Monday, January 26, 2015

Low-Carb Low-Sugar Gluten-free Microwave Single Serving Brownie

Well, you know, lower-carb. Lower-sugar.  I am not sure where the line is really drawn to call something actually low. I started with the recipe on the No. 2 Pencil blog, which makes a tasty regular one-serving microwave brownie. 

JennyBakes' Low-Sugar Low-Carb Gluten-Free Single Serving Microwave Brownie
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1-2 tbsp brown sugar splenda (6-12 carbs)
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons of almond flour (5 carbs)
  • 1 tablespoon of Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa powder (3 carbs)
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar free chocolate chips (optional, 9 more carbs)
1. Melt the butter in a microwave safe container.
2. Stir in brown sugar splenda and salt.
3. Stir in egg yolk.
4. Mix in almond flour and cocoa powder.
5. Spray nonstick cooking spray on ramekin or custard cup or mug. Spread in batter.
6. If using, sprinkle chocolate chips on top and press into the batter. It will be very thick.
7. Microwave for 45 seconds.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mini Cocoa Pavlova

In my attempts to make sweets from Southeast Asia and Oceania, I would be remiss to overlook Australia! Pavlova is a standard Australian and New Zealand dessert, one I've made several times. There was the time I went searching for a cloud-themed dessert and made a pavlova topped with passion fruit, whipped cream, and fresh fruit. Then there was the time that I had to make the cover recipe from the amazing Wintersweet cookbook - the Cocoa Pomegranate Pavlova. Pavlova isn't new, but I had egg whites to use and an Australian book on the horizon - something by Richard Flanagan, most recently awarded the Man Booker Prize.

This recipe is a mashup of the cocoa pomegranate pavlova, Nigella Lawson's mini pavlovas, and an attempt to use a sugar replacement to make this lower in sugar and carbs.  It was very tasty but the texture wasn't quite right. Perhaps I could have baked them longer or left them out to dry a bit overnight. Sugar really is integral in establishing the structure of a pavlova; I should be applauded for not including it.  Ha.

<b>Lower Sugar Cocoa Mini Pavlova</b>

6 egg whites, room temperature
pinch salt
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 cup Brown Sugar Splenda
2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Sugar free whipped cream
Fresh fruit, raspberries ideal
  1. Preheat oven to 250 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt until they start to hold a bit of shape.
  3. Mix the splenda and corn start together. You can even whiz it in a grinder to make it finer, but I just mashed it until it was powdery. Add the mixture 1 tbsp at a time to the egg whites, letting it incorporate.
  4. Beat whites until stiff peaks form. In the last minute, add Balsamic vinegar and vanilla.
  5. Take off beater. Sift cocoa powder over surface and gently fold in.
  6. Spoon circles, 8-10, onto cookie sheet. Make well with back of spoon.
  7. Bake 60-75 minutes, until outer shell has a bit of a crunch. Turn off oven and leave an additional hour.
  8. Remove and let cool completely.
  9. If you put in an air tight container, they may soften. This is not what you want!
  10.  Serve with whipped cream and berries. If you're feeling extra special, melt down some sugar free dark chocolate and coat the bottom of each pavlova first - outside or inside.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Baking Around the World: Banana Pancakes (Papua New Guinea)

For the past few years, I have been involved with a marvelous reading group in Goodreads called The World's Literature. In 2012, we read books from Japan, in 2013 it was Turkey, and this past year we focused on Iceland.  I learn so much during these group reads, whether I read a long with a book everyone is reading, or select my own books to read from the country or region.

This year, we are focusing on the large swath of the globe from Southeast Asia down to New Zealand, and all the tiny islands making up the South Pacific and Oceania in between.  There are a lot of different names for it, and a lot of places I've never read about before.  We are starting the year with a group read of Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea by Kira Salak. 

I have never been to Papua New Guinea, but I spent a semester in an independent study on world music my junior year of college, where I did a research project on music composition among the Kaluli, one of the highland peoples in PNG.  I was *this* close to spending the summer there with a Wycliffe ethnomusicology internship, but that didn't come together in time.

Trying to find recipes from PNG and other similar places can be difficult, because most of the cuisine in places like this has to do with what can be grown or caught.  Pork is used a lot for ceremonial dishes, but can't be eaten daily. Much of the traditional cuisine is vegetarian!  And there are a lot of bananas.  Banana leaves are used to cook the food, particularly in the special mumu dish I kept coming across, but then you also have bananas galore. So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that I am making banana pancakes.  I still balk somewhat at the authenticity of it, but I read an interesting article about the "banana pancake trail" claiming that bananas may have originated in PNG.  (You'll have to read the article for the origin of the banana pancake.)

And of course there is a song all about banana pancakes by Jack Johnson, but I have to warn you that his music sounds nothing like music from the highlands of Papua New Guinea!

In Four Corners, fried bananas are often served to the author in times of high stress.  This either speaks to bananas as a comfort food or their sheer number, but regardless, I took note of this fact - when the women were trapped by the rascals on "payday" inside the YWCA ("to help distract us, one woman prepares a snack of fried bananas"), and when she meets with the head of the OPM, the guerilla resistance movement working against Indonesia.  Phew!  Eat some bananas.  I'm taking fried bananas up to being friend inside a batter, but I figure it's close.
This isn't very much outside my comfort zone taste-wize, but it definitely has some strong connections to my new region of the world.

Banana Pancakes
recipe from

Servings: 4
  • 2 cups self raising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 45 g butter, melted
  • 2 -3 bananas, very ripe, mashed 

  1. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. Make a well in the middle.
  3. Combine the remaining ingredients, add flour and beat until free of lumps.
  4. Heat frypan with a little extra butter or oil.
  5. When the pan is hot spoon in desired amount of mixture.
  6. When bubbles start to appear in the batter, flip over and cook the other side.
  7. Eat with more bananas sliced on top and drizzled with Honey or with fresh fruit, or a squeeze of lemon/lime and sprinkle of Sugar. (I added pecans.)

Monday, January 05, 2015

Paleo Low-Sugar Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I kept forgetting to post these cookies, but now that all of you are brimming with new year's resolutions, this recipe couldn't come at a better time.  This is pretty versatile as far as the bits you add, and I started with a sweet potato recipe, using pumpkin instead.  Just to clarify, pretty sure cavemen weren't running around eating sugar free chocolate chips, but most of the time I'm starting with a paleo recipe and turning it into a low-sugar recipe instead.  They are close but not exactly.

The recipe originates in Paleo Magazine, with credit to, but the recipe below is my tweaked version.  To use their recipe, use maple syrup for the Splenda, nuts or dried fruit for the chocolate chips, and sweet potato for the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, low-sugar

1 cup almond meal
1 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup sugar free chocolate chips
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 egg
4 tbsp brown sugar splenda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Stir together all the dry ingredients.
3. Add egg, pumpkin, and coconut milk and mix well.
4. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scoop cookies about 1 heaping tablespoon per cookie.
5. Bake for 10-20 minutes (recipe in magazine says 20 but this is too long! watch them before that please.)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Baking Around the USA: Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies (Georgia)

It has been a while since I made a baked good to pair with a book I had been reading, but that's about to change around here!  I only have 12 states left in my Around the USA reading challenge, and my World Lit group is tackling Australia/New Zealand/Oceania/Southeast Asia.  Tasty treats will be essential!

I binge-read Flannery O'Connor short stories.  If you aren't familiar with her, she is one of the quintessential southern writers, from Georgia.  Do you know what else is from Georgia?  No, don't say peaches.  (Stephen Colbert begs to differ.)  Pecans!  Yes!  My inlaws gave me some Georgian pecans and I had been pondering what to make ever since.  As I read these stories, my brain was demanding something southern, something sweet, and I remembered a recipe I'd had pinned for a few years.

I took this recipe from a guest post on the Tator Tots and Jello blog.  I didn't change a thing, except to clarify that it is only if you make the cookies 1" that you will end up with 5 dozen. I used a regular cookie scoop and had exactly 2 dozen. The icing was perfect for that number, and I topped mine with chopped pecans.

These are delicious, but like many southern baked goods, very very sweet.  The nuts help to balance the sweetness a little, but grab a big glass of milk or sweet tea!

Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
  • Brown sugar frosting (see below)
  • Pecan halves (or chopped pecans) for topping
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter at medium speed until creamy. Add sugars and beat until smooth. Add egg and vanilla and beat until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped pecans. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes.
  4. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (If making larger cookies, add an extra 1 to 2 minutes to baking time.) Cool 2 minutes on pan and remove to wire racks. Cool completely before frosting.
  5. To frost, spread about 1 tsp of the brown sugar frosting on each cookie (more for larger cookies) and top with a pecan half or more chopped pecans. Yields approximately 5 dozen.
Brown Sugar Frosting
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  1. Combine brown sugar and half and half in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil. Boil for 4 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Consistency will seem thin but will thicken as it cools. If frosting seems too thin, add enough of the remaining powdered sugar to desired consistency.