Somewhere along the way this week was National Peanut Butter Day! Chocolate and peanut butter has to be one of my favorite flavor combinations, but I was actually late to the peanut butter craze. Although I didn't grow up in Ireland, my culture was very influenced by that heritage and I don't remember peanut butter being a big thing over there way back when. The U.S. was where I came across those peanut butter cups that we all know and love and there is no turning back after trying one of those.
This week's recipe combines my goal of a lighter recipe that also hits the mark for a sweet tooth craving. One of the key ingredients keeping this recipe lighter is PB2. PB2 has become a staple in my pantry for baking, oatmeal, and smoothies. I've even added it to plain Greek yogurt to add some flavor and then top with a crumbled chocolate protein bar or bananas. It gives you all the peanut butter flavor with reduced calories and fat.
As you can see from my photos, we decided to take the cookies a step further by making little ice cream sandwiches with our Halo Top Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. If you haven't tried Halo Top yet, I highly recommend that you get in your car right now and go to the store to get some. Obviously, making ice cream sandwiches with the cookies is not mandatory, but I'm not sure why you wouldn't want to give it a try...at least once.
Grain Free Peanut Butter Cookies
makes 16 cookies
-1/2 cup PB2
-1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
-1/4 tsp salt
Wet Ingredients & Sweetener
-1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 TBS + 1 tsp Truvia
Topping: 1/4 cup melted chocolate chips to drizzle
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients/sweetener in another. Add the wet to the dry, mix, and let sit for approximately 5 minutes to thicken. Using a small cookie scoop, scoop 16 cookies onto a pre-greased or parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for approximately 14 minutes, remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet. Optional: Melt 1/4 cup chocolate chips and drizzle over the cooled cookies. Allow to set.
For the ice cream sandwich option, take the Halo Top ice cream out of the freezer 5-10 minutes ahead of time and allow to soften on the counter (read the information on the back of the container as there is more about allowing this ice cream to soften posted there). Once the ice cream is soft enough to scoop and spread, spoon a small cookie scooper portion onto a cookie and then top with another cookie. This is best done right before serving. Keep in mind that if you do decide to freeze the ice cream sandwiches for later or don't finish all of them that you will need to take them out ahead of time and allow to soften before enjoying as there are no artificial or chemical softeners in the cookies or the ice cream.
Have a wonderful week!
January continues to roll on and for many that means looking for healthier options after the indulgence of the holiday season. I look at three primary things when I look to create healthier versions of recipes: 1) sweetener; 2) fat/oil; 3) flour/grain/starch. Banana bread is one of my favorite things to bake and modify for all sorts of tastes and preferences. The beauty of banana bread is that over ripe bananas provide a natural sweetness so it's a great recipe to use less sugar or go refined sugar free, as I did in this recipe. The bananas also keep the recipe moist and bring a naturally fudgy texture when combined with chocolate so the recipe doesn't need a ton of fat. And finally, the options for types of flours are practically endless and a super easy way to increase the nutritional value of a recipe by using something other than regular white flour. Beware that I'm not knocking white flour because I love baking from scratch with it, but reducing its use and adding more balance with more nutrient dense options on occasion is something I like to do to create a healthier lifestyle, and I promise that these changes are not sacrificing flavor or texture.
This week's recipe is also kind to your dishes because you can complete it start to finish with one bowl. No mixer required. I just used some good old fashioned elbow grease to mix it up, pour, bake and done! The little Sunday Bakers loved it and I'd be completely comfortable using this for breakfast for them (if there was any left) because it's refined sugar free (minus any sugar in the chocolate chips), uses spelt flour to add a nutritional boost, and low fat yogurt instead of oil. A quick loaf of this whipped up on a Sunday could solve our breakfast problems for the school week.
One Bowl Fudgy Chocolate Banana Bread
-3 ripe bananas
-1 tsp vanilla
-1/4 cup maple syrup
-2 TBS + 4 tsp Truvia (using the conversion guide on the back of the container)
-3/4 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
-2 cups spelt flour
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 cup chocolate chips + a small handful for sprinkling
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9" loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup, Truvia and yogurt until all combined and smooth. Add in the remainder of the dry ingredients, except the chocolate chips, and mix by hand until fully incorporated. Make sure to get your spoon or spatula to the bottom of the bowl and bring up and mix any batter on the bottom of the bowl. When batter is fully mixed together, add in 1 cup of chocolate chips and fold into the batter. Pour the batter into the 9" loaf pan, sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top and bake for 60-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted to the middle of the load comes out clean (oven times may vary). Allow to cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes, remove from the pan, slice and enjoy!
I committed to myself that if I wrote a blog that I wouldn't just post the baking successes but I would also share my bloopers....pictures and all. Isn't that half the fun? While we're on the subject, I will remind you that I'm very messy in the kitchen. Baking is an event and depending on how much controlled chaos is going on in the house at the time has a direct correlation to my bloopers whether it's a forgotten ingredient (I once forgot all the sweetener in some brownies...gross), wrong pan size, wrong cook time etc. Baking is an art and a science or something in between and the bloopers are part of it so let's love them.
Despite my gigantic sweet tooth, I somehow married someone who isn't really into desserts. When planning our wedding, he was heavily advocating for a wedding steak versus a wedding cake. Don't worry- we didn't have a beef carving photo session. Buttercream and a combination of chocolate and vanilla cake prevailed. There are only a few exceptions to his less than enthusiastic attitude towards dessert and lemon bars are one of them.
Back in June for Father's Day, I set out to find a lemon bar recipe that would change his dessert mind set. Ina Garten from the Food Network has an amazing recipe that starts with a buttery, shortbread like crust and a sweet and tangy lemon filling that sets just right on top. I set out on my baking journey that day in a rush and here's what I came up with....
The crust looked nice. The lemon curd was to die for. I had to adjust the baking timing recommended in the recipe. It didn't set. What did I do wrong? Wrong size baking pan. The effort wasn't lost but it was a win for baking being a science. Well, Mr. Sunday Bakers had a birthday a few weeks back and I set out for lemon bar redemption with the correct sized baking pan and here's the comparison...
Redeemed! This recipe makes a lot of lemon bars too so I was able to put half of them in the deep freezer for a cold winter day when we need a reminder of spring! The blooper was a nice excuse for a new baking pan also and I've got to say that the crust in this recipe is really a beauty and I've used it for festive strawberry and blueberry tarts over the summer.
So, enjoy the journey my friends; bloopers, messes and all. Have a great week.
New England wife and mom. Faith, fitness, yoga, baking, cooking and constantly cleaning my kitchen.