Can we go ahead and just agree that one of God’s greatest masterpieces was the salted caramel flavor combination. Oh. my. goodness. Crystal clear blue waters and sunsets? Who needs em’, but if I see the words “Salted Caramel” on any food item I immediately have to have a bite of whatever it is or I will die a slow painful unmerciful death. Okay fine more like I’ll throw a tantrum until I get a bite and then I’ll savor every last second of the flavor and hope it lingers and saturates every single taste bud. I could write poetry about salted caramel and the beauty it beholds. Or I could just capture it in one single word. Yum.
These Paleo Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites are seriously the way to go. They are quick, easy, and decadent! I brought these in to work and they were a huge hit. I have this thing where I immediately have to get rid of all blog food otherwise I will eat it all. This means that my awesome co-workers get to be my taste test subjects. It’s actually a lot of fun to see what they think because there is such a variety of eaters in the office. There are the “We eat normal but relatively healthy” eaters, the “Foodies”, the “More processed and unhealthy the better” and lo and behold, there are actually two Paleans! Every aspect of the food eater spectrum we have here in the office so I like to see what both sides think. It’s like asking the Jedi’s and the Storm Troopers to sample food and give you feedback. Yes it is. Don’t argue with my Star Wars reference.
So how was your weekend?! I ran my 4th Half-Marathon of the year yesterday! It was such a great run you guys. I had some friends from high school running it with me, Marin, Meghan and Laura (it was Laura’s first Half and she did great!) and then my awesome and hilarious running buddy Bree. It was this whole huge festive event. Even my parents made it out! Bree and I completed the Triple Crown series this year which is where you run three local San Diego Half-Marathons and then at the end you get a special Triple Crown medal. 39.3 miles of gorgeous San Diego. This was probably my favorite and best run ever. There was no time PR or anything fancy like that, I was just properly fueled, had a great running mix in my iPhone that got me pumped, and I was just happy to be out there running with my friends in the city I love. Normally after a Half-Marathon I tell myself that I’m never running again. This time I felt I could have ran at least 5 more miles. I felt FANTASTIC! It also helped that the weather was unseasonably cool for late August. Oh my gosh it’s late August?! EEK! This year has flown by! This means two things, one my birthday is next month, and two it’s almost time for PUMPKIN FLAVORED EVERYTHING!!!! Until then, just make these Paleo Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bites to hold you over.
So until next week, enjoy! Enjoy your friends, your loves, your sport, your life, your salted caramel, whatever you enjoy…just enjoy it. Whoa, salted caramel makes me say deep things. Oh and by the way I would just like to point out for the record that this is the second non-chocolate recipe in a row! I enjoy you though my Weirdos! (Non-Chocolate lovers) I don’t understand you, but I enjoy you. I also enjoy that next week’s recipe has chocolate in it. Boo-ya. Did I just boo-ya? I’m hanging up now.
- 2 heaping cups (8½ ounces/240 g) raw pecan pieces
- 1/4 cup (40 g) coconut flour
- ¼ cup (60 ml) pure maple syrup, dark
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
- ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 1 heaping cup (170 g) raw cashew pieces, soaked at least 4 hours or better yet overnight
- ¼ cup (60 ml) melted coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons canned full-fat coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup, dark
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup (92 g) peeled and diced zucchini
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice, plus more if needed
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground sea salt or sea salt flakes, for garnish
- ½ cup (64 g) maple sugar
- ¼ cup (35 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
- Place the ingredients into the bowl of a high-powered food processor. Process until crumbly and combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the sides of the processor as needed.
- Line a mini (24-well) cupcake pan with paper liners; set aside.
- Prepare the crust and press the dough into the bottom of each cupcake liner, about ¼ inch (6 mm) high. Place in the freezer to set.
- Next prepare the Salted Caramel Sauce and place in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- To make the filling: Drain the soaked cashew pieces and put them in a blender; process the soaked cashews until they are somewhat broken down. Then add the coconut oil, coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend until smooth. Next add the zucchini, coconut sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Blend until a smooth and creamy batter has formed. Taste the mixture and add a little more lemon juice if needed; the flavor should be lightly lemony, but not overdone. Blend one more time to combine the additional juice, if used.
- Remove the crusts from the freezer and pour the cheesecake filling evenly into each liner, leaving about ¼ inch at the top for the caramel sauce to go on top. Place back in the freezer to set for at least 2 hours.
- Remove the mini cheesecakes from freezer 15 minutes prior to serving to allow them to thaw. Transfer the salted caramel sauce to a piping bag or to a resealable plastic bag with the corner cut off. Squeeze a dollop of caramel on top of each cheesecake bite and then garnish with a sprinkle of sea salt. Store in the freezer for up to two weeks. Let thaw 15 minutes before serving.
- In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugars, coconut milk, and butter. Over low heat, whisk gently in one direction, so the butter doesn’t separate, until the butter has melted, the sugar has dissolved, and the mixture is combined. Then turn the heat up to medium and bring to a soft boil, then add the vanilla extract and salt and whisk until combined.
- Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk gently until the mixture becomes a smooth liquid again. Place back over heat and boil for an additional 2 minutes to thicken further. Remove from the heat, whisk until mixture becomes a smooth liquid again. Repeat this process for a total of four times. The caramel should be the consistency of thick soup.
- 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.
- Depending on what types of lemons you use, the flavor could be stronger or weaker. That’s why I recommending tasting to determine if more is needed to get the perfect flavor.
- Subs: 1:1 substitution of unsweetened vanilla almond milk or unsweetened cashew milk in place of canned full-fat coconut milk in the filling.