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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sugar-Free GLUTEN FREE Cream Cheese Candies

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Candies | Low-Carb, So Simple!
This is a healthier version of those classic cream cheese candies which are staples in weddings and other romantic occasions. Sugar-free and colored with natural beetroot juice, they are perfect for guilt-free Valentine’s Day.
Serve these gems as cute, pink treats or coat them with dark chocolate to create an unbeatable combination of mint and chocolate.

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Candies
1 oz = 30 g natural, unsweetened full-fat cream cheese
1–2 drops pure peppermint oil
1/2 teaspoon beetroot juice
1–1 1/2 cup = 240 ml–360 ml (+ 1/4 cup = 60 ml for dipping) powdered ZSweet OR powdered erythritol OR powdered xylitol
(Optional: dark chocolate for coating)

  1. Combine cream cheese, peppermint oil and beetroot juice in a small bowl.
  2. Mix with spoon until well mixed.
  3. Sift the sweetener.
  4. Add the sweetener 1/4 cup (60 ml) at a time and mix well after each addition.
  5. When the mixture is so stiff that you cannot mix it anymore with spoon, knead in the rest of the powdered sweetener, adding it little by little and kneading well after each addition.
  6. Keep adding more sweetener little by little and kneading after each addition until you have reached the right consistency. The right consistency is when the dough is like Play-Doh, so you can mold it easily and it’s not sticky, on the other hand it’s not too hard and crumbly.
  7. Take tiny balls from the dough. You can place the balls on a parchment paper or waxed paper and flatten them with a fork dipped in powdered sweetener.
  8. Another alternative is to press the tiny balls into molds, just roll the balls thoroughly in powdered sweetener before pressing them into molds.
  9. You can also roll out the dough and cut out tiny heart shapes with a cookie cutter.
  10. Place the candies in the freezer for a couple of hours to harden.

Nutrition information Protein Fat Net carbs kcal
In total: 1.1 g 19.0 g 1.2 g 203 kcal
Per candy if 12 candies in total: 0.1 g 1.6 g 0.1 g 17 kcal
Per candy if 24 candies in total: trace 0.8 g trace 8 kcal
Per candy if 36 candies in total: trace 0.5 g trace 6 kcal
Per candy if 48 candies in total: trace 0.4 g trace 4 kcal
(Not coated with chocolate.)

Nutrition information Protein Fat Net carbs kcal
In total: 8.4 g 65.3 g 17.3 g 713 kcal
Per candy if 12 candies in total: 0.7 g 5.4 g 1.4 g 59 kcal
Per candy if 24 candies in total: 0.3 g 2.7 g 0.7 g 30 kcal
Per candy if 36 candies in total: 0.2 g 1.8 g 0.5 g 20 kcal
Per candy if 48 candies in total: 0.2 g 1.4 g 0.4 g 15 kcal
(3 oz = 85 g dark chocolate with 86 % cocoa solids used for coating.)

Sugar-Free Cream Cheese Candies; Chocolate-Covered Ones | Low-Carb, So Simple!

Tips for making the candies

These are not really hard candies, they remain a bit soft and mealy unless you let them dry at room temperature for several days, and even then they are not going to be really hard. Please note that the chocolate covered candies don’t harden as the chocolate keeps the inside moist.
I recommend to use powdered sweetener which dissolves easily and completely. I’ve found the powdered ZSweet to be the best one in the market, but unfortunately it’s still not very widely available. Last year you could buy it from Amazon and Netrition, and the sweetener was supposed to be back in stock in the beginning of this year. However, I haven’t seen it and the company doesn’t seem to answer my mails and FB messages. That’s a pity. It’s not the first sweetener company neglecting customers and behaving badly.
Earlier I have used powdered pure erythritol — SukrinMelis — but that tends to feel gritty in non-cooked desserts. So, I can no longer recommend it.
If you cannot find beetroot juice, you can use cooked and pureed beetroot. Actually, I would expect that any exceptionally colorful fruit, berry or vegetable juice will do. I didn’t try out pomegranate juice, but I would expect that it would also work as it has really powerful red color.
I know there exist also natural food colorings, but I don’t have any chance to get them here in Finland. Also, if you are not afraid of using artificial food colorings, you can use those, but personally I cannot recommend anything artificial.
The cream cheese works mainly as binding agent, so please don’t be disappointed if you don’t taste much of cream cheese in the ready candies.
If you are not that big fan of peppermint flavor, you can use other flavorings instead. Please keep in mind that erythritol (and especially xylitol, if you happen to use that) has quite strong cooling effect which definitely feels here as we are using plenty of sweetener. So, my point is that the flavor of peppermint covers nicely the cooling effect of the sweetener, and in fact goes pretty well with it.
What is also important is, that the more fluid (i.e. colorings or flavors) you add, the more you need to use sweetener to reach the right consistency for the dough.
With this recipe the yield is quite small. If you need more candies, simply multiply the ingredients. Somehow I’ve used to the fact that when low-carbing, you don’t need that much sweet stuff. Also the sweeteners are so expensive that you cannot afford making huge batches of sweet stuff.
I recommend to make quite small-sized candies: not only hold they better together but also taste more delicious. These are extremely powerfully-flavored candies and a little goes a long way.
What comes to the dough, reaching the right consistency might need some practice. So, in case you are going to serve these treats on Valentine’s Day or give them away, I recommend to prepare a couple of test batches before that.
As a rule of thumb, the easiest way to prepare these candies is to take tiny balls from the dough and flatten the balls either with fingertips or with fork. The next difficult way is to press the dough into molds and the most challenging and time-consuming way is to roll out the dough and cut out heart shapes with a small cookie cutter.

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