3 Paleo Christmas Treats!

When you're a bit of a food snob, there is this sense when you try people's "healthy alternatives" that the world has gone awry and those cooks are just a lot of annoying people. I realize of course that this is an untrue and unfair judgement but a girl deprived of her chocolate isn't chalked up on the list of Most Patient Creatures. But then, ah - THEN - someone who actually knows their business walks up and hands you a plate of goodness and, after you'd tried and loved said goodness, admits they're sort of kind of maybe paleo.


Paleo. Ish. Enter my dear friend and resident whole food/paleo mama, Joanna Waldner. You will have heard about her family's iconic sweet tea back in this post and will perhaps have encountered her in various, "my friend made this delicious thing here and isn't she the best?" posts on Instagram. And recently she touched down in my kitchen for a jam-sess, paleo baking style, with recipes inspired by those found in Danielle Walker's (Against All Grain) "Celebrations" cookbook. On the menu today?

 - grain-free gingerbread men -
- chocolate almond butter fudge -
- peanut butter buckeyes -


We turned on Christmas music, supplied Joanna's disgruntled one year old with enough hand-painted gingerbread trees to last for days, and got to work. In a few hours (punctuated by a never-ending stack of dishes and talk about grilled cheese and fashion and fellows), we had enough silky fudge, adorable buckeyes, and snappy gingerbread cookies to feed a small army of health-conscious nutcrackers. I eagerly taste-tested (multiple times) all the finished products. Guys. The fudge tastes like the solidified embodiment of your dream brownie-batter flavor, courtesy of way too much unsweetened baking chocolate and decadent almond butter which we swapped in for cashew butter.
"This doesn't call for enough salt. I'm not a believer in that," Joanna said, reaching for my salt grinder. A moment later, "It also doesn't call for vanilla. I'm not a believer in that either." In went a dash of vanilla extract.
We chucked minced up candied ginger into the cookie batter and blithely flouted the suggestion of lessening the amounts of butter. We replaced all the suggested arrowroot with tapioca starch and essentially made the recipes our own: maybe slightly less paleo, maybe more incredibly delicious. All I'm saying is, make these recipes. Make one of them or all of them and feed them to your friends and thrive in the knowledge that you're basically eating salad. 

Almond Butter "Brownie Batter" Christmas Fudge
(makes about 60 pieces)

1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
1 cup raw almond butter
6 Tablespoons tapioca starch (or arrowroot powder)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
12 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, chopped 
  1. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, leaving paper ends hanging over the side. Set aside
  2. On stovetop, melt coconut oil, coconut sugar, and maple syrup together, about five minutes or until the sugar is dissolved. Mix in almond butter, sea salt, and baking chocolate. Melt together, then gradually add in tapioca starch. Mix until smooth and well-blended. Remove from heat and add vanilla
  3. Pour into prepared pan, smooth with spatula, then set in fridge at least two hours. To cut, lift fudge from pan by paper ends, and chop into 1" squares. Store in air-tight container in fridge for up to two weeks.

Peanut Butter Buckeyes
(makes about 18 pieces)

3/4 cups unsweetened peanut butter
3 Tablespoons coconut flour
2 Tablespoons tapioca starch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
 - chocolate shell -
1/3 cup expeller-pressed coconut oil
2 1/2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1/3 cup plus one Tablespoon cocoa powder
pinch of fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Combine together first five ingredients. Roll into 1/2" in diameter balls, then place on parchment-lined pan and chill in freezer for 20-30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine ingredients for chocolate shell in a glass bowl set over a pan of warm water. Stir until smooth and glossy, then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly.
  3. Take peanut butter balls from freezer and dip into chocolate by stabbing with a toothpick and twirling in melted chocolate. Chill in freezer till the chocolate is set, then store in the freezer or fridge until serving time.

Grain-Free Gingerbread
(makes about two dozen cookies, or one house)

3 cups blanched, superfine almond flour
3/4 cups tapioca starch
1 Tablespoon coconut flour
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses (or maple syrup if you want to be fully paleo)
1 large egg
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, minced fine
  1. Beat together sugar, butter, and molasses till fluffy. Add egg and beat again.
  2. In a second bowl, sift together dry ingredients. Add gradually to butter mixture. Bring into a ball with hands, then cover and chill in fridge 2 hours or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Between sheets of parchment paper, roll cookie dough into 1/4" thickness. Cut whatever shapes desired. Return unused dough to fridge to chill.
  4. Bake on parchment-lined pans for 9-12 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Allow to cool on wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. 


  1. These look good! And I loved the fact that you tried to make them amazing even though they were healthy! I don't like my GF allergy to keep me from making and enjoying yummy food, and it is my goal everyday to beat the 'gross' stigma of eating GF. :)

  2. I needed these, I am on a Paleo diet.