Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Healthy Indulgences readers! School’s out and baking season is here. After a semester of new beginnings during which I moved back home to Florida and started my post-baccalaureate coursework, it’s time to get back in the kitchen and go on a baking spree. I’m trading in my calculator for my camera and ditching the library for the kitchen these next few weeks, bringing you holiday sweets and a couple of GIVEAWAYS!
They’re all the rage, and perfect for an easy, kid-friendly holiday dessert. My version of these cakey cookie sandwiches with a sweet buttercream filling tastes every bit as good as the traditional dessert chock full of flour, sugar, and shortening! Made with ground almonds, a little oat flour, pure unsweetened cocoa powder, and natural sweeteners, you can feel good about indulging in these treats after your holiday feast. Actually, they’re wonderful any time of the year. In fact, you should make these right now. You need fuel to get through all that gift-wrapping and baking, right?!
Healthy Whoopie Pies (Sugar-Free, Gluten-Free)
Makes 8 cookies, about ~3.5″ (~9 cm) in diameter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup oat flour (or other gluten-free flour*)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter**, preferably organic
6 Tablespoons erythritol + 2 Tablespoons xylitol + 1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
6 Tablespoons Truvia + 6 packets sugar-free sweetener of choice
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum***
*Millet flour works well in this recipe for a certified gluten-free safe option.
** You might be able to substitute coconut oil or organic palm shortening for dairy-free Whoopie Pies.
***Xanthan gum is required if using a gluten-free flour to keep cookies from being too crumbly.
Set out butter and eggs on counter to bring to room temperature. Measure cocoa powder by scooping it into measuring cup and leveling the top with a knife. Add to mixing bowl along with oat flour measured the same way. Measure almond flour by scooping it into measuring cup and gently packing it down, then sweeping the excess off the top with a knife. Whisk together cocoa powder, flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Powder erythritol and xylitol in a coffee grinder or Magic Bullet blender until it is finely ground. Beat erythritol and xylitol into butter, creaming the mixture for a minute or two until it is light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla and xanthan gum. Add dry ingredients and mix till batter is smooth. Chill batter for 1-2 hours, or until firm enough to scoop. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an ice cream scoop to dispense 8 rounded scoops of batter on to parchment paper. The cookies spread to about 3.5″ in diameter, so you might want to draw circles on the parchment to be sure you don’t space them too closely. Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with only a moist crumb. Cool cookies for 5 minutes on the pan, then move them to a wire rack with a spatula to finish cooling.
~5.3g net carbs, 148.75 calories per whoopie pie cookie (1/8 of a recipe), made with oat flour
I created a couple of healthy whoopie pie fillings for you to choose from. The ridiculously fast n’ easy one is the Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Crème Filling, which quickly comes together in a food processor. I got the idea for a peanut butter filling from Bakerella. The more traditional vanilla crème filling is reminiscent of a buttercream frosting since I adapted it from my cupcake frosting recipe here. I like it better than the old version since the addition of ricotta cheese cuts the greasy mouthfeel, giving this revamped Sugar-Free Vanilla Whoopie Pie Filling a luxurious yet light texture. I pureed the ricotta for about 3 minutes, stopping after each minute to give my little Cuisinart Handy Prep (<– shout out to my sister and her husband for that kitchen donation – thanks, guys!) a rest. The smoother you blend the ricotta, the better the texture of the filling. Use red and green food coloring to add a festive tint to the filling. If the food coloring separates out of the filling (i.e. looks curdled), mix some xanthan gum in with a spatula or beaters to smooth out the texture. Start with 1/16 teaspoon, then mix around and observe the filling again a couple of minutes to see if the texture has smoothed out.
Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Crème Filling
Makes enough for 4 whoopie Pies
3 Tablespoons erythritol OR Truvia
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon creamy peanut butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
Good-tasting pure stevia extract powder, to taste (if using erythritol)
Process erythritol (or Truvia) in food processor a minute or so to grind it finely. Add ricotta, peanut butter, vanilla, and 1/16 teaspoon of stevia powder (if using) to start. Blend filling 2 minutes, scraping the bowl at the one minute interval. Taste the filling and add more stevia if necessary.
~20.8g net carbs per batch of filling
Sugar-Free Vanilla Crème Filling
Follow the recipe for my Sugar-Free Buttercream Frosting posted here, using 2 Tablespoons of erythritol and 2 Tablespoons of xylitol in place of the 1/4 cup of xylitol called for. Before making the buttercream frosting, puree 1/2 cup ricotta cheese along with 1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract in a food processor for at least 2 minutes, or until smooth. Add the processed ricotta to the finished buttercream frosting, whipping the mixture for another 5 minutes. Add pure stevia extract or powdered erythritol a little at a time to sweeten the filling to your liking. Using a stand mixer is recommended for this particular recipe. Otherwise, get ready to give your arms a work out!
~18.4g net carbs per batch
In celebration of the season, I’m bringing you guys a couple of exciting giveaways of healthy goodies! First up is a giveaway sponsored by NuNaturals, the company that makes my preferred brand of stevia extract. There will be FOUR prize winners, with each prize package consisting of the following:
This contest is open to continental U.S. residents only since the prizes are shipped directly from the company. PO Box addresses are not valid for shipment of prizes. Leave a comment with your email address (with extra spaces like this –> healthyindulgencesblog @ gmail . com <– to avoid the spambots!) for a chance to be picked as a winner. I’ll conduct a random drawing the day after December 25th to determine the winners. If you create a Facebook post or Tweet about the giveaway with a link to this blog post, and include a link to your post or Tweet about the contest in your comment below, you’ll get an extra entry in the contest.
Finally, I have a special coupon code for shopping on http://www.nunaturals.com for you all. Enter BLG1211 at the checkout page to receive 15% off your entire order.
Good luck, readers, and stay tuned for a giveaway from Iherb.com coming up next post!