Archive of ‘By Cravings’ category

Low Carb Vanilla Ice Cream w/Hot Fudge Sauce–No Ice Cream Maker Required!

Just a quick note about comments and emails–I have been traveling, and don’t always have a moment to respond to everything as of late. If you have an urgent question about a recipe, please shoot me an email (or two!). Keep in mind that I’m just a college student. Thanks so much for your feedback! I read all of it and take it to heart to improve the content here.

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It’s ice cream season in Florida!

I’ve blogged about this frozen treat before, but couldn’t resist trying a couple of recipes that seemed pretty easy, with readily available ingredients. Best of all, they don’t require an ice cream maker, but still yield deliciously creamy, airy results. Furthermore, they’re company worthy, making summer entertaining easy on your low carb plan.

Coming up for you are more ice cream recipes, now that I’m back home with my little Cuisinart ice cream maker. Stay tuned for a scoopable dairy-free ice cream, coming up next post.

Do you know what a semifreddo is? I had never heard of it until stumbling upon this Italian frozen dessert at a food blog. Semifreddo is italian for “half cold,” which aptly describes the nature of this icy gluten-free dessert. You whip together cream, separated eggs, sweetener and flavoring, then spread it in a loaf pan or mold. Freeze, slice, and enjoy. It’s that simple! All you need is a hand mixer and a few mixing bowls, along with a bit of patience for the whipping and freezing time required.

I topped off the vanilla bean version with a homemade sugar-free hot fudge sauce. It’s lick-off-the-spoon worthy. You can make up a small batch if you feel it’ll be dangerous to have hanging around.

Seasonal blackberries were used in the making of the deep purple semifreddo. I blended ’em up, strained them, and used them in the custard as well as the fresh sauce drizzled over the top. The sauce helps to cover the cracks I made from using plastic wrap to line the mold. Note to self–don’t line the mold next time. Just grease it with butter, and run the mold under hot water if you want your pretty pan design to show on the finished dessert. I used a jello mold for the blackberry flavor, which you can see created the rounded, fluted shape. How cool is the bright purple coloring from the blackberries? You just know something that naturally vibrant has to be healthy!

And to finish up, here are a few cool posts for your weekend low carb cooking:

How to Render Bacon Fat @ Mark’s Daily Apple
Flax Meal Bread @ Elana’s Pantry
Bacon Wrapped Steaks @ Flour Arrangements

Tastes just like a hot fudge sundae!
vanilla semifreddo2

Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream (Semifreddo style)

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split (optional)

Sweetening options:
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons erythritol, powdered, or 1/2 cup xylitol, powdered plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
3/4 cup Splenda

4 fresh, organic eggs (whites and yolks separated)
2 cups organic heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon sea salt

Preparation:
In first bowl, beat sugar and egg yolks until mixture is a light creamy yellow, then beat in vanilla extract and bean scrapings. In second bowl, beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. In third bowl, beat egg whites, add a pinch of salt, and then keep beating until you have stiff peaks. Fold together cream and egg yolk mixture gently. Then fold in egg whites thoroughly, but with as few strokes as possible to keep the airiness. Spread into loaf pan lined with plastic wrap, or a metal mold. Freeze, covered loosely in plastic wrap, for at least 4 hours. Scoop out with an ice cream scoop. Alternatively, run water over the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, unmold, and slice.

~15.5g net carbs for the whole recipe using erythritol and stevia
~31.5g net carbs for the whole recipe using Splenda

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This hot fudge sauce will not work will Splenda as the primary sweetener. No matter how much you add, the unsweetened chocolate will still taste better. You must add erythritol or xylitol for the best flavor.

Sugar-Free Hot Fudge Sauce
Adapted from a recipe at AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I like Ghirardelli)
2 teaspoons unsalted organic butter
1/2 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch sea salt
6 tablespoons xylitol, powdered, OR 7 tablespoons erythritol, powdered
Pinch NuNaturals pure stevia extract
4-6 teaspoons water

Preparation:
Powder xylitol or erythritol in coffee grinder with pinch of sea salt. Chop chocolate finely. Melt together unsweetened chocolate and butter in a double boiler, stirring occasionally until smooth. I make my own double boiler by placing my steel bowl over simmering water in a small saucepan. Stir in cream and sweetener mixture, and whisk until smooth. Remove from heat and add vanilla and water. Add more water to thin it out if necessary. Taste and adjust sweetness with a bit more stevia or powdered erythritol, as necessary. Keep in mind that the sauce will firm up over ice cream. Store in a jar in the refrigerator, and reheat and whisk well to use.

~10g net carbs for the whole batch

Those little white flecks are bits of cream not mixed in well. Still tastes fabulous!
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Sugar-Free Blackberry Ice Cream (Semifreddo Style)
Adapted from a recipe at epicurious.com

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients:
12 ounces blackberries (2 heaping cups)

Sweetening options:
1/3 cup erythritol, powdered OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered plus 1/8 tsp NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
1/2 cup Splenda

1 cup organic heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
5 large egg yolks

Preparation:
Line loaf pan with plastic wrap, if using. Powder erythritol or xylitol in coffee grinder. Purée berries with 1/4 cup cream and salt in a blender until smooth. Pour through a mesh sieve to remove seeds, if desired. Add yolks to a metal bowl and stir in erythritol or xylitol (or Splenda). Set bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with mixer until pale, thick, and tripled in volume, about 8 minutes. Remove bowl from saucepan and set in a large ice bath, stirring it around a few times as it cools. When yolks are cool to the touch, fold in berry puree.

Beat cold heavy cream (with 1/8 teaspoon stevia, if using), in other large bowl, using cleaned beaters. Whip until cream reaches soft peaks. Fold whipped cream into berry mixture gently but thoroughly. Don’t worry if you see a few streaks of white. Scrape mixture into pan or decorate metal mold and freeze, loosely covered with plastic wrap, until firm, at least 5 hours. Run warm water over the bottom of the pan for a few seconds, then invert semifreddo onto a plate. Alternatively, just use an ice cream scoop to serve from the loaf pan. Let semifreddo defrost for a few minutes for easier scooping.

~5.2g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe, using erythritol and stevia
~7.6g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe, using Splenda granular

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Fresh Blackberry Sauce

5 ounces (1 cup) blackberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon xylitol, erythritol, or Splenda
Tiny pinch NuNaturals pure stevia extract (optional)

Blend blackberries, lemon juice, and sweetener until pureed. Strain through a sieve to remove seeds.

~6.5g net carbs for the whole batch

Easy Sugar-Free Strawberry Mousse–a Low Carb Summer Treat!

Thanks to the readers who entered the contest for the Organic Zero erythritol packets! Andrea is the randomly generated winner. Here is why she eats sugar-free:

“I live sugar-free because my life depends on it. Both of my parents died from diabetes complications and I do not want to go down the same path. We are so fortunate that there are now so many alternatives to sugar such as the product you are promoting. When I was growing up, there was just saccharin which did dnot taste very good. Thank you for your excellent information.”

And now for a surprise second winner! I ordered some vanilla beans on ebay, and have an extra bundle to give away. Rachel can have these vanilla beans if she would like them! The beans can be used as a sugar-free flavoring for baked goods, custard, ice cream, and to make vanilla extract. Here is why Rachel eats sugar-free:

“Lauren,

I eat sugar-free because it’s what my body wants. How do I know this? Sugar and carbs were ruining my life. I had no idea why I constantly craved sugar and processed carbs, and my obsession quickly turned into an eating disorder. I had no control over my cravings…my body wanted more and more and I became a slave to it. I’d binge on sugary, carb-loaded foods and then feel horrible about it and go to great lengths to undo my binges (which I will not describe in detail here). I also suffered from wild mood swings, irritability and fatigue, all of which everyone (including my doctors!) attributed to PMDD.

But I knew it was more than that. All of the treatments I tried for PMDD symptoms had failed. Eventually, completely exhausted, and my body ravaged from my bingeing cycles, I began to do desperate research into blood sugar and its effects on the body. I was shocked to find out that SO many of the symptoms I suffered from, especially the constant sugar and carb cravings, could be due to extremely unstable blood sugar levels!

I immediately stopped eating all sugar and carbs, and have never felt better. I almost never suffer from cravings anymore, I have stopped my destructive bingeing cycles, and am no longer controlled by food. My emotions and moods have leveled, and I have an energy I never knew existed…one that occurs naturally, not feuled by carbs!

I’m not really writing this for your contest, but mostly to tell you that your blog has been a godsend for new sugar- and carb-free eaters like me. I was beginning to accept that I would never be able to enjoy some of my favorite foods again, but your recipes have given me the ability to do that, while still staying within the confines of my diet and without hurting my body.

Thank you so much! I don’t know where you find the time to cook and blog like you do, but I pray that you never stop.

Rachel”

Check out of the rest of the comments from readers about why they eat sugar-free. I really enjoyed reading all of your stories, and seeing how this way of eating is helping people with so many health issues.

Healthy Strawberry Mousse

Do you crave fresh fruit in this summer heat?

I do, and tend to satisfy that desire with stevia-sweetened lemonade instead of “Nature’s Candy.” Some days though, you just gotta indulge in those natural sugars, so here’s how to on your low carb sugar-free lifestyle. Pair the fruit with fat! It dilutes the sugar carbs, making you satisfied with a smaller portion. It also stops your blood sugar from fluctuating wildly and making you hungry an hour after your fruit snack. Besides, fat makes everything tastes better, especially if it comes in the form of organic heavy cream. It’s a divine combination of flavors that inspired countless songs and many different types of desserts.

This strawberry mousse will be the first dessert in a series of easy, quick low carb desserts that require minimal effort, yet will still impress that surprise company coming over for dinner! Besides, who wants to make a big mess in a hot kitchen in this weather? This naturally gluten-free, egg-free mousse can also be made dairy-free with the use of full fat coconut milk! It can be made sugar-free using a combination of stevia and powdered erythritol, but any zero calorie sweetener would work well here. I tried this dessert with Splenda as well, because I have decided to include a measurement for it alongside my preferred natural sweeteners from now on. Although I don’t prefer the taste and chemical nature of Splenda for personal use, it is used by so many diabetics and other carb watchers who need to eat a low insulin producing diet to live. Most importantly, there little empirical evidence showing adverse side effects from its use. If by creating an option for sweetening with Splenda in my recipes, I can broaden the appeal of these healthful low carb treats, I am willing to do so. Keep in mind that combining sugar-free sweeteners yields the best taste, and allows you to use less of them overall. Use the sweetening option that works for your lifestyle, beliefs, budgetary constraints, and health concerns.

This mousse might work with honey as well, but I didn’t try making it like that since I am attempting to limit consumption of all forms of sugar. I’d start with a 2-3 tablespoons of honey, cooked with the strawberries, if you’d like to go this route.

Healthy Sugar-Free Strawberry Mousse

Strawberry Mousse
Adapted from this recipe at Sugar & Everything Nice

Makes 5 servings

Ingredients:

8 ounces fresh strawberries, rinsed and hulled and sliced

Sweetener options:
1/4 cup erythritol, powdered, plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
OR
1/2 cup Splenda plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract (or 1/4 cup more Splenda)
OR
2-3 tablespoons honey plus 1/8 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon zest from an organic lemon
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1 cup organic heavy cream

Preparation:
Sprinkle the gelatin over the tablespoon of water in a small bowl, and set aside to soften. Puree the strawberries with the zest, the juice, and the salt. Heat the puree in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring together the strawberries and sweetener just until hot. Add gelatin and stir until melted. Let mixture cool. Beat the cream to soft peaks, and beat in vanilla and stevia. Gently fold strawberry mixture into cream. Pour into serving cups and chill for two hours.

For a stiff, pipeable mousse (like you see in the photos), follow these directions after soaking the gelatin:
Place the strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a saucepan over medium low heat, and add the sweetener (erythritol, Splenda, or honey–don’t add the stevia yet) and water and cook, breaking up with your spatula. Stir around the pan gently until the sweetener has dissolved. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until the strawberries have slightly thickened. Add the gelatin to the pan, and stir until it is completely melted. Puree in a blender (I used my Magic Bullet) or food processor. Let cool to room temperature. Whip the heavy cream to stiff peaks with a hand mixer, and beat in vanilla and stevia. Once the strawberries are cooled, carefully fold the whipped cream into the fruit puree. Pipe mixture into serving bowls, and chill for at least an hour. I used an 8″ Wilton piping bag with the largest tip I could find at Michael’s craft store. The tip was $1.99 and the piping bag was $1.99.

~6.2g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe using ½ cup Splenda w/stevia
~4g net carbs per 1/5th of a recipe using erythritol/stevia

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Healthy Cake with a Secret, Part 2- Gluten-Free Low Carb Yellow Cake!

yellow cake close up

(Please ignore the robots on the paper liners. They were on sale!)

Since posting my chocolate cake made with black beans last month, I’ve received quite a few requests for a vanilla version of this incredibly moist, easy recipe. You ask, I deliver! These gluten-free sugar-free low carb (grain-free!) yellow cupcakes are made with coconut flour in place of the cocoa powder, and white beans instead of black beans. Cocoa powder and coconut flour seem to work interchangeably! It’s a pretty cool discovery that I hope y’all can make use of in your own gluten-free low carb baking pursuits. And because someone will ask: These cupcakes do not taste like beans or coconut! Just butter and vanilla and moist yumminess. Using beans and coconut flour in place of almond flour is budget-friendly, so you can experiment with this recipe by adding cinnamon, nuts, sugar-free chocolate chunks, different extracts… have fun!

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Sugar-Free Coconut Cake Bites

Since y’all enjoyed the chocolate cake (made with beans!) so much, I’m going to create more desserts that don’t rely heavily on almond flour a.k.a. powdered gold for low carb bakers! Does this sound like a good plan? Leave some feedback and let me know what you think.

Healthy Grain-Free Coconut Cupcakes

These moist little cake bites contain all of the decadence of a classic Southern coconut cake, with none of the highly refined ingredients that make the original only an occasional treat. These flavorful coconut cakes are  sugar-free, gluten-free, and low carb (dairy-free!), so you get the nutrients from coconut, almonds, and eggs without the grains and sugar to spike your blood sugar.

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Healthier Chocolate Cake with a Secret

Cake.

Sugar-Free, Healthy Chocolate Cake (Made from Black Beans!)
Chocolate cake!

Chocolate cake made without flour, sugar, or dairy. Low carb and gluten-free, of course. Cake made out of a surprise ingredient, one that will make you wrinkle you’re nose upon hearing it. This cake is good. So good, in fact, that I had to have a mug of stevia-sweetened pomegranate tea and go to bed, so I’d stop shaving off “test” slices.

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Coconut Flour Brownies, revisited–Gluten-free and Delicious!

Healthy Coconut Flour Brownies

Coconut flour is so much fun to play with! It’s so much easier to measure out versus grinding up almonds each time I want to bake. Get some and I promise you’ll be hooked on the richness of this gluten-free, low carb “flour.”

Interjection to share some science nerdiness. Check out this study on LDL in heart attack patients. Who knew that lower LDL is associated with increased mortality? And more of the low LDL patients were diabetic. Curious, very curious…

Remember these brownies? They’re delicious when undercooked, but turn cakey and dry if you leave them in the oven a minute too long. I know how annoying it is to waste these expensive natural ingredients on recipes full of fail, so I am sorry if you have been caused grief by moisture-sucking overcooked brownies. This new and improved version of sugar-free low carb coconut flour brownies is MUCH less temperamental, and pretty much foolproof in terms of the baking time. Thanks to Buffy at Low Carb Friends for bringing this inspiring recipe to my attention! These brownies are not gooey or chewy, but fudgy and dense. They’re more milk chocolate than most chocolate treats I’ve made, which is refreshing. If you enjoy these brownies as much as my roommates do, you’ll want to stockpile coconut flour for many more batches!

A note about ingredients: Use the highest quality pastured butter you can find for optimal results. I bought a bunch of Kerrygold butter on sale, and have found that it lends such a pleasant buttery taste to everything I use it in. So worth the not-on-sale price! I’ll be using Kerrygold in the recipes you see here from now on. When baking with no sugar and no flour, it’s recommended to use the best of the ingredients we CAN work with! Also, for those of you who don’t use erythritol, I’m pretty sure these brownies would work with 1/4 cup raw honey and 3/4 teaspoon of stevia. This will add 68 grams net carbs to the recipe, making each brownie about 9.5 grams net carbs. Be aware that with the honey/stevia combo, they won’t be as sweet as traditional brownies.

Remember to keep your mitts off of these for a full night in the fridge. I don’t know why, but it seems that baked goods made with coconut flour take a full night to “settle” into their full decadent yumminess. Just make up a batch, toss ’em in the freezer, and go to bed. Or watch SVU reruns on USA all night. Or read Good Calories, Bad Calories under the covers. Just do something to avoid cutting into this chocolately goodness until it achieves its full potential!

Then wake up and grab yourself a delicious and nutritious sugar-free low carb brownie. For breakfast. You know you want to!

Healthy Coconut Flour Brownies

Serves 12-16

Ingredients:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 sticks salted organic butter (3/4 cup), softened
OR 1 stick butter, 8 ounces sour cream (for more moist brownies)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup sifted Bob’s Red Mill coconut flour
3/4 cup erythritol or xylitol OR 1/3 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon NuNaturals pure stevia extract (increase to 1 teaspoon if using honey)
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup organic heavy cream
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Brush both sides of an 8″ by 8″ (or 11″ by 7″ for thinner brownies) pan with coconut oil, or spray with extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. Place a cut square of parchment paper in the bottom of the pan.

Beat softened cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in butter, vanilla, and sweetener. Whisk together dry ingredients. Add eggs one at a time to cream cheese mixture, and beat until incorporated. Add dry ingredients and heavy cream. Fold in nuts. Pour chocolate mixture into prepared pan, and smooth top with a spatula. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes for the wider pan, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, and top feels firm to the touch. When done, place pan on wire rack and cool completely. Cool pan of brownies overnight in the refrigerator. Slice into 12-16 squares, and serve. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container, or freeze cut brownies, individual wrapped in plastic and aluminum foil.

~4g net carbs per 1/12th of a recipe

Healthier Low Carb Chocolate Pie

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Gotta keep this post short and sweet. Finals are underway! I cannot always respond to comments on old posts due to time constraints, so please email me with your recipe questions on older posts. I love hearing from you, and am happy to address any of your recipe “issues”

Now let’s talk about this pie. I know what you’re thinking–MORE chocolate? More chocolate pie?! Now hold on a minute. This is magical, no bake crustless chocolate pie! Instant gratification. Listening now?

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs… Move Over Cadbury!

First things first: My iherb.com rewards code is NIN467. Thank you to BkBabe and the other readers who clued me in about this! Use it for your first iherb.com purchase, and get a $5 discount.

cremeegg

It’s that time of year. That time when convenience stores have Easter candy displays set up. Even the most devoted healthy eaters can get nostalgic, seeing the colorful displays of packaged marshmallow and chocolate confections. Reminiscent of childhood candy baskets on Easter morning, these toxic frankenfoods certainly still have an allure for me. The single most tempting treat is Cadbury Cream Eggs, hands-down. As much as my tastebuds have adapted to subtle sweetness and natural sugar substitutes, I could still probably down a package of those goo-filled overpoweringly sweet candy eggs.

With a healthy dose of natural saturated fats and antioxidants from the organic cream, butter, and unsweetened chocolate, these homemade candies will allow you to have your seasonal treats while maintaining your healthy diet. I seriously cannot believe the power sugar holds over us at times. I believe due to biochemical individuality, it’s only certain individuals who are cursed with getting that “jolt” of happiness every time they eat sweet, carbohydrate-rich foods. The evolutionary adaptation that helped us to identify energy rich foods back when we were chasing around saber toothed tigers can be tortuous in this processed food-filled day and age!

My homemade almost sugar-free take on these well loved confections does not taste exactly the same, but is every bit as delicious and satisfying. The simple filling is light but rich, with buttery undertones. I even made a vegan version for you dairy-free folks! The combination of stevia and honey contributes just the right amount of sweetness to the creamy center, minus the gloppy powdered sugar/corn syrup consistency and cloying quality. My testers certainly gave these the thumbs up!

Now let’s compare these treats with the store bought sugar bombs…

Original Creme Eggs:
28 grams net carbs!

Healthy Creme Eggs:
6 grams net carbs!

Pretty crazy, huh? The little bit of really sugar in honey works really well here. I did not try a version with erythritol because a) I’m out, and b) I’m guessing there will be a cooling effect/grittiness that would be unpleasant in the creamy filling.

Now go buy some egg molds off of ebay ($5 including shipping!), and get candy making. Happy early Easter!

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Healthy Homemade Creme Eggs

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted organic butter
1/4 cup organic heavy cream
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
1 fresh organic egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Heat butter, cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. Whisk in egg yolk and cook over medium-low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). It will leave a trail when you drag your finger across the back of the spoon. Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

~4.2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

cremeeggvegan

Dairy-Free/Vegan Filling

Makes 8 large eggs

Ingredients:
1/4 cup nonhydrogenated shortening
1/4 cup coconut cream (from canned coconut milk)
1 tablespoon honey (add an extra teaspoon for a very sweet filling)
Tiny pinch xanthan gum OR 1 fresh egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon (scant) good-tasting pure stevia extract
Pinch unrefined sea salt

Preparation:

Store coconut milk in the refrigerator for a few hours. Remove the lid gently, and scoop out the solid upper layer of coconut cream. Heat shortening, coconut cream, and honey, stirring over over low heat until butter is completely melted. If using xanthan gum, simply add the tiniest pinch you can hold between your fingertips, and whisk for a minute. It will thicken a little bit in the pan, but will become even more viscous upon cooling. Less is more here. It’s better to add too little xanthan then have it turn slimy because you’ve added too much. You can always add more when the mixture has cooled. If using egg yolk, whisk it into the warmed coconut cream mixture and cook over medium-low heat until it coats the back of a spoon (should take 3-5 minutes). Remove from heat and add vanilla and stevia. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Taste and add a tiny pinch more stevia if necessary. If when cooking the custard you start seeing little tiny cooked pieces of egg white, immediately pull from the the heat and strain mixture. It will still be good. Chill until cool to the touch.

Sugar-Free “Milk” Chocolate Egg Shells (or Chocolate Chunks)

Makes 8 egg shells

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate (Ghirardelli)
2 tablespoons powdered nonfat milk (I use Organic Valley)
2 tablespoons xylitol or 3 tablespoons erythritol
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract
2 teaspoons nonhydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic)

Ensure all utensils and working bowls are completely dry. Powder sweetener and powdered milk with the flat blade on a Magic Bullet, or your coffee grinder. Whir for at least one minute until it becomes an extra fine powder. Do not open canister immediately in order to allow the powdered mixture to settle. In a large microwave safe bowl, break chocolate into chunks, and add shortening. Heat chocolate mixture for 35 seconds on HIGH and stir. Heat in 10 second intervals, stirring each time, until melted and smooth. Dump in powdered mixture, and fold around the bowl with a spatula until smooth. It will look clumpy and thick at first, but you will be able to smooth it out. Reheat in microwave for 10-15 seconds. Fill molds, spreading chocolate up the sides with your fingertips or the back of a tiny measuring spoon. Chill in freezer, and repeat, only spreading chocolate around the top edges (which tend to be too thin since the chocolate sinks into the middle of the molds. Don’t worry if the inside looks messy–the outside will still look perfect. Smooth the top edges of the chocolate shells to ensure that they’ll fit together. Chill again. Pop out of mold using gentle pressure on the backs of the wells, along with rapping the plastic tray on the counter. Fill one egg half with filling. On another egg half, paint a thin line of extra chocolate along the top edges. Stick the second half over the first, pressing firmly to seal. Let set for five minutes. Eat!

For dairy-free chocolate shells, omit milk powder and decrease shortening to 1/2 teaspoon.

If making into chunks, pour into a pan lined with parchment and spread flat. Chill until firm, then chop into chunks.

~2g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe

OM
cremeegg5

NOM!

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Check out this week’s Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Cop for more information on healthful fats!

Healthy Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (Dairy-Free)

chocolate pb pie 009

Chocolate & Peanut Butter, a match made in Heaven. As good little Weston Price followin’ sugar hatin’ unprocessed foodies, we have to get our peanut butter cup flavor fixes the homespun route. We must conjure up low carb alternatives with nut flours, healthful saturated fats, sugar substitutes, and pure unadulterated cacao. Our desserts don’t come easy and don’t come cheap. There’s no vending machine button for this stuff.

But the payoff for some serious kitchen time is so worth it.

chocolatepbpie1

So sorry to keep y’all in suspense about this low carb, sugar-free, gluten-free and dairy-free (whew!) Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart recipe. The photo for my initial test run is apparently the most popular image at my flickr album. I was just tweaking the recipe to provide a couple of options for ingredients. After some tinkering, I hit upon two different fillings with slightly different consistencies, only one of which requires xanthan gum. Xanthan gum acts as a no carb replacement for the cornstarch used in typical pudding recipes. It is a specialty ingredient that I’ve blogged about before. Xanthan gum costs around $13 for a small bag that will last you for years if you’re a low carber (not a high starch gluten-free baker!). There are many applications of this natural gum thickener, some of which include thickening your low carb smoothies to a luxurious “milkshake” consistency, and making cranberry sauce. It’s an innocuous ingredient with a strange name. Just a tiny pinch goes a long way!

Now let’s talk dessert! The recipe I made the first time yields a more loose “pudding” tart, with a light tasting lower fat filling. It makes a dainty pudding pie, with a creamy texture and crunchy crust (which could be doubled for more peanut buttery goodness). The Chocolate Pudding Tart is what you see in the following photograph.

Sugar-Free-Chocolate-Peanut-Butter-Pie

To make either of the recipes completely sugar-free, use xylitol in place of honey if you can tolerate it. I can handle xylitol in normal portions (one cookie, one piece of pie, etc.), but had to ingest it regularly for a few days to “adjust” to it. Xylitol works much better than erythritol in cookie-type recipes that do not contain much moisture. How you count the carbs in xylitol is up to you. Some people count half, because it does not have a glycemic index of zero like erythritol. I buy xylitol locally at Whole Foods (instead of ordering it) for convenience. It retails for a better price than erythritol, so per pound it is the same price as ordering online (unless you buy in bulk). Xylitol is a great stand in for erythritol in a pinch if you need your sweet “fix”!

Chocolate Pudding Tart with Peanut Butter Cookie Crust (Dairy-Free)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:
Peanut Butter Cookie Crust:
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated shortening (or unsalted butter)
1 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon pure stevia extract

Chocolate Pudding Filling:
1 can coconut milk
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup erythritol OR 3 tablespoons honey
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon coconut oil or nonhydrogenated shortening (or butter)
1/4 (scant) teaspoon pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Instructions for crust:
Melt shortening or butter in a microwaveable bowl. Whisk in honey and stevia extract. Grind peanuts in a food processor or Magic Bullet, until you get as fine a meal as possible. The peanuts should be the consistency of a crumbly paste. Add peanut paste, baking powder, and vanilla, stirring it together with a spatula until you have a smooth dough. Press into a greased 9 inch pie plate lined with parchment paper. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 275 degrees, or until browned around the edges. Leave crust in oven and turn off the heat while you prepare the chocolate and start heating the coconut milk.

Instructions for filling:
Chop the unsweetened chocolate bar finely. In a sauce pan over medium low heat, whisk coconut milk, erythritol or honey, and sea salt until mixture bubbles around the edges. Remove tart crust from oven and place in freezer to cool. In a separate bowl, stream 1/3 cup reserved coconut milk into cocoa powder, whisking to form a paste. Continue whisking while adding egg yolks to cocoa paste mixture. Measure out 1/2 cup of hot coconut milk from saucepan and stream into cocoa paste yolk mixture, whisking. Turn down heat to low and slowly pour the cocoa paste yolk mixture into saucepan, continuing to whisk. Cook for about three minutes, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (to see what this looks like click HERE). Your finger should leave a trail if you drag it across the coated spoon. Remove immediately from heat and add shortening (or butter), vanilla extract, xanthan gum, and stevia. Pour through a fine mesh sieve (I use a regular wire strainer) on to chopped chocolate, and whisk just until the filling is smooth and glossy. Blend in a blender for an ultra smooth consistency. Pour into baked tart crust. Transfer to refrigerator and cover with a paper towel covered with aluminum foil, careful not to let the paper towel touch the top (I pull it tightly over top and secure the covering with more plastic wrap). Chill overnight.

~9g net carbs per 1/8th of a recipe (using honey in the crust)

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Below is the more decadent Chocolate “Silk” Pie filling, topped with a layer of sugar-free Peanut Butter Chocolate Ganache! It makes a larger, more impressive tart. The crust is less sweet and a bit cakey, which balances out the intensity of the rich chocolate. I’ll be making this version from now on, just because of how utterly satisfying it is. A tiny slice is all you need to feel like you’re being naughty! With desserts like these, who needs sugar?

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For an extra smooth silk pie filling, blend the filling in a food processor or blender after you stir in the chocolate.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Silk Pie (Dairy-Free)

Serves 8-10

Ingredients for Peanut Butter Crust:
1/4 cup creamy natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsalted butter OR nonhydrogenated shortening (I like Spectrum Organic)
2 tablespoons beaten egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup blanched almond flour, packed
1/2 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup xylitol, powdered, OR 2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract

Chocolate Silk Filling:
1 can coconut milk
1/2 cup erythritol or 4 tablespoons honey
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped (like Ghirardelli)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 tablespoons coconut oil, nonhydrogenated shortening, OR organic unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon (scant) pure stevia extract

Preparation:

Instructions for peanut butter crust:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Melt peanut butter together with butter in a heat proof bowl. Stir in vanilla, egg, and honey or xylitol, if using. Add dry ingredients and stir to form a dough. It may be sticky, but will come together. Press up the sides of a 9 inch tart pan or pie plate, greased and lined with a circle of parchment paper. If you’re making the crust with honey, turn down oven to 275 degrees, and place tart on middle rack. Bake for 20 minutes. Turn off oven and do not open the door. Chop the chocolate and set your coconut milk heating. If you’re making the crust with xylitol, bake at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until slightly browned around the edges.

Instructions for chocolate silk filling:

Heat 1 1/4 cup coconut milk, erythritol or honey, and salt, and simmer on low. Whisk together rest of coconut milk, and cocoa powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg until foamy. Stream 1/2 cup of the warmed coconut milk mixture from the saucepan to the eggs, whisking constantly, and then add egg mixture into saucepan. Keep whisking! Cook for 3-5 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring until mixture coats the back of a spoon (see above instructions for visual). Immediately remove pan from heat, and stir in vanilla, shortening (or butter), and stevia extract. Once butter has melted, strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve on to chopped chocolate. Stir until filling is a smooth, glossy consistency. Blend in a blender, briefly, for an ultra smooth consistency. Pour filling into tart shell, almost to the brim. You might have some filling left over, which you can pour into muffin cups and freeze for snacks. Cool tart uncovered in the freezer until the top becomes firm, then transfer to refrigerator and cover with parchment paper and plastic wrap. Store pie slices in an airtight container to keep the filling moist.

~8g net carbs per 1/10th of a recipe (using honey in the crust)

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Before serving, top filling with this smooth, candy inspired dairy-free topper if you’d like an alternative to real whipped cream. Make this. It’s the BEST part of the pie!

Sugar-Free Peanut Butter Cup Ganache Topping

1.5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter (no-stir or extra smooth ground)
1 tablespoon nonhydrogenated shortening or butter
2 tablespoons erythritol OR 1/4 cup xylitol, powdered
1/8 teaspoon good-tasting pure stevia extract (if using erythritol)

Powder erythritol in coffee grinder or Magic Bullet for about a minute until finely ground. Lettle settle in container for a minute or two. Melt chocolate, peanut butter, and butter in microwave on HIGH for 35 seconds, stirring until completely melted. Melt for 10 more seconds if necessary. Stir in erythritol and stevia with a spatula, smoothing out the chocolate until it is glossy and lump-free. Spread on to tart. Let topping set in the refrigerator, and cover tart again for storage.

~1.3g net carbs per 1/10th of a recipe

Healthier Banana Nut Muffins

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Nothin’ like a moist muffin with a pat of Kerrygold butter to start off your day.
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All of my baking supplies are gone. They were taken from the dorm kitchen under the cover of night, either by a prankster or an irritated cleaning lady (I’m assuming the latter). I asked around as to the whereabouts of my cake pans, mixing bowls, measuring cups, and Magic Bullet parts, and got no answers. Such is college life! You live and you learn.

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