoy them in moderation.

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Sourdough Dinner Rolls

December 6, 2010

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

I mentioned the other day that I had made some sourdough dinner rolls for Thanksgiving and I was very pleased they turned out so well. I also mentioned when I made them again, I would post about it. I decided to make them on Saturday, because I had a leftover t-bone steak and wanted to make sandwiches with it. (It’s what you do when there is only one steak, but three people)
t-bone steak
This steak was from our trip to the Bechard Family Farm to pick up turkeys and other meat! So delicious!
Though I missed a step in the process and though my kitchen wasn’t quite as warm as it was on Thanksgiving (hence, the rise wasn’t as good), they were very tasty. As I usually do, I combined a couple of recipes into one. And though I like to give credit where credit is due, I failed to take note of the websites where I found them. (Keep in mind, I did this the night before Thanksgiving, so I’m sitting here copying off my hand-scribbled note) I do want to mention, my starter is normally the consistency of pancake batter.

Sourdough Dinner Rolls

2 cups of starter
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup raw milk (soured is fine)
3 Tbs ghee
1 pastured egg, slightly beaten
3 cups flour

In mixer bowl or food processor bowl, mix starter with honey, salt, milk, and ghee.
sourdough ingredients
Add egg until just mixed, then slowly add flour. When dough forms, remove from bowl and knead for about 3 minutes by hand.
sourdough dough
Oil or grease a bowl at least twice as large as the dough, as well as one side of a piece of plastic wrap, large enough to cover the top of the bowl. Place the dough into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap (greased side down), and place in a warm location for two hours or until doubled in size. Unfortunately, this is the step I missed. (Don’t ask how!) At this point, my recipe/note says to punch the dough down, return to bowl and let rise till double again. I skipped this step both times, but was happy with the results, so ymmv1. Punch dough down and shape into rolls. I got 16 rolls out of this recipe. You can also take each roll, divide into 3 smaller rolls, then place each group of 3 into a greased muffin tin for a cloverleaf effect. I did a mix of both on Thanksgiving, but prefer the single roll.
ready to rise
Place on an oiled or greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap (again, greased side down) and let rise till double. I had to turn my oven on warm and place them on the back of my stove top, because my house generally stays cool this time of year. Once they have doubled in size, heat oven to 400o. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. I like to take a little ghee or grass-fed butter and rub over the tops of them when I take them out of the oven.
I think mine should have cooked a little longer. Also, they didn’t quite have the same “yeast roll” texture as the Thanksgiving ones. I’m not sure if that’s due to undercooking or failure to let them rise more than one time. And, as I mentioned earlier, I think they rose a little higher on Thanksgiving, because I had my oven on a higher temp while the turkey was cooking (so the kitchen was warmer). However, a little homemade mayo, sliced tomato2, sliced steak, slice of grass-fed cheese, and a little sea salt…mmm!!

making sandwich
I will definitely hang on to this recipe for those occasions when I’d like to serve a nice dinner roll.
Steak Sandwich on Sourdough

1 Your mileage may vary.
2 Though I support locally produced food, I always break down and buy California organic tomatoes from the health food store.

This post is part of Monday Mania real food blog carnival, hosted by Sarah @ The Healthy Home Economist.
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Sourdough Buckwheat Pizza

December 4, 2010

Sourdough Buckwheat Pizza

I’ve been trying to limit our grain consumption for several reasons, but about once a week or so I’ll fix something with sourdough. That’s about the time my starter begins to outgrow the 4 cup measuring container I keep it in. I don’t know why I don’t just dry it and store it. I guess it’s just nice to have on hand. It came in handy on Thanksgiving, when I decided to use it to make sourdough dinner rolls. I honestly didn’t think the dinner rolls made with sourdough would compare with regular yeast rolls, but they were great! They had the same texture and the slightest, pleasant sourdough taste. I would definitely make them again and when I do, I’ll post the recipe and pics here.
Anyways, back to the pizza. Friday nights and pizza just seem to go together and I wanted to use some of the starter, as I said. I had 3 small bags of flour left over from Thanksgiving: Brown rice, buckwheat, and white pastry (all Arrowhead Mills brand that I picked up at The Nutrition Stop). Though my starter is a mix of all sorts of flours, I’d been feeding it with the brown rice flour, so I decided to go with the buckwheat. I wasn’t sure what it would do for a pizza crust, but it does make wonderful pancakes! I think it turned out pretty well and the menfolk proclaimed it was “Nom!” For those who are on a gluten-free diet, this recipe is doable if a gluten-free starter is used. (I made a successful gluten-free starter from brown rice flour)

Sourdough Buckwheat Pizza Crust
(makes 2)

3+ cups of buckwheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup ghee, coconut oil, olive oil1
1 cup raw milk (esp. sour), whey, or water
2 cups starter

Blend 3 cups of the buckwheat flour, baking powder, and salt together, then add ghee and mix well.
Buckwheat flour blend and ghee
Mix in milk, then add starter.
Adding sourdough starter
Thoroughly blend, adding additional flour as needed until dough is not too sticky to handle. Separate into two equal balls; set one ball aside. Roll other ball out between two sheets of parchment paper.
Rolling out between parchment
I roll it out, then measure it with the pan.
Measuring with pan
Carefully peel top layer of parchment, then lay pan upside down on top of dough. (Be sure to oil your pan!) Flip so pan is on the bottom, then carefully peel second piece of parchment. Trim edges and pierce dough with a fork.
Trim edges and pierce
Add leftover pieces of dough to remaining ball and freeze for later use (or roll out and enjoy 2 pizzas).
Freeze remaining dough
Oil a piece of plastic wrap (I used ghee) and lay over pizza dough. Place in a warm spot for 2-4 hours to rise. Rise will depend on your starter; I had to turn my oven on warm and put the dough on top of the stove.
Cover dough and let rise
As you can see, I’m in a holiday mood.
🙂
Once dough is ready to cook, preheat oven to 425o.
When oven is heated, bake pizza dough for 12-15 minutes. In the meantime, assemble pizza ingredients. I used the following:

Small can of tomato paste (organic = non-gmo!)
1 lb. Kerrygold cheese, grated
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 onion, sliced
Black olives, sliced
1 Tbs dried tomatoes
Leftover cooked bacon, diced

If you haven’t guessed, we aren’t too picky when it comes to pizza. I do normally use Glen Muir pizza sauce, but in a pinch I wing it with tomato paste and spices. However, I forgot to add the spices to the sauce and had already put the cheese on, so I added the spices at that point. Once the crust is done, remove from oven and let cool a few minutes, then cover with toppings of choice. This is the pizza, just prior to baking.
Pizza, prior to baking
Return pizza to 425o oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or till cheese is melted and toppings are cooked to taste. Remove, cool, and enjoy!
It's-a-pizza!

This post is part of Fight Back Fridays at Food Renegade.
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1Beef tallow or pork lard can also be used, if rendered from grass-fed/pastured animals