First off, I have to admit that it has taken me -- and is still taking me -- a LONG time to get used to artificial sweeteners. Just a year ago, that little Splenda logo on sugar-free stuff at the grocery store caused me to sigh with defeat and put it back on the shelf. Even worse was when I would get some exciting new sugar-free product home only to try it, find it disgusting, and then notice a tiny Splenda symbol hidden somewhere on the back of the packaging. I just hated the aftertaste. Items made with sugar alcohols (like malitol, xylitol, etc.) tasted so much more normal to me, but eating them in more than teeny tiny amounts can cause some really interesting digestion problems, from strange stomach gurgles to frequent trips to the bathroom.
I don't know if I'm just finally warming up to it or if I'm slowly learning which foods I can handle it in, but I don't have such an aversion to Splenda anymore. The turning point for me was trying Breyer's Carb Smart ice cream. I don't say this very often about low-carb products, but this amazing stuff is every bit as good as regular, sugar-filled ice cream. From there, I started to overcome my fear of low-carb dessert recipes that use Splenda, and life has been much better ever since.
Anyway, the whole point of this post was to share that I just made low-carb guru Dana Carpender's Espresso Chocolate Chip Brownies, for which she shares the recipe in this post on her blog. I'm so glad she posted it there, since I apparently hadn't looked closely enough through her book 500 More Low-Carb Recipes to notice it on my own. I'm inspired now to look through all of her books and try more of her desserts.
THEY WERE DELICIOUS.
The texture is somewhere in between being cakey and fudgey, which I love. And instead of being chewey like typical brownies, they almost melt in your mouth. Dad and I were totally in love with these brownies right out of the oven and plain, but Mom thought they needed something to tone down the rich, dark chocolately taste, so she topped hers with a little whipped cream and she was good to go.
For this first attempt, I did everything exactly by the recipe, except I added walnuts to the batter instead of sugar-free chocolate pieces. I have a much higher tolerance for sugar alcohols than my Dad does, and since I knew he was going to be sharing these with me, I decided against using the Hershey's Sugar-Free dark chocolate bars I had on hand. When I make them just for me, I'll definitely cut up the chocolate bars and throw them in, too.
I'm also interested in trying them without the tablespoon of instant coffee. I wonder if the coffee helps the recipe by masking the flavor of the protein powder and the almond meal, or if it's just to make them interesting. I'm excited to experiment with substituting or combining it with other flavors like coconut extract or DaVinci's sugar free syrups.
I challenge anyone to actually cut this batch into 25 tiny squares like Dana recommends and still only enjoy one at a time, but the carb count is still pretty low even if you eat two or three little ones or cut them bigger. And having a low-carb dessert this delicious to look forward to makes mealtime way more exciting.