December 2008 archive

Healthier Nutella and the Best Cupcakes Ever

NUTELLAFINAL

Raise your hand if you are guilty of dipping your finger into a jar of Nutella at some point. Is your hand up high? Mine too! It’s becoming more and more common to come across Nutella addicts from all walks of life. I still remember the first time I sampled Nutella at a Spanish language immersion summer camp. I hesitantly spread it on my toast, took a dainty little bite, and was instantly hooked! A few years later, Nutella cropped up in U.S. grocery stores, dooming me to a life of temptation every time I reached for an innocent jar of peanut butter placed strategically beside the jar with the white lid and Kobe Bryant smiling out at you.

This rich, sweet chocolate hazelnut spread is (well, was) good on just about anything, from pretzels to fresh fruit to crepes to straight-off-the-spoon-when-you-think-no-one’s-looking. Let’s have a look at the ingredients of this popular peanut butter alternative:

sugar, modified palm oil, hazelnuts, cocoa, skimmed milk, soy lecithin, vanillin, reduced mineral whey

Sugar makes up the bulk of the spread? No wonder it’s so tasty! Modified palm oil? Palm oil is shelf stable and full of healthful saturated fats as is, which makes me curious as to why it is adulterated for Nutella. Madness! Let’s make some chocolate hazelnut spread that won’t leech nutrients from your body…

This low sugar version of Nutella (Not-tella?) packs a nutrient punch with antioxidants, healthful saturated fat, and iron from the chocolate, and monounsaturated fat and magnesium from the nuts and oil. The milk contributes a bit of calcium as well. Best of all, the net carbohydrate grams have been cut down from 168 per cup to 56! Spread your Nutella on an almond flour biscuit and enjoy chocolately decadence without the sugar crash!

The recipe for Not-tella is so simple! You just have to do a bit of chopping and stirring (and taste-testing as you go along, shh). You can find powdered milk at most supermarkets and even Wal-Mart. If you’re dairy-free or vegan, perhaps powdered coconut or soy milk would be a good stand in. As for the oil in the recipe, you have options. I used cold-pressed peanut oil because it has the best taste and least heat processing for the most reasonable price, but any nutty or neutral tasting oil would work. A touch of vanilla bean paste would be lovely in this spread, if you have access to it. Just don’t add water and ruin the smooth, luxurious consistency!

Healthier Not-tella (Chocolate Hazelnut Spread)

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (heaped) fresh hazelnuts
5 tablespoons oil
1-3.5 oz Lindt 70% cacao content bar
1/4 teaspoon (scant) of good-tasting pure stevia extract
4 tablespoons powdered milk (I used Organic Valley)
Pinch sea salt

Preparation:

Toast hazelnuts in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes, stirring twice. Dump hot hazelnuts into a clean dish towel and rub vigorously for a few moments to remove some of the skins. Don’t worry if some of the skins are still left on. Chop up nuts well (unless you have a really powerful blender). Pour oil into blender or Magic Bullet cup. Add nuts. Blend for a minute or two until nuts are ground as smooth as you can get them. Make sure your hands are dry, and break or chop up chocolate bar into pieces and microwave for 30 seconds, then for 15 seconds, or until it can be stirred smooth. Stir in powdered milk (sifted, if it has lumps), stevia, and sea salt. Store tightly in a glass jar for 24 hours to let the flavors meld. Reheat cold Nutella to make it spreadable, as it will harden in the fridge.

~56g net carbs for the whole recipe, with 7g net carbs per 2 tablespoons

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And now, a little somethin’ special for New Year’s festivities…

NUTELLA SWIRL CUPCAKES!
minimuffins7

These cupcakes are darn good. They really deserve their own post, but this recipe came together as I was working on a cupcake base for swirls of Not-tella. If you haven’t tried coconut flour-based cake (and even if you HAVE tried it), you are in for a treat! My standard coconut cake recipe is adapted from one of Bruce Fife’s recipes, but one little twist on the method of preparation has yielded the best sugar-free gluten-free (and dairy-free!) cupcakes I’ve ever eaten.

Healthy Nutella Swirl Cupcake

The big twist is… whipping the egg whites and folding them back in! That’s it. That’s all you have to do to get a nice fluffy consistency with pretty rounded tops and a perfectly moist interior. If you’re intimidated by egg whites, read this helpful tutorial. I’ll never make cupcakes with the old, lazy method again. It seriously takes less than 5 extra minutes to attain white flour-less cupcake nirvana. It also cuts the calories per serving drastically, which means you can “eat more,” and have 2 cupcakes instead of one. And this, my friends, is totally sweet.

minimuffinsfinal2

Nutella Swirl Cupcakes a.k.a The Best Cupcakes Ever

Makes enough for two muffin trays

Ingredients:
1/2 cup oil (I used 1/4 cup extra virgin olive and 1/4 cup coconut)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup organic half and half or coconut milk
1/2 cup sifted coconut flour
1/2 cup erythritol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
5 eggs, separated
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Grease muffin pans with nonhydrogenated shortening, or line with paper cups. Spray paper liners with cooking spray if using. Stir together oils, vanilla, and half and half. Mix together coconut flour, erythritol, stevia, baking powder, and salt. Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients, then whisk in egg yolks. In a separate, meticulously clean bowl using clean beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Stir a bit of the whites into the yolk batter to lighten it up, then proceed to fold in the rest of the whites. Don’t worry the batter has streaks or a few chunks of foam. Spoon batter into greased pans, leaving a little room at the top (do NOT overfill or cupcakes can sink in the middle).

Use a teaspoon to drop chocolate spread onto the top of cupcakes, and swirl in with a toothpick, pulling batter up and over the filling. Bake mini muffins for 20-25 minutes, and regular muffins for 25-30 minutes. Cupcakes may became very browned in some spots on the top, but they will not dry out. Remove when the top of the cupcakes spring back. Let cool for 10 minutes in pans, then invert onto a clean towel or wire rack. Store at room temperature for a couple of days, then refrigerate.

For extra decadence, stuff the insides of cupcakes with Not-tella…
cupcakepour

…or just drizzle it generously over the tops!
minimuffins4

The filling didn’t quite make it down to the center in this one, but it was still yummy!
cupcake2

~2g net carbs per plain, regular-sized cupcake
~.8g net carbs per minicupcake

Related recipes you might like:
Real, Homemade Nutella @ Seattle Local Food
Let’s Go Nuts: Nutella! @ Food & Thoughts
Cocoa Nib Hazelnut Spread @ vegan visitor


What are you making for a New Year’s party? I’m looking for ideas. :)

Dairy-Free Indulgences: Vanilla Almond Pots De Creme

I hope everyone had a memorable Christmas, full of healthy goodies and good times with the family! Who else did not feel miserable and overly full after yesterday’s feast? With nourishing food, it’s so much easier to feel satisfied with proper portions!

And now… free stuff, yay! I used Raffle King to pick a random commenter.

The winner of the erythritol/xylitol sampler is Rachel C.

The two winners of the Lindt and Green & Black’s chocolate packages are Julie and fit lil fiddle.

The winner of the Godiva chocolate bar is ikkinlala.

Email me your addresses and I’ll get those prizes out within the next couple of days! Thank you to everyone who participated. I love hearing feedback from you all!
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dairyfreepotsdecreme

Here’s an easy, delicious tweak to my Pots De Creme recipe for all you dairy-free folks. It’s just as creamy as the chocolate version, but it is less heavy and a bit sweeter. Using erythritol as the sweetener causes a nice crust to be formed on top of the chilled custard, reminiscent of creme bruelee! As for flavor, the almond extract is really good in this, so don’t skip it! The original recipe calls for vanilla beans, so use those if you like. One of these days I’ll get around to ordering some bean pods off of ebay. Using the scrapings of the pod would add pretty dark flecks!

Make this impressive dessert for a New Year’s gathering with a few good friends. No one will have any idea that these are low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free treats as they’re cleaning out the ramekin with a spoon. Or hog it all for yourself and have a blissful six pots-de-creme-filled days. They look like so much more work than they are, no?

Vanilla Almond Pots De Creme (Dairy-Free)
Adapted from a recipe at GourmetSleuth

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
2 cups full fat coconut milk
6 egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1/2 cup erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2-3 tablespoons coconut oil or nonhydrogenated shortening (may or may not be necessary)
1/16-1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Measure out two cups of coconut milk from the can. If you don’t have enough milk, drop in chunks of coconut oil (or pour in liquid oil) until you have two cups of coconut milk/oil. I had to do this because the can didn’t contain the full two cups of coconut milk.

Heat 1 3/4 cup of coconut milk (or coconut milk/oil mixture) over medium low heat. Whisk egg yolks for a minute or two until they are a bit thick. Whisk in sugar, salt, and the reserved 1/4 cup of coconut milk. Stream hot coconut milk into egg yolk mixture very slowly, whisking the whole time. Stir in vanilla and almond extracts. Strain the mixture into a measuring cup if desired (I didn’t do this). Place six pots de creme cups in a large deep pan. Divide mixture amongst the cups. Pour enough warm water in pan to come up the sides of the cups half way. Cover the pan with foil (I didn’t do this, either). Bake for 45-55 minutes (mine took 50), or until still jiggly in the center but set around the edges. Lay a paper towel over the tops of the serving cups and chill for 2-4 hours until serving. Store individual servings wrapped in a paper towel and plastic wrap.

~3.5g net carbs per serving

A Chocolate Giveaway and Healthier Red Velvet Cake (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free!)

There’s still too much chocolate hanging around here, so today I’m giving away a luxurious Godiva 85% cacao content chocolate bar. Leave a comment and win yourself a bar of fine chocolate!

Don’t forget to look at the past giveaways for erythritol and xylitol and the Lindt and Green & Black’s Chocolate packages!

Contest closes December 25th.
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redvelvetFINAL2

Red Velvet Cake! So glamorous. So decadent. So perfect for the holiday season!

This cake is all about being over the top. Even the healthful version seems excessive in a way, using 9 eggs, a whole pound of cream cheese, and half the bottle of red food coloring. Yes, food coloring is a shady ingredient. If, however, you are following a whole foods all natural diet 99% of the time, I doubt a little slice of sugar-free, gluten-free, low carb red velvet cake on special occasions is going to destroy all of your good efforts. A little artificial coloring does not come close to doing the damage done by the “real thing,” made with flour and sugar, packing over 60 grams of carbs per slice. Kick up your heels and have some nourishing cake!

Coconut flour makes the most rich, heavy and indulgent cake you have ever tasted. The nine eggs in this cake do not impart an eggy flavor at all since the coconut flour is defatted and high in fiber, therefore sucking up all of the moisture. I just picked up a bag of Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour at the local mom n’ pop health food store, but you can order it online, too. Coconut flour also does NOT taste like coconuts in this recipe, so fear not if you don’t favor that distinct tropical flavor.

I split one 9 inch round layer cake into two layers since I didn’t want to invest 18 eggs in a cake that may or may not have worked well. It turned out beautifully, with a heavy, moist texture and a hint of buttermilk flavor. Red velvet cake has never been a chocolate cake in my memory. Granted, I have only tasted one kind, coming from a local restaurant out by the beach. If you prefer a more chocolaty cake, try adding some more cocoa powder and a couple of tablespoons of water.

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Serves 8-10

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted organic butter, softened
9 large eggs
1 cup erythritol
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon red food coloring
3/4 cup sifted coconut flour
3/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 tablespoons Dutch-processed cocoa powder

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Set out butter and eggs to bring to room temperature. Alternatively, microwave butter for 8-10 seconds and dunk eggs in warm tap water for 15 minutes. Prep 9 inch cake pan by greasing with nonhydrogenated shortening and dusting with extra cocoa powder. Tap pan on all sides to distribute cocoa powder in an even layer. Whisk together eggs in a bowl until a bit foamy, and add vanilla extract to eggs. In another bowl, sift coconut flour and stir in sea salt and cocoa powder. Mix together yogurt and red food coloring in a third bowl. In the largest bowl, cream butter for about 30 seconds to make it fluffy. Add erythritol in a steady stream and cream together for 2-3 minutes, or until light, fluffy, and close to the color of cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Slowly stream in beaten eggs, beating continuously. Don’t worry if the batter curdles. Once eggs are added, add dry and wet ingredients alternately until everything has been added but the baking powder. Mix in baking powder and scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes in the center of the middle oven rack, or until batter is completely set and springs back. Cover top with foil and bake for longer if center is not set. Remove cake from oven and let cool for 10 minutes.

Invert pan onto a cookie sheet and let cake cool completely. Slice into two layers with a serrated knife, if desired. Transfer bottom cake layer to a serving dish lined with strips of wax paper hanging off the edges. Frost cake, laying over a thin crumb coat first. Then pile on the frosting spread outward from the center of the layer. Add top layer to cake and cover completely with frosting. Store and serve at room temperature. Refrigerate after 24 hours. Cake is best tasting after warming up if it has been kept in the refrigerator.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2-8 oz packages cream cheese or Neufatchel 1/3 less fat cheese
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup erythritol, powdered
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract
1 stick organic unsalted butter

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Beat until smooth and creamy, then add powdered erythritol and beat for about 2 minutes, or until erythritol is dissolved and the mixture does not feel gritty to the touch. Beat in butter just until smooth and incorporated.

~60g net carbs for the whole, frosted cake
~6g net carbs per 1/10th
~7.5g net carbs per 1/8th

Healthy Red Velvet Cake

Kid-Friendly Indulgences: Healthier Gingerbread Cookies

This is my entry to Eat Christmas Cookies, an event sponsored by FoodBlogga! Check out all of the drool-worthy recipes there.
Healthier Gingerbread Cookies (Paleo, Low Carb)
Get the little ones into the kitchen with these easy-peasy healthy gingerbread cookies, dolled up with colorful sugar-free cream cheese frosting! These classic Christmas cookies are adapted from my versatile recipe for Honey Nut Cookies. The only changes are the addition of blackstrap molasses and lots of yummy spices to impart that distinct gingerbread flavor to these gluten-free, egg-free, low carb cookies! The texture is chewy and crispy all at once. They’re a bit different from traditional gingerbread, but just as delicious and fun to decorate.

A word about the food coloring: Don’t try to make it “all natural” by using the organic food coloring you see at the health food store. With good intentions, I bought some natural blue food coloring on sale for $3.99 (yow!). It’s made from “pure blueberry extract,” so I thought it sounded like it would be a healthier substitute for the artificial stuff. It dyed my cream cheese frosting a lovely brownish purple hue. If you want to go the natural route, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Gingerbread Santa and Rudolph, poking his nose in
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt.3

Simple Nourishing Gingerbread Cookies

Makes about 25 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters

Ingredients:
1 and 1/4 cups almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter or nonhydrogenated shortening (for dairy-free)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon organic blackstrap molasses
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves (optional)
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt butter and mix with honey, molasses, and vanilla until smooth. Add dry ingredients. Dough will be soft and sticky. Cut out two long pieces of parchment paper. Roll dough to 1/8th of an inch thickness (or thinner) sandwiched in between pieces of parchment paper. Peel off top sheet of parchment and flip dough from bottom sheet to the top sheet so that dough has been peeled off of both sheets of parchment, ensuring that it will be easier to transfer to cookie sheet. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and peel away bits of dough around cut outs, or flip cut outs onto cookie sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 18 minutes. Let cool completely for about 10 minutes or so before moving to a work surface. Decorate with piped cream cheese frosting and bits of chopped raisins and dried apricots.

Simple Cream Cheese Frosting

4 oz cream cheese or neufatchel cheese
1/4 cup of erythritol, powdered
Good-tasting pure stevia extract, to taste
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Drops of food coloring

Leave cream cheese at room temperature for 30 minutes. Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet. Beat together cream cheese, vanilla, and erythritol for 1 to 2 minutes, or until very smooth and erythritol has mostly dissolved. Mix in stevia starting with 1/16 of a teaspoon, taste, and adjust sweetness level if necessary. Spoon frosting into separate bowls, and beat in drops of food coloring, wiping off the beaters after each color has been mixed. Transfer colored frosting into zip top bags and snip off the corners. Use immediately.

Poor gingerbread lady. :( She was too yummy for her own good!
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies, pt. 2

~1.6g net carbs per 1/25th of the cookie recipe

~13g carbs for the whole batch of frosting

Chocolate Giveaways, Healthier Buckeyes, and Christmas Candy Making

Sugar-Free Buckeyes, how I love you so!
Sugar-Free Buckeye Candies (Low Carb)

To celebrate the season, I’m giving away two prizes to two readers who comment on this post. Up for grabs is a package of Green & Black’s Organic 85% cacao chocolate along with my cooking chocolate of choice, the Lindt Excellence 85% cacao bar. I have two of these bundles all wrapped up for the lucky readers!

Contest closes December 25th. The contest is closed. Thank you for your entry!
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Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

Seven Layer Bars a.k.a Magic Cookie Bars, are my absolute favorite holiday treats. The combination of rich chocolate chips, toasted coconut, and the sticky sweetness of condensed milk all coalesce into an incredibly addictive bar cookie. My take on Seven (Six?) Layer Bars is sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb. It’s a good thing they freeze well ’cause the batch I made today was just too tempting, sitting around on the counter top lookin’ all delicious and gooey!

Healthier Magic Cookie Bars (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)

You’ll need to make a homemade sugar-free caramel sauce to replace that Eagle Brand Condensed Milk that holds these bars together. With a touch of real honey, the sauce is smooth, creamy, and perfect for any dessert that calls for a drizzle of caramel. It doesn’t keep well, so you should prepare and use it immediately. Fortunately, it takes minutes to make.

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Christmas Baking: Golden Cranberry Pavlova (Marshmallow cake)

Golden Cranberry Pavlova

Do you want an easy, light, and festive dessert to top off your Christmas dinner? Do you have a fear of beating egg whites? Join me, while I take you on a journey to the land of fluffy, airy, and sometimes temperamental… meringues!

This cake may have a funny name (Pavlova… sounds like some sort of Russian dancer? Or tennis player?), but the taste of this delicate confection should be familiar. It’s a cross between an angel food cake and a marshmallow. Gluten-free, sugar-free, nut-free, low carb… it’s perfect for everyone except those allergic to eggs (and for you folks, I am sad). Whatever you want to call this elegant dessert, it’s good. Too easy to polish off in one sitting. However, one of the many redeeming qualities of a meringue cake is that it’s fat-free, so you can have a nice big serving. And you’ll want a big serving, trust me.

Make this cake. It took me 10 minutes to whip this up and overcome my fear of deflated meringues. Just be sure to use a powerful mixer and pay attention to your egg whites. Love them. Tend them. Don’t try to beat them into submission; they need gentle coaxing. Internalize this approach, and become one with the pavlova.

Won’t you join me?

Step One: Line up ingredients! You don’t want to be scrambling for measuring spoons with one hand while keeping the egg whites going with the other.

Use honey if you want a golden pavlova. Use erythritol if you want a more traditional snowy white pavlova. The choice is yours!

Saw Palmetto Honey

Ingredients for Pavlova

Separate eggs from yolks, taking care not to get a trace of yolk in the white.

separatingeggs

In a meticulously CLEAN bowl with sparkling CLEAN beaters, start beating egg whites on low speed.

Egg whites, low speed

Add cream of tartar. See these soft peaks? You’re going to add the sweeteners right after we get to this point.

eggwhitessoftpeaks

eggwhitessoftpeaks2

Scrape your stevia and honey in as quickly as possible, and frantically keep beating until you get stiff peaks.

eggwhitesstiffpeaks

eggwhitesstiffpeaks2

Beat in vanilla and vinegar, and keep going for another minute. Feel it out. Just go till you have still peaks that look like the above photo. You don’t want the whites to move around the bowl when you tip it back and forth.

Pavlova batter

Aaand your done! Now time to plop it on a sheet of parchment. Don’t mind my unbleached hippie parchment that I got suckered into buying at Fresh Market. The normal, budget-friendly white parchment works well, too.

Forming the Pavlova

Spread and smooth it around, keeping the batter mounded as high as possible. Shape a well in the center to hold your toppings.

Forming the Pavlova, pt. 3

Shaped Pavlova Batter

Stick it in the oven for an hour and 15 minutes, and you get this:

Golden Cranberry Pavlova

It might deflate. It might get wrinkly. Once it is covered in toppings, no one will know the difference. Tease it off the parchment gently.

Make up your cranberry orange compote. I used an organic tangerine because of it’s glossy vibrant orange skin. Add zest, 1/2 cup erythritol, 3 tablespoons juice, vanilla, and 1 cup of water to cranberries.

Adding lemon juice to cranberries

Boil over medium heat for 8 minutes, and you should get a thick sauce, with some visible chunks of berries. Add stevia after removing sauce from the heat and cooling for a couple of minutes.

Cranberry Orange Compote

Taste test, and adjust sweeteners if necessary. Let the sauce cool completely. Sneak another spoonful and attempt to save some for the cake.

Once sauce has cooled, whip up your heavy cream and assemble the cake. Start mixing on low speed.

Whipping cream, low speed

Once you see soft peaks, bump up the speed until it looks like this.

Whipped cream, stiff peaks

Beat up another cup of cream if you overbeat the first one, like I did. It should look soft and smooth, not grainy. Proceed to slather it all over the top of the cake.

Spreading Whipped Cream on Pavlova
Spoon on the compote.

pavlovacranberry

Jazz it up with fresh fruit, chocolate curls, tinsel, Mr. Frosty figurines, whatever flips your switch. Yummmm!

Slice of Golden Cranberry Pavlova

Golden Cranberry Pavlova (Marshmallow Cake)
Adapted from this recipe at JoyOfBaking.com

Serve 4-5


Ingredients:

4 large eggs
1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional)
1 teaspoon vinegar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons honey, or 1/2 cup erythritol, powdered
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or food processor. Line up ingredients. Dunk eggs in hot tap water for 30 seconds, or until lukewarm to the touch. Remove eggs from tap water and dry off shells. Separate eggs, reserving yolks for another use. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and trace out a 7 inch circle as a guideline for the pavlova. Take care not to get a drop of yolk in the whites. Beat egg whites starting on the lowest setting, until frothy. Add cream of tartar and increase to medium speed until you see soft peaks. Add sweetener and increase to high speed until you get stiff peaks. Beat in vanilla and vinegar. Working quickly, spread batter within the circle, mounding the whites up and leaving a slight depression in the center. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes (this website has an explanation for how to tell if it is done). Turn heat off, crack the oven door open, and let cake cool in the oven. Remove from oven and store in an airtight container until use. Immediately before serving, spread with whipped cream and top with fresh fruit or cranberry sauce.

Cranberry Orange Sauce

Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
1 bag fresh cranberries
1 organic tangerine or orange, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup erythritol or preferred sugar-free sweetener
4 packets stevia, or 1/8-1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract (NuNaturals)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup water

Preparation:
To make sauce, combine all ingredients except stevia in a saucepan over medium heat. Once mixture comes to a boil, start a timer for 8 minutes. Remove from heat after 8 minutes and let cool until lukewarm. Stir in stevia, and taste to adjust sweetener. Let cool completely before topping pavlova.

Whipped Cream Topping

Yields about 2 cups whipped cream

Ingredients:
1 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 packets NuNaturals stevia extract, or powdered erythritol to taste

Preparation:

Whip cream to soft peaks. Add sweetener and vanilla, and whip until incorporated. Use immediately.

~.25g net carbs per serving for pavlova cake made with erythritol, and 7g net carbs with honey

~38.3 net carbs for the whole recipe of cranberry sauce

~1-2g net carbs for 1/5 of the whipped cream topping

Twelve Days of Baking: Honey Nut Cookies and How To Make Almond Flour

This is my submission to Kimi’s Nourishing Sweets and Treats event at her wonderful blog, The Nourishing Gourmet.

Honey Nut Cookies (Low Carb, Paleo)

Exams are over and I’m back in Florida, where the mood is festive despite the 80 degree beach weather. I’ve planned a bit of Christmas baking for you guys, so stay tuned! In addition to attempting to make over classic holiday treats like chocolates and gingerbread cookies, I’ll be mixing it up with a few original healthful creations that will hopefully tantalize your tastebuds just as much as familiar favorites. Once you get the hang of working with almond flour and alternative sweeteners, non-traditional baking gets a lot easier. Make these upcoming weeks, filled with office parties and decadent meals, nourishing for your soul and your body, with good friends and healthful food.

This first recipe calls for a bit of honey as a sweetener, which works so well with stevia to achieve the perfect flavor in these gluten-free, low carb Honey Nut Cookies. These cookies are also, incidentally, egg-free! I’m still waiting for my erythritol to get here, and thought it would be good to share some recipes that don’t involve it. Erythritol is all natural and delicious, but it is so expensive that in these hard times, it’s nice to have a more reasonably priced healthy option. If I am using honey, I make sure to use as little as is necessary to sweeten adequately, and just count the carbs. If you’re worried about the fructose content, just know that per serving, you’re probably not ingesting enough to worry about. I feel much safer using a bit of honey and blackstrap molasses here and there than artificial sweeteners. It’s a personal decision!

In the pioneering footsteps (hah!) of Ree Drummond, I’m doing a step-by-step photo spread for making these cookies. They are so simple that this tutorial really isn’t necessary, but my sister and I had fun killing time this first afternoon back home, bumming around the house for the holidays!

Let’s make some cookies, shall we?

First things first: We need to make almond flour, the star ingredient in a low carb healthy baking arsenal. It’s so flippin’ easy.

Tutorial: How To Make Homemade Almond Flour

Step One: Add sliced, blanched almonds to food processor. Refrigerate or freeze the nuts beforehand for the best results.
Sliced almonds in food processor

Sliced almonds in food processor

Step Two: Whizz ‘em up for a minute or two until finely ground.
Homemade almond flour

Homemade almond flour
Homemade almond flour

Pecans!
Chopped pecans

NuNaturals stevia
Nunaturals stevia!

Cookie dough!
Cookie dough

Scooping cookies

Cookie dough, patted and poked into cute rounds
Flattened cookie dough

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Chewy Honey Nut Cookies

Makes eight to twelve cookies

Ingredients:
1 cup blanched almond flour
2 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey (raw, if you can get it)
4 packets or 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/16 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 275 (yes, 275) degrees Fahrenheit.

Chop pecans, and toast them for 12 minutes. Melt butter. Stir together all ingredients except almond flour and pecans. Mix in almond flour until a smooth dough forms, then fold in nuts until dispersed throughout dough. Shape into flat cookie rounds on parchment paper. Bake for 12-18 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges. Let cookies cool and harden for a full 10 minutes before removing from parchment.

~6g net carbs per 1/8 of a recipe, 4.5g net carbs per 1/10th, and 3.5g net carbs per 1/12th