Greetings and salutations my fellow Paleo readers. How was your week? Ok now ask me about mine! Ask me about mine! Well if you insist…I had the most exciting week ever!!! (jumping up and down). Juli from PaleOMG featured me on her blog! If you haven’t read the post already you can find it here. I have been a huge fan of hers ever since I embarked on my Paleo journey. She is insanely talented, crazy adorable and I love her to pieces so imagine how thrilled I was! I also got in touch with George from Civilized Caveman and it turns out we live in the same city and know a ton of the same people! What a small world! He’s super nice and totally down to earth, if you haven’t checked out his amazing recipes you need to. I want to make everything he posts and his photography is legit! I will be writing a guest blog post for his site soon and I’m dying to do a feature post on him for my blog so stay tuned, big things are happening.
Now on to the delicious stuff! So one of my very favorite things in life is Red Velvet. Not the fabric, the food! Every year on my birthday I hold an “Annual Red Velvet Cake Contest” where I ask (make) my friends and family submit an entry of either a Red Velvet Cake or Red Velvet Cupcakes (with Cream Cheese Frosting, substitutions will not be accepted) and then I judge them, with my Red Velvet connoisseur taste buds, based on their deliciousness, and announce a winner! The winner really doesn’t get anything and it’s not really even a contest, it’s just a plan (trick) that I’ve devised to get more Red Velvet Cake into my life by using my birthday as an excuse (guilt trip). What?! This is Red Velvet we are talking about here people, can you blame me?!
Unfortunately Red Velvet Cake isn’t at all Paleo in the slightest. Ugh. I know. Isn’t this the part where someone shouts out “I object your Honor!” Oh no? That doesn’t work in Paleo food situations? Well it should. Anywho since it’s my half-birthday month and I really wanted Red Velvet, I decided to make some Paleo Red Velvet Cupcakes with a Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting. The hard part was figuring out how to make them red without using red food coloring. My friend Justin told me once that they use the crushed carcasses of some South American insect to make Red Dye #40. Um, gross! I Googled and found out that the original Red Velvet name came from the reaction of vinegar and buttermilk mixed together, which reveals the red pigments in the cocoa. This was before alkaline “Dutch processed” cocoa was widely available so now recipes mostly call for red bug juice, I mean food coloring. I have seen some recipes that use beets so I thought I would just go ahead and give that a try. I based my recipe off of this gluten-free one but made it entirely Paleo just for you (me)! They came out amazing, super chocolatey and extra Red Velvety!
Paleo Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 cups beet puree (see notes below)
3 organic cage-free eggs
1 cup organic palm shortening
1 cup coconut nectar (you could substitute with raw honey)
1/2 cup canned coconut milk, full-fat, room temperature
1/2 cup pear sauce* (If you don’t have a Trader Joe’s near you just use unsweetened applesauce)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup sifted blanched almond flour
3/4 cup coconut flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dagoba Organic)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon pink himalayan salt
1. For the beet puree take 6 medium sized beets, cut off the stems and wrap in tin foil. I did groups of 3 so I had 2 foil bundles. Bake in the oven on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for an hour. Let cool and then peel off the skin with your fingers or a peeler, it comes off really easy.
2. To expedite the process, make your Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting while your beets are cooking in the oven for an hour. Put the frosting in the refrigerator to chill and firm up a bit while you prepare your cupcake batter.
3. In a small bowl combine your wet ingredients: eggs, palm shortening, coconut nectar, coconut milk, pear sauce, and apple cider vinegar, set aside. In a separate large bowl sift your almond and coconut flour, then add the rest of your dry ingredients, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
4. Once your beets are cooked, peeled, and ready to go, puree them in a food processor, then add your wet ingredients to the beet puree in the food processor and blend until combined. Now fold the wet ingredients from the food processor into the dry ingredients until combined and you have yourself a pretty red velvet cake batter!
5. Line a cupcake pan with foil cupcake liners or silicone baking cups and scoop the batter in to them. At this point you can also use a spatula or a knife to smooth out the tops of the cupcakes. The batter won’t rise too much as it bakes so you can fill to the top of the liner if you want. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. To make sure the cupcakes are done, stick a toothpick or knife into the center and if it comes out clean you are good to go! Let the cupcakes cool completely before adding the Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting.
Cream “Not Really Cheese” Frosting
3 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight or at least for 4 hours)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/4 cup coconut nectar (or raw honey)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 heaping tablespoons canned coconut milk cream, full-fat (refrigerated overnight)
2 tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1. In a blender combine all the ingredients and blend until completely smooth. You may have to scrape down the sides of the blender a few times. Once it’s totally smooth, blend some more just to be sure, no one wants lumpy frosting! The batter should resemble a cream cheese frosting like consistency maybe a little bit thinner, it will thicken a bit when you cool it in the fridge. Pour into a large Ziploc bag, or if you’re super fancy pants, put into a piping bag and refrigerate while you prepare the cupcakes.
2. Once the cupcakes are at room temperature and your frosting has been refrigerated, cut a whole in the corner of the large Ziploc bag (or use your piping bag and desired tip) and squeeze frosting in a circular motion around the top of the cupcake. I found what worked best and didn’t over frost my cupcakes was if I started in the center and worked my way out still leaving a lip on the edge of the cupcake because the frosting tends to spread a little.
The night before be sure to remember to soak your cashews and refrigerate your coconut milk. I would buy two cans of full-fat coconut milk, one for the fridge and one for the cupcake batter which you will need at room temperature. If you are super ambitious, the night before you could also cook and puree your beets, but I found it was nice to have that hour while they were cooking to prepare the cupcake batter and the frosting and also to let the frosting cool/harden in the fridge.
I also found that these cupcakes are best at room temperature. When I ate them warm out of the oven (because we all know I can’t wait!) they were a bit crumbly and all over the place. When I ate one (3) for dessert later in the evening they were a true solid cupcake. Also the frosting had sat on top of them at room temperature for a few hours and was INSANELY delicious, it tasted JUST like a real Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese frosting. The frosting will darken a bit in color when left out. So basically my advice to you (if you can wait that long) is let your cupcakes sit out for an hour or longer, frost them, and then let them set out even longer so that the frosting becomes room temperature as well.
You could also try subbing the Palm Shortening for Coconut Oil. I didn’t have a chance to bake another batch using Coconut Oil, so I honestly can’t say one way or another how it will come out or taste. If you do use Palm Shortening be sure to use a sustainable Eco-friendly kind like Tropical Traditions or Spectrum .
This recipe should make two dozen cupcakes. Enjoy!
*Here is a picture of the Pear Sauce I used from Trader Joe’s. It’s SO yummy!
Um, so how cool are beets?! I never knew! I had so much fun making this recipe because everything was so pretty! The beet color stains everything but wipes right up! At one point my hands were entirely stained blood red and I was holding a big fat butcher knife in my hand, if anyone had walked in at that exact moment it would have been so hilarious! I was waiting for Brad to come downstairs so I could freak him out, but then I got tired of waiting and giggling to myself so I went back to cooking. Lucky for you I did because these cupcakes are spectacular! I’m going to (reluctantly) bring the rest of them into my CrossFit gym tonight to give to all the people who did 13.3 twice. Yes I was one of them, yes I can barely walk today and yes if I never see another wall ball again it will be too soon.