Merlot Brownies With Citrus and Plum (Paleo)

You know when you take a bite of something and it’s pure bliss? You feel like you’ve been transported to new place; a place of happiness and a place of comfort. Once in a while, having these experiences when we eat really brings back that connection between our mind and what’s on our plate. Whether it’s a beautifully prepared dinner spread, a dessert or the perfect scrambled eggs, just that sense of stillness and appreciation towards your food.

I really try and check in with this mentality at least once a day, here’s my reason:

When you appreciate your food; respect the process of how it was made, who made it and even what it’s doing for you; it satiates you in a different way. You start craving less and enjoying more which is very powerful. This is especially true for desserts or enjoying something that would be considered a little more naughty. One of my teachers, who was culinary and Chinese medicine educator, taught me this principle and explained that if we respect and enjoy every bite, enjoy the environment we’re in while eating it, and just being present, we can enjoy food (even those treats) without feeling guilty, without needing heaping seconds and without eating until we’re uncomfortable. She really helped pull me away from my “food rules” I used to live by and shed some light on an uncomfortable and problematic situation for most people.

This is why I can now make desserts at home without feeling the need to binge or eat it every day and why I feel satisfied after a small serving. This is especially true when I’m at work in the kitchen, where there is a fine line between tasting and eating. People who say, never trust a skinny chef are out of their mind. What they should be saying is, trust the fit, health forward chef, because she’s eating a brownie and damn, must have things figured out. Now that people, is a true and motivating statement.

Alright so about these brownies…

Sweet: Chocolate, Plum
Savory: Wine
Creamy: Chocolate
Texture: Fudge like, dense, rich

 

Special notes before we get down to the recipe:

I’ve used dark chocolate, 70% Madagascar Chocolate from the lovely people over at Soul Chocolate (you can read more about it in my last post.) Along with a merlot, oranges and black plums.

I will forewarn you, these are intense and bold. If dark chocolate isn’t your thing I would suggest a 60% and no lower. Any lower and the wine might be too overwhelming, however with that said – if you want to make these for kids or for anyone who doesn’t consume alcohol you could sub the wine for another liquid like almond milk, coconut milk (that would make these extra rich), orange juice, or coffee (not for children, obviously.)

wine brownies 1

Merlot Brownies With Orange and Plum
Yields 9 Servings
~Paleo

See notes above for chocolate and liquid alterations

Ingredients:

For the Plums:
2 red plums, sliced in ¼” thick rounds
½ Tbsp (7g) coconut oil
1 Tbsp (or orange juice) Merlot
1/8tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp (27g) honey

For the Oranges:
1 Orange, skin removed and cut into ¼” thick rounds
2 Tbsp honey

For the Brownies:
¾ cup (106g) coconut sugar
1/3 cup merlot {or} ¼ cup merlot + 2 Tbsp almond milk {or} 1/3 cup liquid of choice
5oz 70% Madagascar chocolate, chopped
½ cup (98g) room temperature coconut oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup (25g) cocoa powder
¼ cup (30g) tapioca flour
¼ cup (25g) almond flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder

Method:

For the Plums and Oranges:

  1. Over medium high heat, add the oil, honey and cinnamon to a large pan. Once it starts to simmer add the wine, stir, then add plums in an even layer. Let simmer for 2 minutes, then flip for another 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside, along with the pan juices. You just want to lightly cook them, no need for them to be soft and soggy.
  2. Brush the top side of each orange slice with some honey, then set aside.

For the Brownies:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees, grease and line (for easy removal) a 9×9” baking dish.
  2. Melt the oil and chocolate together over a double boiler, then pour the melted mixture into the base of a stand mixer with the whip attachment.
  3. Add the wine and whip to incorporate, then add the eggs, vanilla, sugar and whip for 3 minutes
  4. Switch to the paddle attachment, and add in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix until it just comes together. Alternatively you can do with all with a hand mixer.
  5. Pour into the prepared baking dish, making sure it’s level. Then alternately later the cooked wine plums and honey brushed oranges. You can do this in any pattern you choose. I poured the remaining pan juices over top the plums.
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Please note, if you are using convection this may only take 35 minutes.
  8. Remove from pan and let cool for 20 minutes before removing. Once cool, remove and let cook on a wire wrack for another 10 minutes before slicing.
  9. I dusted mine with some icing sugar, feel free to do the same.

wine brownies 2

 

– Chef Steph

 

 

 

Pear Cranberry Crumble (Paleo)

I debated over and over again about what I wanted to my first recipe post to be, then I realized simple is truly best and posting something accessible and non daunting would be the way to go.

My love for desserts lead to me making something that would fall under the dessert and breakfast category because I chose to keep this recipe relatively low sugar.

To touch on my “My love for desserts” comment; I’m not a sugar junkie, but there is something I love about watching people light up when they are served dessert. I also genuinely admire it when it’s something that’s not laden in white sugar and white flour, but used with more wholesome ingredients.

I’m not a trained pastry chef, however after culinary school I did work within some pastry kitchens and quickly fell in love with those that used the alternatives to transport a traditional dessert, or traditional ingredients into something gluten free, something paleo or something vegan. For me it really changed the way I saw desserts. I also believe that desserts shouldn’t be sugar laden, overly portioned and should really be looked at a treat and consumed in moderation, but that’s the nutritionist in me speaking.

I get it, because I’m human – sometimes you just want a damn cookie and you don’t want to care about sugar they used. Fair.

However for the other 90% of time, I think opting for the more wholesome choices will land you in a position of better balance and more will power against white sugar cravings.

In terms of winter desserts (even though it’s currently an odd 6 degrees in January), I believe it’s just as important to focus on seasonal ingredients just as you would a savoury dish. For example, if I go to a restaurant in the dead of winter and see a berry tart (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry) on their menu or lemon meringue pie – I feel like I get an eye twitch.

So for this grain free crumble I went with the humble pear, a fruit I don’t think is utilized enough. To add some contrast I added some tart cranberries (a fall/winter berry). Then to balance the flavours, I threw an apple into the mix. In this crumble, I chose not to pre cook/sauté the filling because I wanted a firmer texture as the topping is little softer then your average crumble.

As with any dish, and this is something I’ll usually do within my posts, is mention how having at least 2 of the 5 taste profiles in a recipe and some contrast in texture will allow for a more satiating meal, bite or treat. Just as there should be nutritional balance, we should also have flavour balance.

Sweet – Pear
Tart (Sour) – Cranberries
Creamy – Butter
Crunch – Pecans

Pear Cranberry Crumble
Serves 6 – 8
~Paleo~

Ingredients:
3 D’anjou , peeled, sliced into rounds – remove core
1 fuji apple, peeled, sliced into rounds – remove core
½ cup frozen cranberries – halved
1 cup (86g) not packed, blanched almond flour
¼ cup (33g) coconut flour
1/3 cup (49g) coconut sugar
1/3 cup (73g) chilled butter, cubed
¼ tsp sea salt
1/3 c (52g) pecans, roughly chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp ground clove
1-2 Tbsp Ice water (optional)
2 Tbsp (22g) butter, melted for filling
2 Tbsp (13g) tapioca flour, for filling
2 Tbsp (1 oz) orange juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 2”deep baking dish.
  2. Add your sliced pears and apples to a bowl of acidulated water, just squeeze ½ a lemon and add the half lemon into the bowl of water. This is to prevent from browning will you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients. Strain, when ready to use.
  3. All the almond flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon and the 1/3 cup chilled butter to the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Process on high to form a dough, if it’s too granular then add the ice water 1 Tbsp at a time until it just comes together. Remove and fold in the chopped pecans, then set aside.
  5. In a small bowl whisk the orange juice with the tapioca flour, to create a slurry and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the strained apples and pears, cranberries, orange zest, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, clove, melted butter and slurry.
  7. Layer the filling in the bottom of your pan and pour over any remaining juices.
  8. Crumble the topping over the entire layer fruit, then bake for 45 minutes until the crumble topping is golden.
  9. Let cool for 15-20 minutes then slice and serve.

 Notes:

  • If you’d like this sweeter, you could add 2 Tbsp of coconut sugar into the filling to make it a little richer.
  • You could top this with coconut cream or a full fat dairy cream of your choice.

I hope you enjoy, if you have some awesome crumble combinations I’d love to hear about them!

-Chef Steph