Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dark Chocolate Pudding: Low Sugar

This week I tried a new recipe for chocolate pudding by Melissa Clark that was featured in the New York Times. The recipe I worked out earlier with Choco Perfection was very tasty, but every time I made it I enjoyed it so much I ate a big bowl full, and the next thing you know I was suffering from horribly uncomfortable bloating. Not worth it! So I decided to figure out how to cut down the sugar and carbohydrate for this new recipe. Immediate score! Deep, dark, luscious, rich, tasty - a cross between mousse and the best pudding you've ever had .... and no tummy issues!

Dark Chocolate Pudding

Group I
2 TB butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz 85% or higher chocolate, chopped

Group II
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup xylitol or Swerve
1/2 tsp stevia extract powder
2 TB coconut palm sugar
2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder
2 TB cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt

Group III
2 large eggs

Equipment: an immersion blender or food processor

1. If using an immersion blender, put all of the ingredients from group I into the bain marie or heatproof bowl. If using a food processor, place in the bowl of the food processor.

2. In a large saucepan, combine all of the ingredients from Group I and whisk to combine. Over medium heat, bring the mixture to a low boil, whisking frequently. Continue to boil for 1-2 minutes; overcooking causes the cornstarch to stop working.

3. Meanwhile, crack the two eggs into the heat-proof measuring cup from the milk; beat lightly with a fork.

4. Pour a small quantity of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and whisk with the fork to keep the eggs from curdling. Add more hot milk mixture and whisk again. Now pour the egg mixture back into the hot milk mixture and whisk into the whole. Put the heat back on under the pan, and bring it just to the boil again.

5. Remove the mixture from the heat and pour over the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Process until smooth. (The hot milk will melt the chocolate.)

6. If in the bain marie or heatproof bowl, let cool to room temperature, then chill. If using the food processor, pour into ramekins, small bowls, or a large heatproof bowl and chill.

Serve with optional whipped cream, lightly sweetened creme fraiche, and/or chocolate shavings.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Sugar-Free Clafoutis

Blueberry Clafoutis

I remember the first time I tried Clafoutis. "Cla - what now?" was my first thought. But one bite and I was a believer!

Clafoutis is a traditional French dessert, a cross between an egg-y pancake and a coffee cake, loaded with lovely fresh fruit. In Limousin, the region of its origin, fresh cherries are used, pits and all. Equally delicious are blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apricots, pears or plums. Served warm, it is perfect for dessert, breakfast, or afternoon tea, and comes together with ease and speed, and very few dirty dishes.

One day I just had a flash of inspiration - what if I made this (sugar-free, of course!) with coconut flour? Lately I've been experimenting with coconut flour, an ingredient with many possibilities. It is very smooth and fine, super high in fiber, and pleasantly sweet tasting. Being so high in fiber, it absorbs moisture like crazy, so when substituting for wheat flour, you need to use a smaller amount of coconut flour. I played with the proportions, and the first batch was fantastic, right off. (I can't always count on that.)

There's only one problem with this recipe .... it's gone in a flash. My daughter and I ate a whole batch of this, made with blueberries, for breakfast last week. Fortunately, it's so fast and easy, I'll just make another one!

Sugar-Free Clafoutis

1 pound berries, or 1 1/4 pound of other firm fruits, as listed above, pitted and sliced

1/4 cup sugar substitute (I like Swerve)
2 TB coconut sugar (optional, but delicious - very low glycemic)
1 cup whole milk (or coconut, almond or other milk, or substitute 50% of it with heavy cream)
The immersion blender is the perfect tool.
4 large eggs
¼ cup coconut flour + 2 TB
¼ tsp salt
3 TB unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 TB vanilla

1). Pre-heat oven to 400 F
2). Butter shallow 2 quart baking dish or pie pan generously
3). In a blender, food processor, or, if using an immersion blender, a bain Marie, combine eggs, milk, flour, salt, butter, vanilla, and sugar. Blend all ingredients until smooth.
4). Sprinkle the fruit over the bottom of the baking dish, then pour batter over it.
5) . Bake until puffed and golden, 35 to 45 minutes
This batch was made with full cream coconut milk - delicious! 

Serve warm

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sugar-Free Clementine Cake

My friend Shiela is very fond of the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, in which, interestingly, Clementine Cake is featured prominently. After multiple viewings, she became so intrigued with the idea of this cake that she Googled it, immediately found a great recipe from The New York Times, baked it, and raved about it. I have never seen the movie, but when she described the recipe to me, I knew immediately that it was a winner, and one that I could easily adapt to sugar-free goodness. The results? Oh, this is good. The crumb is moist, the flavor intense, the crust chewy.... Excellent for breakfast or afternoon tea; full of protein and fiber. I can see making this into individual tea cakes, too....

Sugar-Free Clementine Cake

Adapted from The New York Times

  • 5 medium clementines or tangerines (1 pound)
  • Spray cooking oil
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar substitute (I am loving Swerve!)  
    ¼ cup melted butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups almond flour or meal (Bob's Redmill and Trader Joe's are great sources)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder


Poached Clementines


  1. Place whole unpeeled clementines in a medium-sized sauce pan, cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, adding more water as needed. Remove clementines with a slotted spoon and, once cool enough to handle, halve and remove any seeds or other hard bits. Purée in a food processor, immersion or conventional blender and set aside. (May be done up to 2 days ahead and refrigerated.)
  2. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking oil, line bottom with parchment paper and spray paper with oil.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs together with the melted butter, sugar substitute, salt and clementine purée. Add the almond flour and baking powder and stir until just combined.
  4. Pour into prepared pan and bake until edges are golden brown and starting to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 hour. Transfer to wire rack set over baking sheet. After 10 minutes, run a knife around edge of pan to loosen cake; remove cake from pan. Peel off parchment paper and return cake to wire rack to cool completely. Decorate with dusting of powdered sugar or with chocolate glaze or candied clementines, or both.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Sugar-Free Classic Chocolate Pudding

Rich, creamy, home-made chocolate pudding. Yay! What could be yummier? I love the recipe in the Gourmet Cookbook; it whips up in no time at all and is supremely delicious. But of course, there's the whole sugar thing. Yup, sugar. Carbohydrates. Diabetes. It all sucks.

But - ta-da! Here is my sugar-free adaptation. I promise that this is just as delicious as it would be made with sugar. Enjoy!

Old Fashioned Chocolate Pudding

Adapted from The Gourmet Cookbook

1/4 cup sugar substitute (I love Swerve, but you can use xylitol or another)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
pinch of salt
*2-3 TB cornstarch

2 cups whole milk (this is the richest tasting, as well as lowest in carbs)
1 large egg
4 oz best quality semisweet sugar-free chocolate, chopped finely (I like ChocoPerfection)
OR a mix of sugar-free and low-sugar chocolate

6 small to medium-sized ramekins or custard cups

Whisk together the sugar substitute, cocoa powder, corn starch and pinch of salt in a 2 quart heavy saucepan, then gradually whisk in milk. (Please note that you may need a spatula to get some of the powder from the perimeter of the pan to incorporate.) Bring to a boil, whisking constantly, and boil, whisking, until the pudding is thick, 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the egg in a medium-sized bowl, and whisk it. Gradually whisk the hot pudding into the egg. Add the chopped chocolate to the pudding, then whisk until it is melted and well-incorporated.

Pour the pudding into the ramekins. Let cool until room temperature, then cover and put in the refrigerator. Chill for at least two hours. Devour!

Chocolate notes:  Most of the sugar-free chocolate on the market is sweetened with maltitol.  In fact, most of the sugar-free products on the market are sweetened with maltitol. Unfortunately, according to my online research, maltitol causes insulin to spike. Therefore. its usefulness as a sweetener for diabetics is limited. There are several nice non-maltitol-sweetend chocolates out there. ChocoPerfection, which is sweetened with inulin (chicory root) and erythritol, Coracao, which uses xylitol, and Xyla, which also uses xylitol. None of them are cheap, but it's worth it!

*Cornstarch Notes:  For reasons that are unclear to me, many of the sugar-free chocolates have a completely different thickening behavior in the pudding. While pudding made with regular chocolate requires only 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch, most sugar-free chocolates require 3 TB. If you use a mix of regular and sugar-free chocolate, the lower amount works up until approximately 50% regular chocolate. Otherwise, if using all sugar-free chocolate, I recommend using the higher amount. You will certainly find on the first batch (and I assure you, you will make more within a day or two!) whether you hit the right amount. If it's too thin or too thick, it's still completely delicious. Just adjust it on the next batch.


New: Sugar-Free Banana Bread

Even after I have created a new recipe and found it delicious, I continue to tweak it; I work on lowering the carbohydrates and raising the deliciousness. And frankly, sometimes I lose confidence in ingredients that I was fond of; soy  - not so thrilled with how it's raised.  These days, I'm pretty excited about working with coconut flour. It is low in carbs, very high in fiber and protein, and has a fine crumb and a lovely sweet base flavor, perfect for cakes and cookies. However, all that fiber tends to suck up the liquid, and creates a strong drying effect. This is where a fruit quick bread is the perfect pairing; the moisture in the fruit binds with the coconut fiber. This, plus the addition of almond meal and additional eggs creates a moist, flavorful loaf. In this case, the new formula is so much more delicious than the old, I decided to do a new posting. One word of warning: the lower the wheat content, the lower the gluten. The lower the gluten, the lower the crown. This recipe is completely delicious, but it has a lower profile than you might be used to!

Group 1
4 small, very ripe bananas, or 3 large, mashed
3 large eggs
1/3 cup erythritol
2 TB xylitol
1/4 tsp stevia extract powder
1 TB coconut palm sugar (optional, but delicious - for flavor)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2/3 cup xylitol or Swerve
1 TB coconut palm sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp stevia extract powder

Group 2
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/4 cup almond meal
2 TB flax meal
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Group 3
1/2 cup walnuts, broken into medium pieces

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease loaf pan. (Gotta love spray-on coconut oil!)

2. Combine mashed bananas, eggs, sweeteners and vanilla in a large bowl and stir well to combine.

3. In a medium bowl, combine flours, salt and leavening. Whisk to combine, carefully breaking up any lumps of meal or flour. (Coconut flour does have a tendency to lump.)

4.  Stir flour mixture into banana mixture. Stir until all lumps and dry spots are well incorporated.

5. Stir in walnuts until well distributed.

6. Scoop batter into greased loaf pan and smooth top.

7.  Place pan on middle rack of preheated oven. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, around 50 minutes to 1 hour.

8. Cool on rack until cool enough to tip out of pan. Cool completely on rack out of pan.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Sugar-Free, Low-Glycemic Pecan Pie

My daughter requested a pecan pie as a special reward for all of the hard work she'd been doing for school. I have a recipe from Cook's Illustrated which calls for maple syrup instead of corn syrup - super delicious! And having made it for her, once again I found myself feeling a little sad about how I was never going to get to eat that delicious item again.... or was I?

I started thinking about yacon syrup, a nutritious, super low-glycemic syrup made from a South American tuber. Yacon syrup has been shown to have amazing properties as a product for folks with diabetes and metabolic disorders. I've been eating it in the divine chocolates created by Coracao Confections for several years now, and it has recently become the darling of Dr. Oz. Yacon syrup is dark, thick, sweet, but at the same time tangy. It reminds me a bit of maple syrup, but even more so of tamarind. I decided that it could be the perfect substitute for corn syrup or maple syrup in a pecan pie. But first I had to get my hands on some... I have yet to see it on grocer's shelves - even health food stores. My friends at Coracao turned me on to Raw Food World, which they have been doing business with for some time. That took care of that issue, and it was on to recipe creation.

You know, sometimes when I try a recipe the first time, it's just a complete fail. Sometimes it needs some tweaking. And sometimes, rarely, it's fantastic the very first time. That's the story with this pie, my friends. Go forth and enjoy the yumminess once more!

Sugar-Free, Low-Glycemic Pecan Pie

1 batch of whole grain Foodier Than Thou pie crust  and a 9" regular (shallow) pie dish OR
1 batch of Foodier Than Thou almond meal crust (skip the almond extract) and a tart pan

1/4 cup coconut palm sugar OR an additional 1/4 cup of sugar substitute
1/4 cup of your favorite sugar substitute: Swerve, Lakanto, Splenda OR erythritol
1-2 tsp stevia powder - to taste. (You may want the higher amount if you use erythritol, which is less sweet than the other sweeteners.)

1 cup yacon syrup
1/2 cup heavy cream

4 TB unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" pieces
1/2 tsp salt 

6 large egg yolks, lightly beaten

1 1/2 cups toasted, chopped pecans or walnuts

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 F.

2.  In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, sugar substitutes and stevia powder until well combined. Add the yacon syrup and heavy cream, place over medium heat, and stir occasionally, until the solids have dissolved, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove from heat and let mixture cool for 5 minutes. Add the butter and salt and whisk until incorporated. Then whisk in egg yolks until well incorporated.

4. Put pie crust into pan and crimp the edges. If using the almond meal crust in a tart pan, press the crust well into the pan with your hands and/or a wooden spoon. If using the almond meal crust and tart pan, you will have some extra crust and filling. If so, use them to make some small ramekins of pie.

5. Sprinkle the chopped, toasted nuts into the bottom of the crust. Carefully pour the liquid filling over the top. Use a rubber spatula to get all of the yummy stuff into the pan.

6. Carefully place the pie onto a baking sheet and place on the central rack of the hot oven, and immediately reduce the temperature to 325 F. Bake until the filling is set and the center jiggles only slightly when the pie is gently shaken, 45-60 minutes.

7. Remove pie from oven and cool on a rack for at least an hour. Then refrigerate until set, at least another hour, and up to one day, or just cool on the rack for several more hours. If you rush to cut it, it will not be solid! (It's hard to resist; believe me, I know!) Bring to room temperature before serving.

8. Serve small wedges, with optional Bourbon Whipped Cream - which really adds a lot to the party!

Bourbon Whipped Cream
(Adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 TB bourbon

2 TB coconut palm sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.  Serve with pecan pie. Yum!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sugar-Free Stone Fruit Cake


The finished product - golden brown and luscious

Is this a cake, a tart, a pie.....? Call it what you will, this is the perfect use of all of the apricots, peaches, nectarines, and plums dropping off the trees at this time of year! This delicious recipe is so easy and so good, you may find yourself making it several times in one week. Not being very sweet, it makes a lovely coffee cake, breakfast, snack, or dessert. Try any stone fruit, and if you wish, replace a cup or so of the stone fruit with some fresh blueberries. As always, this recipe is sugar-free, high protein, and low-carbohydrate. Although this is perfect for folks like me who are diabetic or have a metabolic disorder, everybody else loves it, too. Only YOU will know that it's sugar-free!

Preheat the oven to 375 F.


Press the dough firmly and gently up the sides
1 1/4 cups almond meal
1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Swerve OR 1/4 cup erythritol + 2 TB xylitol + 1/2 tsp stevia powder
6 TB unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg

Mmmm - super ripe Royal Blenheim apricots from my tree!
2 1/2 pounds stone fruit, washed, dried, pitted and cut into fourths (apricot, peach, nectarine, or plum)
OR replace 1/2 pound of fruit with 1 cup fresh blueberries
2 TB almond liqueur
1/2 cup Swerve OR 1/4 cup erythritol + 2 TB xylitol + 1/2 tsp stevia powder
1 TB tapioca flour OR 1 TB tapioca quick-cooking tapioca

For the Pastry: 
1. Using a food processor, pulse the almond meal, flour, salt, baking powder, and sweeteners until they are just combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mix resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized butter chunks. Add the egg and almond extract and pulse until it just comes together.

2. Using floured fingers, press the pastry into a spring form pan, flattening with the palm of your hand, and coaxing it up the sides of the pan until it reaches half way up the sides. (You want the pastry to be as least as high as the fruit.)

3. Chill the pan in the refrigerator until firm, at least 15 minutes.

For the Filling:

1. Meanwhile, prepare the fruit. Wash, dry, pit, and cut the fruit into chunks. Add the almond liqueur and stir to combine.

2. In a small bowl, whisk the sweeteners with the tapioca flour thoroughly (available from the bulk section of Berkeley Bowl or in packages from Bob's Red Mill), or, if you are using quick tapioca, whirl the sweeteners with the tapioca in a spice mill until the tapioca becomes a flour.

3.  Sprinkle the fruit with the sweetener mix, and stir gently to combine thoroughly. Spoon the fruit mixture evenly into the chilled springform pan. Cover with foil, place on a baking sheet (the butter does tend to leak out the bottom.) and bake, covered, for around 1 hour and 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown around the edges.
The filling should come just below the pastry line

4. Cool, uncovered, on a rack, for at least 1/2 an hour. Carefully remove the sides of the springform and put on a platter. Wait until the cake is thoroughly cooled before serving; the filling will firm as it cools.