When I opened another paper shipping envelope and this fell out, I might have gasped a little. How scandalous! With so many paleo books focusing on ultimate health and fitness, to see an entire book devoted to chocolate seemed almost sinful.
Kelly Brozyna of The Spunky Coconut has created a masterpiece here, with The Paleo Chocolate Lovers Cookbook. The cover is even rich, almost velvety in texture. And the recipes within are well thought out, unique, and beautifully executed.
Note: This book image isn't accurate. There are actually 80 recipes.
Embarrassingly, I've googled for “Paleo Funnel Cakes” more times than I'd like to admit. Someone is chatting on twitter about going to their state fair and eating fried Oreos and funnel cakes? I type it in the search bar, just to see… Someone else had funnel cakes for a birthday celebration? Well… let's just see if any Paleo funnel cakes have popped up since the last time I searched. No? Oh.
What the heck is a Paleo funnel cake anyway?? It's a complete oxymoron. The Whole30 Gods would puke if they knew.
But it can be our little secret. And it's soooo goooood.
I didn't have all of the equipment needed for perfect Paleo funnel cakes, but I made do with what I had on hand. I also fried in palm shortening instead of coconut oil, just because I have a giant tub of it in my cabinet right now.
The only chocolate in this recipe is the cocoa powder that is dusted on top of each cake as it comes out of the hot oil, but I'm so glad Kelly included it in her book. I won't be making it often, but if I ever NEED a funnel cake? I don't have to google anymore.
Even better, the Italian holiday tradition of making Zeppole, fried balls of dough, might be on the table again. My family would always make Zeppole after opening presents on Christmas Day, and popping those little balls of powdered-sugar-dusted dough into our mouths was something we looked forward to for months.
Out of curiosity, I dropped some spoons full of batter into the oil, rather than swirling it around for another funnel cake. I flipped them after a few seconds, and then took them out after a few more. They aren't crispy like the ones from my childhood, but these make a wonderful Zeppole style donut regardless. Now I'm not sure whether to start a Zeppole tradition with my own family, or to stick with my Paleo chocolate pancakes I've been making for years now.
Salted caramel bacon bark. Do I need to explain why I made this?
I had never made caramel before, and it was really simple to do! And then… dark chocolate, bacon… oh my.
Even in the freezer, my caramel didn't really harden. I'm not sure if that's how it's supposed to be, or if I didn't cook mine long enough. I cooked it for the recommended amount of time, and then when it cooled and wasn't very thick, I cooked it for about 5 more minutes before letting it cool again to use.
For me personally, it was way too much chocolate. I'd rather have strips of bacon drizzled with caramel and dipped in a thin layer of chocolate. But for my husband, who has been an ever-loyal chocolate fan his entire life, it was perfection.
Yesterday morning, my husband went for a run, pushing the kids in their stroller. When he came home, he told me the kids wanted to go back to the park again, but that he would really love, “something quick, and sustaining. Like a drink,” if it wasn't too much trouble for me to whip something up.
I knew just the thing to make! Kelly's 60-second chia cocoa smoothie was the perfect recipe for him. Coconut milk, cocoa powder, chia seeds, liquid vanilla stevia, ice cubes, and a bit of honey, all combined to a frothy sweet drink in the Vitamix… and my husband downed it happily before venturing back out with the children. He said it hit the spot.
I had a taste of the smoothie I reserved for the photo, and it tastes lovely, though far too rich for me to enjoy much of at a time. So I put it in the fridge for someone to drink later, and when Anneliese came home from the park, she slurped the entire thing, and asked for more. (I didn't make more, but she asked.)
A s'mores parfait sounded perfect to me. Dark chocolate ganache layered with whipped coconut cream and meringue cookies… who wouldn't love that?
Donkey: You know what ELSE everybody likes? Parfaits! Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let's get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don't like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious!
Shrek: NO! You dense, irritating, miniature beast of burden! Ogres are like onions! End of story! Bye-bye! See ya later.
Donkey: Parfait's gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!
Seriously. Delicious. The cookies were crispy and light, and offered a nice texture contrast to the creamy ganache and airy cream. I put two in the fridge for later, and the cookies in those got soft of course… but were still wonderful, and the fridge-ified parfaits were more like s'mores pudding.
I think the only thing I might change about this recipe would be to add some warm spices to the meringue cookies. The cookies, as Kelly notes in her book, are almost like little toasted marshmallows. But to me, that means the graham cracker component of the s'mores is missing! I'd rather pretend the whipped coconut cream is the marshmallow stand-in, and the cookies play the role of the graham crackers in s'mores.
Don't take this as a complaint of any kind… the recipe is DELICIOUS (and easy)! I just might mix it up a bit next time.
For the kids, I made smaller portions with mostly coconut cream, a small drizzle of ganache, and some of the cookies on top. Anneliese was napping when I made these, but Joseph had the chance to taste test them. Don't feel bad for Anneliese. She has a bowl in the fridge for tomorrow.
It's safe to say that Joseph is a big fan of Paleo s'mores in a bowl.
If you love chocolate, don't feel guilty about indulgences now and then, and need or want to stay grain free and dairy free, this is the book for you.
Well done, Spunky Coconut!