Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Playing with Paleo: A Delicious Birthday Experiment

The autumn storms have rolled in and brought with them that crisp air I love so much. Pumpkin and apples are in ample supply, and baking is becoming a coming occurrence in my household. With my Masters application officially submitted, I’ve exhaled this breath I had apparently been holding. Along with other hard lessons digesting from September, October is looking to be one creative and relaxed sort of month (save for midterms, of course).

The best part of fall is the flavor selection. We have foods that warm and fill us, sweet and savory ingredients that come together in a symphony of delights, and the oven always seems to be preheated and ready to go. To add to that, fall is the season I become very adventurous in my recipes.
Over the weekend I celebrated my two best friends’ birthdays. J and TJ, a ridiculously adorable couple, have been so supportive and loving as I pieced together what had been causing my recent stress, and visiting them (individually and together) always lightens my heart and brightens my day.

What was left of the piñata...

So when I was approached with the challenge to make a Paleo dessert for TJ, a lover of pumpkin and cheesecake, my Creative Mind’s gears starting turning.

In place of cream cheese and butter, because TJ is lactose intolerant, I looked for ways to make turn raw, dehydrated coconut flakes into “cheese” with a creamy nut butter consistency. (How did I do it? Read on for the link in the directions.) For the crust, almond meal and coconut oil was used to make it grain-free and dairy-free, and it had a marvelous crushed graham cracker taste and consistency.

 It was a delicious experiment, and one that will only get better over time. As for TJ and J?

They loved it.

Paleo Pumpkin Birthday "Cheese"cake

For the crust:
240 g Almond meal
64 g Honey
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
120 g Coconut oil, melted

For the filling:
500 g Homemade coconut “butter”
425 g Pumpkin puree
3 Large eggs
400 g Honey
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 tsp. Bourbon vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Ginger
Sea salt, to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, honey, cinnamon, and melted coconut oil. (If a little wet, add a little more almond meal until it is soft but stable to the touch.)
Press the mixture throughout a greased 9-inch pie pan until evenly covered, and then set aside.
If you do not have homemade coconut butter on hand, proceed to Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog to learn how to make your own, and then add it to the remaining ingredients for the filling in another medium bowl to mix.
Pour the filling in the center of the pie pan and spread it evenly.
Cover the crust with aluminum foil to prevent burning and bake at the center of the oven for one hour.
Remove from the oven and let it sit for 2 – 4 hours until room temperature and then let chill in the fridge for an additional 2 – 4 hours or overnight before serving.
Serve cold.

Makes 8 – 16 servings.

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