Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Cups (Refined Sugar-free)

Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Cups- www.thenourishinggourmet.com

By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer

Bittersweet chocolate surrounds delicious gooey caramel with a touch of salt in this homemade candy recipe. This is a healthier treat without the use of refined sugars, and the use of dark, antioxidant rich chocolate! It is a perfect treat this time of year. Plus, if you don’t eat it all yourself, it can be easily boxed up for a lovely sweet gift this Christmas. Why not pair it with this Easy Mint Chocolate Fudge recipe for gift giving!

It’s no secret that I love chocolate and that I have a fondness for chocolate when paired with salted caramel. Last year I shared a Salted Caramel Mocha Fauxccino here at The Nourishing Gourmet. Recently I have enjoyed a few cups of steaming Salted Caramel Mocha.

These salted dark chocolate caramel cups are not nearly as hard to make as it would seem. All you need is some high quality dark chocolate, a batch of caramel sauce (or try this one from Kimi) that can be pre-made and a 1/2 teaspoon of course unrefined salt such a Real Salt or Celtic Salt. I prefer using baker’s chocolate because it pairs beautifully with the caramel, balancing out the intense sweetness. It can be made with the chocolate of your choice if you prefer a sweeter chocolate.

I have made candy cups with coconut oil, cocoa powder, and honey before, but when giving gifts I prefer to use pre-made chocolate to make this treat shelf-stable. This makes it more suitable for serving at a holiday party or to give as a gift. You can wrap them in parchment paper and place them in a cute box. Or you might even want to pair them with other homemade candies!

Other homemade chocolates to give as gifts:

Ingredient and tool list:

(Affiliate links.) 

Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel Cups
 
Author:
 
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Break the chocolate into small pieces. Place in a double boiler.You can also use a sauce pot with a larger heat safe bowl placed on top of the pot. (The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the bottom of the sauce pot, or the simmering water.)
  2. Bring the water to a simmer. Allow ½ of the chocolate to melt.
  3. Remove from the heat and continue to stir until the all the chocolate melts.
  4. Place the mini cupcake liners inside a mini cupcake pan.
  5. Fill each liner with ½ of a teaspoon of melted chocolate.
  6. Place the pan in the refrigerator for 10 minutes to allow the chocolate to firm up. Once firm, place back on your working space.
  7. Add ½ teaspoon of caramel sauce in the middle of each cake liner. Flatten so that the caramel almost goes to the sides of the cup.
  8. Gently pour 1 teaspoon of melted chocolate over the candies, completely covering the caramel.
  9. Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes, allowing it to firm slightly.
  10. Sprinkle each cup with a bit of coarse unrefined sea salt.
  11. Return the pan to the refrigerator for 20 minutes or until the candies are completely firm.
  12. The can be stored on the counter for up to 2 weeks or in the refrigerator for two months.

 

Easy Mint Chocolate Fudge (Dairy and Gluten free)

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

Velvety smooth fudge, rich in chocolate, mingled with refreshing peppermint is a must-try this season. This mint chocolate fudge is the perfect way to satisfy a craving, or finish off a hearty meal this holiday season. Even better it’s surprisingly quick to make, and can be boxed up easily to give as a lovely gift.

I am a huge fan of fudge. It’s always my go-to treat during summer vacations at the beach, and my top pick off the Christmas dessert table. The first time I made fudge at home I used Kimi’s recipe for the easiest, healthiest, most scrumptious fudge ever (also see this version using maple syrup). It definitely lived up to its name, and I have made it many times since then to satisfy those pesky little chocolate cravings. I love that her recipe, and the one I created as well, is free from refined sugar, dairy, gluten, and all other kinds of yucky ingredients the more typical fudge recipes have. This version starts with chocolate chips instead of cocoa powder for a more stable fudge for gift giving.

My 3 year old son is a major chocolate lover. He saw me pull out my bag of chips and immediately wanted to help with whatever I was doing. I purposefully made this recipe as simple as possible because, well, life can be a bit crazy with a toddler in tow…especially during the holiday season! He had so much fun helping me dump all the ingredients into a big bowl (not as much as he enjoyed trying to finished product though). I received a hearty “yum yum yummy in my tum tum tummy!” after his first bite :)

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)

There are some fantastic chocolate chips on the market that are completely allergy free, and would be a great option for this recipe. I have used the Enjoy Life Brand of chocolate chips, which are very allergy friendly, a number of times and find the flavor and texture top notch!

You can use either the (Affiliate links)  Semi-Sweet chocolate chips, or the dark chocolate chips in this recipe. Truly though, any chocolate of your choice should work, and the amount of honey you add to sweeten the recipe can be adjusted to your liking as well. I used Frontier’s Natural Mint Extract for flavoring my fudge, and it was delicious!

Homemade gifts are some of my favorite to give. Even the most frugal and simple recipe can be made extra special with its presentation. This fudge wrapped in parchment paper, tied up in colorful bakers twine, and a special box makes for a very thoughtful gift.

Other healthy, and homemade, gifts you may enjoy:

Mint Chocolate Fudge (dairy and gluten free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
 
This velvety mint chocolate fudge is simple to make, includes nourishing ingredients, and is a lovely gift to give this season!
Ingredients
  • 2½ cups chocolate (I used semi-sweet)
  • ½ cup full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 teapoons peppermint extract
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut oil
  • pinch of salt
Instructions
  1. Put all the ingredients into a large bowl, and create a double boiler by placing it over a pot of lightly simmering water.
  2. Allow the chocolate to melt slowly. Stir continuously until all of the ingredients are smooth and incorporated.
  3. Pour the chocolate mixture into a parchment paper lined dish. If desired, top with crushed candy cane pieces. Refrigerate until hardened, and cut into small square pieces to serve.

 

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball (perfect for Christmas and the New Year!)

Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or rich whole grain crackers. Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)

Personally, I am putting together some snack-y hors d’oeuvre to have out for Christmas day/afternoon when we are together as an extended family. Smoked salmon ( #affiliate link  here is a lovely example), this cheese ball, and my favorite liver pate (served with home pickled onions) with some gluten free and regular crackers will make a special but nourishing addition to the usual holiday fun.

Freezing cheese balls

I have never tried freezing a cheese ball before, but Martha Stewart says you can freeze cheese balls for up to a month, which is perfect for my plans of pre-making as much of the food as I can. This cheese ball is now nestled in my freezer well wrapped, waiting for Christmas cheer and magic to happen. But I admit, it may be a little smaller after we all had a few samples of it. ;-)

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Notes on Ingredients

You can use raw, soaked and dehydrated or toasted walnuts. To toast, stir constantly in a cast iron pan over medium heat until the nuts are starting to brown.

I love these Organic Apple Sweetened Cranberries (affiliate link) for projects like this one.

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball - A delicious appetizer, party food, or food gift!

Cranberry Walnut Goat Cheese Ball
 
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
Tangy, with crunchy walnuts, savory shallots, and sweet cranberries, this goat cheese ball is perfect for the holidays! It is easy to whip together, can be made days in advance (or even frozen) and makes a lovely addition to a cheese platter or to serve along side celery sticks or crackers! Or give it as a food gift (or hostess gift.)
Ingredients
  • 8 ounces of chévre goat cheese (look for the soft goat cheese logs)
  • 1-2 tablespoons fat of choice (such as avocado oil, home rendered fats, etc).
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • ⅓ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • ⅓ cup dried, sweetened cranberries (I used fruit juice sweetened), roughly chopped
  • ¼-1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Instructions
  1. In a small pan, over medium heat saute the shallots in fat/oil of choice until softened and starting to brown (about five to seven minutes). Make sure you stir almost constantly to prevent burning.
  2. In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer, mix the goat cheese with the cooked shallots, ⅓ cup walnuts, and cranberries.
  3. Using a spatula, scoop into a rough ball, and then use your hands to pat into a ball. Cover the surface with the extra chopped walnuts.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 3 days. Or freeze up to one month, well wrapped.
  5. Serve with crackers, crudités, cucumber slices, or celery sticks!

 

Vanilla Lemonade (A whole fruit vitamin C rich beverage)

Lemonade with vanilla and whole vitamin C powder. A hydrating way to get your daily vitamin C powder in that is delicious too!This lemonade is a wonderful combination of tasty sweet and tang, plus it offers a hearty dose of vitamin C from whole food sources! It’s lovely for drinking when fighting off a cold or illness (or for hydrating if sick).

This lemonade is unique for a couple of reasons – first, it uses peeled whole lemons for more potential health benefits (and you end up using fewer lemons, which is frugal too!). Secondly, the vanilla is amazing with lemons! Who knew? Thirdly, I add a whole fruit source of vitamin C to make this drink a wonderful, whole food source of vitamin C!

Today is the first day of December, and we are getting in the Christmas spirit over here. Our tree is up, and I have running lists of holiday plans for us (including fun posts coming up for this blog!). But I am also trying to keep us well during this holiday season so that we can enjoy them. This little drink is just part of my “stay well” eating/drinking plan.

There is some controversy over how much vitamin C we should optimally consume every day, and whether we should use any vitamin C supplements or not. Personally, I have used a more typical vitamin C pill, but I feel most comfortable with it getting it from real food, or concentrated real food powder. For those of us who follow Dr. Price’s dietary recommendations, getting a whole food source of vitamin C in every day is part of his protocol. This lovely refreshing drink is one great way to do so.

Links may be affiliate. Thank you for supporting this blog! 

This was inspired by the “Singing Canary” Trim Healthy Mama drink, but is a simplified version (I choose not to use turmeric or protein powder), My version also uses a whole food source of vitamin C, rather than a synthetic version. My version also contains fewer milligrams of vitamin C in total.

Vitamin C and pregnant women and nursing mothers

One thing to double check with your health care provider about is how much vitamin from any sort of supplement you should consume when pregnant or nursing. I have gotten different answers on this question. The most conservative response is probably given by Medline Plus (a service from the National Library of Medicine)

They say, “Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Vitamin C is LIKELY SAFE for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 120 mg per day. Taking too much vitamin C during pregnancy can cause problems for the newborn baby.”

Two dieticians answer that question here, a summery being that eating vitamin C rich food and taking a multi-vitamin will give you plenty of vitamin C (and taking large doses could be harmful for your baby), and the second opinion being that you shouldn’t take over 2,000 MG of added vitamin C per day.

You can also get helpful charts for general info on recommended amounts of vitamin C (from diet or supplements) from WebMD, where they also point out that, “A substantial number of Americans may have low intake levels of vitamin C due to the inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables.”

The point is this – vitamin C is an important vitamin, but you can over do it, especially if you are pregnant or nursing. Many midwives recommend the higher amount (2000 milligrams per day), so there is a wide range of advice in how much to take when pregnant is optimal.

For the rest of us, it makes sense to me to get our vitamin C from food as much as possible – which is why I love this recipe!

Vitamin C from lemons in recipe: According to WhFoods.com, ¼ cup of lemon or lime juice contains 23.61 MG of vitamin C (and a small amount of folate as well!). But the pith and the peel has even higher concentrations of certain elements that could be especially healthful. Intriguing research has shown that those who consume citrus peels have a lower risk of skin cancers (read here and here), and research shows that some of the elements could be helpful in preventing breast and colon cancers. So, save those citrus peels from this recipe to use in other ways!

Whole Food Vitamin C

If you’d like to up the vitamin C content even more, you can do what I do by adding some of this Vitamin C powder made from acerola cherries. From Traditional Market, “Freeze drying and spray drying changes the acerola’s pH and reduces its vitamin levels. This vitamin C is processed with a proprietary gentle low heat method. As a result, the natural cherry color flavor and smell remains unchanged. Lab tests confirm that no vitamin C is lost during the process. Each bottle contains at least 25,000 mg of only naturally occurring vitamin C per bottle. This is truly natural vitamin C—there is no ascorbic acid added or synthetic vitamins added at all. It’s just powdered organic cherry.”

I love this stuff! It also works well in smoothies. A ¼ teaspoon has 250 mg of vitamin C, so to get 2000 mgs, I use 2 teaspoons. It has such a mild flavor, that you could easily use less as well.

http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/VitaminC

Ingredient links:

Gluten free vanilla extract
stevia
raw honey
Whole Fruit Vitamin C Powder

Vanilla Lemonade (A whole fruit vitamin C rich beverage)
 
 
You could also add 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1-3 teaspoons MCT oil, and a small amount of protein powder, if desired.
Ingredients
  • 2 lemons, peeled (white pith left on)
  • 1-2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Whole Food Vitamin C extract of choice (I use this one), I use ¼-2 teaspoons worth, depending on how much vitamin C I am wanting.
  • Stevia or honey to taste
  • Dash of unrefined salt, optional
Instructions
  1. Slice the peeled lemons into 4 pieces, and remove any seeds. Place in a blender with 3 cups of water and blend well, until smooth.
  2. Strain through a fine sieve or a nut bag into a large rim jar or bowl.
  3. Pour back into jar, and add the vanilla extract, optional salt, if using, and stevia or honey to taste (start low and build up). Blend briefly, and then pour over a 2 quart jar full of ice. Add water to reach the rim of the jar. Enjoy!