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Hi blog readers – it has been a while since I’ve posted anything, and I apologize for that. I’ve been spoiled by the professional baked treats at my wonderful job, and swamped by the work they get me to do in return. Anyway, that’s the excuse I’m going to use. πŸ™‚

If you know me in real life, you can’t miss the fact that I recently made a huge change for my health by adopting the Paleo lifestyle. It’s more than a diet (I know, that’s a super cheesy line, but it’s true). If you don’t know anything about Paleo, I highly encourage you to visit RobbWolf.com, BalancedBites.com, Whole9Life.com, or MarksDailyApple.com. The quick and dirty version is this: eat meat and vegetables, seeds and nuts, and some fruit. Avoid all processed food, starches, grains, beans/legumes, dairy, and sugar. YES, you read that right, this means I no longer eat sugar. That’s quite a conundrum for a baking enthusiast, right? Wrong! There are some amazing Paleo bakers out there (I’m looking at you PaleOMG.com), so I’ve decided to start chronicling my adventures in Paleo baking. I may also still post a recipe here and there for you non-Paleo folks too, since I do love to bake for my friends and loved ones.

With that – here’s my first, from scratch, completely original Paleo recipe: Paleo Protein Cookie Bars! These are chewy, just sweet enough, and full of healthy fats with a kick of protein from the almonds, pepitas, egg, and protein powder. I completely improvised here based on what I had in my kitchen – feel free to do the same!

Paleo Protein Cookie Bars

Paleo Protein Cookie Bars
(Somewhat adapted from PaleOMG.com)

Cooking Time: About 14-16 minutes
Servings: About 18 1.5″ x 1″ bars

  • 8 Medjool dates
  • 1/4 C almonds
  • 1 C unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 large scoops of vanilla protein powder (chocolate would also work)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 C raw pepitas
  • 1/2 C mini chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life dairy, nut, and soy-free brand)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 C coconut chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350. Line a glass baking dish or cookie sheet with parchment paper.

In your food processor, pulse your pitted dates until they form a paste and come together into a ball. Remove from food processor.

Add your almonds and pulse until coarsely ground. Add the coconut, coconut oil, and protein powder and process until blended. Add the date ball (you may need to break it up in order for it to process back in with the rest of the ingredients). Once fully combined, add egg and pulse until you get a nice sticky dough-like product. Remove the dough from the food processor and place in a separate bowl.

With a large spoon, mix in pepitas and chocolate chips. Spread dough onto parchment linked dish/baking sheet until it’s about 1/2 to 2/3″ thick. (I used my hands.) Sprinkle the top with cinnamon and coconut chips.

Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes or until dough is firm and browning on the edges. Remove from dish/baking sheet to cool and then cut into bars.

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I first made this recipe last year at the holidays, and I was unsurprised that Hannah S. specifically requested them again this year. These cookies are delicate but delicious, and this year I added some nonpareils to the chocolate coating to make them extra festive!

Pecan Lace Cookies

Cooking Time: 8 Minutes
Servings: About 3 Dozen Cookies

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • Nonpareils or sprinkles (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper (this is essential to this recipe).

In a food processor or by hand, finely chop pecans.

In a medium size bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar.

Beat in the egg and vanilla.

Add flour, baking powder and salt. Mix very well.

Stir in pecans. Place by teaspoons on your lined baking sheets. Note that this dough will look very different from regular cookie dough. Make sure not to make the cookies very large or too close together as these spread out quite a bit.

Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes, or until the cookies are dark golden brown. They may look a little puffy – they will sink down as they cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for at least 10 minutes before removing to wire racks.

If you don’t allow the cookies to cool completely on the sheet, when you remove them you may end up with cookies that look like this:

Whoops! Anyways…

When the cookies are completely cooled, you can start working on the chocolate coating. In the microwave, melt the chocolate chips and shortening.

Stir every 30 seconds until smooth and fully melted.

Using the back of the spoon, spread chocolate over half of each cookie and then place on waxed paper to dry. If desired, add sprinkles to the chocolate side.

Store in layers separated by waxed paper in an airtight container.

Earlier this season, I was killing time at a bookstore and stumbled upon the Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Candies 2010 magazine. Flipping through the pages and pages of recipes and adorable decorated treats, I knew that the magazine was coming home with me and that I was going to have some fun trying new recipes out this season. This was my first new recipe, and I am very happy with the results! My only deviation from the original recipe was to substitute whole wheat flour for part of the regular flour – I just wanted them to be a bit healthier and chewier.

Pistachio Cranberry Biscotti
Adapted from Taste of Home

Cooking Time: 36 Minutes
Servings: About 24 Cookies

  • 1/3 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup pistachios
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and eggs together. In a separate bowl, combine all of the remaining ingredients.

Gradually add the dry ingredients into the large bowl and mix well. Note that the dough will be sticky. Chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Aren't the colors pretty?

Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 10″ x 2″ x 1″ box or log, like below.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until firm. Err on the longer side of this time amount if you’re unsure. Remove your baking sheet from the oven and cool for 5 minutes.

Transfer the logs to a cutting board and slice diagonally into 3/4″ slices. Place the slices cut side down on your baking sheet again.

Bake for 5 minutes, flip the slices over and bake 5-6 minutes longer. The edges should be nice and golden brown. Allow the cookies to cool for 3-4 minutes on the baking sheet, then let them cool completely on wire racks.

Store in an airtight container, and serve with a festive cup of coffee or hot chocolate.

These cookie bars are deceptively simple to make, but absolutely heavenly! They’re always one of my first choices for holiday baking, and can easily be modified based on who you’re making them for or what you have on hand.

7 Layer Cookie Bars

Cooking Time: 25 Minutes
Servings: About 18 2″ x 3″ bars

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped coarsely
  • 1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (fat-free or regular)
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded coconut

Preheat the oven to 350. You’ll notice that I lined my 9″ x 13″ baking pan with waxed paper – I do NOT recommend this, and you will see why later. I think, for this particular recipe, you don’t need to line the pan at all.

Place the stick of butter in the pan and put it in the oven for a few minutes until the butter is melted. Be careful not to let the butter scorch! Remove the pan and make sure the butter is swirled around the full bottom of the pan.

Sprinkle the butter evenly with the graham cracker crumbs. Next layer the semisweet chips, the butterscotch chips, and the walnuts.

Poke two holes in the can of sweetened condensed milk so that you can drizzle it all over the top of the other layers. You should end up with a very solid coating of the condensed milk. Top this all with the shredded coconut. The layers should look something like below.

Put the layered pan into the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until the coconut starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely. If, like me, you used wax paper, you can lift it up out of the pan to make your bars easier to cut; however, the wax paper will not remove from the edges so you will need to leave a “shell” as I did below. Cut the bars into your desired size and enjoy!

I got some beautiful Fuyu persimmons in my produce delivery box recently so I made some persimmon pulp to use in baking this holiday season. Persimmon pulp is simply ripe persimmons made into a liquid-like pulp with a blender or food processor. Last year I made persimmon muffins, but at Thanksgiving my friend’s sister introduced me to breakfast cookies and I fell in love with the concept. Here is my mash-up recipe, based partly on the persimmon oatmeal cookies found on SeedtoSupper.com. These are chewy, filling, and just sweet enough with hints of spice and persimmon.

The Perfect Breakfast Cookie

Persimmon Oatmeal Breakfast Cookies
(Adapted from SeedtoSupper.com)

Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Servings: About 36 Medium Cookies

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup persimmon pulp (Fuyu or Hachiya)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons apple pie spice
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used cherry flavored ones)

Preheat the oven to 350. Line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, applesauce, sugars, and honey. Feel free to play around with the sweeteners like I did (the original recipe called for 1 cup of regular sugar but I wanted to make these lighter so I substituted honey and a bit of brown sugar). Beat in the egg and then the persimmon pulp, mixing well after each.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flours, salt, baking soda and apple pie spice. (Note that I cheated here and didn’t actually sift these in a separate bowl because I was feeling lazy. Don’t be like me.)

Persimmon Cookie Ingredients

Sorry this picture is a bit dark.

Mix into a stiff batter. Use a spatula or large spoon to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure it is well mixed.

Persimmon Cookie Batter

With the same spatula or large spoon, fold in the oats, almonds, and cranberries.

Persimmon Cookies Ready to Scoop

Drop by rounded spoonfulls onto your lined cookie sheets. Use teaspoons for smaller cookies, tablespoons for larger cookies. Be sure to adjust the baking time if you make yours much larger or smaller than mine (which were small tablespoons for medium sized cookies). These cookies also don’t spread out much, so if you prefer flatter cookies you should press them down prior to baking.

Persimmon Cookies on the Sheet

Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. Enjoy warm or at room temperature, preferably with a cup of coffee, and smile with the smug satisfaction that you had healthy cookies for breakfast!

Persimmon Cookies Baked

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