chocolate caramel brownie cups
Of all the food bogs I have pored over during the last 3 years, there is one in particular that I have remained loyal to, checking every week or so for the latest read and food gawk. For years, Guilty Kitchen was my quick-pick when I wanted a recipe of real indulgence – buttercream, pancakes, roasted banana bread..
Elizabeth, a young Canadian mother of 2, would bake up a storm for kids’ birthdays, curse the idea of cardio and rarely mentioning her weight, except that after two children she considered herself frumpy. All of a sudden the blog took a turn. Elizabeth is one day posting a Double Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake with Strawberry Buttercream… and the next day I’m reading about her Insanity Transformation, her journey from a (supposedly) chubby young lady with severe scoliosis to a fit, muscular mother, eventually ending up where she is now; Crossfit Advocate, Paleo/Primal eater, and one STRONG woman.
Just before Jesse and I moved to Canada I was in a road cycling accident while training for a race (actually an attack by a magpie determined to throw me off my road bike). I broke my collarbone which was all very well – it healed in time for our pack up and move to Canada. But the x-rays showed something else – a bend in my spine; scoliosis. Where your spine is straight, mine curves sideways like an S. Finding this out hit me hard. I KNEW I didn’t have it a couple of years earlier (I’d had my spine checked for other reasons) so I can only assume it developed – drastically and quickly. I had images of rods being inserted (as Elizabeth did) of no more exercise and instead weight gain (as Elizabeth also did) and of ongoing pain. And during this time I kept reading Guilty Kitchen. It dawned on me that I had no reason to panic, really. Elizabeth had pushed past that; despite her spinal problems, she has maintained a life of activity, of strength and of exploding past her personal goals frequently.
Pretty quickly I decided I too would do the same. Although I never needed surgery (and pray I never will) and that other than a frequent pinch and very assymetrical ribs it rarely bothers me, the physiotherapist I visited encouraged me to keep getting STRONG. If it doesn’t hurt, you can do it. The idea being if I continue to stay fit and never let myself get out of shape, it should never cause me problems – the worst thing I could do for my back would be to gain weight or get out of shape. And right there was the push. Sure, I’ve always been lean and fairly fit, but so grew a passion to go beyond that. To be strong, to race a 10km without barely needing to train, to pull my weight alongside my husband rather than be the weaker link, to unscrew jars without a second thought, to be able to eat as much as I like, to have the squat technique down for lifting heavy freight.
Although I’m not an avid Crossfitter, nor follow the Paleolithic diet, I am similar to Elizabeth in finding huge satisfaction in strength and all-round fitness. There is something empowering about being able to deadlift the weight of my best friend and squat as much as my (also very fit) husband, to have gone from struggling to do two wobbly chin ups, to nailing out eight. Far from where I was two years ago!
These days I turn to Guilty Kitchen for quite different reasons – for clean eating recipes, for inspiration for high-protein feeds, and for a little deadlifting ‘kick-up-the-butt’. And for desserts that won’t give me the sugar-plummet. Chocolate Caramel Brownie Cups, paleolithic and clean. Brownie base of almond and coconut, a layer of creamy date ‘caramel’, and a smooth chocolate topping.
Chocolate Caramel Brownie Cups
Recipe from Guilty Kitchen
Makes 8 – 9
1 cup blanched almond meal
2 tbsp coconut flour
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
10 large medjool dates, pitted (if using the drier dates, soak in boiling water first)
3 tbsp boiling water
slightly less than 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut butter (whizz shredded coconut until liquified)
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1/8 tsp sea salt
For the Brownies:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a deep silicone muffin tin and set aside (alternatively use paper liners). Mix together almond meal and coconut flour. Add in salt, cinnamon and cocoa and blend with a fork. Stir in the coconut oil, honey, vanilla and egg. Blend until completely mixed. Spoon into muffin tin compartments (you should get around 8).
Bake for 13-15 minutes. Remove and cool completely. (Placing in the freezer will help speed this up.)
For the Caramel Layer:
Place dates and boiling water in a blender or food processor and blend until liquefied. Add in remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour over cooled brownie layer and cool again.
For the Chocolate Layer:
In a double boiler or a small metal bowl placed over a small pot of gently simmering water, add the chocolate, coconut oil and salt. Stir continuously until just melted. Pour over cooled cups and spread around with your finger or a small spatula.
Cool completely before trying to remove.