With holiday gatherings and seasonally inspired dinners in full swing, and Christmas just around the corner, my mind is unavoidably drawn to warming images of festive feasts and friends gathered around heaps of sweets, treats, and nostalgic nibbles.
But you know what’s not so festive? Crushing a bunch of refined sugar and foods you might be sensitive to, and feeling like garbage all season long.
That’s why I take particular pride and passion in putting healthier spins on seasonal favourites like fruitcake, ginger molasses cookies, and pecan squares so that you’re still able to partake in certain Christmas-time indulgences if you’re working hard to avoid things like refined sugar, gluten or grains, and even dairy for your wellness goals…or of course if you’re honouring the wellness goals of others by offering them said recipes :)
Below is a take on the classic flavours of sticky toffee pudding, but made into quaint and cute muffins so that you can enjoy individual portions. This makes them easier to transport, and delightfully adorable to serve with a big dollop of whipped cream (or dairy-free whipped coconut cream) and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
Bonus tip: once cooled, toss them in the freezer for that unexpected moment you might have company popping by. By placing them in a covered oven-safe pot (like a Le Creuset) greased with butter (or coconut oil), and then a very wee bit of water (think a couple tablespoons), you can essentially “steam” them back to life either in the oven on a low setting (350F or below), or stovetop on a low heat. This method helps maintain moistness and that pudding-like texture.
Sticky Toffee Muffins (grain-free, dairy-free option)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20-30 minutes
Makes a dozen muffins
1/2 cup butter, melted (use coconut oil if you’re DF)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups dates soaked in hot water, drained, and blended with 1/2 cup almond milk + 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut four
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground clove
1/2 cup coconut sugar
Optional: About 1 cup crushed maple candied almonds for the topping (see below for instructions)
Preheat your oven to 350F and line a muffin pan with 12 muffin cups (or simply grease the muffin pan really well with additional melted butter or coconut oil).
In an electric mixer or by hand, whisk together the eggs, melted butter (or coconut oil), and vanilla extract.
Add in the creamy date syrup mix until well combined.
in a separate bowl combine the almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, sea salt, spices, and coconut sugar.
Mix the dry ingredients with the wet until thoroughly combined.
Spoon the batter evenly throughout the muffin pan, top with the candied almonds, and bake for about 20 minutes until cooked through (you can check with a thin knife by sliding it in the centre of one and seeing if it comes out clean).
Remove from oven, allow to sit in muffin pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wired rack to cool slightly before enjoying (allow to cool completely before transferring to freezer for storage in a sealed bag or container).
*To make the maple candied almonds…
1 cup raw almond
2 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
2 tbsp maple syrup
Sprinkling of cinnamon
Melt the butter (or coconut oil) in a pan on low heat.
Add the almonds, maple syrup, and cinnamon, and stir until the almonds are fully coated.
Keep stirring until the maple syrup thickens and the almonds start to toast slightly.
Turn off heat and allow to sit until fully cooled.
Transfer the nuts to a cutting board and crush slightly (you can use another flat surface like another cutting board or plate, something like a meat tenderizing hammer, or place them in a sealable bag, such as a Ziplock, and pound the nuts until you’ve hit your deserved “crumble”…it doesn’t really matter!)