Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bars (low carb, gluten free, no added sugar)

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When inspiration hits, it’s a lot like getting hit by a truck. Ignoring it is incredibly difficult.

A totally hypothetical example: seeing some “snickerdoodle sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting” on sale and then thinking of how great that sounds for three days straight.

Outside of this totally hypothetical example, we all know how I feel about cookies. (TL;DR: High. Maintenance.) But the flavor combination was irresistible. Anything cinnamonAnything cream cheese. But cookies? No. Life is too short for that.

And this is where the Truck of Inspiration™ came hurtling merrily down The M’Academia Nut highway. Cheesecake bars. Of course. Bars are my everything. I would make everything into a bar version if I could (AND I HAVE). THE ANSWER WAS CLEAR. We were making snickerdoodle cheesecake bars.

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But this brought about its own set of challenges. I was immediately imagining a graham cracker crust. This does not fit very neatly into a low-carb or grain-free diet. Then the Truck of Inspiration™ made an entirely legal U-Turn and came back around at top speed.

PECANSWhether you pronounce them “pee-can” or “puh-kahn”, we can all agree that (second only to the macadamia), the pecan is a superior nut:

With a little cinnamon and nutmeg, you’ve got yourself the perfect graham cracker crust analogue. No need for butter with the natural oils in the pecans providing all the binding power. And how could we forget the sweet, crunchy cinnamon “sugar” topping, so crucial to the snickerdoodle experience?? We could not.

So now the problem is that I ate all of these already and I’ve been thinking of making them again for three days straight. I don’t need inspiration for that one. Maybe I need the Truck of Distraction™.

Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bars (low carb, gluten free, no added sugar)

Recipe adapted from Shugary Sweets

Yields: Around 24 – 30 bars

Ingredients:

Crust:
2 1/2 cups pecans
2 tbsp granulated sweetener, OR 1 tbsp granulated sweetener plus 1 tbsp sugar free brown sugar substitute
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

Filling:
2 8 oz packages cream cheese (I used neufchâtel), softened
3/4 cup granulated sweetener, OR 2/3 cup granulated sweetener plus 2 tbsp sugar free brown sugar substitute
2 egg whites, or around 1/4 cup egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 butterscotch or molasses extract, optional
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Topping:
1/4 cup granulated sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

To make crust, place pecans, spices, and sweetener into a food processor or high-speed blender and process until pecans form a crumbly mixture that begins to ball and stick together (make sure to stop before you’ve made pecan butter!).

snickerdoodlecheesecake8Ugh I love pecans so much.

Press crust into the greased 9×13 baking pan and par-bake for about 8-10 minutes.

For the filling, beat cream cheese with sweetener, egg whites, vanilla, butterscotch or molasses extracts (if using), and cinnamon using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy and smooth. Pour over pecan crust and smooth with a spatula.

 

In a small bowl, combine sweetener and cinnamon for topping. Sprinkle generously over the cheesecake layer.

Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until topping has browned and filling jiggles only slightly. Once cooled, refrigerate until completely set and cut into squares. Keep any (unlikely) leftovers in the fridge.

IMG_5647ALL HAIL THE TRUCK OF INSPIRATION™

Nutritional Info (Calculated for 26 servings):

snickerdoodle cheesecake nutrition

Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Blondies (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

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I think I may fit the criteria for a basic fall girl. I realized this recently while excitedly purchasing a seasonal caramel apple tea and babbling endlessly about the brisk autumn air and oversized sweaters.

Witnesses have confirmed I appeared to be wearing leggings and a puffy faux-fur lined vest at the time.

It was, then, no surprise that the notorious pumpkin spice essentially took over my entire life and has continued well into the winter, which brings us now to this fine recipe featuring all the seasonal elements you JUST MIGHT EXPECT FROM ME. You can take the girl out of the fall, but you can’t take the fall out of the girl.

But of course, with some extra credit: grain free, sugar free, low carb, easily made dairy free, with healthy fats and proteins from both almond flour and almond butter!

What we got here is some dense, gooey, butterscotch-y blondies featuring notes of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg – I regret nothing!! And actually, go make this. You probably won’t regret anything either.

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Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch Blondies (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

Recipe adapted from All Day I Dream About Food

Yields: around 30 squares

Ingredients: 

2 cups almond flour
2 tsp pumpkin spice mix
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup natural almond butter (or any mild-flavored nut butter)
1/2 cup butter or coconut oil, softened (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1 cup sweetener (I use Swerve)
4 large egg whites, or just under 3/4 cup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 – 1 1/2 tsp butterscotch extract (I use Frontier)
1/2 tsp liquid stevia extract (I use Sweetleaf)

Optional:
1 tbsp sugar free brown sugar substitute (like this)
1 tsp maple or molasses flavoring OR 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, pumpkin spice, baking soda and salt.

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WASTE NOT.

In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter and sweetener until smooth and well combined.

Beat in egg whites, vanilla, butterscotch and stevia extracts until well combined.

Beat in almond flour mixture until fully incorporated; spread mixture in prepared baking pan and smooth the top with a knife or an offset spatula.

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Stirring this counted as my entire year’s worth of arm reps.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes (less for a gooey consistency, more for a cakier consistency), until just set. I’ve found that the edges will be done before the center, which is fine – they’ll just be a little lighter and cakier.

Remove and let cool at least 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

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Nutritional Info:

Calculated with 1 tbsp brown sugar substitute, without molasses.

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Raspberry Linzer Cookies AND Bars! (Low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free)

 

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Cookies. So classic. So RELIABLE. Every time I need to make a dessert, I think, “Cookies. So classic and so reliable. Why do I never make cookies?”

And then I make the cookies and I’m like “ok THIS is why I don’t make cookies.”

Look. It’s nothing against cookies as an actual dessert. It’s everything against the rolling and cutting and re-rolling and re-cutting and getting the thickness just right and then having to eat all the extra ones you burned (well, that part’s ok) because you decided to guess what “1/4 of an inch” actually looked like.

(………burnt cookies not featured.)

But I wanted to be like a fancy Viennese pastry chef and make those pretty little Linzer cookies – or die klassischen Linzer Augen, AS IT WERE. I also knew this would take me approximately several hundred years to do because cookies are a high-maintenance dessert and I refuse to hear otherwise.

So for those in the “aggressively lazy” camp (this is a running theme you can always expect here), I thought: what if you made Linzer cookies but instead of cookies they were bars? Ideal! And THEN I discovered I wasn’t even the first to have thought of this! Super ideal!!

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But then I made both anyway, because it was just so exciting. I don’t think that actually saved me any time, in retrospect, but it meant there was a lot of sampling and I’m ok with that.

Simple and healthy ingredients, dairy-free adaptable, perfect for the holidays and also every other day. Oh, and did I mention? LESS THAN SIX INGREDIENTS. As I always say, lassen Sie es sich schmecken!

Recipes and nutritional info for both cookies and bars below:

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Raspberry Linzer Cookies (low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free adaptable)

Recipe adapted from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Yields: About 32 cookies

Ingredients: 
Cookies:
1 cup granulated sweetener (I used Swerve)
4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Filling:
1 cup sugar-free or reduced sugar raspberry preserves
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helps filling set and hold together)
Powdered sweetener, for dusting

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or spray with oil.

Combine the sweetener, almond flour, butter/oil/spread, and extracts. Stir together until a crumbly but firm dough forms.

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Roll dough out onto parchment paper until about 1/4 inch thick.

Cut using a Linzer cookie cutter or a medium round or fluted cookie cutter, then using a smaller round, heart, or star shape to cut out the center (or honestly just buy this). Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 8-12 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges.

Allow to cool to room temperature. Spread raspberry preserves filling on the flat side of each solid cookie. Dust the top of the cutout cookies with powdered sweetener, and press the flat sides together, with the raspberry preserves in the middle and the powdered sweetener on the top.

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The Ghost of Cookies Past.

And now for your bars, as promised:

Raspberry Linzer Bars (low carb, sugar free, gluten free, dairy free adaptable)

Recipe adapted from I Breathe I’m Hungry

Yields: Around 30 squares

Ingredients: 
Crust:
1 cup granulated sweetener (I used Swerve)
4 cups blanched almond flour
3/4 cup butter or coconut oil, melted (Earth Balance Buttery Sticks or Melt Organic Spread would also work for dairy free)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Filling:
1 cup sugar-free or reduced sugar raspberry preserves
1/8 tsp almond extract
1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional, but helps filling set)

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350° F and line a 9×13 with parchment paper, or spray with oil.

Combine the sweetener, almond flour, butter/oil/spread, and extracts. Stir together until a crumbly but firm dough forms. Press about 2/3 of the dough into the pan.

In a separate bowl, combine the raspberry preserves, almond extract, and xanthan gum (if using).

Spread the preserves mixture evenly over the crust, and then crumble the remaining crust mixture over the top of the preserves layer.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 28 – 30 minutes or until golden brown and firm.

 

Remove from the oven and cool completely before cutting into 2 inch squares. Voila!

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Nutritional Info:

As calculated with sugar free raspberry preserves:

linzer bar nutrition info

 

Seasonal Baking Extravaganza – A Preview of Upcoming Healthy/Low-Carb Recipes!

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Could anything be more exciting?! Let me explain: a veritable smörgåsbord of healthy delights awaits you in short order. An extravaganza!

 

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The aforementioned smörgåsbord and/or extravaganza.

I’ve only just now emerged from the colossal heap of disposable baking pans burying my kitchen. I feel like an avalanche survivor. And with me, I bring a trove of seasonal recipes for everyone to enjoy over the holiday, New Years, and beyond!

If you’re looking for some healthy low-carb eatin’, this lady’s got you covered. Blondies, bars ‘n’ buttercreams, tell ya what. Keep an eye out for recipes coming out over the next few weeks!

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Ah, the textures of the season.