P.B. Max Bars {THM:S}

What, you may ask does PB Max stand for? I asked the same question when I was young and the answer is got was “Peanut Butter [to the] Max!”

So yes, if you love peanut butter and chocolate, I’m 110% sure you will love these bars.

This recipe comes by way of a friend bringing them to a church potluck. They became an instant family favorite, so when THM became my lifestyle just over 2 years ago I KNEW this was one recipe that I HAD to Trimmify.

Whenever I ask the question “what should I make?”, my dads instant response 99% of the time is “ you know what sounds good to me …some of those peanut butter chocolate bars.” He likes them so much it’s what he got for a birthday dessert in lieu of birthday cake or cheesecake last year.

PB Max Bars

Course: Dessert
Keyword: chocolate, Low carb, peanut butter, sugar free, THM-S
Servings: 24 pieces

Ingredients

CRUST

  • cups THM Baking Blend
  • ½ cup oat fiber
  • ¼ cup pressed peanut flour
  • ½ cup THM Gentle Sweet
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened

FILLING

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ cup natural unsweetened peanut butter
  • ¾ cup pressed peanut flour
  • cup THM Gentle Sweet
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ teaspoon blackstrap molasses

Topping

  • cups stevia sweetened chocolate chips (THM or Lily’s)
  • 3 Tablespoons butter

Garnish (optional)

  • chopped roasted & salted peanuts
  • chopped sugar free peanut butter cups
  • shaved or grated chocolate

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350°.
  • Line a 13 x 9 pan with parchment paper. (If you don’t have parchment paper, just grease pan well with butter.)

Crust

  • Whisk all dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.
  • Add butter and mix with either a wooden spoon or mixer until dough is formed and no dry ingredients remain in bottom of bowl.
  • Press evenly into bottom of prepared pan, using a tamper or bottom of a dry measuring cup to pack it down.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until just starting to brown. The crust may feel soft, but it will firm up once it’s cooled.
  • Set crust aside to cool.

Filling

  • Mix all filling ingredients in medium bowl until completely combined.
  • Spread filling mixture evenly over cooled crust.

Topping

  • Melt chocolate and butter together over low heat, stirring until smooth. A double boiler or microwave works well for this step too.
  • Spread evenly over peanut butter filing.

Garnish (if desired)

  • If using chopped peanuts or peanut cups sprinkle over chocolate while its still warm so they’ll set in place.
    If using chocolate shavings, wait until the topping is nearly set.
  • Refrigerate until set. Cut into 24 pieces and serve. If using parchment paper, you can lift the bars out of the pan to cut. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

Notes

Any other on plan sweetener works well in this recipe. Find a sweetener conversion chart here.
You may use creamy or crunchy peanut butter, depending on desired texture.
If you don’t have stevia sweetened chocolate chips, using 7 oz of 85% or darker chocolate in place of them is acceptable. Just chop the bar up into rough pieces.
Coconut oil may be used in place of butter in the topping.
My favorite tool for spreading is a small offset spatula like this one.
Molasses is an on plan food to be used in small amounts. 3/4 teaspoon is fine for this recipe since it’s spread throughout an entire batch.

Making THM my own.

I believe one of the best things about THM is the ability to MAKE IT YOUR OWN! Don’t like sweet peppers in your soup? Just swap it out for another FP veggie. Don’t like quinoa in your soup? Just substitute another approved E grain! Versatility, mamas!

I’m going to share a few things I’ve made my own, and I’d love to see yours! These are all recipe that I’ve tweaked to become my all time favorite flavor (and MAJOR weakness!), Salted Caramel.

Seriously, if I ever come across something that’s Salted Caramel I HAVE to try it. There’s just something about that perfectly sweet/salty/creamy combo!

#1 Sweet Dreams Cookie Bowl Oatmeal (FP), THM cookbook, page 249. I don’t have any pictures for this one.

Now, I LOVE the combo of PB and Chocolate, but sometimes…I just need a change of pace.

I follow the recipe directions but do these tweaks to make it my own:

1. Omit the cocoa powder & pressed peanut flour, replacing with an equal amount of powdered almond butter. (I use this one.)

2. Double the salt.

3. Add butter & caramel flavoring & vanilla extract to taste. (I haven’t measured, but I’m guessing 1/8 tsp. each, with a little more caramel than butter & vanilla.)

4. Use the lesser amount of sweetener, I do sometimes use even less, since without the cocoa powder you don’t have that extra bitterness.

I do enjoy my oatmeal better warm, so I make it ahead of time in glass storage containers, and just pop it into the oven to heat it up. By the time I’m ready for the day it’s at a perfect eating temperature.

#2 Mouthwatering Meringues (Ultra FP). THM cookbook, page 317 (follow mixing and baking instructions in recipe.)

1. Replace the banana flavoring with 1 1/2 teaspoon caramel flavor & 1/2 teaspoon butter flavor.

2. Add 1/4 t. salt along with the sweetener.

3. Increased the sweetener slightly since I have a sweet(er) tooth!

One recipe yielded 1 1/2 gallon jar. I used a large open star piping tip & a pastry bag top pipe these onto the parchment paper.

I love these because they’re an Ultra-FP, so they can be paired with ANYTHING!

#3 Ultimate E Bars, Trim Healthy Table, page 432 (follow recipe directions.)

1. Omit cocoa powder, replacing with an equal amount of powdered almond butter.

2. Replace pecan extract with an equal amount of butter flavoring

3. Decrease vanilla to 1/2 teaspoon.

4. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons caramel extract in place of the remaining vanilla.

5. Increase salt to 3/4 teaspoon, or to taste.

That concludes my first post of tweaks for making Trim Healthy Mama my own! I hope to do a few more posts like this in the coming months.

For the caramel & butter flavorings, the best I’ve come across are THM’s Natural Burst brand.

I buy the powdered almond butter & vanilla at my local health food store, but they can be found online.

Lemon Cheesecake Crumb Bars {THM:S}

Perfectly lemony cheesecake bars to brighten up your gloomy winter doldrums!

With winter upon us here in the North-woods of Wisconsin, we sometimes need some cheering up and a boost of Vitamin C! What better way than to combine the answer to both needs in a deliciously lemony cheesecake bar!?

One day I had a TON of egg yolks I needed to use PRONTO, so I made lemon curd, which I then stuck in the freezer until I could think of ways to use it besides Lemon Meringue Pie.

Enter these bars…years ago at the bakery where I work we had a cheesecake crumb bar. It wasn’t extremely popular so it was discontinued. I’d completely forgotten about those bars until I was discussing with a coworker about items that we had made in the past and this memory floating to the front of my mind.

As soon as possible I got into my kitchen and made these. It’s one of the few recipes I’ve created that was perfect from the first shot….now if only I could get that to happen more often! 🙂

For zesting lemons, I highly recommend this zester. I use it pretty much on a daily basis between work and home. In fact, I own 2 or 3 of them myself! You need to garnish your pie, whipped cream topped hot cocoa, with beautiful chocolate shavings, etc? You need to pile the Parmesan cheese on your pizza? Your rice pudding needs a bit of fresh nutmeg? You need fresh lemon zest for this recipe? Then this is the right tool for you!! 🙂

Lemon Cheesecake Crumb Bars

Course: Dessert
Keyword: bars, cheesecake, dessert, lemon, Low carb, sugar free
Servings: 18

Ingredients

Crust & Crumb Topping

  • 1 ½ cups THM Baking Blend
  • ¾ cup oat fiber
  • 1 cup THM Gentle Sweet or desired alternative sweetener of your choice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 fresh lemon, zested
  • 1 cup butter, melted

Filling

  • 1 – 8 oz. package Neufchâtel cheese, softened
  • 2 cups lemon curd (I recommend this one from Joy & Simplicity.)
  • ½ cup sour cream or nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 egg

Glaze

  • 1 cup Swerve Confectioners Style sweetener, or other powdered sweetener of your choice
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 fresh lemon, juiced

Instructions

Crust:

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly grease a 13×9 pan and line with parchment paper and then lightly grease parchment paper.
  • Whisk all crust ingredients in a medium bowl except for melted butter.
  • Add melted butter and mix using a hand mixer on low or a wooden spoon until butter is completely mixed in with no dry spots remaining.
  • Place ½ of crumb mixture in prepared pan and press down firmly. ( I like to use a measuring cup or a tamper to get it pressed down evenly.) Set remaining ½ of crumbs aside
  • Place in oven and bake for 8 minutes.

Filling:

  • Whisk Neufchâtel cheese until smooth.
  • Add lemon curd and sour cream and whisk until smooth and evenly mixed, scraping down bowl as needed.
  • Whisk in egg until smooth.
  • Spread Neufchâtel cheese mixture evenly over baked crust. (There’s no need to let the crust cool completely.)
  • Sprinkle remaining crumb mixture evenly over top of cheesecake batter and LIGHTLY pat down.
  • Place in oven and turn oven temperature down to 325°. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until lightly browned and instant read thermometer inserted in center of bars reads 160°.
  • Set aside to cool.

Glaze & finishing:

  • Whisk together glaze ingredients until smooth.
  • Once bars are cooled, drizzle glaze over top of bars.
  • Place in refrigerator until chilled.
  • You may cut and serve in pan as-is, or using excess parchment paper as handles, remove chilled bars from pan to cutting board and cut into desired size.
  • Store covered in refrigerator.

Notes

After zesting lemon, juice lemon and set the juice aside to use in the glaze.
If you don’t have parchment paper you can make these without it, it just greatly aids in removal of the bars without sticking and makes the pan MUCH easier to clean.
If you don’t have a fresh lemon available: omit zest from crust. Use 3-4 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice in the glaze. 
 

My very first recipe….(Vanilla Buttercream Frosting-{THM:S}

I’ve been half hearted in my attempts over the last 1 1/2 years to get this blog going, but a few weeks ago, I shared a photo on the 2 main THM Facebook groups of a cake with this frosting and got myself inundated with recipe requests…and so that was the final push to get this blog going.

SO, this recipe came about when my over-the-top-food-fanatic boss was telling me about something he’d read from a classic/well known person in the food world. (Don’t ask me who…I can’t remember!) This person would make a classic buttercream by whipping butter into Creme Anglaise sauce. The idea never left my head and stayed there until I had time to play with it.

I ended up having to omit the salt & increase the sweetener in my Creme Anglaise recipe to get it to taste right. I ended up with a frosting that is extremely similar to a true buttercream…perfectly rich, buttery, & creamy frosting that’s a dream to work with and holds up to piping VERY well.

I decided to use it to decorate a cake for my older sister, Nikki’s birthday. I used the chocolate cake recipe from the Peppermint Trimtastic cake recipe in Trim Healthy Table cookbook, page 390. I baked it on a half sheet pan & and cut 4 small squares out of it for this cake.

She loves mint, so I added several drops of peppermint essential oil to taste. (It was about 5 drops total.) If you want to experiment with flavors, feel free to do so. I’d leave the vanilla in and just add other flavors, tasting as you go.

Vanilla Buttercream (Creme Anglaise Based)

A creme anglaise based type of true buttercream. Very buttery and rich.
Course: Dessert
Keyword: buttercream, frosting, Low carb, sugar free, THM

Ingredients

  • 6 egg yolks
  • ½ cup gentle sweet
  • ¾ cup cashew milk
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 6 doonks glucomannan
  • teaspoon cream of tartar
  • teaspoon molasses
  • 1⅓ cups butter softened & cut into 9 pieces

Instructions

  • Whisk egg yolks and gentle sweet together in small saucepan until thoroughly combined & lightened in color, about 2 minutes.
  • Add cashew milk and whisk well again.
  • Cook over low/medium heat stirring with wooden spoon constantly until mixture reaches temperature of 170°, about 5 minutes. It will coat back of spoon and it may appear to be curdled, but don’t worry..it’ll smooth out in the next step.
  • Remove from heat and place in blender.
  • Add vanilla, glucomannan, cream of tartar, & molasses. Blend on low for 1 minute, venting blender as needed.
  • Scrape into mixing bowl (or back into pan if using a hand mixer).
  • Let cool until mixture reaches about 100°. You may place in a sink of cold water to cool faster, if desired.
  • Add butter 1 piece at time, waiting until each piece of butter is COMPLETELY mixed in before adding another. Mix on high speed using whisk attachment until smooth. This may take several minutes. If mixture won’t come together or appears curdled after mixing for several minutes, it probable means your mixture and/or your butter was too cold. If this happens, warm mixture very gently over low heat or microwave for several seconds and whip for a few more minutes.

Notes

Any type of milk may be used, including 1/2 & 1/2. THM offers food freedom and no calorie counting, but also we need to be wise…..so I tried all variations and straight up cashew milk works just as well as 1/2 & 1/2, so I went with the lighter option.
6 doonks of gluccomannan is equivalent to 3/16 tsp.
 
 

Disclaimer: I’ve done my research and am ok with use of essential oils for flavoring. If you are not okay with it, please use the flavoring or extracts of your choice to substitute, starting with 1/4 teaspoon and tasting as you go to get the flavor desired.

A work in progress.

I’m hoping to get this blog up and running in the near future, so keep checking back for updates!

I’ll leave you with a photo of my most recent project….a sugar free, low carb chocolate cake with a vanilla mint buttercream. The recipe for the frosting will be among the first I share.

(It was for my sister Nikkis birthday. She’s the only one in her family who follows THM, so its a mini cake. (approximately 4 in x 4 in.).

Until next time…..