Sunday, August 11, 2013

Almond Butter Fudge (sugar free, candida friendly)

This is one I'm really excited about.

Baking without sugar has been interesting.  While I'm comfortable baking with reduced sugar and natural sugar "substitutes" such as maple syrup and honey (really just different forms of concentrated sugar), baking completely without sugar is an entirely different ball-game.  Sugar, perhaps more than any other ingredient, is responsible for the final texture of most baked goods--without it, chasing familiar textures is challenging.  Sometimes, using products like stevia and xylitol, we can achieve flavor pretty close to what we're used to, but without that precious chemical structure of sugar in there, the texture is off (baking completely without grains doesn't help).

While normally I might just toss the whole idea of sugar free baking in the trash, accepting we'd be without sweets for awhile, H needs more calories (there's only so much one can eat of eggs, roasted cauliflower, avocados and steak).  Truthfully, I'm not hitting it out of the park with this sugar-free, grain-free baking--mostly we're settling for mediocre, happy to at least have some variety.

But we're both pretty stoked with this almond butter fudge.

This isn't your grandma's fudge, obviously.  It's quite a bit more subtle and relies more heavily on the roasted almonds than the sweetener for its flavor, but it's pretty lovely still.  The texture is smooth and melting--very much like classic fudge--interrupted by crisp toasted slivered almonds that call to mind the crispy bits in a certain candy bar.  The vanilla and salt add depth and boost the other flavors.  In short, these are delicious--so much so that I've often been choosing them over my stash of chocolate for dessert.  I've been making them every week.

I understand the use of xylitol might put some off.  In researching sugar substitutes, this one seemed like the best bet (i.e. least scary) to me.  If you prefer not to use it, might I recommend substituting 1/3 cup of dark maple syrup for the xylitol/water mixture?  You'll want to heat it to just under boiling, which shouldn't take more than a minute or so, before proceeding with the recipe.  I haven't tried this version myself but trust it would be delicious, especially with the addition of the maple flavor.

Almond Butter Fudge

sugar free, candida-friendly

makes one 8x8" pan, or 16-20 pieces

Line an 8x8" cake pan with parchment paper, allowing the excess to hang over the sides.  Have another piece of parchment ready to press the hot fudge flat later in the recipe.

First, prepare your slivered almonds:

2 T. vegetable or coconut oil
4 c. slivered almonds

  • Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat for about a minute.
  • Add the almonds and stir to coat evenly with the oil.  Turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Allow the almonds to brown, stirring every few minutes to ensure they don't burn and to encourage even toasting.  When most of your almonds are toasted (10 minutes or so), remove from heat and transfer the almonds to a plate to stop the toasting.
Next, prepare your xylitol syrup:

2/3 c. granulated xylitol
1/3 c. water

  • Combine the water and xylitol in a small saucepan over high heat.  Stir to combine, then bring the mixture to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to simmer (turn the heat down even more if it starts to smoke) until the volume is reduced to 1/3 c.--pour the syrup into a measuring cup to check.  If it needs to reduce more, return it to the pot to simmer for a few more minutes.
  • Keeping the xylitol syrup in the pot with the heat at medium, add:
2 c. roasted, unsalted almond butter (if you only have salted almond butter, omit the salt below)
1.5 t. salt (I prefer this kind of salt for its milder flavor and thyroid-supporting iodine)
2 T. vanilla extract (careful--this may splatter when you add it)

  • Stir vigorously to combine.  If your mixture seizes slightly, you're on the right track--just keep stirring until it's homogeneous.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Add the toasted almonds and stir again to combine.  It's fine if they break--just make sure they're mixed in well.
  • Important: the mixture will be SUPER hot--don't let it touch your skin.
Transfer the fudge to the prepared pan, then place your second piece of parchment over the top.  Using an implement with a flat bottom (a glass or measuring cup), press the fudge evenly into the pan, smoothing the top.  Allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour to cool slightly, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill completely.  Cut into pieces (I usually cut 20 pieces but suit yourself) and serve!  These keep indefinitely in the refrigerator or freezer.


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