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Turtle Bars

I try to make one treat for the week. Something that is not too elaborate, yet hits the sweet spot when we have got to have a little nibble of something sweet. This particular sweetness is a little different for me to make. I am trying to expand my culinary boundaries.

These Caramel Bars hit all the spots: sweet, salty and crunch. The shortbread base is the platform for the caramel (sweet). The pecans add the salt and crunch. And there definitely has to be some chocolate. There it is a Turtle Bar.

Shortbread Crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine all ingredients into a food processor. Pulse ingredients until they resemble a meal with pea size pieces of margarine throughout the flour mixture.

Press mixture into a parchment lined 8X8 baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes. Set aside refrigerator to cool.

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Caramel:

  • 3/4 c maple sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1/4 c vegan margarine (or butter)
  • 4 tsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a small sauce pan over medium heat combine: maple sugar, molasses, margarine and milk. Stir occasionally, bringing all the ingredients together. The sugar should be dissolved and the margarine is melted.

When the ingredients have come together turn heat up to bring mixture to a boil. Keep stirring during this time so that it does not burn. Boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla.

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Pour caramel over cooled shortbread layer. Refrigerate until caramel has set.

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Chocolate Layer:

  • 1/2 c pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp of Kosher or Flaked Salt
  • 1 c chocolate chips

Melt chocolate chips either over a double boiler or in the microwave. If using the microwave, stir every 30 seconds, until melted.

Pour melted chocolate over caramel. Spread evenly. Sprinkle pecans and salt over chocolate. return to refrigerator to set the chocolate layer.

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When the chocolate is completely set lift out the bar by the parchment paper. Cut bars into squares.

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Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Apple-Cranberry Crumble

Recently my husband and I were having a conversation about what our favorite pies were. To be honest I think we decided that we have a lot of favorites depending on what time of year it is. There was really no clear cut favorite. Then the conversation morphed into crumbles and cobblers. Still there was no real favorite.

Because of all that talk of pies, crumbles and cobblers I had to make something for us. This is an old recipe (originally an apple pie) I have had for more years than I can remember. I did update it to a more healthy crumble with a little twist. It is in the oven right now and it smells amazing. I can hardly wait for it to come out of the oven and cool.

Serve this with your desired topping and enjoy.

Filling:

  • 6 tbsp vegan margarine, divided 3/3
  • 2 1/2 pounds apples, use your favorite that is a firm apple, peeled, cored, sliced
  • 1/2 c maple sugar
  • 1/4 c cranberries, dried
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ground
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg, ground
  • 1/8 tsp ginger, ground
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot or cornstarch

Melt 3 tbsp of butter in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple wedges and sauce until slightly softened but holding their shape. Add maple sugar, cranberries, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger; stir.

Mix together lemon juice and arrowroot. Stir into apple mixture. Remove from heat. Pour apple mixture into 9×13 baking dish. Dot remaining margarine onto apple mixture.

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Crumble Topping:

  • 1/2 c GF rolled oats
  • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped
  • 4 Medjool dates, chopped
  • 2 tbsp GF flour mix
  • 2 tbsp vegan margarine cut into peas size pieces
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger

Mix together all ingredients. Spoon crumble onto apple mixture.

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Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes. Let cool about 10 minutes before serving. top with your favorite topping: whipped cream, whipped coconut cream, or ice cream.

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Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Cashew Vanilla Frosting

This is a frosting that is not overly sweet and only uses 5 – 6 ingredients, Besides, who does not like a good vanilla frosting? Another thing, you make it in the blender. Now that is easy. Oh and something else, it is healthy.

  • 5oz. dates, pitted, chopped
  • 1 c cashews, unsalted, raw
  • 3/4 c water, hot
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp vanilla paste, or 1 vanilla bean
  • pinch of sea salt

In a blender combine all the ingredients. Let stand 45 minutes, or until dates and cashews are softened.

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Cover blender and blend until smooth and creamy. You can add more water if frosting is too stiff.

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Note: this frosting has a tannish color. You can substitute Vanilla Powder if you want it to be a lighter color.

 

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Carrot Cake Donuts

I started out going to make a carrot cake, but then I thought I haven’t made donuts in months. Then I thought, Carrot Cake Donuts sounds pretty good. So here we are making Carrot Cake Donuts.

They are cooling as I write this post and I can hardly wait to have one. So when you see a picture with a bite taken out you know that is a real bite.

I have always liked carrot cake. It has a vegetable in it, so it has to be good for you, right?? They are gluten free and vegan. Also, there is no refined sugars. These donuts are packed with flavor and none of the bad stuff.

This batter is made entirely in the food processor.

  • 1 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 4 1/2 oz whole dates, pitted, chopped
  • 1/2 c applesauce, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 3/4 c  GF oat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 c carrots, finely shredded
  • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped

In the food processor add milk, dates, banana and vanilla. Pulse a few times to break up the dates. Let ingredients set for about 15 minutes to let the dates soften.

 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Add oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, ginger and carrots. blend until completely mixed and carrots are in small pieces. Add walnuts and pulse until the walnuts are broken up.

Spoon batter into a ziplock bag. Squeeze out air and snip the end of the bag so that you can pipe the batter into a donut pan.

Tip: If you are using a silicone pan, place the silicone pan onto a sheet pan. Then pipe batter into donut rings. This make s it much easier to work with the donut pan.

Bake for 25-30 minutes. Let cool inside the donut pan. They will probably break apart if you try to remove them sooner. Turn donuts out onto board/platter (whatever is large enough).

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You can eat them plain or ice with your favorite icing.

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Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Apple Cake Squares

 

At least 5 days a week I try to work on recipes that I can bring to my readers that are healthy, gluten free, and over the top delicious. I gather inspiration from fellow bloggers, cookbooks and even magazine articles. Needless to say I do a lot of reading on different formats (electronic and paper).

This recipe was inspired by a book I saw in the book store. I can honestly say I am at the book store at least once 3 out of 4 weeks. Yes, I like books. It is probably time to donate some of my cookbooks that I have not peeked at in a long time. Sorry, back to the recipe.

You can feel good about serving this anytime – Breakfast, Snack, Dessert, this cake hits the spot.

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 c gluten free flour blend
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 c maple sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp  sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 c oil (your choice)
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Apple: Mixture:

  • 3 pink lady apples, peeled, cored, chopped
  • 1/2 c walnuts, chopped

Icing:

  • 1 c powdered maple sugar
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 9×13 cake pan.

In a large bowl combine: flour, xanthan, maple sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and sea salt.

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In a liquid measuring cup combine wet ingredients: oil, water, vanilla and apple cider vinegar.

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Pour wet ingredients in dry ingredients and stir. Batter will be thick resembling a cookie dough.

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Fold in apple mixture into batter and stir.

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Spoon batter into cake pan.

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Bake for 30-35 minutes. The cake should be light golden brown on the top when it is done.

Pour icing on to cake while it is still warm. Let icing set.

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Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Note: This would be extra good with your favorite ice cream served on top.

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GF Chocolate Cake

This cake is for those that cannot have gluten. I have been experimenting with my gluten-free flour blend. So far I have made sandwich bread, and now chocolate cake. I was craving cake, and chocolate is my favorite flavor of cake, so I thought I would give it a try with this flour blend.

This recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate and raw cacao. The combination makes the cake perfect. To top it off I made a cream cheese frosting made with maple confectioners sugar and maple syrup. This cake is rich, decadent and worth every bite.

Chocolate Mixture:

  • 1 c extra light olive oil
  • 6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2/3 c raw cacao
  • 1 tsp instant coffee

Flour Mixture:

  • 1 1/3 + 1/4 c gluten free flour blend
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp xanthan
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Wet Mixture:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c honey granules
  • 3/4 c maple sugar
  • 1 c almond milk (or any other alternative milk)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Grease rectangular pan or 2 9-inch cake pans. I chose to use the rectangular pan this time.

In a microwaveable bowl melt oil, bittersweet chocolate, raw cacao and instant coffee in the microwave at 30 second increments. Stir after each 30 seconds until chocolate is melted and well blended, about 90 seconds total. Set aside.

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In a large bowl combine gluten free flour, baking powder, baking soda, xanthin and salt. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.

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In a separate large bowl whisk together eggs, vanilla, honey granules, sugar and almond milk.

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Add Chocolate mixture and stir well. Add flour mixture and stir until all ingredients are well combined.

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Pour batter into prepared pan(s). Bake for about 30 – 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean.

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Remove from oven and set aside to completely cool.

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Maple Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 c maple confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 c maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp almond milk

Combine all ingredients in bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment start whisking the ingredients with a low speed, gradually increase speed. Whisk until frosting is smooth and airy.

Frost cooled cake.

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Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Double Chip Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

These cookies are a combination of two of my Chocolate Chip Cookies with a little twist. I added a hint of coffee to blossom the raw cacao added to the cookies. These cookies turned out amazing, not too sweet, just the right amount of chocolate flavor and a sweet tang from the cranberries. It is such a lovely bite. The thing is, these are gluten-free, grain-free with no refined sugars. It makes me a happy girl to have a treat that is on the healthier side. These are perfect to start out your healthier living this new year and still have a little indulgence.

Dry Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2c paleo all-purpose flour (see website)
  • 1/2 c raw cacao
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules
  • 3/4 c maple sugar
  • 1/2 c honey granules

Wet Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c butter, melted
  • 1/2 c coconut oil, melted

Stir-ins:

  • 1 c white chocolate chips
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips
  • 1 c dried cranberries

In a large stand mixing bowl add dry ingredients. Add the eggs, stir. Add the melted butter and coconut oil. Mix well. Stir in white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips and dried cranberries. Stir until all ingredients are well combined.

Roll dough into a log onto wax paper. Wrap dough with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about 60 + minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

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Remove dough from refrigerator. Roll dough into 1 1/2- inch balls. Place onto a parchment lined sheet pan. 6 dough balls per sheet pan.

DSC_0035 26 Bake for about 13 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes. Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Easy Fruit Cobbler

I have been thinking about making a cobbler for a few days. I had some berries frozen in the freezer that would work just fine. That is what is nice about this recipe. You can use fresh, frozen and even canned fruit and they all turn out wonderfully. Serve this with a scoop of ice-cream or whipped cream and you have a easy and tasty dessert in no time.

This recipe has no refined sugars, grains or gluten, and can be adapted to be a Vegan recipe.

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 c paleo all-purpose flour (see website)
  • 1 c maple sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c almond milk (see website)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 20 oz. fruit
  • 1/4 c pecans, pieces

Place the stick of butter in a 9×9 or 11×7 pan. Place pan in oven and preheat oven during this time to melt butter. Melt butter until browned. The browning of the butter will add a richer, slightly nutty flavor to the butter.

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Meanwhile, blend together flour, maple sugar, baking powder, salt, milk, and vanilla. blend until well combined.

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Add batter to browned butter. Do not stir. Sprinkle fruit and pecans on top of the batter.

The pecans give the cobbler some added texture.

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DSC_0037 12.JPGBake for 60 minutes, or until golden brown.

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DSC_0035 20Serve with ice cream or whipped cream. Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Coconut Cake

 

I have been thinking about coconut cake for weeks. I wanted one that was truly coconutty (I know I just made that up), not just a vanilla cake with coconut. I wanted the cake to be  full of coconut flavor and the frosting to be coconut. Thus the word, Coconutty.

Scouring the internet for a coconut cake recipe I finally found one that I could adapt to our way of eating. Remember, it has to be gluten-free and with no refined sugars, yet taste just as amazing as a more traditional cake.

The first time I made this cake it was just okay. It was a too sweet and  I did not like the crumb of the cake. Initially the recipe called for egg whites. Because I use paleo flour, flour without gluten the structure of the cake did not hold up well. I even tried using gelatin, probably too much, but it still did not produce the kind of cake that I wanted. It was also too sweet. By adjusting the sweetener significantly it had a more palatable and divine taste that I expect from my desserts. Also, the coconut was to be plain, no toasting involved. I knew when I was going to rework the recipe that was going to be changed too. Toasting the coconut brings out the flavor so much more. It just makes the coconut so much better. Now with some adjustments it is perfect. My husband said it was recipe worthy. That is high praise.

The frosting is light and airy as a cloud, of course with coconut – Yum. It is basically a 7 minute frosting and totally worth the effort. A stand mixer would be a big help in whipping this frosting to its airy and glossy peaks. When I look at this cake I think of snow and Christmas. I hope you enjoy this cake as much as we did.

Idea: This recipe would make really cute cupcakes with marshmallow snowmen on each top.

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Cake:

  • 3 large egs
  • 3/4 c butter, softened
  • 1 c honey
  • 1 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • coconut milk
  • apple cider vinegar
  • 2 3/4 c paleo all-purpose flour (see website)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt

Line three 9-inch round cake pans that have been greased with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine eggs, butter, honey, coconut extract, vanilla extract, coconut milk and apple cider vinegar in a large mixing bowl. Mix until well combined

In another bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; add dry mixture to wet ingredients. Mix well.

Distribute cake batter evenly into the three parchment lined pans.

Bake for about 17 minutes, until cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pans.

Frosting:

  • 5 large egg whites (room temperature)
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 7oz. unsweetened coconut (toasted)

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.Spread out coconut evenly onto parchment paper. Toast in oven for about 5 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

In a large heatproof bowl, whisk egg whites, honey and cream of tartar over a large saucepan of simmering water. Whisk mixture continually, until a thermometer reads 160 degrees. remove from heat; add coconut and vanilla extracts. Beat mixture until stiff and glossy peaks form.

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DSC_0035 22DSC_0037-14.jpgFrost top of first layer of cake. Add coconut. Repeat with the two other layers. Frost sides and cover cake with coconut. Refrigerate uncovered.

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Pumpkin-Cranberry Cookies

I had about a cup of pumpkin puree left over from the pumpkin maple scones I had made. I was trying to think of something to make with the remaining pumpkin so it would not go to waste. I do not like waste, especially food. I had been thinking of making some type of cookies, and then I remembered I use to make some soft and fragrant pumpkin cookies. Perfect! I had to search for the recipe, and then change it to fit how we eat now compared to those many years ago.

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I first did not realize it, and was a little bit surprised, but these are VEGAN. Yep, I said the V word, and they are so delicious. My house smells incredibly good from baking these cookies.  They are cooling on the counter. I can’t wait anymore, gotta have one now.

  • 3/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 c pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c paleo all-purpose flour (see website)
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line sheet pans with parchment paper.

Mix maple syrup, pumpkin puree, coconut oil and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cranberries, and pecans.

Mix dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture. Stir until well combined.

I used an ice cream scoop so the cookies are of substantial size. that is just the way I like my cookies. Bake 15-18 minutes. Let cool for at least 5-10 minutes. Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Chocolate Mayonnaise Cake

It took me four tries to get this cake right. Three of the tries were the day before Thanksgiving. I know, it’s crazy, but I was determined to get it right, and yes I pulled it off. What a relief, because I am known for my desserts. I just couldn’t show up with only one dessert.

One of the ingredients in the cake is mayonnaise. I know it sounds a little weird, but I promise you will have a moist delicious cake when it is all said and done. Beside using mayonnaise actually makes sense. If you use a cake mix you add eggs and oil. There you go – mayonnaise, almost anyway.

I added a little coffee flavor to this cake, just a hint, to highlight the chocolate. Mmm, my house smells amazing right now from all the baking. The frosting is a light and luscious maple flavor. I basically whipped the frosting to a light and airy consistency. For added texture I lightly candied some walnuts. The walnuts elevate this cake to sublime.

You honestly forget that this is on the healthier side with no refined sugars or grains. I can not wait for you to try it yourself.

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  • 1 c almond milk (I used chocolate, however, plain is just fine.)
  • 1 c homemade mayonnaise (see website)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 c paleo all-purpose flour (see website)
  • 1/2 c honey granules
  • 1/2 c maple sugar
  • 3 tbsp raw cacao
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp instant coffee

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl combine almond milk, mayonnaise and vanilla until well combined.

In a separate bowl mix flour, honey granules, maple sugar, raw cacao, baking soda and instant coffee.

Gradually add dry ingredients into mayonnaise mixture until well blended.

Pour into a greased 11×7 pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool completely.

Maple Frosting

  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c butter, softened
  • 1 c maple confectioners’ sugar (see website)
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 c maple syrup

Cream together cream cheese and butter. Add maple confectioners’ sugar. Cream with cream cheese mixture until it is smooth (no grit). This step may take a little time.

Add almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Cream together until  frosting has a light and airy texture.

Candied Walnuts

  • 1/4c walnuts, chopped
  • 1 tbsp maple sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of black pepper ( I know it sounds weird, but it really brings out the other spices.)

In a non-stick skillet over medium high heat warm all ingredients; stir. Cook until the maple sugar is melted. Stir and transfer walnuts onto a piece of aluminum foil to cool. Sprinkle on top of cake. Share. Eat. Enjoy.

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Note: Refrigerate cake.

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Mini Crustless Pumpkin Cheesecakes

This is an adaptation from my original pumpkin cheesecake, which I have updated to get a more pumpkin flavor. I am really happy with the change. I made these for Thanksgiving in mini sizes because all my kids were having to go to a second Thanksgiving later in the day. By making minis they got to have a taste of this delectable cheesecake without feeling over stuffed. I just might make them this way from now on.

I used mini mason jars and for those that wanted a little more I made some in ramekins. Adding the whipped cream was up to them.

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  • 2 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 c maple syrup
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 c almond milk (see website)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 15oz. can/box pumpkin (not pie filling)

You can mix this in a food processor or stand mixer. I have used both methods.

Mix together cream cheese and maple syrup. Mix in the eggs one at a a time into the cream cheese mixture. Add almond milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla. Blend until creamy. Add pumpkin and mix until completely smooth and well combined. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed.

Pour cheesecake mixture into containers. Set containers into a large pan containing water (water bath), which should rise up to no more than half way . Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cheesecake is set. Remove form oven and water bath. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. I like to make these at least a day before serving to let the flavors completely develop.

Serve with whipped cream or coconut milk. Share. Eat. Enjoy.