Category Archives: Desserts

Start the Year Off with Cream Cheese Cookies

Photo: Cream Cheese Cookies

I haven’t made these lovely little cookies in years, but I love the taste of cream cheese in my cookie. I found a recipe that I adapted to a low carb version and they came out delicious. You can use any sugar-free jam for the filling. I made some with apricot jam and some with raspberry. I also put pecans on some and sugar-reduced craisins on others. If you can think of something else you’d like to top them with, it will probably work.

When I made my batch, I used three different flour options — Bakesquick from DCC, coconut flour (1/4 equals 1/2 cup of other flour), and vanilla whey protein powder for 1/4 cup of it. It worked okay, but unless you like the slightly grainy texture of the coconut flour, I would stay away from it for this recipe. You can use almond flour or any other low carb flours to make this.

Cream Cheese Cookies

2 sticks of Butter, room temperature
8 ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 cup Sugar Substitute
2 Eggs Yolks
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 cups Low Carb Flour
Sugar-free jam – Any flavor

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter,and sweetener together until smooth. Scrape the bowl if the mixture builds up on the sides. Add the egg yolks and vanilla and mix until combined.

If you are using a combination of low carb flour types, mix them in a bowl before adding to the creamed mixture. Add about 1/4 cup at a time until you’ve mixed it all in. The dough will be stiff.

Chill dough for at least two hours to firm up the butter and cream cheese.

Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Use a teaspoon of dough to roll into a ball about 1-inch in diameter. Place on baking sheet and flatten the top until about a 1/2-inch thick disc is formed. Make about a dozen on the cookie sheet, then go back and press a little well in the middle of each cookie for the filling. Put about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar-free jam in the well, or you can top them with a half pecan or two or three sugar-reduced craisins.

Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes until the bottoms turn slightly brown. Remove and let sit to cool for about 10 minutes to firm up.

Use a spatula to move them to a wire rack to continue to cool.

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Nutrition Information Image

Rugalach for the Holidays

Photo: Close up of rugalach

Just a little late for the Jewish holiday, I made a batch of low carb Rugalach cookies. These are simple to make, although a little time-consuming, and make a delightful cookie for the holidays. After my first batch, I plan to make a few minor changes to the next batch I make, but I wanted to get this recipe up before I do that. I cut down a little on the chocolate used, and this recipe reflects that.

Rugalach Cookies

4 ounces cream cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup low carb all-purpose flour *

1/2 cup raspberry jam, apricot jam or marmalade
3 tablespoons sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I prefer pecans, but you can use walnuts or almonds)
1/3 cup chopped cranberries
2 ounces sugar-free chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons egg whites
1 teaspoon cold water
2 tablespoons sugar, preferably coarse sugar

For this recipe, I used Dixie Carb Counters All Purpose Low Carb Flour rather than their biscuit mix. Tova Foods also has an All Purpose Low Carb Flour as does LC Foods. I have not tried this with Almond Flour, but I believe it would work fine since it is mixed with cream cheese.  You will need to make sure the dough is chilled well or it will break easily.

Make the dough first. In a food processor, place the softened cream cheese pieces and the softened butter pieces. If you use unsalted butter, add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Pulse until the cream cheese and butter are blended together. Add the flour and pulse several times to mix it in. Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula as needed to get all the flour mixed in. Pulse until the dough forms large curds.

You can mix it with a hand mixer also, but don’t let the dough form into a ball on the blades.

Turn the dough out into a bowl and gather it into a large ball. Divide it in half, shape each into a disk, wrap in plastic, then put into the refrigerator to chill for at least two hours.

Before you begin rolling the dough out, make the filling. Heat the jam over low heat or in the microwave until it liquefies. Mix 2 tablespoons sugar substitute and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside. Chop the cranberries in a small food processor. In a microwavable bowl, add 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of sugar to the cranberries. Microwave for 40 seconds. Stir well.

Ready two baking sheets.

Pull one disc of dough from the refrigerator, place a sheet of parchment over the breadboard, and sprinkle low carb flour on it. Roll out the dough into a circle about eight or nine inches in diameter. If it is too firm to roll easily, let it sit for about 10 minutes. Spoon or brush about 1/2 of the melted jam in a thin layer over the dough and sprinkle 1/2 of the cinnamon sugar over the top. Scatter 1/2 of the nuts, 1/2 of the cranberries, and 1/2 of the chopped chocolate over the jam. Cover the filling with a piece of waxed paper and gently press on it to push the filling into the dough. Remove the waxed paper, Slide the disk onto a baking pan and put the pan in the refrigerator to chill while you roll the second disc and repeat the steps.

Pull out the first pan when you put the second pan in, then cut the original dough into quarters, like you would a pizza. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter for this. Try to get it separated evenly. Now, cut each wedge into three triangular slices. Starting at the outside edge, roll the dough toward the middle to form a crescent cookie and tuck the end tip under the dough on the baking sheet, curving the cookie a little. Repeat with each triangular shape, cutting each of the quarter wedges into three triangles.

Pie cut for 12 slices.

Repeat with the second round of cookies. Put the shaped cookies in the refrigerator or other cold place on their baking sheets  to firm up for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F.) Position the racks in the oven to divide it into thirds.

Before baking the cookies, mix the egg white and water together and brush over the tops of the cookies and sprinkle the granulated sugar substitute over each.

Photo: One dozen rugalach cookies

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom racks and turning them from the front to the back of the oven about mid-way through the baking. Remove when they are golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack until they are just warm or at room temperature.

Makes 24 cookies.

Nutrition information per cookie:
Calories:102.2 Fat: 8.9 g Net Carbs: 1.0 g Protein: 3.3 g

Product Review: DCC Double Chocolate Brownies & a Recipe

Photo: DCC Double Chocolate Brownie

Product Review: DCC Double Chocolate Brownies

Every now and then, when you go out to dinner at a place that offers gooey brownies topped with ice cream, you may be tempted to get one. Especially if you’re like me and you miss the chocolate deliciousness of a brownie. I actually have a pretty good brownie recipe, but the ease of having a mix that is so simple, you can put it together in five minutes is pretty alluring.

I recently bought a package of Dixie Carb Counters (DCC) Double Fudge Brownie mix to give it a try. First, it is a snap to get this ready to go in the oven. The easy to follow recipe walks you right through it. Before you begin, grease an 8″x8″ pan.

First problem, I can’t find my 8×8 pan, so I settle for my 6×6 pan. Okay, so my bars will be thicker than they would be in an 8×8, which means cook them a little longer. Also, I cut a piece of parchment paper to put on the bottom so they won’t stick. That takes a minute to do, so not an issue. Then spray the parchment with baking spray.

Next, melt one stick of unsalted butter and the contents of package 1, which is chocolate, together in a medium-sized bowl in the microwave. Works great. After one minute, I have melted chocolate and butter that I mix together.

Next add in 2 eggs, the flour and cocoa mixture in the second packet and mix well. Pour into your baking pan and cook for 15 to 18 minutes until they are done and spring back when you touch them. Cut into 16 pieces and you’re done.

Easy to make. But you don’t end up with the little beauty at the top of my page. Nope, that is my variation on this mix. While the mix will yield a 2×2″ brownie that is 52 calories and 2 net carbs, it isn’t iced and nutty like mine. To make my version, read on.

Caramel Pecan Brownie

Photo: Pan of Caramel Pecan Brownies

1 package of Dixie Diner Double Chocolate Brownie Mix
2 Eggs
1 Stick Unsalted Butter
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Pecans, chopped
8 Russell Stover Sugar-free Chocolate Carmels, cut in half

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare an 8×8-inch baking pan with baking spray or cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the bottom and spray with baking spray.

In a medium microwavable bowl, add the butter and packet 1 from the mix (chocolate bar), then microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir to mix together and make sure they are melted. (If not, put back in the micro for another 30 seconds.)

Add the baking mix in packet 2, vanilla extract, and the eggs. Mix together using a spoon or whisk until all the flour is incorporated. Add the pecans and stir to distribute.

Pour the batter into the pan and tap it down to make sure it is even. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes until the brownies look done but still soft when you touch them. Turn off the oven, then put the caramels on top of the brownies in rows of 4 across and 4 down. Leave the brownies in the oven another 5 minutes, then remove and spread the melted chocolate caramel over the top like an icing.

Remove and let cool so the caramel sets before cutting into 16 – 2 inch brownies.

Nutrition Information for 1 brownie (16 yield)
Calories: 84.3 Fat: 5.8 g Net Carbs: 2.5 g Protein: 1.5 g

If you make them in a smaller pan, like a 6×6″ one, then cook them about 20 minutes before checking, then follow the rest of the instruction, but cut them into 8 slices rather than 16.

Nutrition Information for 1 brownie (8 yield)
Calories: 168.7 Fat: 11.5 g Net Carbs: 5.0 g Protein: 3 g

Based on my experience with the Brownie mix, I’d give it five cooking spoons of deliciousness.

Tip: If you refrigerate your brownies, take them out about an hour before you want to serve them to allow them to come to room temperature and for the caramel to soften before cutting.

Creamy Italian-style Lemonade Ricotta Cheesecake

Photo: Ricotta Cheesecake

It’s Fall here in Reno, and it’s welcome as this is my favorite time of year. I love watching the trees turn, attempting to salvage any pears from my tree before the birds get them, and tasting all the wonderful flavors that come with the season. Pumpkin is back in all the restaurants, but there are other fantastic seasonal squashes coming up as well. I plan to be experimenting with more new recipes over the next few weeks, so look for that.

In the meantime, I spent most of September in Las Vegas house/dog sitting for my friends who jetted off to their home they are renovating in France. Sounds so posh, doesn’t it? The house in the country in France. I may even get over to see it when they are completely through with the massive renovation. Anyway, I didn’t do much creative cooking while I was there, keeping mostly to the basics and trying to get my body reset to a tight low carb diet.  However, I did experiment a little with this wonderful recipe for an Italian Ricotta Cream Cheesecake. It is adapted for a smaller cake and I use sugar-free lemonade mix in it to give it a very lemony flavor that is sensational. As a bonus, I created it in both a baked form, and as a quick microwave version that serves two. Both are delightful.

Italian-Style Lemonade Ricotta Cheesecake

Adjusted to low carb and adapted from the original recipe by Rene Averett. Find the original at All Recipes.

6 oz. Cream Cheese
1/3 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon Sugar Substitute
2 Eggs
2 teaspoons Sugar-free Lemonade mix
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons Low Carb Flour
3 tablespoons Butter, softened
1/2 cup Heavy Cream or Sour Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F.) Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a 6″x6″ cake pan and spray with cooking spray.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and ricotta cheese until well mixed. Add the sugar, eggs, lemon mix, vanilla, flour, and butter. Mix until smooth and creamy. Stir in the heavy cream or sour cream last.

Pour the mixture in the cake pan and smooth.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave for another 30 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to cool before serving.

Place a plate over the top and flip the cheesecake onto the plate. Cut into six slices. Tastes delicious with a tablespoon of sugar-free strawberry jam on top or top with whipped cream.

Makes six servings.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 272.8 Fat: 26.8 g Net Carbs: 2.6 g Protein: 6.7 g

Photo: Microwave Ricotta Cheesecake

Microwave Lemonade Ricotta Cheesecake

2 oz. Cream Cheese
2 tablespoons Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon Sugar Substitute
1 Egg
3/4 teaspoon Sugar-free Lemonade mix
1/8 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1 tablespoon Low Carb Flour
1 tablespoon Butter, softened
2 tablespoon Heavy Cream or Sour Cream

In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and ricotta cheese together, blending as much as possible. Stir in the sugar, egg, lemonade mix, vanilla, and butter. Mix well, then add the flour and cream. Stir until mixed in.

Spoon 1/2 of the batter into a microwave safe 1/2 cup ramekin, then spoon the rest into another one. Put one ramekin in the microwave and cook for 30 seconds. Remove and stir the batter to smooth any lumps from it. Put back in the microwave and cook another 40 seconds. Check to make sure the cake is baked all the way through. If not cook, another 15 seconds.

Repeat baking with the second ramekin. Once cooked, cover both with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill for a few hours. Serve in the ramekin.

Makes two servings:

Nutrition Information per serving:
Calories: 276.4 Fat: 26.4 g Net Carbs: 2.8 g Protein: 8.1 g

I hope you try this and love it as much as I did. I took the photos in Las Vegas and had to adjust to available cooking pans, but I  hope to make it again soon and will get better photos then.

Strawberry Mock Trifle is cool and easy

Photo: Mock Strawberry Trifle

This little creation uses a vanilla magic muffin along with low carb yogurt, sliced strawberries and whipped topping to create a variation of trifle that is most satisfying. The muffin cooks in a minute, then you just assemble the rest, so it goes together quickly.

Strawberry Mock Trifle

For the muffin:
1 tablespoon Butter
1 oz. Cream Cheese
2 tablespoons Egg Whites
2 tablespoons Sugar Substitute
2 tablespoon Low Carb Flour
1/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla

Other ingredients:
2 oz. low carb Fruit Yogurt or Dairy mix such as CarbMasters fruit
1/2 cup sliced or chopped Strawberries with juice
1/4 cup Whipped Topping or
use 1/4 heavy cream and whip it with sugar substitute to taste
1 tablespoon Brandy (optional)

In a microwavable cup or bowl, add the butter and the cream cheese. Microwave for about 15 seconds to soften. Stir together with a spatula or small whisk. Add the egg whites, vanilla, and sugar substitute and mix until it looks creamy. Add the flour and baking powder and mix until it is all worked into a batter. Smooth down the sides and microwave for one minute.

Let cool for about 15 minutes.

Cut or tear the cake into pieces. Put into a larger bowl and sprinkkle brandy over the top if you are using it. Add 1/3 carton (2 oz.) of flavored yogurt of your choice. (I use strawberry or another complimentary fruit flavor.) Add strawberries and whipped topping and mix it altogether until fruit, cake and yogurst are evenly distributed.

Spoon into two one cup serving bowls and add a dollop of whipping cream on top. Add a mint leaf for garnish if you wish. Serve.

Makes two servings.

Nutrition information per serving:
Calories:132.4 Fat:8.6 g Net Carbs:5.5 g Protein: 6.0 g