Rachel Conners was born with a love of sweets that has never wavered. At the age of 16, she begged her parents for a KitchenAid mixer and began teaching herself how to bake and invent recipes, a hobby that grew into a creative passion, an emotional release and subsequently a full-time career.
At 26, she has just published her first cookbook, Bakerita: 100+ No-Fuss Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free and Refined Sugar-Free Recipes for the Modern Baker, a compilation of recipes for the cookies, cakes, candies and treats the San Diego-native has posted on her popular Bakerita blog over the past 10 years.
“Dessert doesn’t have to be empty calories, or leave you feeling guilty, or like a blob on the couch,” says Conners who freely used sugar, flour and eggs in all her recipes until about five years ago when her older sister was diagnosed with Lyme disease and committed to a gluten-free, sugar-free and dairy-free diet.
“I wanted to make her sweets that the rest of us were enjoying and I gradually transitioned into paleo-style baking. As I posted these items on my blog I realized there is a huge community of people struggling with autoimmune disorders and gut issues, or simply trying to live a healthier life,” says Conners, who mostly eats a plant-based, gluten-free diet.
“Dessert, in my mind, brings pure joy to our lives. This is my way of promoting dessert inclusivity.”
Ingredients (Makes: 18 pieces)
- ½ cup refined coconut oil
- ¾ cup cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-processed)
- ¾ cup creamy almond butter, or nut butter of choice
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup or honey
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (optional)
- ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt (optional)
- Flaky sea salt, for garnish (optional)
Line a 9-inch-by-5-inch loaf pan or other small baking pan with foil or parchment paper. The size of the loaf pan will determine the thickness of the fudge. An 8-inch-by-8-inch pan will yield thinner fudge. You can also use a muffin tin; line 12 cups with paper liners.
Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat or in the microwave for 30 to 60 seconds. Stir in the cocoa powder, nut butter, maple syrup, and, if using, the vanilla and kosher salt until completely smooth.
Pour the fudge into the prepared pan. If desired, garnish with flaky sea salt and/or other toppings. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, about 2 hours.
Using a sharp knife, cut the fudge into squares. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Berries: Diced strawberries are one of my favourite fudge toppings, but any berry will work. Top the fudge with 1 cup diced strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries, then drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.
Peanut butter: Use peanut butter when making the fudge; then melt 2 tablespoons peanut butter with 1 tablespoon coconut oil, whisk, and drizzle over the fudge mixture once it’s in the pan. Swirl the peanut butter mixture into the fudge with a knife or toothpick. This can be done with any other nut or seed butter as well.
Peppermint: Add 1 teaspoon pure peppermint extract with the vanilla extract. Top the fudge with 2 tablespoons crushed peppermint candies or candy canes (preferably naturally coloured and flavoured).
Note: It is best not to let the fudge get too warm or else the coconut oil will start to melt. Store the fudge in the fridge.
Excerpted from Bakerita: 100+ No-Fuss Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Refined Sugar-Free Recipes for the Modern Baker by Rachel Conners (C) 2020. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
Plan your weekend with our Good Taste newsletter, offering wine advice and reviews, recipes and more. Sign up today.