Near me there’s a fabulous cupcake shop. There’s often a line out the door. Occasionally I pop in to pick up a birthday treat for someone or a cup of coffee, and I revel in two things: first, the warm and delicious smell of the shop, which I truly enjoy taking deep sniffs of. And second, the fact that I have never felt any interest in actually tasting or eating any of the cupcakes. I’m not even a bit curious. Especially when I see the sign on the wall, which says “We use 900 lbs of sugar every week.”
Deciding that I don’t eat something is very different than telling myself I can’t eat something. It’s a critical mindset shift. I can eat whatever I want, and I do so on a daily basis. The key is that I’ve rejected foods that are damaging to my body and I won’t eat them. I’m a person who doesn’t eat added sugar or grains. No uncertainty here. End of story. So no matter how enticing traditional sweets look, I’m never tempted. I can smell them and see them, yet they don’t create any desire in me, and there’s no sense of self-restraint or loss, because what I really want most is my good health and a lean body. Now, show me some lamb chops or roasted veggies and tell me I can’t have any and I might go out of my mind. But a pink buttercream-frosted cupcake? Meh.
To feel this way requires identifying yourself as someone who only eats healthfully. And this doesn’t happen overnight. There have to be some strategic hacks along the way to make it possible for you to become a person who doesn’t want to eat addictive sugary junk. How can you support yourself in making this mindset shift? One major step is to find a healthier replacement for what you are “giving up.” And it has to be good! Something that tastes like a real treat, because it is.
I created this recipe for that very reason. It was around the time of year that everyone goes crazy for pumpkin spice and maple nut flavors of fall, which I have always loved, and I was in the mood for something sweet and seasonal. With so many good alternatives to sugar and wheat flour available, I was able to concoct these terrific blondies, which are really indulgent yet are sugar-free, grain-free, dairy-free, and low in net carbs. They are unbelievable when somewhat half-baked. Follow the directions closely and whatever you do, set a timer and don’t overbake. (Or you’ll just have to mix them into some of my sugar free ice cream, and try again with a fresh batch…)
These are great when enjoyed with enthusiastic friends. FOR BEST RESULTS: Don’t forget to read the “notes” below before you start out!
2/3 cup tahini (unsalted and unsweetened)
2/3 cup neutral flavored oil such as coconut (melted) or algal oil
1/2 cup Lakanto sugar-free maple syrup alternative
2 large eggs
2 t vanilla
1-1/3 cups of blanched almond flour
1/4 cup Lakanto powdered sugar substitute (see notes)
1/2 t Himalayan pink salt
3/4 t baking powder
1 cup small chunks of sugar free chocolate (try Lily’s Salted Extra Dark)
1. Use a little coconut oil to grease a 7×10 brownie pan. Cut one piece of parchment paper to line the pan, letting the paper extend past the pan by just enough to grab after baking is done. To get it to lay flat, cut a slit in each corner and trim or press the paper into place. You’ll use the paper to help lift the blondies out of the pan to cool.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position an oven rack in the middle.
3. In a bowl, mix the oil and tahini together until smooth and uniform. Whisk in the syrup, eggs and vanilla, mixing each until well-incorporated.
4. Into a separate bowl, measure out the almond flour. Recommended: use a whisk to stir up the flour before measuring so it is not too densely packed, and use a knife to level off the top so your measurement is precise.
5. To the almond flour, add the powdered sweetener, salt, and baking powder, and mix well.
6. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet. Mix in the chocolate chips.
7. Pour the batter into your prepared pan and set the pan in the oven on the middle rack. If you are using a different size pan, this could affect baking time. You may need to slightly increase or decrease the time.
8. Bake for about 22-25 minutes (ovens can vary greatly, and we do not want to overbake, so check them at 22 minutes). For blondies that are “half-baked” (soft and somewhat gooey in the center), 23-24 minutes of bake time works well. Test with a toothpick. The center should appear just set and be very soft, as they will continue cooking and firm up slightly while cooling. The main thing is, do not overbake!
9. When they are done to your liking, remove from the oven and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the top (optional). Use the paper tails to lift and transfer the blondies to a sturdy surface for cooling before cutting.
Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container.
If you do not have or do not like tahini, you can use peanut butter, but be sure it is unsweetened natural smooth peanut butter without any hydrogenated oils. Tahini imparts a nutty flavor but is not as strong as peanut butter, and it’s a silkier option than almond butter for this recipe.
If you have granular Lakanto or Swerve (erythritol), powder it in a bullet or coffee grinder first! This cuts down on any cooling aftertaste from the erythritol and promotes a smoother texture.
I used Whole Foods sugar-free dark chocolate chips in the batch pictured. You could also use any sugar-free chocolate bar chopped into chunks, and for that I recommend Lily’s.