Paleo Salted Chocolate Hazelnut Fudge
Lauren's Thanksgiving specialty
My daughter Lauren has some food sensitivities, including eggs, dairy and gluten. It is very easy to work around these restrictions for main courses, sides and salads, but it is a challenge to come up with great desserts. I always scratch my head as to what we can make for dessert that she and everyone else will enjoy. Last year Lauren took matters into her own hands and found this delicious chocolate recipe in Danielle Walker's paleo cookbook, Against All Grain. Lauren has made this chocolate fudge for Thanksgiving dessert two years in a row. It is now a must-have family tradition. A little piece tastes awesome as an accompaniment to pumpkin pie. We have made a few changes to Danielle Walker's original recipe to simplify the process.
No dairy, no eggs, no gluten and no sugar
This truly is a remarkable dessert recipe when you consider what is not in it. This fudge is terrific no matter what your diet includes or excludes. It is intensely chocolatey, has great texture and mouthfeel and really satisfies when you are in need of something sweet and chocolatey.
Make in advance
The beauty of this fudge is it can be made way in advance, even weeks in advance. Lauren made a batch for our Thanksgiving in September family get-together. I just ate the last piece six weeks later! I confess the only reason it was around six weeks is it was shoved to the back of the fridge and I simply didn't know it was still there. Otherwise, it would have been long gone. The one thing to remember is this fudge does need to be stored in the refrigerator.
The one unusual ingredient that this recipe requires is cacao butter, which is different from cocoa butter. Cacao butter is an edible vegetable fat extracted from the cacao bean. It is extremely high in antioxidants and magnesium. You can purchase raw organic cacao butter here on Amazon.
I use a good quality unsweetened chocolate like Scharffen Berger, but it is expensive at about $10 for less than 10 ounces and this recipe calls for 12 ounces. If you don't want to break the bank try using Hershey's Unsweetened Baking Bar. It is about half the price of Scharffen Berger and Cook's Illustrated rated it their first pick in a 2010 review of unsweetened chocolates.
You can use a single vanilla bean, split it and scrape out the seeds or you can use vanilla paste, a product I love for its convenience, flavor, aroma and the same cute little vanilla seeds that you get when using a whole bean. If you are only an occasional baker I recommend this small 4 ounce size. But if baking is your thing, the price per ounce on this quart size bottle can't be beat.
Flakey sea salt
How to toast and skin hazelnuts
You can toast the hazelnuts in a pan on the stove. For the pan method, place the hazelnuts in a skillet over medium heat. Toast, stirring regularly, for about 5 minutes until the skins start to loosen and the nuts emit a nutty fragrance. For the oven method, put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet in a 350 degree oven and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice. For either method, remove the hazelnuts from the hot pan immediately to keep the nuts from burning.
To remove the skins from the hazelnuts, transfer the hot nuts onto a clean kitchen towel. Fold the towel over the nuts and using your hands, roll the nuts between the two layers of the kitchen towel. Most of the skin will peel off easily. Don't worry about bits and pieces of skin that remains; it will simply add more texture to your fudge.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1½ T chopped cacao butter
- ½ cup raw honey
- 1 T brewed coffee or espresso
- 1 vanilla bean or 1 T vanilla bean paste
- 1 t Maldon sea salt, divided
- 12 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, skins removed and chopped
- Put the coconut milk in a saucepan and heat for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the next 4 ingredients and, stir and cook over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in ½ t Maldon flakey sea salt.
- Put the chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and whisk in the hot coconut mixture until the chocolate is smooth and uniform in texture.
- Spread the chocolate mixture in a 9" round glass or porcelain tart pan or an 8" square pan with straight sides. Sprinkle with toasted, chopped hazelnuts and remaining ½ t flakey sea salt. Chill for at least 2 hours before serving. When ready to serve use a thin sharp knife to slice the tart into 1½" pieces. Use a small spatula or offset knife to gently lift the pieces from the pan.
- Store any leftover pieces in the fridge.