Almond brownies to fit into your diet for Valentine's Day
With Valentine's Day near, I wanted to create a special dessert for Valentine's Day dinner that fits my current no-sugar, zero-wheat-flour food plan.
That new dessert had to be big on chocolate. I love brownies and, over the last two years, I've made attempts at brownies made without wheat flour that have turned just OK, not spectacular.
I headed over to a website that I consider a baking authority: King Arthur's Baking Company (kingarthurbaking.com), looking to see if they had ventured into zero-wheat brownies.
Lucky me, there was an almond flour brownie recipe. Unfortunately, it had an issue, calling for 1¾ cups sugar for an 8-by-8-inch pan of brownies. That sugar delivers 1,355 calories from 350 carb grams. That's 85 sugar calories per 2-inch square brownie. That would not work for me.
My first thought was allulose. Allulose is a sugar that tastes like sugar but provides only 10% of cane sugar's calories from nearly unabsorbable carbohydrates due to its chemical makeup. Allulose has been the darling of keto dieters since it appeared.
A local company, Tate & Lyle, in Hoffman Estates, brought this unique sugar into commercial existence in 2015. Allulose has good qualities as a cane sugar substitute: not raising insulin and blood sugar levels.
The not-so-good: It's very expensive, running about 17 times more per pound than granulated sugar. In addition, measure-for-measure, I've found it takes at least 50% more allulose to equal the sweetness of sugar.
I decided to see if I could upgrade King Arthur's Almond Brownies to deliver less sugar and still taste and look good -- no small task. Allulose's baking qualities equal cane sugar. My baking experience taught me that switching all the sugar out for stevia produces an epic failure.
I decided to use 1½ cups of allulose for 1 cup of sugar to keep the cost down. And then use not-so-costly stevia for the remaining ¾ cup of sugar. That would eliminate 1,275 calories. That's a huge difference.
King Arthur used vanilla extract in their brownies, common to all chocolate brownies. To enhance the natural almond flavor, I added a ½ teaspoon almond extract along with the vanilla.
To go one better, I decided to top my brownies with a half-cup of sliced almonds, boosting my brownie's looks and flavor.
Since my cocoa powder and almond flour are always a little lumpy, I sifted all the dry ingredients together, ensuring they were well combined.
I popped my version of no-sugar-added almond brownies into my oven. As they baked, the aroma of chocolate and almond began to fill my kitchen.
My hopes for a great-tasting, terrific-looking brownie exceeded my expectations. Yes. And, after figuring in the allulose (carbs are counted and then deducted) and fiber, my brownies deliver just 1.8 net carbs. The almonds and almond extract added just the right flavor to make my almond flour brownies taste great.
My Valentine, Nan, not a big fan of low-carb food plans, loved my brownies -- really loved them.
I may never go back to wheat flour brownies again.
Happy Valentine's Day!
• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The crunchy almonds and almond extract add just the right flavor to the fudgy chocolate of the brownies in this recipe.
- Courtesy of Don Mauer
Valentine's Day Chocolate Almond Brownies
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups (144 grams) almond flour (made from blanched almonds)
1½ cups allulose
20 packets organic stevia blend
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa*
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon sea salt
3 large eggs, organic preferred
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup (50 grams) sliced almonds
Place the oven rack in the center position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly spray the interior of an 8-inch square (2-inch deep) pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
In a small pan: Over low heat, melt the butter.
Using a large wire mesh strainer, sift the almond flour, allulose, cocoa, stevia, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl. Using a wire whisk, stir together until well combined. Set aside.
Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract to a medium-size bowl and whisk together until combined. Whisk in the butter. Add the egg mixture to the almond flour mixture and stir together until completely combined.
Transfer the batter into the prepared pan; spreading it to the edges and smoothing out the top. Distribute and lightly press the almonds into batter.
Bake brownies for 30 minutes for a fudgy texture or 35 minutes for a cakelike texture.
Transfer the brownies to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
Makes 16, 2-by-2-inch brownies
Nutrition values per brownie: 132 calories (73% from fat), 10.8 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 23.1 g carbohydrates (1.8 net carbs), 1 g sugar, 3.3 g fiber, 4.1 g protein, 49 mg cholesterol, 98 mg sodium.
*King Arthur Baking suggests that natural cocoa powder can be used instead of Dutch-processed cocoa and that a round 9-inch cake pan can be substituted for the 8-inch square pan.
Adapted from a King Arthur Baking Company recipe