Grain-Free Hazelnut-Pecan Delights

First things first. I have some amazing news. I received my official notification in the mail that I passed my Professional Engineering exam!!!!  A grueling exam that I studied for nearly half a year for last year. It consumed me, but was worth it.  I now am a certified P.E., which has been a huge goal of mine. CHECK that off my bucket list.

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But now that I have checked that huuuuuge goal off of my list, I find myself at a bit of a loss. Where do I focus my energy next?  I’m a goal-oriented person and it only seems proper to set new goals. But aside from the small goals of “read more books” or “travel more”, I just can’t seem to figure out where to point my laser beams. So, if you have any ideas, I’m game.

At this point, I’m trying to tackle small things that include: (1) Organizing my “office” (junk room), or (2) Thinking about hanging pictures that have never been hung, or (3) Properly learning to do laundry because reading the labels seems more like reading hieroglyphics and I end up just throwing everything in at once and washing on cold. Evidently when clothes say gentle…they mean it. Booh.

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I also have been perfecting cookies….my butt thanks me and my skinny jeans do not. These Hazelnut-Pecan Delights are THE perfect cookie. They are just sweet enough, with a hint of salty, and are chewy and are….well….redonculous. Yes…redonculous, people.

They taste like my favorite Girl Scout cookie….oh that beloved Caramel Delight…and yes…they are soooo delightful.  The bonus with MY cookies is that they are gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar-free. Plus they have hazelnuts and pecans, giving them added protein.

These are perfect to bring to your New Years Eve party, or football Bowl Game watch party, or for your last-hoorah-before-you-go-on-you-2013-fit-back-in-your-jeans party.

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Grain-Free Hazelnut-Pecan Delights

Makes 2 dozen tiny, bite-sized cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or other raw nut such as almonds, walnuts)
  • 3 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, softened
  • 4 Tablespoons maple syrup or honey
  • 1 Tablespoon unsulphured blackstrap molasses
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, chopped into tiny pieces
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat.
  2. In a the bowl of your food processor, add nuts and process for 2 minutes, until finely ground.  Add ground ginger, salt, and baking soda and process until well mixed. Add coconut oil, honey, and molasses and process until a thick cookie dough ball forms. Add chocolate chips and shredded coconut to the food process or and pulse for 15 to 30 seconds to finely chop the chocolate, distributing throughout the cookie batter.
  3. Chill the batter in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, making it easier to scoop and form cookies.
  4. I like these cookies tiny and barely bite-sized.  Scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. Then tear those pieces of dough in two before rolling each 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a ball shape.  Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets.  Use a wet fork to flatten each dough ball into your desired cookie thickness.
  5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until firm around the edges (ovens vary so watch them), but still soft in the center. Allow to cool on the pan for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
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Pumpkin and Apple Almond Flour Muffins (Grain Free)

So I have a crush. And not a little one. A BIG one…a huge, gushy, get red, giggle, snort, blow chocolate milk out of my nose kind of crush. His name…. Pumpkin…that’s Mr. Pumpkin. Ya….you know him. You all love him.  He’s like the Matthew McConaughey of fall produce.  Whatever he is in, it’s golden, perfect, never disappoints and always shirtless.

Such is my crush….mmmmm pumpkin. I’ve been collecting and dreaming about amazing recipes: pumpkin bourbon ice cream, pumpkin bars, pumpkin bread, pumpkin coconut soup, pumpkin latte, pumpkin butter, pumpkin oatmeal, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin smoothie, pumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin curry. The list goes on and on and on and on, people. It’s bad. I’ve got a pumpkin fever!

And then I stumbled upon this great pumpkin muffin recipe made with almond flour. As soon as the calendar hit September 1st, my oven went on and in went these delicious pumpkin muffins.  I had just picked up some local golden delicious apples at the market and decided to throw one into the mix. I’d been dreaming of these puppies and boy howdy they did not disappoint…much like Matthew McConaughey.  Pull the muffin liner off and they too will be shirtless. Whoah!

I honestly have to say these are hands down the best pumpkin muffins I have had…gluten free or not. It’s a double bonus that they are not only gluten free but grain free. So if you are on the fence about experimenting with almond flour, give these puppies a go. You will forever be in deep smit. You can even eat them shirtless. I won’t tell.

I should note that I made these with my newest purchase of Honeyville blanched almond flour.  I’m super impressed with the light texture.  Trader Joe’s offers almond meal and it is made from unblanched (skins still on) almonds. Bob’s Redmill also sells almond flour. Although Bob’s is blanched,  it has a more coarse texture but still tastes gooooooood. So if you are looking for a lighter texture to baked goods, I’d invest in a better almond flour such as Honeyville or go to Nuts.com.  Store your flour in the fridge or freezer. I also think Whole Foods offers bulk almond flour.   Another option is to regrind Bob’s almond flour in a coffee grinder. Just be careful to not let it process to long or you will end up with almond butter. DOH!

Pumpkin and Apple Almond Flour Muffins (Grain Free) (Slightly adapted from the Urban Poser)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 3 Tablespoons apple sauce
  • 1 diced apple, leave skin on if organic
  • 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (I use Honeyville or go to Nuts.com)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 cup of walnuts or pecans
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 12 cup muffin tin or place muffin liners within tin. Set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine wet ingredients (eggs, pumpkin, maple syrup, coconut oil, and applesauce). Combine until well mixed. Add diced apple. Set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients (almond flour, baking soda, salt, and spices). If you do not have blanched finely ground almond flour, you may need to regrind your almond flour in a blender.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix until combined where there are no visible lumps. Add nuts and mix until combined. The batter will be rather thick.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin liners or muffin tin. Fill to about 2/3 full, smoothing the tops with the bottom of a spatula or spoon.
  6. Bake in 350F preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of a muffin. It will come out clean when done. Allow to cool on a rack, if you dare. Dive in. These freeze well.