So, let's talk #JERF....#just eat real food...How hard is that, really? What do we mean by real? First thing, no artificial preservatives, no refined sweeteners, nothing processed, right?   ...When it comes to dessert it can seem difficult to take out all the processed and "fake" foods because we have come to rely on them as staples (refined sugar and white flour are perfect examples).  Refined sugar and white flour, both highly processed and bleached, are the backbone of the cupcake industry, along with products like Crisco for frosting or the perfect flaky crust. Sugar and flour are highly addictive, of course, and learning how to bake and eat without using them is worth the time and investigation. Other artificial additions -like rainbow sprinkles- can make food really fun for kids, but there are so many natural ways to decorate that can add dimension, nutrient-dense nutrition, and flavor (some of my favorites in the decorating category are cacao nibs, coconut flakes, and goji berries) -the creative use of ingredients and combinations are endless.  

These German Chocolate Cupcakes were the product of a request from a customer who who told me how much he loved German Chocolate cake, something his mother used to make.  Perusing a few German Chocolate Cake recipes on line, I was struck, as I always am, at how much sugar is in these traditional recipes...do we really need our sweets that sweet? Don't get me wrong, I definitely LOVE my sweets...but what I love even more is eating sweets that are both delicious and nutrient-dense, and many of the ingredients that we use to sub out traditional products like white sugar and flour, are naturally more nutrient-dense.  

Our sweets can actually nourish us in more ways than just satisfying our desire for dessert, they can have healthy fats and lots micronutrients that can actually add to our satiety and leave us feeling both satisfied and well-nourished.  I find when I eat nutrient-dense sweets I'm actually inclined to eat a smaller amount -I don't need to keep eating the thing to feel satisfied.

For this recipe, I used the cupcake base from one of my favorite Paleo blogs - Zen Belly Blog http://zenbelly.com/2013/02/13/no-joke-dark-chocolate-cake/ -the cake batter is only a few ingredients: almond four, coconut flour, arrowroot powder, cacao powder, eggs, coconut oil, and maple syrup are the primary.  All these products are processed, but they are minimally processed, they don't have more added to or stripped from them than what they actually are. Together, these natural flours, sweetener, and oil yield a deliciously moist and rich cake -perfect for a cupcake bite.  For people new to baking with alternative ingredients, you'll find this recipe so easy and accessible, I think you'll never look back towards bleached flour and refined sugar.  For the Coconut Frosting, cashew cream forms a rich smooth base that's sweetened with dates and maple syrup, sweeteners that are both nutrient-dense.  Lemon juice, sea salt, and tahini give dimension to the flavor and coconut adds the texture and flavor so characteristic for German Chocolate anything...

Here's the recipe, enjoy, and be sure to share comments on trying these out. 

RECIPE (yields 12 cupcakes)

Fore the cupcakes (adapted from Zen Belly's No Joke Chocolate Cake)

1 cup almond meal flour

1/2 cup arrowroot powder

1/4 cup coconut flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup cacao powder

1 cup maple syrup (make it a shy cup, this recipe is plenty sweet)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

4 eggs 

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the Coconut Frosting:

2 cups soaked and rinsed cashews

3-4 mejool dates, pitted

3 tablespoons maple syrup, best quality you can find

1/4-1/2 cup coconut cream, from top of coconut milk can, this can be somewhat liquid because you will need the liquid to be able to blend the cashews

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon tahini, unsalted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pinch sea salt

1 cup shredded coconut, add more coconut to thicken frosting to desired texture

PROCEDURE

1. Preheat oven to 350F. In medium mixing bowl, blend together all dry ingredients: almond flour, arrowroot powder, coconut flour, baking soda, cacao powder, and salt with a fork.

2. In small mixing bowl lightly whisk eggs, then add maple syrup, vanilla and melted coconut oil and whisk with a fork until well blended. Slowly pour wet mixture into dry mix and whisk with a fork until batter forms.

3. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, 3/4 of the way full, these will rise. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick come out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely before frosting.

4. For the Frosting: Place 2 cups soaked and rinsed cashews in high speed blender.  Add coconut milk, maple syrup, dates, lemon juice, tahini and blend until smooth.  Add salt and season to taste, adding more sweetener, lemon juice, and/or coconut as desired. Let frosting refrigerate for up to 1 hour to firm before using.  You can soon on frosting or pipe through a bag.  Add topping as desired to create the look you want.  Store in air tight container for 2-3 days in cool climate.  Enjoy!

 

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