Pear Galette with Gingerbread Caramel

When the holiday heat is on (and pies are a pipe dream) say hello to the galette: the common pie's laid back, effortlessly attractive cousin.

'Tis the season of pie porn, and we predict your Pinterest is bursting with the fanciest of tart shells. Braided crusts, perfect cutouts, sculpted foliage that browns according to the exact rules of nature; such is the state of aspirational home cooking (and we eat it up). But when the holiday heat is on, and dessert starts to sound like a pipe dream, leave those hand-cut leaves in the gutter and say hello to the galette: the common pie's laid back, effortlessly attractive cousin. 

This humble pastry is a busy chef's secret weapon, providing a sophisticated canvas for fall flavors that can be whipped up in a fraction of the time. We like to keep a few batches of the barely-sweet tart dough in the refrigerator, ready to be unfussily filled with something sweet or savory, then dished up to the delight of guests after a short stint in the oven. Here, we pair juicy pears with the warm flavors of gingerbread, trading refined sugar for low-glycemic, caramelly coconut sugar (as we're known to do). The same dough and process can be used for any number of seasonal fillings, from apples and sage to caramelized onions, roasted squash and goat cheese. So grab a rolling pin and bid those crusty pie shells adieu, because if we're thankful for anything this year, it's a few more minutes with the people we love – especially if they can't tell the difference.

For the dough:

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup all-purpose flour (plus more for rolling)

6 Tbsp cold butter (cut into small pieces)

1 egg (beaten)

Directions: Whisk dry ingredients together. Add butter and rub into dry ingredients with clean hands until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add egg and fold in gently with a fork, until mixture just comes together. Knead very briefly, then shape into a flat disk and chill for at least two hours, and up to two days. Dough can also be frozen for up to one month.

This tart dough recipe was inspired by our friends at Bon Appétit, and their wonderful Fall Baking Guide.

 

For the gingerbread caramel:

1 cup coconut sugar

3 Tbsp water

2 Tbsp molasses 

1/4 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

2 Tbsp butter

Directions:  Combine coconut sugar, water and molasses in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. When coconut sugar granules are fully dissolved, and mixture coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat and whisk in butter and spices until smooth. Allow to cool.

 

For the pears:

1lb pears (sliced lengthwise, 1/8" thick) 

1 Tbsp butter (melted)

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp coconut sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out tart dough to a 14"x10" rectangle (about 1/8th inch thick). Transfer to a Silpat or parchment covered baking mat.

2. Drizzle caramel in the center of the dough, leaving a 2" border (if your caramel has set, you may need to warm it slightly to pour). Arrange pear slices on top of the caramel, overlapping each row. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

3. Working one side at a time, gently lift and fold the borders of dough over the pear filling, making sure to patch up any small tears or holes you create in the process. Gently pinch corners of dough together to secure.

4. Cook for 30-40 minutes, or until pears are soft and edges are golden brown. For extra golden edges with a sweet crunch, brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp milk or water) and sprinkle with more coconut sugar before baking.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Espresso Ganache

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Flourless chocolate cake was born gluten-free, but it wasn't refined-sugar free until now. Here, we magnify the complex depths of unsweetened chocolate with caramelly coconut blossom nectar and rich espresso, resulting in our most decadent cake yet.

For both chocolate lovers and people with gluten allergies, there are few experiences better than a perfectly baked flourless chocolate cake. So when we first wondered if we could reinvent it without refined sugar, we knew we had some very discerning palates to get past. No flour AND no sugar? That's a tricky proposition for many classic patisserie recipes, and it renders some impossible. But by working with unsweetened chocolate and granulated nectar, versus the bittersweet chocolate and refined sugar in the original, we created a simple adaptation that – dare we say it – is even better, richer and more sophisticated.

Considering it consists of only six ingredients and a few shorts steps, this cake is deceptively elegant, and with a ganache coating becomes even more of a jaw-dropper. We gave ours a finishing touch with edible flowers and edible gold, but adornments aren't really necessary on a cake so stunning in naked form. But if you are feeling festive, try drizzling with salted caramel or topping each slice with a few berries and some roasted, finely chopped nuts. A sprinkle of cayenne can also be a welcome addition for anyone who likes a little heat!

 

Flourless Chocolate Cake

For the cake:

8 oz good quality unsweetened chocolate, roughly chopped (we love Madacasse Fair Trade Dark Chocolate Disks, 100% Cocoa )

1 cup granulated nectar

½ cup water

½ tsp salt

6 oz butter, in small chunks

5 eggs

 

For the ganache:

8 oz good quality dark chocolate

8 oz heavy cream

1 tbsp instant espresso

1.     Preheat over to 300F. Grease a 9 inch springform or removable bottom cake pan and set aside.

2.     In a small saucepan, combine water, granulated nectar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When nectar granules have dissolved completely, remove from heat.

3.     Place chunks of unsweetened chocolate in a microwavable container and microwave on high at 30-45 second intervals, stirring between each one. When chocolate is fully melted, remove from microwave and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer.

4.     One or two chunks at a time, beat butter into chocolate on low speed. Turn mixer off, add hot water mixture, then return to low speed. Once water is fully incorporated, add eggs one by one, beating between each addition.

5.     Pour batter into prepared cake pan. Place pan into another, larger cake pan, and create a water bath by filling the larger pan about halfway up with hot water (the hot water goes between the pans, not on top of the cake batter)!

6.     Bake for 40 minutes. Allow to cool, then carefully remove inner pan from the water bath. Cake will still appear wet. Refrigerate for about 6 hours or overnight.

 

Ganache & Assembly:

1.     Remove cake from refrigerator. Using a flat metal spatula or a knife, loosen cake from the sides of the pan, then remove outside of the springform or cake pan, leaving on the bottom portion of the pan (this will help you transfer the cake without getting covered in chocolate).

2.     Place a cooling rack on top of a few paper towels, then set the cake on top of the cooling rack.

3.     Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place cream in a small saucepan, and over low flame, heat cream until steaming (do not allow to boil). Pour hot cream over chocolate, and allow to sit for five minutes. Add instant espresso, then whisk mixture until glossy and smooth.

4.     In a slow and steady stream, pour ganache onto the center of the cake. As you pour, the ganache will spread out and over the sides of the cake.

5.     Allow to set, then refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Forbidden Rice Pudding

Dried apples go for a boozy chai bath in this exotic take on a cozy classic, made modern with nutrient-rich forbidden rice and low-glycemic granulated nectar.

Growing up with two sisters and a very health-conscious mama, it was a rare treat when all-out dessert was served, and an even rarer one when it wasn't shared between all three of us. But for some reason, rice pudding walked a fine enough line between sweet thing and side dish that our mom was more lenient about its consumption, and every so often, after being picked up from elementary school, we'd wind up at Scottsdale's stronghold of 90's yuppie mall dining: Tomatoes. 

At Tomatoes they served rice pudding in face-sized wine goblets with a healthy dollop of cinnamon whipped cream, and the glory of having one set in front of you - in front of you specifically, not in some wartime triangulation between three hungry sisters - was the epitome of after-school heaven.

Back then, exotic rices were used in some rice puddings, but rarely in the restaurant variety, so when the popularity of run-of-the-mill white rice waned in favor of couscous and other, more highbrow grains, rice pudding faded into dessert obscurity. And when Amy Rothstein – the brilliant founder of our fellow NYC food company Dona Chai – sent us a special delivery of her perfectly spiced chai concentrate, rice pudding wasn't exactly on our minds. But as we dug through the pantry in search of a worthy pairing, our hand settled on Lotus Foods forbidden rice, a wacky rice varietal that bleeds aubergine and offers up more antioxidants than blueberries and more nutrients than any other rice. Legend has it this rice was eaten by China's Emperors, making it the perfect choice for bringing rice pudding back to a modern nobility. Aha!

First, we reconstituted dried fruit in a boozy bath of chai and bourbon, then drained off the remaining liquid for a killer cooking cocktail. (Just kidding, we didn't – but there's no reason why you shouldn't, since forbidden rice takes it sweet time to cook.) Then we made the rice, using extra water to soften the grains, added a creamy mixture of milk, nectar, eggs and vanilla, then folded in the plump, chai-soaked fruit. Topped with a spoonful of whipped cream, this simple purple pudding makes for a gloriously intriguing dinner party dessert.

This recipe calls for whole milk and cream, but if you want to get the dairy out or otherwise lighten it up, swap your milk of choice for the liquids, then whisk in a tablespoon of no-gmo cornstarch to help the pudding thicken (sometimes we find that reducing the fat content in a pudding or other rich sauce can lead to it breaking; the cornstarch will stop that from happening). 

Forbidden Rice Pudding

For the fruit:

1/2 cup chopped dried apples

1/4 cup golden raisins

3/4 cup Dona Chai (or other chai concentrate) 

2 oz bourbon

 

For the rice pudding:

1 cup forbidden rice

3 cups water

1/4 tsp salt

1 cup cream

1/2 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup granulated nectar

1 tsp vanilla

 

1. In a small bowl, combine bourbon, chai concentrate, apples and raisins. Allow to soak for 30 minutes, then drain.

2. In a medium pot, combine forbidden rice, salt and water. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes, or until all water has evaporated. Meanwhile, whisk together cream, milk, egg yolks, granulated nectar and vanilla.

3. Add milk mixture to rice, whisking as you pour. Return to a simmer, stirring regularly, until mixture has thickened (about 10-15 minutes). The mixture doesn't need to be as thick as a pudding – it will continue to thicken as it cools - so aim for a hollandaise-style consistency. 

4. Turn off heat, then add fruit. Allow to cool, then cover and refrigerate. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.

Crunchy Granola & Variations

There's only one thing vegetarians, vegans, carnivores and even paleo eaters never disagree on: Granola. Crunchy, salty and open to a vast well of interpretations, this epic breakfast, snack and topper-of-all-things is so simple to master, there's really only one question to answer before making it: What's your signature blend?

In addition to launching countless granola companies, that question is the reason so many incredible blends of grains, fruits and flavors occupy store shelves. But why leave all the fun to the entrepreneurs? Successfully inventing your own signature granola is as easy as remembering a simple ratio and a few rules of thumb. Here's the breakdown:

Everyday granola is a mix of three elements: Dry ingredients, wet ingredients and heat. "Dry ingredients" represent a blend of oats, seeds, nuts and your other favorite grains. "Wet ingredients" represent a mix of fats and sweeteners (which in granola function best as liquids like coconut oil, maple syrup, or liquid coconut nectar). Pairing the wet and dry ingredients at a steady ratio of 6:1 ensures your dry ingredients are perfectly coated with just enough wet stuff to do their crunchy bidding, brought out by a few rounds in a 300F oven.

Put in practice, that 6:1 ratio can inspire hundreds of different recipes, but every single one of them will represent six parts dry ingredients, and one part wet ingredients (for example, 3 cups total oats, grains, seeds and nuts to 1/2 cup total  liquid fats and sweetener). There are only two good rules of thumb to both keep things simple and maximize the flavors of your final ingredients:

1) Seasonings like salt or cinnamon don't need to be included in your total dry ingredient measurements. It's too complex and won't make a real difference in the final product.

2) If you're using things like dried or dehydrated fruit, chocolate chunks, or other components (bacon, perhaps?) whose flavors won't be enhanced by toasting, mix them in after the oat blend has come out of the oven. Since you're mixing them in after baking, these ingredients also don't need to be included in your 6:1 ratio.

Got it? Awesome. Here's a recipe to get you started, but we hope you feel confident enough to riff on it until your signature granola is perfected. 

 

Cocoa Cabanana Granola

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup raw almonds, roughly chopped

1/2 cup pistachios

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup coconut nectar syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup dried pineapple, roughly chopped

1/2 cup dried bananas, roughly chopped

1/4 cup raw cocoa nibs

 

1. Preheat oven to 300F. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix oats, almonds, pistachios, cocoa powder and salt. Add coconut nectar, oil and vanilla and stir thoroughly, until dry ingredients are evenly coated. 

3. Spread mixture evenly on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes total, stirring every 10-15 minutes. 

4. When granola is toasted to your taste, remove from oven. Allow to cool slightly, then add dried pineapple, bananas and cocoa nibs and stir to blend. Cool completely and store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

 

 

 

Carrot Orange Tea Cake

Tea breads are one of the simplest things to make at home, and one of the nicest things to have at hand for lazy weekend breakfasts or afternoon snacks. Here, we pair carrot with orange zest for some summery brightness, then finish it off with an optional (but too good to pass up) cream cheese frosting. Dig in!

Like carrot cake, carrot bread has always brought a unique style of – negotiation – to the table. Half dessert, half vegetable side dish, this satisfying but befuddling pairing builds a bridge between two dramatically distinct food categories, then leaves us stranded in the middle, wondering which set of rules dictate its consumption: Eat with abandon, like a vegetable, or restraint, like a dessert?

Not that the debate makes any difference; the truth is, you will eat at least one more bite than you should (and hopefully many more) – and you'll never regret it. Here, we pair our vitamin-rich carrots with zesty citrus peel, and keep the sweetness in check with granulated nectar's low-glycemic attributes. Then, we blow all our best intentions with cinnamon cream cheese frosting (because if God didn't intend for carrots to be paired with frosting, he would have made them broccoli). Enjoy!

Carrot Orange Tea Cake

For the loaf:

2 cups grated carrot

Zest of 1 orange

3/4 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup granulated coconut nectar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

Optional: 3/4 cup chopped walnuts, 1/2 cup raisins

For the frosting:

2 - 8 oz packages cream cheese

3/4 cup granulated coconut nectar

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tbsp milk

 

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 8 x 4 inch loaf pan and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix grated carrots, orange zest, oil, granulated nectar, eggs and vanilla until combined. In a smaller bowl, mix flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt until combined. In two batches, add dry ingredients to wet ingredients, stirring just until combined.  

3. Add mixture to greased  loaf pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

4. While bread is cooling, add all ingredients for frosting to the bowl of a standing mixer. Combine on low speed for 1 minute, then scrape down the sides. Increase speed to medium high and beat for 4-5 minutes. Frost top of cooled loaf with a spatula or frosting bag & tip of your choosing.

No Corn Syrup Ketchup

Mmm, ketchup. Tart, sweet and just a tad salty, this superhero staple is more American than corn fields on an Iowa plain. But on the subject of corn, let's talk about how it's cramping your condiments - and how easy that is to fix. 

Pick up a bottle of store bought ketchup, and you'll probably spot an all-too-common ingredient on its label: High fructose corn syrup. One of the worst sweeteners you can consume, HFCS plays a role in everyday condiments for two big reasons: 1) It's cheap; and 2) Its smooth, slippery texture adds a silky mouthfeel and a glossy sheen, upping that ketchup's sex appeal. But is it necessary? No way. Nor, we should mention, are the GMOs in the mass-produced corn it's derived from.

But we digress. The point is, you can make your own exceptionally delicious ketchup that tastes just like the real thing, and even make it friendlier to your blood-sugar in the process thanks to coconut sugar's naturally low-glycemic index. Don't eat another fry without it - here's the simple way to get it done.

No Corn Syrup Ketchup

Makes 3/4 cup ketchup:

1 28oz can of cubed tomatoes

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp Worcesterchire sauce

 

1.  Drain cubed tomatoes from their liquids. It's OK if they're still a little juicy, just drain away the bulk of the liquid. 

2. Add all ingredients except Worcesterchire sauce to a medium to large saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring regularly. Reduce to a simmer and continue to cook until liquids have evaporated and mixture is the consistency of jam (about 20-30 minutes).

3. Allow to cool, then add tomato mixture and Worcesterchire sauce to a blender or food processor. Blend until very smooth. If you're after a very, very smooth sauce (or if your blender isn't so strong), you can pass it through a sieve a time or two to achieve a perfect, store-bought consistency.

4. Cover and refrigerate for up to two weeks. 

 

This recipe was inspired by Melissa Clark's easy ketchup for The New York Times. We didn't use the fresh cherry tomatoes she recommends, but God knows we'll be on that track this summer. Thanks, Melissa!

Hazelnut Chocolate Butter (Homemade Nutella)

Fresh hazelnuts, dark chocolate, sea salt and granulated coconut flower nectar combine in a decadent nut butter that nods to everyone's favorite Italian spread (before swiftly dethroning it).

Chocolate. Hazelnuts. A touch of vanilla and almond extract to keep it interesting, coconut sugar for some extra depth and warmth, and a dash of salt. Oh yeah, and a good blender. That's all you need for this indescribably delicious nut butter, which thoroughly outdoes Nutella in both flavor and ingredient quality.

Here, we replace the unsustainable palm oil and refined sugar with sustainable, low-glycemic coconut sugar and MCT-rich coconut oil, then pack in as much flavor as possible with roasted Italian hazelnuts and unsweetened cocoa powder of the best quality. The result is almost confusingly incredible - because who really thought Nutella could get better?

If you're roasting your own hazelnuts, just spread them on a cookie sheet and pop in a 350F oven for 10-15 minutes, watching closely so they don't burn. If you're picky about removing the skins, these steps from the good folks at Epicurious will help you, but getting them all off is really not important (and kind of impossible). Just do the best you can, then drop them in the blender.

Lastly, we added a bit of almond extract because we love how the two flavors interact, but it's not necessary nor traditional. You can take it out entirely, or layer in your own flavors with orange zest, raspberry extract, or anything else that plays well with chocolate and hazelnuts. Just have fun with it (and speaking of fun, pairing your Nutella with bananas and this simple crepes recipe will make your day). Happy blending!

Homemade Nutella

1 cup toasted hazelnuts 

3 tbsp coconut oil

3 tbsp coconut sugar

2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/2 tsp salt

1. Place all ingredients in the bottom of a good quality blender or food processor.

2. On medium-low speed, begin processing ingredients until they come together. You may need to stop blending to scrape down the sides a few times. Once the mixture is well combined and the mixture is beginning to liquify (the hazelnuts will be about the size of large grains of sand) , turn the blender or processor up to high, and process until very smooth.

3. Scrape nut butter into a small container and store in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

Classic Éclairs & Variations

There are some things that just make you feel like a baking badass. Éclairs are one of them, and with the right recipe, "whipping up a batch" can really be as effortless as it sounds. 

Traditional french éclairs aren't just an amazing addition to your classic recipe repertoire, but also a exceptional building block for more non-traditional desserts than you can imagine. The truth is, I rarely gather the strength to master a "classic" unless I can promptly demolish it afterwards – I just find inventing new recipes more creatively fulfilling than following old ones – so if that sounds like you too, LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY MAKE ÉCLAIRS. The creative possibilities for working with Pâte a Choux are literally endless, and you will never run out of sweet or savory things to stuff inside these delicious puffs.

Also, I know diet-consciousness isn't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of French pastry, but using Pâte a Choux is also a lux way to cut some calories out of your life, as the resulting puffs are relatively low in carbs and high in protein (they're basically all crust, filled with air). So yeah, do what you want with that little bit of info, like filling your puffs with a savory chicken salad. Or just screw it all and fill them with cream. Like we're about to do. Okay, let's get started!

Classic éclairs consist of three parts: Pâte a Choux, cream and a chocolate fondant topping. Here we use a simple variation on pastry cream and a classic ganache topping, to keep it simple, but we're staying true to French Pâte a Choux, because there really is only one variation in the world of American Pâte a Choux, and it involves NOT using a kitchen scale. This isn't a deal breaker (and we'll share both types of measurements), but really, it will make a world of difference in the final product. I use this cheap little Escali scale ($24.99) in my kitchen, which comes in a whole rainbow of colors, and you really should just buy one and have your world rocked. Plus, it will make famous French pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer, whose recipe this is adapted from, proud of you and America in general - so do your part for our great rouge, blanc et bleu.

Lastly, a few ideas for variations, to help get the juices flowing once you've mastered the foundation:

  • Fill with Two-Step Banana Pudding and drizzle with Salted Caramel for banoffee eclairs 
  • Purée berries of your choosing, strain to remove seeds, then fold into cream mixture for an incredible fruit filling
  • Pipe Pâte a Choux in small rounds instead of éclairs. After baking, cut in half, fill with a scoop of ice cream, and drizzle with hot fudge

Classic French Éclairs 

For the Pâte a Choux

125 grams (½ cup) whole milk

125 grams (½ cup plus 2½ teaspoons) water

110 grams (7 ½ tablespoons) French butter, such as Président

5 grams (1 teaspoon) granulated coconut flower nectar

2 grams (¼ teaspoon) sea salt

140 grams (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) pastry flour, sifted

220 grams whole eggs (about 4-5 extra large), plus more as needed

1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon milk for egg wash

 

1. Preheat oven to 400 F and line a sheet pan with parchment (or use a Silpat). 

2. Combine milk, water, butter, granulated coconut flower nectar and salt in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, whisk ingredients until fully combined and mixture has come to a boil.

3. Remove from heat, then in one addition, add the pastry flour and whisk vigorously until fully combined.

4. Return to medium heat, and with a wooden spoon or spatula, stir until mixture pulls away from sides and forms a ball.

5. Remove from heat and carefully deposit dough in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Turn speed to medium, then gradually add egg yolks, one by one, until each is fully incorporated. Stop the mixer, scape down the sides, then give it one last mixing to make sure every last bit of egg is blended in.

6. Spoon about half of the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch round tip (kitchen hack: a heavy duty plastic freezer bag with about 1/4 inch snipped from the corner can work in a pinch). Pipe about 10-12 5-inch éclairs onto the sheet, leaving at least an inch between each one. Lightly Brush with egg wash. 

7. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 375 F and bake for another 15 minutes, or until golden. Remove from oven and cool completely. Repeat with remaining Pâte a Choux, or pop in the fridge or freezer for later.

 

For the filling

1/3 cup cream

1 cup milk  

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

2 tbsp cornstarch

3 egg yolks

3 tbsp butter

Pinch of salt

 

1. Combine all ingredients except butter in a blender, and blend until very smooth.

2. Pour blender contents into a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, cook, whisking constantly until mixture has thickened (it will be lumpy at first, then cohesive).

3. Remove from heat, add butter, and whisk constantly until butter is fully melted and mixture is smooth and shiny. Cream should be as thick as pudding, but not as thick as greek yogurt, so if it needs thinning add some more milk or cream, a few tablespoons at a time.

 

For the ganache

One 2.5oz chocolate bar (your choice!)

1/3 cup cream

 

1. Chop chocolate into small chunks and place in medium, heatproof bowl.

2. Heat cream until steaming, over the stove or in the microwave.

3. Pour cream over chocolate. Allow to sit, undisturbed, for about 10 minutes, to allow chocolate to melt. 

4. Whisk milk and chocolate until fully combined.

 

To assemble:

The easiest way to fill an eclair is to cut in half, spoon in filling and drizzle with ganache. But if you want to try the more advanced (and less messy) version, fit a pastry bag with a narrow circular tip then fill bag with cream. On one side of each éclair, poke a small hole, then insert pastry tip and squeeze in cream until full. Dip filled éclairs halfway into warm ganache, face down, then tilt upwards so extra ganache drizzles back into the bowl. Place éclair on baking sheet and allow ganache to cool and set. Enjoy!

 

 

Sweet & Spicy Caramelized Nuts

As anyone who's walked the busy streets of NYC will tell you, roasting nuts advertise themselves - and there's no better place to unleash their power than a cozy holiday party. Here, we pair coconut flower nectar's nutty undertones with cardamom, cinnamon and a touch of black pepper for a sweet heat that perfectly compliments the season (and bourbon).

Sweet & Spicy Caramelized Nuts

2 cups roasted nuts, any variety

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

2 tbsp water

1/4 tsp cardamom

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp salt, for finishing

1. Combine all ingredients except salt in a medium saucepan. Over medium flame, heat mixture until granulated coconut flower nectar has liquified, and liquid appears transparent. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 8-10 minutes.

2.  On a baking sheet lined with a piece of parchment, pour contents of saucepan and spread out thinly with a spoon. Sprinkle with salt and allow to cool completely.

Two Step Banana Pudding

Banana pudding tends to come in two variations: Pudding that "resembles the flavor of bananas", and pudding made with actual bananas. This foolproof recipe sits firmly in the latter category, and will make the banana lovers in your life, uh, bananas about you and stuff.

Coconut flower nectar and bananas, ahhh. As anyone in the raw or paleo communities will tell you, their combination represents one of the greatest partnerships in the history of dessert. From gluten-free banana breads to the simple pleasure of dunking bananas slices right into the grains of coconut nectar, there's something about this combo that makes other sweeteners pale in comparison, adding next-level delight to an otherwise basic treat.

Well, not to offend raw foodies or their cavemen counterparts, but we have co-opted this guilty pleasure and created a somewhat guiltier interpretation of this magical flavor combo. Your work can begin and end with banana pudding (inspired by the recipe and handy method of mixing our ingredients in a blender, shared over at Butterlust). Or, you can take your pudding over the moon with layers of salted coconut nectar caramel, almond butter whipped cream, and a layer of crunchy, salty chopped nuts of your choosing (and stay tuned for an eclair recipe that pairs this incredible stuff with chocolate ganache).

Here, we share two versions of super simple pudding - one a little more decadent, one lightened up with coconut, soy, almond or other milk alternative of your choosing. Enjoy!

Two Step Banana Pudding

2 ripe bananas

1/3 cup cream*

1/3 cup milk*  

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

2 tbsp cornstarch

3 egg yolks

3 tbsp butter

Pinch of salt

*Low-fat modification: Replace cream and milk with 2/3 cup milk alternative. We like coconut milk, but soy or nut milks work well, too!

 

1. Place bananas, cream, milk, coconut flower nectar, cornstarch and eggs in a blender. Blend on high until mixture is very smooth.

2. Pour contents into medium saucepan and cook over medium heat until mixture thickens, whisking constantly. This happens pretty quickly, so watch closely! When pudding is the consistency of - pudding - remove from heat, add butter and whisk until butter is melted and pudding is smooth and glossy. Refrigerate and enjoy! 

Coconut Flower Nectar Halvah

People don't normally describe handmade confectionary with the phrase low effort, big payoff. But when it comes to halvah - a flaky, melt-in-your-mouth treat found in Middle Eastern markets - that's (delightfully) pretty much the case. 

 

Traditionally, halvah – also know as halva, halawah, alva, haleweh, helva, we could go on – is made from a combination of nut butter and melted sugar. Halvah made with ground sesame seeds, a.k.a. tahini, is the style most Americans are familiar with, but half the fun of making this stuff at home is experimenting with nut butter variations. Sunflower seed butter, almond butter, cashew butter; each base makes for a wildly different treat, and if you're one to dabble in say, making bonbons, you find that each variation also offers a killer invitation to pair with other flavors and be enrobed in chocolate (which we will not be doing here - but if you're that person, just keep on being you).

Here, we're laying down the basics for a standard halvah, with a little help from The New York Times and Michael Solomonov. Making this classic with granulated coconut flower nectar instead of refined sugar does nothing to alter the recipe's directions, but it does reduce the glycemic index of the final product, keeping those candy-related sugar crashes at bay and making it a smart treat for nut-allergy free kids.

There are two tricks to halvah worth mentioning:

1) Nut butters often contain different oil content based on their type and manufacturer, which can result in halvahs of varying dryness / oiliness. The more times you make this recipe, the more you'll get the knack for how much oil is too much - for instance, we've taken to skimming about 1/4 cup of oil of the surface of our Joya tahini before stirring the jar and measuring it out, but have never removed oil from a jar of almond butter. The good news is any approach you take is going to taste awesome, so just do a little experimentation and find what results in your favorite texture.

2) Nut butter can be smooth, chunky, and lots of places in between. The smoother the nut butter, the smoother your halvah will be, which contributes to that melt-in-your-mouth vibe. Crunchy nut butter is cool, but expect textural differences in the final product.

Okay, that's a lot of talk for such a short recipe - let's get to it!

Halvah

2 cups granulated coconut flower nectar

1 1/2 cups nut butter or tahini*

1/2 cup minus 1 Tbsp water

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1. Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper.

2. Place granulated coconut flower nectar, lemon zest, lemon juice and water in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until syrup is transparent and temperature registers at 240 degrees fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage). Set aside.

3. Place nut butter and salt in a large, heat proof mixing bowl, and use a mixing spoon to work the butter until smooth and fluid. We pop our nut butter in the microwave for a few minutes to soften it, which helps with this and with incorporating the melted sugar in step 3.

4. Pour syrup mixture over nut butter in a steady stream, stirring as you pour. Mix until syrup is incorporated and begins pulling away from the side of the bowl, about 30-60 seconds.

5. Working quickly, transfer mixture to your 8x8 pan. Place another piece of parchment on top and use your hands on top of the parchment to distribute and smooth out halvah. Cool to room temperature and cut into squares. Store at room temperature, well wrapped in plastic, for a week.

 

 

 

Refined Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie

Refined sugar sneaks into homemade pumpkin pie through sweetened condensed milk – a standard ingredient in most recipes, but an unnecessary one. This simple swap solves your sugar conundrum while preserving your pie's texture and flavor (and you thought you had enough to be thankful for).

Oh, pumpkin pie: Easy enough for a toddler to make; tasty enough for a toddler to eat; and sweet enough for a toddler to fly off the freaking roof until they violently deteriorate to a shrieking mess on your living room floor. But is it asking too much to hope for a pie that's still easy to make, but can also keep sugar crashes at bay?

Nah. Here's why (and how to tackle it):

The majority of pumpkin pies are made with sweetened condensed milk - a delightfully gooey combination of evaporated milk and sugar that lends a silky texture and a caramelly flavor to your pie filling, as well as supports thickening during the baking process. The most popular pie recipes in America, like this one, gain their sweetness purely from sweetened condensed milk, while others call for both sweetened condensed milk and refined sugar (like the classic Libby's recipe). It can feel impossible to remove refined sugar from pumpkin pie for this reason - because how the heck are you supposed to extract the sugar from the can?

The answer is actually pretty easy: Just use evaporated milk in replacement of sweetened condensed milk, then handle the sweetening yourself. In a very non-scientific nutshell, sweetened condensed milk is close to 50% sugar. Without the added sugar, evaporated and condensed milk are essentially the same thing, which means you can rejigger your pie as follows: For every cup of sweetened condensed milk, replace 50% of the milk with granulated coconut flower nectar. So for instance, if your recipe calls for one 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk, add one scant cup of evaporated milk (7oz), and one scant cup of granulated coconut flower nectar (7oz).*

We've shared our favorite pumpkin pie recipe below, adapted from the insanely simple recipe shared by California Farms organic evaporated milk - but you can use the above ratio in any pumpkin pie recipe you love. Here, we pour our filling into a pre-baked shell (because we think it's good insurance against a soggy crust), but if your recipe calls for unbaked, go right ahead - there are many ways to bake a pie, we're just here to take the refined sugar out of it. Happy baking! 

 

Refined Sugar-Free Pumpkin Pie

2 slightly beaten eggs

1 1/2 cups pumpkin

1 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon 

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1 cup evaporated milk

1 prepared 9" pie shell

 

For the pie shell: Prepare pastry dough from Honeycrisp Apple Tart. Instead of a tart pan, use a 9" pie pan, trimming excess dough from the edges and baking with parchment and pie weights as directed.

For the pie:

1. Preheat oven to 425º F. Combine pumpkin, eggs, sugar, salt and spices in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add evaporated milk, stir well to combine.

3. Pour mixture into a baked pie shell. Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350º F and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until skewer inserted in middle of pie comes out clean. If pie crust is browning too aggressively, a ring of baking foil with stop the browning while allowing your filling to continue to cook.

 

*Important caveat: Pie is forgiving; confectionary is not. This alternative for sweetened condensed milk works great for pumpkin pie, but we're not sure what would happen in something like fudge or toffee. If you try it, let us know how it went in the comments!

Simple Syrup Infusions

These giftable cocktail enhancers double as exotically elegant coffee elevators, and inventing your own signature combo is easy as pie. 

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We all know how to make tea, right? Boil some water, plunk in a tea bag, let it sit for a few minutes and – tah dah. Tea. Simple syrups infusions follow a very similar path, and are a really fun way to jazz up a cocktail party, craft some beautiful handmade gifts, or just generally turn your nose up at the "flavored syrups" lining supermarket shelves. 

Infusions can be made with just about anything (honestly, you can even put that tea bag IN the infusion), and different combinations lend themselves to different cocktails. Here, we lean towards citrus, spice (and everything nice), because 'tis the season (and those warm spices pair so thrillingly with coconut flower nectars caramel, slightly nutty undertones). Obvious partners with complex flavors like these are bourbon, whiskey and lattes, but the coffee simple syrup mixed with a bit of vodka and a scoop of vanilla ice cream makes for one killer affogato. 

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This simple syrup base will form the foundation for any infusion your heart desires, and can simply be scaled up for any north-pole level operations you're taking on this holiday season. Happy infusing! 

 

Simple Syrup Base

3/4 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

3/4 cup water

1. In small saucepan, combine sugar and water over medium heat.  Stirring occasionally, warm mixture until it comes to a gentle boil and the nectar crystals have completely dissolved.

2. Remove from heat. Syrup is now ready to be poured over prepared infusion.

 

Infusion Variations

For Orange & Star Anise

1 Star Anise

2  pieces orange peel*

*With a vegetable peeler, remove two strips of peel from a ripe orange, roughly 1"x3" each

 

For Cinnamon & Clove

1 cinnamon stick

6 cloves

 

For Coffee

2 tbsp high-quality coffee beans

-or-

1 tbsp ground coffee beans

 

1. Place desired infusion in the bottom of a heat-proof container, then carefully pour hot simple syrup over the contents. If any of your infusion ingredients are peeking out, use a spoon to help them fully submerge. 

2. Allow to sit at room temperature for at least 1hr. For stronger flavors, cover and infuse overnight or up to 24hrs.

3. Store in an airtight container; refrigeration is good but not necessary if used within two weeks.

Honeycrisp Apple Tart

Crisp fall apples pair with a lemony yogurt cream in this simple to make but sophisticated to behold pastry. Highbrow enough for a dinner party, but chill enough for brunch, this tart owes its brightness to in meyer lemon, and its depth to cinnamon and the caramel undertones of coconut flower nectar.

I'll never understand why people get so intimidated by tarts. They might look like a thousand bucks, but even some of the prettiest ones are nothing other than the dessert world's take on pizza: Make a crust, throw some stuff on it, delight almost everyone. In fact, the word "tart" is so ambiguously open to interpretation that even wikipedia admits there are "no sharp distinctions" between tarts and pies, flans or even quiches. All of this is to basically say that, look, if you make something that has pastry crust on the bottom (again, just the bottom - whether that crust covers the sides and top are open to interpretation), you have successfully made a tart. Seriously.

Think of this recipe as a kind of tart 101: We're going to get pretty detailed on the pastry, but keep the filling is as easy as they come. Because once you master the crust, you've also formed your foundation for an endless flow of creativity, from apple pies to homemade pop tarts to savory quiches filled with caramelized onions and gruyere. 

Here, we use Siggi's yogurt and honeycrisp apples to keep our pastry cream thick and our filling seasonal, but you can swap the Siggis for plain greek yogurt, and any type of apple for the honeycrisps. A meyer lemon brings brightness to the filling, and its juice keeps the apple slices from going brown, but again, using a regular lemon is fine. Like I mentioned, when it comes to tarts, fillings can be pretty flexible. 

Honeycrisp Apple Tart

For the tart:

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp granulated coconut flower nectar (optional)

1 cup butter, very cold and cut into small cubes

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp ice water

 

For the yogurt pastry cream:

1 1/2 cups Icelandic or greek yogurt 

1/3 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 tbsp meyer lemon peel

1 tsp vanilla

 

For the apples:

2 large honeycrisp apples

3 tbsp butter

Juice of one meyer lemon

1/3 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

 

1. For the tart: Whisk together flour, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter cubes, and with a food processor, pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut the butter into the flour mixture until butter is in small pieces, about the size of peas. The point here is to work quickly so the butter doesn't become overly soft or melt, so if you start to notice the butter pieces getting too squishy as you work (which happens more regularly when you use your hands), just pop the whole mixing bowl in the freezer for five minutes, then resume. 

When flour mixture is ready, gently fold in the ice water using a fork or spatula. Don't overmix; when the dough forms a loose but very flaky ball, it's ready. Using your hands, form a flat ball with the dough, then cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

To make your tart shell, preheat the over to 375 degrees fahrenheit. Grease and flour an 11 inch tart pan and set aside. Lightly flour a countertop surface, then place chilled dough on top of the floured surface and dust a little more flour on top. Using a rolling pin, evenly roll your dough to a 1/4 inch thick circle, pausing regularly to flip your dough and lightly re-flour the surfaces of both the countertop and the dough. Center the rolled dough over your tart pan, then ensure there are no air gaps between the dough and your pan by gently pressing dough to the bottom and sides. Trim excess dough from the edges.

Using a fork, poke the dough every two inches or so to allow steam to escape when it bakes. You can place your tart pan in the oven just like this for a puffier crust, or line the tart shell with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or uncooked beans to produce a denser one. 

Bake tart in oven for 25 minutes. If you're using the pie weight method, remove tart after twenty minutes, carefully remove the parchment paper and weights, then return to the oven for 5 more minutes. When tart is golden brown, remove from over and cool.

2. For the pastry cream: Place all ingredients in a bowl and whisk very thoroughly. Thank God for the simpleness of this step after that tart shell.

3. For the apples: Slice apples into very thin slices, about 1/5th of an inch. Place lemon juice, butter, cinnamon, salt and coconut sugar in a large saute pan, and cook over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and mixture is transparent. Add sliced apples and cook until apples have softened, but before they turn to mush - about 8-12 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

4. To assemble: Spread pastry cream evenly inside tart shell. Beginning at one edge of the tart, vertically place a slice of apple on top of the pastry cream, then working in a circle, add another apple slice, slightly overlapping the former. When you've made a complete circle, begin that process again, overlapping your first circular row of apples by about an inch. Continue until you reach the center of the tart. Eat immediately or refrigerate. 

Maple Ginger Pumpkin Butter

This easy, homemade pumpkin butter is excellent on toast, killer on pancakes or waffles, and even makes a great topping for greek yogurt.

Has anyone else ever wished pumpkin butter tasted a little more like – butter? Call me clueless, but as a kid I never stopped wanting each bite to taste like the seasonal output of an exotic, gourd eating cow. Of course, the reality was something much closer to gourmet applesauce, and while still tasty, it was just – missing something. Something like, you know, butter. 

Which I guess is why a lot of people eat their pumpkin butter with butter – a perfectly fine solution, but one that the idealist in me can't help but want to tinker with. Because it seems to me that a purée is a purée, and a butter is a butter. And if we're really going to call this pumpkin butter, well, we need to add some. And maybe some freshly ground ginger and lemon peel, just because we can.

This recipe is super simple: All the ingredients go in one pan, where they're whisked together then simmered over low heat for about 20 minutes before finishing with just enough butter to add depth, but not a ton of extra calories. One batch will make about two small jam jars worth of pumpkin butter, which you can keep yourself or give away as hostess gifts or other small offerings once the holiday rounds pick up. The butter is excellent on toast, incredible on pancakes or waffles, and it even makes a great topping for greek yogurt. Here, we boil it down to a thick but spreadable consistency, but if you keep going you can reduce it further to a topping for a pumpkin pie cheesecake or other layered dessert. Lastly, don't hesitate to fold some into whipped cream for a killer pumpkin mousse.

One final note about the simmering stage: This is a thick sauce, so be extra careful with safety while it's cooking. Those bubbles can fling off some very hot splashes, so covering the pot partially is not a bad idea, nor is being very careful when you stir to keep your hand and arms protected. 

Maple Ginger Pumpkin Butter

1 15oz can of pumpkin

1/2 cup apple juice

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp lemon peel

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup butter 

1. With the exception of the salt and the butter, place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir well to combine. Over medium-low heat, cook until mixture starts to boil, stirring regularly.

2. Reduce heat to low, and partially cover the pot with a lid to guard from splashes. Allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring regularly so the mixture doesn't burn.

3. Remove pan from heat; add butter and salt. Whisk carefully until the butter is fully incorporated and the pumpkin butter has a sheen. Transfer to heat-proof containers and allow to cool. Cover and store in refrigerator.

Homemade Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

There's no comparison between a store-bought "vanilla" syrup and a homemade infusion made with real vanilla bean. There just isn't.

There's also not many good excuses for not making it, because it's crazy easy and keeps in your refrigerator for months. Not that it will stay there long; there are about a million uses for it, from cocktails to coffee to drizzling over fresh fruit and tossing with mint for an breezily elegant dessert.

Speaking of uses, some people would say you haven't lived until you've tried a vanilla latte made with this stuff, because the toasty complexity of the vanilla bean paired with the caramel undertones of coconut sugar is, quite simply, the highway to heaven. So without further ado, here's the 3-step recipe for vanilla bean simple syrup (and once you've gobbled up every drop, feel free to use the paste inside the remaining bean in another recipe calling for fresh vanilla).

Homemade Vanilla Bean Simple Syrup

1 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

1 cup water

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise

1. Combine coconut sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring regularly. Bring to a gentle boil for 1 minute, or until the granules have completely dissolved in the water and mixture is transparent. Remove from heat, and let cool for a few minutes.

2. Place the vanilla bean in a glass jar or other sealable, heatproof container, and carefully pour the sugar syrup over the bean. Depending on the shape of your container, you may want to push down on the bean to ensure it's fully submerged.

3. Cool completely, then cover and place in the refrigerator. Let steep for at least 24 hours before using.

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Chips

This coconut chip recipe is a great foundation for experimentation: Increasing the number of short intervals in the oven will result in a crunchier chip, while fewer will leave a little chewiness. 

Let's just come right out and say it: The pumpkin spice thing has gotten out of hand. But while I generally commiserate with people who shun good things after they're co-opted by pop culture, I just can't denounce the pumpkin. Or, for that matter, the spices that elevate it from a simple gourd to the full blown ambassador of the fall season (even if it is unclear whether the spices or Starbucks is making that call).  So if a part of you - just a part - is wise enough to just give in to a good thing when you see it, these sweet and salty coconut chips make for a killer snack (with far fewer calories than a #PSL, I might add). 

Whenever you're toasting anything, there's a lot that can happen based on oven temperature variations, humidity, the various sizes and thicknesses of the things you're toasting, and even how much of a perfectionist you are about achieving your ideal crunch. This recipe is a great foundation for experimentation: Increasing the number of short intervals in the oven will result in a crunchier chip, while fewer will leave a little chewiness. Obviously, more oven time will also result in a deeper toast, so stay vigilant while watching these bake - they can go from golden to burned faster than you might imagine.

Pumpkin Spice Coconut Chips

4 cups unsweetened coconut chips

1/4 cup granulated coconut flower nectar

2 tbs maple syrup

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 tbs pumpkin pie spice, plus more for finishing

Salt for finishing

1. Spread the coconut chips in a thin layer on a cookie sheet, preferably one with a rim to guard from spills.

2. In a pyrex or other microwaveable container, heat the coconut oil for 30 seconds or until melted. Add the coconut sugar, maple syrup and stir–the coconut sugar won't dissolve, but blending it will make for more even distribution when you pour.

3. Pour the oil mixture over the chips, then using your hand or two spoons, mix thoroughly, aiming for a thin coating of oil and sugar on every chip.

4. Tablespoon by tablespoon, dust the coated chips with the pumpkin spice, mixing after each addition. 

5. Spread the coated chips evenly on the cookie sheet, then bake for four 3-minute intervals, removing pan, stirring and redistributing evenly after each interval. Depending on your oven, you may need a little more or less cooking time, so watch the final rounds closely, adding an extra interval if necessary.

5. While the chips are still hot, sprinkle with ground salt and pumpkin spice to taste, then spread on paper towels to cool completely. Giving the chips a lot of room to breathe while they cool will maximize their crunchiness.

6. Store in an airtight container or bag

 

The Definitive Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Definitive Chocolate Chip Cookie

This classic owes its glory to two utterly epic but basic kitchen tricks that are left out of most recipes (and therefore, standard repertoires): First, truly creaming the butter with the sugar (for God's sake, please do it), and secondly, letting the scooped dough rest in the refrigerator.