baking primal


Must be something in the air — two posts in four days. I can’t remember the last time I pulled that off.

Maybe it’s that I’m making some really yummy stuff that I don’t have to feel guilty about. Or maybe I just miss blogging.

Whatever it is, herewith, scones.

But first, some background. Ben works at his former Sunday school, so every week from September to May Tim and I have two and a half hours to kill in Chestnut Hill. When the weather is good, or passable, we hike in the Wissahickon, which is a lovely and highly recommended way to spend a Sunday morning. However, the forecast for this morning was 30 degrees with 25-mph winds and a wind chill factor of 10.

So, no hike. Yes, I am a wimp.

When we don’t hike, we while away the hours at a coffee shop on Germantown Avenue. It’s a nice place, casual and unpretentious, with marvelous-looking pastries in the display case. Every time we go, I gaze longingly at those pastries.

Not this time, I decided last night. So I went looking for alternatives.

And I found these coconut scones on a blog called Frisky Lemon, where I do believe I will be spending more time in the future.

I haven’t loved most of the (non-paleo) scones I’ve made in the past; they tend to be dry, and often don’t have a whole lot of flavor. But, I figured, we’d be eating these with coffee. And hey, my expectations for paleo baked goods are pretty low, so how could I be disappointed?

I modified the original recipe a bit, because that’s what I do — but in this case, only a tiny bit: I used maple syrup in place of honey, and I let the food processor mix in the coconut milk too.

Before the coconut milk went in, the dough was exactly the right texture for scones, and it looked just the picture accompanying the original recipe. I very nearly just skipped the coconut milk completely. But I didn’t, and I’m so glad.

When they came out of the oven the scones looked delicious, and smelled even better. But they also looked crumbly, and I was worried about how dry they must be. But I cooled them and refrigerated them, as instructed.

This morning I packed up four to take along. And it’s lucky I did, because if I’d taken all eight, they’d be long gone by now.

These are by far the best scones I’ve ever had: moist and light and just sweet enough. They are perfect; there is nothing I would change about them.

This is one of those recipes I can recommend wholeheartedly even to those of you who aren’t eating paleo. They’re that good. Try them!

Coconut Scones
(courtesy of Allison Nichols of Frisky Lemon)

  • ½ cup almond meal
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In your food processor, combine both flours, coconut, butter, honey, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Pulse until everything is crumbly. Add the coconut milk, and mix until well combined (the batter should be sticky and hold together, although mine did not form a ball).

Place the batter on your baking sheet, and press into a circle. Cut the circle into 8 wedges and sprinkle with shredded coconut (I went pretty heavy on the coconut).

Bake until browned; mine took 8 minutes. Caveat: My oven has only a passing familiarity with holding a set temperature; the original recipe says 10 to 12 minutes.

Pull the sheet of parchment onto a wire rack to let the scones cool. Like most coconut flour baked goods, these will be a little crumbly when they come out of the oven. Once they cool, refrigerate them, and serve chilled!

baking primal recipes

I Can Still Bake!

Yes, it’s been months. Nine long months during which I didn’t post a thing on this blog, despite the fact that I have indeed been baking.

Sheer laziness.

I’ve been eating paleo/primal since the beginning of the year; the main difference from my old life is that there are no grains and no processed sugar. (In theory, mind you. Only in theory. I have had both grains and sugar at various times in 2011; I just try not to bake with them at home.)

I’ve made a variety of primal cookies this year, but I just haven’t bothered to write down what I did.

That changes now.

After his Thanksgiving baking frenzy, Alex left me six egg whites in the refrigerator. That very day I found a recipe in a paleo cookbook for coconut macaroons, and it called for — wait for it — six egg whites.

Who am I to argue with fate?

Of course, I tweaked the recipe a bit. And the result is quite satisfying on a cold Saturday evening.

Even if you haven’t given up everything that makes life worth living, give them a try.

Primal Coconut Macaroons (makes about 30 cookies)

  • 6 egg whites
  • ¼ to ½ cup agave or maple syrup
  • ½ tablespoon vanilla
  • 3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ½ cup cocoa nibs

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks. Reduce mixer speed to low and mix in the syrup and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the coconut and coconut nibs.

Form into one-inch balls (a cookie scoop helps immensely with this) and bake for about 15 minutes, till slightly browned.

Cool on the parchment paper on a wire rack.

They’re delicious while still warm.

(I apologize for the quality of the photograph. Technology issues. I’ll do better next time.)

baking cookies primal

Cookies the (Very) Old-Fashioned Way

So, some of you may have noticed a dearth of posts in the past couple of months. Also, some of you may know that Tim lost 90 pounds last year by following what’s called the primal way of eating.

These things are not coincidental in any but the most literal sense.

Although I lost 30 pounds last year using SlimFast, I hit a plateau in late October and could not lose anymore. At the same time, I started having horrible carb cravings, worse than my standard carb cravings. I think those things were not coincidental either.

So at the beginning of December, I started eating primally.

It was not easy: Two of my major food groups were bread and sugar. But it was necessary.

Regular food has been fairly easy to adapt: no rice or pasta, no bread. No biggie.

But dessert. And snacks. And, you know, good stuff. That was what I missed.

So, here begins a reimagining of Confectiona’s Realm, one in which I work through the issues involved in being a sugar addict who gives up sugar.

Step one: Cookies. I found this recipe on the Internet, and thought it looked like a good place to start. After some tweaks, it turned into this:

    • 1¼ cup almond meal
    • ¼ teaspoon salt
    • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
    • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
    • ¼ cup coconut syrup
    • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
    • ¼ cup chopped pecans, or to taste
    • 1½ ounces chopped dark chocolate, or to taste

Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Drop by heaping tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until desired doneness. Be careful: They go from not quite done to burnt quite quickly. Allow to cool for a minute or so on the pan, then slide the parchment onto a rack and let cool. Eat at least one warm.

These are good. These are very good. They’re not as good as Dorie Greenspan’s amazing chocolate chip cookies, but they’re healthier. Or so I hear.

Next up, cookies not based on nuts!

baking boys cookies Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Translucent Maple Tuiles

This week’s Tuesdays With Dorie recipes was Translucent Maple Tuiles, chosen for us by Clivia of Bubie’s Little Baker. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for as long as I’ve had Baking: From My Home to Yours, so I was very happy to have an excuse to bring cookies into our increasingly low-carb life.

Most of my tuiles had nothing in common with the picture in the book, except color. The color was spot on.

I baked two sets of cookies. In the first set I put 12 little balls of dough on an unlined, ungreased cookie sheet. Six minutes later, they’d baked into one large tuile. I waited the few seconds specified in the recipe and tried to pick one up with a metal spatula. No. Almost the whole batch wound up smooshed up into miniature cigars — delicious cigars, mind you, but not what I was after.

I didn’t take any pictures of those, because Ben and I ate them too fast. They were essentially candy, like toffee. Yum.

For my second try I put six little balls of dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Six minutes later they’d baked into lovely tuiles, looking very much like the picture in the book.

I followed Ben’s brilliant suggestion to leave them on the cookie sheet longer this time, and it worked! They still weren’t perfect — the edge nearest the spatula wound up thicker than the rest of the cookie — but I put them over a marble rolling pin for about 10 seconds, and they set!

We crumbled them to eat over vanilla ice cream, and the combination was absolutely delicious. Highly recommended.

So go visit the other TWD bakers to see how their tuiles turned out. And if you want to try your hand at making some delectable tuiles yourself, buy the book or visit Bubie’s Little Baker for the recipe. See you next week!

baking cookies Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Peanuttiest Blondies

Oh, yes.

I love Tuesdays With Dorie.

This week’s recipe, chosen for us by Nicole of Bakeologie, is a modest little number, a peanut butter blondie with chocolate chips. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

But they’re the crack of the cookie world.

I don’t even like peanut butter cookies, so I wasn’t expecting much from this recipe. I made it only because I haven’t done TWD in a couple of weeks, and the next two weeks involve fruit.

So, blondies. I used natural peanut butter from Trader Joe’s, even though the recipe says not to, because I was at Trader Joe’s and not Wegman’s. I was willing to take the chance, because I really didn’t expect to enjoy them all that much.

Other than that, I made the recipe straight, using mini chocolate chips rather than taking the time to chop chocolate, like I do when I’m expecting to like what I’m making.

Oh, God. These things are so good.

Next time, I’ll throw in some cinnamon chips. Or those cappuccino chips I can almost never find. So very, very good.

I don’t have a lot of pictures, because we ate all the blondies. Really fast. Ben and I scarfed down a bunch as soon as they came out of the pan. Then Tim ate some. Then I took some to a friend. (Who also said they were addictive.) Then we ate some more.

And now they’re gone.

You might be able to find some more photos at the other TWD blogs; everyone can’t be as weak-willed as I am. And Nicole, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

baking Dorie

French Fridays With Dorie: Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

I’ve been part of the Tuesdays With Dorie group for two and a half years (!) now, and I’ve noticed something about Dorie’s recipes: They often call for rum. Every single time a recipe has called for rum, I’ve panicked, because I never have it — and because I’m always baking at the last minute and so can’t run out for any.

So you’d think that at some point over the last two and a half years I’d have bought rum. I live within walking distance of at least two liquor stores, and we’re not a teetotaling family. But for some reason, I never have rum. I always just leave it out, and I’m always sad.

So when today’s French Fridays With Dorie recipe called for rum, I had a script all ready. But this time I decided to improvise. Creme de cacao? No. Kahlua? No. Peppermint schnapps? Definitely no.

Maraschino? Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

baking Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Double Apple Bundt Cake

I couldn’t pass this one up, despite the fact that we just got back from vacation (very late Saturday night) and that we don’t eat carbs anymore. I mean, apple cake? Double apple cake? No chance.

So while I was at the grocery store Monday (yes, that’s yesterday) afternoon, I looked for apple butter. I have one small, precious jar of my homemade apple butter left, but I wasn’t willing to sacrifice it to a cake. But all the apple butter in the store had both sugar and high-fructose corn syrup in it. That is so wrong. I make apple butter by cooking homemade apple sauce down, and I make apple sauce by cooking apples with a little apple juice until they’re soft and then mashing them. No sugar in sight.

Don’t get me wrong: I love sugar. I eat sugar by the bucketful (or would if I didn’t want to keep losing weight). But apple sauce and apple butter just don’t need it, and I prefer to save the sugar for where it’s needed.

So, back to the grocery store: No natural apple butter in sight, and despair set in. I considered buying enough apples to make apple sauce, but the hour was growing late. And then inspiration struck! I make apple butter by cooking apple sauce down, right? Who says it has to be my own apple sauce? It’s easy enough to find natural apple sauce in any grocery store, so I did. Brought it home, poured it into a pot, turned on the fire very low, added some cinnamon, and stirred it occasionally for an hour or so. Voilà!

Sometimes I think there just might be hope for me.

So dinner tonight (also on the spur of the moment, and with nowhere near enough time to do it right) was a delicious tart you can read about here in French Fridays With Dorie (on, of course, Friday), which means I didn’t start — start! — making the cake till 7:30. Unlike some people of my acquaintance, I am not a night person. This was not a good time to start making a cake.

Nonetheless, I had to have my cake. And I had to have it in time to post on Tuesday.

So I played it straight, no messing around with the recipe or trying to be cute. I left out the raisins, of course, and it turned out I didn’t have any nuts. No pecans, no walnuts — just whole, unblanched almonds. Did that stop me? Nope — I found tiny bags that I’d packed as snacks, one walnuts and one pecans, which together filled half a cup, and I used almonds for the other half. Creativity!

Sadly, this post is incomplete, as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. I haven’t cut the cake, so I can’t tell you how it tastes. (The batter was pretty fantastic, though.) I am going to make a caramel sauce to go with it tonight, and we have some lovely organic raw whipped cream and homemade applesauce. I will update with opinions and more photos this evening.

So thank you to Lynne of Honey Muffin, who chose this recipe for us this month. It was a perfect way to kick off the fall, which is my favorite season by far. She’ll have the recipe for you, or you could go buy Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan, which is well worth the investment. And go look at all the other TWD bakers’ blogs, because I’m sure many of them will have done very creative things with this recipe.

Update, 8:17 p.m. Tuesday: Oh. My. God. Seriously, one of the best ever. Moist and dense without being heavy, incredibly flavorful without being too rich, just sweet enough to eat plain but not too sweet to stand up to caramel sauce. Go make this cake. Now.

That’s crème fraîche on top, as it turns out, not raw organic whipped cream, and we skipped the applesauce. Totally didn’t need it.

(By the way, the caramel sauce was both extremely easy and marvelously caramelly, and it came courtesy of The Pioneer Woman. If you have not seen her blog, stop wasting your time here and go read hers. It’s way better.)

See you Friday!

baking boys Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Coffee-Break Muffins

I really, really loved the batter for these. I always love batters and doughs, usually more than the finished product, but this was special. Really good.

The muffins? Eh. Not so much.

They were wonderful warm, but at room temperature they were kind of blah. (Which, oddly, is the opposite of what Dorie says in the recipe.)

Luckily, I made them for my mother’s surprise birthday party, for which Ben made a chocolate birthday cake with peanut butter icing. Spread some peanut butter icing on these things and they’re golden.

I also chopped some milk chocolate and threw that into one batch, and that was pretty amazing — although still not great at room temperature.

I made them as minis and baked for 12 minutes.

And that’s really all I have to say. Sorry! Go see what all the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers did with these, and if you want to try them yourselves, Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous, who chose these for us all to make this week, will have the recipe for you.

Bonus shot: The birthday cake Ben made — all by himself — for my mother!

baking cookies Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Peanut Butter Crisscrosses

Oh, God.

I love cookies, almost all of them. (Well, not those ones with candied fruit in the middle.) But I’ve never liked peanut butter cookies — they’re always dry and kind of pointless, in my experience.

But these are fantastic. (Thank you once again, Dorie.)

I made two batches, one straight and one with the chocolate variant. The only thing I changed is that I didn’t add chopped peanuts to either batch, although I did use chunky peanut butter.

I figured I’d like the chocolate ones, but not the regular. Boy, was I wrong. I ate the batter, like I always do — even when I don’t like a particular cookie recipe, I nearly always like the batter. And this batter is great: soft and light and very flavorful.

But then the first batch came out of the oven, and I tried one, just because.

It was a revelation: by far the best peanut butter cookie I’ve ever had. I ate several. And then several more.

And then I made a second batch, adding cocoa and chopped dark chocolate.

Perfect. Sublime. Stupendous.

The two kinds are great individually, and even better together:

And then, last night, I made an ice cream sandwich with two of the chocolate cookies and vanilla ice cream. Seriously, try this. There was coffee ice cream too, but I was a good girl. Next time, though …

So there you have it. I have nothing else to say. Both of these have skyrocketed up the list of my favorite cookies, debuting somewhere in the top ten.

Thank you, Dorie. Thank you for giving me back peanut butter cookies.

And thank you Jasmine of Jasmine Cuisine for choosing these for us to make this week; I’d never have tried them on my own.

Check out the other Tuesdays With Dorie bakers to see what they did with these cookies, and then buy the book (Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan) or visit Jasmine Cuisine for the recipe and make them yourself.

You won’t be sorry.

baking cookies Dorie

Tuesdays With Dorie: Espresso Chocolate Shortbread Cookies

I don’t know why I wasn’t terribly fond of these: I love coffee, chocolate, and shortbread. The combination should have been fantastic.

To be fair, I made them for my older son’s going-away party, and they had some competition. I also made Dorie’s World Peace cookies (with a combo of chocolate chips and mint chips — they were beyond delicious), Ben made some of Emeril’s amazing Hazelnutty Nuggets, and we had a pound cake from Stock’s (which I have been assured by someone who ought to know is the best in Philadelphia) with homemade chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

But still, the shortbread just didn’t do it for me. I was very careful not to overbeat, but they were still a bit grainy, and the coffee flavor overpowered the chocolate and butter.

But hey, other TWD bakers may have had more luck with these than I did. Thanks to Donna of Life’s Too Short Not to Eat Dessert First for choosing these cookies, and I’ll see you next week!