Every new year can be a new you! It’s a common phrase that gets slung around this time of year. A time when the calendar resets as does our motivation to become better than who we were the previous year. It is a time when we make resolutions, set higher goals, and create plans of action to achieve those goals. As much as this phrase applies to most people around the world come January 1st, it has never been a thing for me. Sure I have goals I want to achieve, but it has never taken a specific time of the year to motivate me. I have always been a person that once I set my mind to something I start acting upon it. I don’t say things like “I will start this tomorrow” or “I will wait until next week”. Once I have something in mind I won’t wait a single moment more to start executing it in some capacity. That is how I started this website, that is how I re-branded this website, and that will be how I continue to operate this website.
Now you may be wondering what all this has to do with some cookies? You see, back in 2016 I had my second daughter and I was totally happy to have expanded my family but I was also completely miserable. I was morbidly obese, fatigued all the time, and just all around blah. This website was my therapy. I relied on the taste of good food to comfort me and writing about it continued to remind me of the feeling I got while eating it. Problem is, that high was always short-lived and never solved the real issues I was facing. In an attempt to extend the good vibes, I would just create more and more content. It got to a point where each year I would spend the entire time between Thanksgiving and Christmas preparing countless cookie recipes to share on this website, which I would of course indulge in thereafter. It was an endless cycle of self-torture. That is until I decided to make a change. It may not have happened for the new year but it would go on to change every year thereafter.
Since August of 2016 I have lost over 120 pounds and am in the best shape of my life. As great as this process has been, midway through my journey I realized that I had lost something along the way, that being this website. Since I no longer relied on food as therapy I was no longer making unhealthy desserts all the time, therefore leaving me with nothing to write about. It took me several months of being on hiatus until I finally realized that I could start over with a new philosophy. Just as I had hit a reset button on my life I could also hit the reset button on this website. The old desserts I used to love but had come to see as the enemy would once again become my friends, only this time as inspiration. A new mission had been born. A mission to create clean, delicious, and nutritious desserts that would fit my new healthy lifestyle while also keeping this website alive for all of you.
This year I may not have spent weeks preparing countless batches of unhealthy cookies to present to you over the holidays, but I do bring you this gem. It is not the lightest of recipes, but it is a lot more nutritious than any other holiday cookies you will find, which is still a win in my book. To achieve a moist yet gluten-free cookie base, I started with a blend of almond and coconut flours. To add delicious flavor and a slightly chewy texture, I created a healthier salted caramel using coconut milk and Sucanat. Lastly, for an elegant presentation, I topped each cookie off with a candied pecan. If you seek an indulgent, yet clean treat, look no further than these chewy, salted caramel cookies!
Gluten-Free Salted Caramel Cookies
- 2 tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
- ¾ cup Sucanat plus 2 tbsp.; divided
- ½ cup Raw Unsalted Pecans
- ½ cup Coconut Milk
- 3½ tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract; divided
- ½ tsp. Sea Salt
- 2½ cups Almond Flour/Meal
- 1 tbsp. Coconut Flour
- ½ tsp. Baking Soda
- ¼ cup Coconut Oil; melted
- 2 tbsp. Raw Honey
- Preheat oven to 375°. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
- To prepare candied pecans: Place a small saucepan on medium heat. Add maple syrup and 2 tbsp. Sucanat. Heat, stirring constantly, until mixture begins to boil and Sucanat dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and immediately add in pecans. Stir until pecans are fully coated. Spread pecans evenly on one of the prepared baking sheets. Set aside to cool, at least 5 minutes.
- To prepare caramel sauce: Place a small saucepan on medium heat. Add coconut milk and ¾ cup Sucanat. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Once mixture begins to boil, add 1½ tsp. vanilla and salt, stirring constantly. Cook caramel until thickened and a reddish brown color, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat, pour into a glass bowl, and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes.
- To prepare dough: In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, coconut flour, and baking soda until well blended. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, honey, and 2 tsp. vanilla. Pour the contents of the small bowl (wet ingredients) into the contents of the medium bowl (dry ingredients) and blend with a fork until a dough forms. Add ½ cup of the caramel sauce to the dough and mix until well blended.
- Drop 1 tbsp. of dough at a time onto a large parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between each cookie. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool on baking sheet. Once cool, use a spoon to dab the tops of each cookie with the remaining caramel sauce. Place one candied pecan on each cookie. Store in an airtight container for 3 days. Use extra candied pecans on salads, over yogurt, in oatmeal, or as a sweet snack.