Thursday, June 20, 2013

‘Almost Paleo’ Sweet Potato Blondies with White Chocolate and Pecan Caramel

It is about a year since I started Crossfit and cleaner eating. I’m happy that I stuck with something for this long. Although in retrospect it’s not much, but to me it is! As you may know, I enjoy cooking and and find baking challenging (but rewarding). Gluten-free and Paleo baking is by far more tricky! And it was the Paleo baking style I resisted for so long. At first, I didn’t want to bother with the challenge mostly because I didn’t believe they would taste any good. Until I made these beauties! Sweet potato blondies! Glorious! They’re made with coconut flour, coconut palm sugar, eggs, vanilla, and mashed sweet potato. Topped with caramel, pecans, and coconut! Ingredients I can love.

When I first experimented with coconut flour, I had no clue what to do with it. No idea it was more absorbent than wheat flour. Didn’t realize how dense it was. And certainly didn’t expect a “fibery” texture. I was silly. Since then, I researched and studied all about coconut flour and practiced with established recipes and adjustments. Now I know what I’m dealing with!

Coconut flour is high in fiber and is very thirsty so an adequate amount of moisture must be added. The coconut flour in these blondies draw the moisture primarily from eggs and the mashed sweet potato. It has no gluten for structure so needs a lot of eggs for some lift. I like Bob’s Red Mill brand because it is finely ground.

The coconut fibers also tend to give it a heavy and “fibery” texture, which I wasn’t keen about. In wheat flours, cornstarch, ricestarch, or arrowroot can be added to all purpose flour to soften the texture. Here, I used arrowroot starch to provide a similar affect. Together with the sweet potato, the added arrowroot gives us a smoother and softer blondie.

The sugar…oh the sugar. Most coconut flour recipes will use honey or maple syrup as the sweetener because it would provide the needed moisture. But I don’t want those flavors for this blondie! I’m looking for a caramel flavor. Fortunately, there’s coconut palm sugar which not only tastes amazing but is slightly better for you than refined sugar (Ref). Coconut sugar has a caramel flavor and can replace granulated sugar at a 1:1 ratio. Simple!

I used Big Tree Farms brand available at Whole Foods and online. Since I’m using a dry sugar for these blondies, an adequate amount of eggs and coconut milk is added to compensate for the moisture. I did not add any other spices than vanilla, since I didn’t want to distract from the caramel flavor.

Coconut sugar also melts really well into coconut milk to make a Paleo caramel sauce. Using coconut sugar for a caramel is so amazing and tastes way better than using granulated sugar! Hot caramel mixed with raw pecans and toasted coconut make a perfect topping for the blondies!

The white chocolate? OK you caught me! The standard white chocolate is not really Paleo as they are made with white sugar and milk solids. Still, I’m too in love with Callebaut to replace it with just cocoa butter. Let me have this little cheat! “Almost Paleo?” Ok, I’ll deal. :)

I was lucky to find a small block of white Callebaut at Whole Foods. Sunspire and even Whole Foods 365 brand are also good choices for white chocolate. The white chocolate will seep its goodness into the blondie as it bakes, and we’ll get a soft and moist treat that’s flavorful and simply delicious!

The sweet potato is simply boiled to softness, drained, patted with a paper towel, and mashed. I would encourage to use a fresh potato for this recipe. I used a stand mixer to give the potatoes a good whip and added in the eggs, coconut, and vanilla. Then whipped until foamy.

The dry ingredients are whisked together in a separate bowl, removing any clumps in the coconut flour. The dry is added to the wet and mixed together making the batter very thick like a cookie dough.

Chunks of white chocolate are folded in manually and the batter is then spread evenly into a greased 8×8 square baking pan. I pressed in a few more chips onto the surface just because I wanted more white chocolate. The blondies are set to bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F and cooled for about 10 minutes.

To make the caramel sauce, an equal amount of sugar is melted into an equal amount of coconut milk on low heat with a little vanilla. Some coconut oil is added to thicken the sauce once it cools. The hot caramel is mixed with raw un-toasted pecans. I topped the pecan mixture over the blondies and sprinkled with toasted unsweetened toasted coconut flakes. To toast the coconut, simply cook on a skillet for a few minutes until brown or bake on a cookie sheet at 350° F for 3-5 minutes.

And that’s it! Super yum and guilt free! The whole dessert is truly delectable and enjoyable. I’ll even enjoy these for breakfast and anytime of the day!

‘Almost Paleo’ Sweet Potato Blondies with White Chocolate and Pecan Caramel

Author: Sharon

Recipe type: Dessert

Serves: 9

  • ⅔ cups Coconut Flour, measured by dip and scoop method

  • ⅔ cup Mashed Cooked Sweet Potato (not canned puree)

  • ¾ cup Coconut Palm Sugar

  • 4 tsp Arrowroot Flour

  • ½ tsp Baking Powder

  • ¼ tsp Salt

  • ½ tsp Vanilla

  • 3 Tablespoon Full Fat Coconut Milk (preferably from can)

  • 5 Eggs

  • ½ cup White Chocolate Chips

  • 1 Tablespoon Oil for greasing the pan

  • 1 cup Coconut Palm Sugar

  • 1 cup Full Fat Coconut Milk

  • 1 tsp Vanilla

  • 2 cup Crushed Raw Pecans

  • 1 cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes

  • ¼ cup Coconut Oil

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease an 8×8-inch pan with coconut oil.

  2. Peel the sweet potato and chop into about 1 inch pieces. Boil until soft.

  3. Drain the sweet potato and pat dry with a paper towel. Mash manually or using the paddle attachment in a stand mixer. No need to use an immersion blender.

  4. Add the coconut sugar, vanilla, and coconut milk to the mashed sweet potato and whip with the paddle attachment for about a minute until combined.

  5. Add the eggs and whip for another minute or so until combined.

  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the coconut flour, arrowroot flour, baking powder, and salt breaking any lumps.

  7. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined.

  8. Fold the white chocolate chips manually into the batter.

  9. Spread the batter evenly over the greased 8×8 inch baking pan.

  10. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F.

  1. To toast unsweetened coconut flakes, heat a skillet on medium and add the coconut, intermittently mixing until brown. Alternatively, the coconut can be spread on a cookie sheet and baked at 350° F for 3-5 minutes.

  2. Combine the coconut sugar, vanilla, and coconut milk in a saucepan and heat on low.

  3. Continuously mix until the sugar is dissolved and small bubbles form.

  4. Add the ¼ cup of coconut oil and mix until combined.

  5. Remove from heat and to the pecans in batches until a desired consistency is reached.

  6. Top the pecan mixture over a piece of blondie, sprinkle the toasted coconut and enjoy!!



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