When you go Paleo, there are so many things you might have a hard time leaving behind – mainly those that fall into the ‘decadent’ category. From salty favorites to sweet delights, there are many temptations, comfort foods and old favorites that we all miss dearly. That’s where someone who is part mad genius, part magician in the kitchen comes in. That person? Vanessa Barajas. The women behind the blog Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind, has released a cookbook with the same name, and included over 150 recipes to satisfy all those wants and needs in your life! We’re all people and we all have needs…and sometimes that need is a cupcake. Or two. (Ok, really it’s three but who’s counting!? One of them was totally a tester to make sure it wasn’t poison. I’m watching out for EVERYONE’S safety here!)
Sean and I first met Vanessa at Paleo f(x) last year. She handed me a business card and on the back of it was a picture of her Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches and I’m pretty sure I let out an audible gasp meaning “OMG WHAT IS THIS AND HOW CAN I GET IT IN MY BELLY?”. And that’s how I knew I wanted to be her friend! 😉 Well, really it’s her amazing personality and hilarious sense of humor :).
As I flip through the over 400 pages, I spy such devilish delights as Rocky Road Brownies, S’mores Bars, Macaroons, Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites, oh boy there are so many things I want to make NOW! I’ve already made her Pumpkin Bread and it only lasted a few days before it was gone!
While at Paleo f(x) this year, Vanessa was one of our housemates, and made her Chocolate Covered Toffee for us! It required a late night run to the grocery store where I was so tired & delirious that I had a giggle fit in the store and on the ride home. Luckily it stopped once we got back to our rental house, and we all chatted away while she whipped up the delicious treat.
Now, with the CEWADM cookbook, Vanessa gives you not just any treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, but also some savory creations like Bacon Cheeseburger Stuffed Potatoes (how good does that sound?!), BBQ Pulled Pork Nachos and one of my all-time favs, Duck Fat Fries. Gosh, I’m getting so hungry.
Basically you all need to go get this book right now. I’m super duper excited for Vanessa, not only because this book is fantastic, but also because she’s one of our favorite people who deserves it!
AND since she’s so awesome, she’s allowing us to share one of the recipes from the book! Now Sean freely admits his love for white chocolate, and I once cleaned out a can of cashews at 2am while watching WarGames on TBS (hey, it was college!) so I couldn’t think of a better recipe to share than her White Chocolate Caramel Cashew Clusters! Sounds amazing, right? Also, we’re going to give away a copy of the book to one of you on our Instagram page later this week so stay tuned!
- ½ cup (65 g) maple sugar
- ¼ cup (40 g) coconut sugar
- ½ cup (120 ml) canned full-fat coconut milk, room temperature
- 4 tablespoons (2 ounces/56 g) salted butter or ¼ cup (55 g) ghee
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 recipe Salted Caramel Sauce (see above)
- 2 cups (12 ounces/360 g) white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 cups (275 g) unsalted dry-roasted cashew pieces
- In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugars, coconut milk, and butter. Over low heat, whisk gently in one direction so that the butter doesn’t separate, until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is combined. Turn the heat up to medium and bring to a soft boil, then add the vanilla and salt and whisk until combined.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a full boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk gently until it becomes a smooth liquid again. Place back over the heat and boil for an additional 2 minutes to thicken further. Remove from the heat and whisk until the mixture becomes a smooth liquid again. Repeat this process a total of four times. The caramel should be the consistency of thick soup.
- Let cool slightly and transfer to a jar. The caramel will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate to cool and thicken completely, or freeze for extra-thick caramel. As the caramel comes back up to room temperature, it will begin to thin slightly and return to a pourable state. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.
- Prepare the Salted Caramel Sauce. Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl and place in the freezer or refrigerator to thicken, about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Melt the white chocolate chips and coconut oil in a double boiler over low heat or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir frequently using a rubber spatula until the chocolate and oil are completely melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Once the caramel sauce has thickened, stir the cashew pieces into the caramel, evenly coating them.
- To assemble: Line a 12-cup muffin pan with silicone baking cups or foil liners. Spoon the caramel-cashew mixture evenly into each cup, about halfway up the sides. Then spoon the melted white chocolate on top. Refrigerate or freeze for 20 minutes or until the white chocolate is set. Store any leftover cups in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Are you in a hurry for thick caramel? Transfer the finished caramel to a small metal mixing bowl, throw it in the freezer, and stir occasionally until completely cool and thick, about 20 minutes. Variation: Browned Butter Salted Caramel Sauce. Before beginning the recipe, brown the butter following the method on page 360. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the browned butter to a medium-sized mixing bowl, scraping up the browned bits as well. Place the bowl in the freezer to harden for 15 to 20 minutes, then proceed with the recipe as written.
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