Saturday, 23 June 2012

Snickerdoodle Blondies

I've always had a bad bad sweet tooth. I love sweet things. One of the hardest things for me to get away from was all the sugar I was eating, and though I always tried to keep my sweet tooth in check, I never realized how much sugar I was truly eating. I shudder when I think about how many mornings I would have Tim Hortons muffins (those things are actually cakes, really) with their French Vanilla coffee (it was just like drinking liquid sugar) and Grande Carmel Macchiatos (another liquid sugar haven) with a "healthy" low-fat fruit bar (fruit good, all that extra sugar, not so much). On a given morning I was having somewhere in the range of 75 - 100g of carbohydrates, mostly from sugar, and all before I got to work! Given the fact that a sugar hit like that will drive anyone's blood sugar crazy, it's no wonder why I was so hungry all the time.

I know, for my health, the best thing is and was to cut back. Significantly reducing my sugar and keeping the big indulgences it to special occasions not only keeps my weight in check, but also, honestly, leaves me feeling less hungry. As committed I am to my health, I still look with longing eyes at the seasonal treats that Starbucks and the other coffee shops put out. Pumpkin bread, red velvet doughnuts and cupcakes, brownies, bars - you know how you just know something is bad for you, but you think "just this once..." I would see tons of recipes for these types of goodies, but they were all still high in sugar and used conventional flour -- things I wanted to avoid.

And then I found Carolyn and her blog All Day I Dream About Food. My eyes just about fell out of my head. There were all these things, these wonderful baked goods, cakes, loaves, muffins, bars that Carolyn had largely created, and substantially all of them were without grains and sugar. I was overwhelmed and spent hours going through the site. Carolyn's blog was one of the very first I stumbled upon, at a time when I was missing a lot of the traditional treats. The first thing I made was her Maple Walnut Candy. Yes, it used regular maple syrup, but over a whole pan, a tablespoon wasn't much. From there, my desire and love for baking grew, and I still regularly make recipes off of her blog.

So, it's only fitting that this week's recipe is adapted from her blog. I've become more and more comfortable with making substitutions, so when Carolyn posted this recipe and lamented the bars she made were too cake-y, I was up for the challenge to try and improve them. I thought using a combination of coconut flour and almond flour would do the trick and lend a little more softness while adding stability to the bar. The great thing about coconut flour is that a little goes a long way -- it is super absorbent and is a natural thickener, and with time, it tends to stay soft and actually improves the taste and texture of the baking you do. Though, I have to admit, I didn't quite achieve the chewy texture I was aiming for. They get better after 24 hours in the fridge, but they still retain a bit of their cookie texture. Not that it's a bad thing -- It didn't stop J and I from topping them with ice cream!

Snickerdoodle Blondies

Makes 16
Adapted from All Day I Dream About Food

See the flowers? J surprised me with them after work!
  • 1 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted, warm, but not hot!
  • 1/2 cup granular sweetener of choice w/ 2 tbsp of cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup liquid sweetener of choice (or use water but increase your sweetener)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
Combine almond flour, coconut flour, granular sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl with a whisk.

In another bowl, whisk the egg with a fork until combined and bit frothy (bubbles should start to form).
Whisk your butter & liquid sweetener into the egg mixture, stirring constantly.

Make a well in the centre of your almond flour bowl, pushing the dry mix up the sides. Slowly pour your butter/egg mixture into the centre, and stir gently until all ingredients are just combined (the batter will be thick)

Press into a greased 8x8 inch square baking pan. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes (but watch it!! The edges tend to brown quickly). Sprinkle with cinnamon (or some ground ginger and granulated sweeter (1 tsp ginger + 1 tbsp sweetener).

Let the bars cool  completely (or else you'll end up with the cracking and crumbling like I did!) and then cut into squares (or triangles). Store in an airtight container in the fridge. 

Note: I used sucralose (also known as Splenda) because it's what I had on hand. It's almost all gone, and I've decided that I won't be using it for much longer, as it bothers my sister when she has it (and I want to share my baking with her, too!). I am going to be trying out using Stevia in my baking, which is a natural, plant based sweetener which has little glycemic impact, and you need a lot less of it to achieve a desired sweetness. So, if you're using sugar, you can use the measures exactly in the recipe - otherwise, adjust your sweetener accordingly based on its strength!

I hope you enjoy these as much as J and I did. Really, giving these 24 hours to sit in the fridge improves the texture and taste so much. They're even better warmed, with about 12 seconds in the microwave, and you have soft, cinnamon-y bars. Though, if you can't wait to try them, I don't blame you!

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