Homemade sweets can be incredibly thoughtful holiday gifts, but let’s be honest, how many of us really need more tins and baskets packed with sugar-packed treats? You can always modify the sugar content of your favorite recipes, and here are three lower-sugar, better-for-you sweet treat recipes that are guaranteed to please!
Cajun Candied Pecans (from www.SwerveSweetener.com)
3 TBL Earth Balance® spread
4 cups pecan halves
1 cup Swerve™
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne
Pecans may be substituted with cashews, almonds or a medley of your favorite nuts for your event, holiday table or anytime indulgence.
In a 3–quart kettle or pot, set temperature to medium heat. Melt Earth Balance® spread. Add all the ingredients, except pecans.
Mix well and stir constantly over medium heat (approximately 350°), until mixture becomes smooth. Add pecans, cook for approximately 5 minutes. The Swerve™ will create a glazed finish on the pecans as it cooks.
To test for doneness, remove one pecan, let cool for a minute and cut in half. Pecan should be crunchy. On a large cutting board, pour pecans and spread out on board evenly, yet quickly, as they will harden fast! Let cool.
Loosen nuts and chop coarsely with knife by hand. Do not put in food processor, as it grinds nuts too small. *Be careful when handling the cooked pecans because the coating gets extremely hot while cooking.
Yields: 4 cups (serving size: ¼ cup)
Per ¼ cup (approximately one ounce): 190 calories, 1 gram sugar
Compare to 12 grams of sugar per ounce of regular candied nuts
Double Chocolate Chipotle Cookies (adapted from www.spiceislands.com)
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup almond flour
1/2 cup dark or Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups Swerve Sweetener
2 tbsp molasses
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone sheet. In a large bowl, sift together flours, cocoa powder, chipotle, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together butter, Swerve, and molasses until it is the consistency of wet sand and no chunks of butter are visible. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Stir in mini chocolate chips by hand.
Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet, leaving an inch or two of space between them. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until centers are set. Let cool for 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely. Store cooled cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Yields 4 dozen mini cookies.
Per two-cookie serving: 100 calories, 2 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar
Compare to two traditional mini cookies: 120 calories, 0 fiber, 15 grams sugar
Low Carb Chocolate Truffles (from www.alldayidreamaboutfood.com)
Yield: About 3 dozen truffles
Serving Size: 2 truffles
1 tbsp water
1 cup low carb sweetened condensed milk (see recipe below)
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup powdered Swerve Sweetener or powdered erythritol
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup finely ground nuts of choice
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine water, sweetened condensed milk, chopped chocolate, powdered erythritol and butter. Whisk constantly until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Remove from heat immediately (don’t let it overcook, your chocolate will seize).
Cover with plastic wrap flush to the surface and refrigerate 2 hours. Once mixture is firm, roll into scant 1-inch (or even less) balls and roll in your favorite coating(s).
Per two-truffle serving: 130 calories, 2.3 grams carbs, less than 1 grams of sugar
Compare to same-size traditional truffles: 200 calories and 16 grams sugar
Low Carb Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Swerve Sweetener or granulated erythritol
1 tbsp butter
1/8 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
15 drops stevia extract
In a medium heavy saucepan, combine cream, milk and erythritol over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, stirring frequently, until mixture is reduce by half. (No matter how often you stir, thick bits of milk will form on the sides. Leave it there, and try not to disturb it when stirring, or you will get chunky bits in your condensed milk).
Add butter and let melt, then briskly whisk in xanthan gum. Let mixture cool to room temperature and stir in vanilla and stevia extracts. Yield: 1 cup (8 servings); each 2 tbsp servinghas 2 g carbs.