Primal Cream Cheese Frosting (and Carrot Cake review)

Primal cream cheese frosting on paleo carrot cakeEvery year our friends host an Easter get together complete with an adult Easter egg hunt. On a side note, I have won every year... except for that one year I wasn't there. I take egg hunts pretty seriously ;) Moving on... Normally, my traditional cake for Easter is my Lemon Cake (80/20!). This year, though, every one attending was either paleo or primal, which I was really excited about. I wanted to make carrot cake, but could not decide which recipe to try: Elana's Pantry or Primal Palate. I ended up making both and using it as an opportunity for a taste test. I don't make a lot of desserts, so I knew if I made one cake for Easter and another 6 months down the road, I wouldn't be able to decide which I liked better. What better way to decide than just making two cakes at once, right? Right.

Ultimately, 80% of us preferred Primal Palate's recipe over Elana's. Elana's was fantastic - lots of spice, and plenty of texture from the raisins and nuts. The spices, though, were a bit overpowering for a traditional carrot cake flavor, and almond flour, of course, has a distinctive flavor that most people did not prefer for a carrot cake. Primal Palate's coconut flour version, though, despite lacking nuts or raisins, was more reminiscent of a traditional carrot cake. The fibrous texture of coconut flour lends itself very well to the texture of a carrot cake. I do think, in the future, I would add raisins and walnuts, because carrot cake isn't complete without them in my opinion!

To keep the playing field even, I made the same frosting for both cakes. I ended up doing Elana's in cake form, and Primal Palate's in cupcake form. I did attempt a dairy free "cream cheese" frosting, but ended up over the sink gagging, so let's just not talk about that... This frosting, though, is fantastic. It complemented both cakes perfectly, is rich and perfectly tart, and has just a hint of sweetness.

Primal Cream Cheese Frosting
primal / grain-free / gluten-free / egg-free
Yield: Enough for a two-layer 9in cake, or 24 cupcakes

16oz, or 2 blocks, cream cheese, room temperature
1/2c, or 1 stick, butter, room temperature
1/2t ground ginger, optional

Cream the butter and cream cheese together in a stand mixer, or with a handheld mixer, until fully incorporated.
While mixing, drizzle in the maple syrup and vanilla. Add the ginger. 
Whip until it reaches the desired fluffiness.
Use immediately, or store in the refrigerator (bring to room temperature before frosting).

Primal cream cheese frosting on paleo carrot cake

What did you make for Easter this year? 


Powerballs (Primal/Paleo)

These are lovely little snacks. They're great for on the go: in your car, purse, workout bag, whatever! They are also sweet enough to satisfy a craving. We love to keep them on hand for quick fixes that feel more indulgent than a handful of nuts. These take less than 15 minutes to pull together and keep for weeks.
The best thing about powerballs is there is tons of room for flexibility; play around with it! You can use any nuts you prefer for a total of 12 ounces/1.5c (measured when whole). Sometimes I add chia and flax seeds as well. My sister likes to add coffee. You can pre-chop the figs if you'd like to ensure there are no chunks if you're particular about it but I prefer them to be added whole; I like the slight inconsistency. For substitutions, I'd keep at least half the dried fruit mixture as dates or figs for their binding ability. You can use any type of nut butter that you'd like. I use 80-100% dark chocolate, whatever I have on hand. If you are looking for some fancy presentation, you could roll them in chopped nuts, coconut flakes, or cocoa powder before refrigerating and serving. I have lots of ideas for variations such as nutella powerballs, chocolate covered strawberry powerballs, and PBJ powerballs...

primal / paleo / grain-free / egg-free
Yield: About 2 dozen

1-1/2c nuts
1-1/2c dried figs or dates
1.65 ounces dark chocolate
4T nut butter
1/4t sea salt

My go-to:
1/2c pecans
1-1/2c dried black mission figs
1.65 ounces 80%+ dark chocolate
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Using a food processor, pulse the figs or dates first until chunky. Add the nuts, pulse, then add pieces of the chocolate. Pulse again, then add the nut butter and salt. Process until fully blended, mixture begins chasing itself around the bowl, and you can form into balls. I use a 3/4 ounce disher (loosely packed) then roll with my hands to make about 22 balls, but you can make them whatever size you'd like. Store in the refrigerator.

Primal and paleo friendly powerballs made with nuts, dates, and chocolate

What's your favorite primal or paleo friendly snack on the go?


Coconut Flour Brownies (Primal/Paleo)

This is a repost from last year. I made these a few times last year, but never got around to actually taking photos of them. These brownies are wonderful.

At the beginning of our primal/paleo journey, this was the first baked good I made after our first 30 days strict. My husband has a huge sweet tooth, and when he proclaimed them better than grain- and refined-sweetener-filled brownies, I knew they were a hit.

I made them again today to photograph them as I hadn't had sweetener or chocolate lying around in a long time and finally got around to purchasing some, and also to celebrate our four year anniversary. Not a bad excuse to make them ;)

Paleo and Primal Coconut Flour Brownies Recipe

Coconut Flour Brownies
primal / paleo / grain-free / gluten-free

6 ½ oz good dark chocolate (72%+)
4 1/2 oz butter (one stick + one tablespoon)
¾ cup granulated sweetener of choice
1/2 t vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 t sea salt
1 c chopped walnuts/mix-ins

Preheat the oven to 320 degrees.
Line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment for easy removal.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a saucepan over low heat.
Remove from heat, and add sweetener of choice. Let cool before adding vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, whisking until fluffy.
Stir in flour, salt, and walnuts.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until tester comes out mostly clean (the top may appear undercooked or shiny).
Cool in pan for at least 10-15 minutes, then lift the slab out by the parchment.
Cut into 16 squares and enjoy!

3 stacked paleo and primal brownies made with coconut flour

Have you tried baking with coconut flour before? How do you like it? 


Ginger-Mint Iced Oolong

This has been my go-to drink lately. I think I'm living in a delusional land where we can skip March and April and arrive in Spring, which is definitely not the case here in the Pacific Northwest. Today, for example, we had sun. Ten minutes later we had rain/hail/wind. Ten minutes later the sun was poking out again. It's currently raining again. Either way, I'm drinking iced tea. This is t-shirt weather to me.

Ginger-Mint Iced Green Tea
primal / paleo / grain-free / gluten-free / egg-free
Yield: 6-8 servings

2.5-3oz of ginger, unpeeled and sliced
6 bags oolong tea
1/2-1c mint leaves*
1/4c honey, or to taste
2T lemon juice

*1/2c dried, or 1c fresh (this time of year my mint plants are sleeping, so I've been using dried mint. The first time I used 1/2c and had a spicier, stronger ginger flavor, good in small glasses of tea. I also tried it with a full cup of dried mint and loved the extra minty flavor. It's really up to your preference.

Bring the ginger and 6c water to a boil in a pot. Once it comes to a boil, remove from the heat and add the mint and tea bags. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

Strain and add the honey and lemon juice. Let come to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Serve over ice, with a sprig of fresh mint :)

Ginger mint iced oolong tea in a jar

What cold drink spells Spring to you?