Grasshopper Bars – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yum

I get quite a few comments on this blog wondering how I manage to make so many sweet treats low carb. I have a secret weapon, and its name is erythritol. It’s actually not such a secret weapon, since it is listed in the ingredients and you can find out more about it on my FAQ page. But I will give you a brief synopsis here as well. Erythritol, despite its very chemical-sounding name, is a naturally occuring sugar alcohol present in fruits and many fermented foods. It actually has carbs, but for some reason, it doesn’t register in blood sugar, giving it a gylcemic index of zero. I really don’t know how it works, but I have tested this out on myself time and time again, and it seems to be true. Because of this, and because it has bulk like sugar and can be substituted cup for cup, it has become my sweetener of choice.

I have tried several brands of erythritol sweeteners and long ago settled on ZSweet as my favourite. It just seems to combine better with other ingredients and it also contains a little stevia. I discovered on my own that erythritol and stevia appear to enhance each other’s sweetness, and have been combining them in my baked goods for quite a while. Would it be odd to say that I also prefer ZSweet because of their website and company MO? I did a LOT of research when I started using alternative sweeteners because I have always been a bit skeeved out by Splenda and other artificial ingredients. I found the ZSweet website to be straightforward and informative – I did, of course, verify their claims about erythritol with further research before feeling fully comfortable with the product. And it doesn’t hurt that ZSweet was developed specifically with diabetics in mind. I appreciate that someone was thinking of us sweet-toothed diabetics!

I was delighted to discover recently that they now make a powdered version of ZSweet, for those recipes requiring a finer substance than the granulated version. I previously had another brand of powdered erythritol but I wasn’t impressed. It clumped up a lot and didn’t dissolve very well into glazes and ganache. When I was sent some of the powdered ZSweet to try, I decided I had to put it to the ultimate icing-sugar test…buttercream. I recently won a copy of Baked Explorations from Pass the Sushi (thanks, Kita!) and the Grasshopper Bar recipe caught my eye. A brownie base with mint buttercream filling and chocolate ganache…what could be better? And the mint buttercream was ideal for the powdered ZSweet and here’s why – in concentrated forms, erythritol has a mouth-cooling sensation. I don’t find it unpleasant at all, but it is distinctive and somewhat unexpected. But when paired with mint flavouring, it makes a lot of sense as mint also has a mouth-cooling sensation.

The Results: So how did the powdered ZSweet hold up as an icing-sugar replacement? Perfectly! It created a lovely buttercream and didn’t clump up as I was blending the ingredients. One word of warning, though…ZSweet Powdered is REALLY powdered. It’s very fine, almost like dust and it gets everywhere. When blending it with other ingredients, it’s best to use a closed system like a food processor. I made the mistake of trying to cream it with butter in a bowl and POOF! It went all over me and the counter, with fine wisps rising like smoke out the bowl. I then had to work it into the butter with a rubber spatula before proceeding. So either use a food processor or work it into the other ingredients before you attempt to subject it to whizzing beaters!

 

Grasshopper Bars

Brownie Base:
1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup cocoa powder
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated erythritol
20 drops stevia extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup almond milk

Filling:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered erythritol
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 to 2 drops green food colouring gel
1/3 cup almond milk or heavy cream

Ganache:
5 tbsp butter
1/4 cup powdered erythritol
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine.
1/4 cup cocoa powder

For the base, preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together almond flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, stir together melted butter and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer until smooth. Beat in eggs until combined. Add cocoa mixture and beat until smooth. Add erythritol, stevia, vanilla and almond milk and beat until just combined.

Add half of almond flour mixture and beat until combined, then repeat with the second half of the almond flour. Spread batter in prepared pan and bake 18 to 22 minutes or until top is just set. Underbake them for a fudgier consistency (about 18 minutes) or bake them fully for a cakier consistency (22 to 24 minutes).

Cool in pan.

For the filling, add butter, powdered erythritol, peppermint and food colouring in food processor. Process until combined. Add almond milk, bit by bit, until smooth, spreadable consistency is achieved. Spread filling over cooled brownie base.

For the ganache, melt butter with powdered erythritol in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until erythritol is dissolved. Add chocolate and cocoa and continue to stir until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Spread over filling.

Refrigerate bars until topping is set, at lease one hour. Cut into small squares.

Makes 32 small bars. Each bar has a total of 14.3g carbs, but a lot of this is from the erythritol icing. Each bar has only 2.3g if you subtract erythritol.

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Comments

  1. Emily @ Life On Food says

    I think I would make some sort of tea bread. I have been on a banana bread kick but maybe I would change things up a bit – something with chocolate chips :)

  2. Emily @ Life Of Food says

    I think that I would make some sort of quick bread. I have been on a banana bread kick but I am thinking something with chocolate chips would be good :)

  3. Charlie @ SweetSaltySpicy says

    If I win, I'll make all your recipes, starting with the raspberry mousse pie :). And then this one! Looks sooo good!

  4. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom says

    Your bars make me crave a peppermint patty! If I won, I would make my favorite vanilla cupcakes with a rum buttercream frosting.

  5. RavieNomNoms says

    I think I would make cookies with this for my diabetic grandparents. It is so hard to find things that they can eat when it comes to goodies.

    Liked ZSweet!

    I am SO interested in this product, I wonder where you can get it near me in CT? Where do you get yours?

  6. Wilde in the Kitchen says

    I'm really impressed that you can use these sweeteners in the same ratio as regular sugar, neat! I've never worked with low-glycemic sugar, sounds like something to try! As well as these brownies, yum!

  7. fink-girl says

    I am super excited about this recipe! I think I will make it for our company Easter weekend – thanks!

  8. Kate@Diethood says

    Carolyn, I want to make these bars with it!! Then, if I win, I will give the rest of the bag to my dad… he has been watching his sugar intake for 20 years now and he would really really appreciate this. I hope I win! :)

  9. Laura says

    Carolyn! These look AMAZING! I am going to make them for a party this weekend! I can't wait. I would love to try the zsweet! I use another brand now and it's okay… but I am curious to see if yours works better. It sounds pretty promising.

  10. Deb-CT says

    I have been a T1 for 31 years and love to bake. I have never even heard of this product but was very excited to find your blog and it seems like a dream to be able to bake like this and eat it too??? I'd love to find out! thanks-

  11. Susi's Kochen und Backen says

    Great looking grasshopper bars. I found this post actually extremely interesting and have been wondering for quite a while about erythritol. If I won this, I would actually give this to my friend Sharon whose husband is a diabetic and I know she would appreciate it :o)

  12. Fresh and Foodie says

    Yum. A past coworker of mine used to make grasshopper brownies for us, but I haven't had them since I left that job nearly 5 years ago! I think you just sparked a craving. These look great.

    I'm not diabetic, but the erythritol is so interesting. I'd be curious to try it myself!

  13. Brittany says

    I have't heard of Zsweet before! I usually use Splenda so that is cool! I would make Oatmeal Raisin Cookies and give them to my diabetic Grandpa. Those are his favorite!

  14. Mel's says

    I would make these bars, some scones and lots of other baked goods! I just found out in mid-January that I am a type 1 diabetic (age 32). Though I've been adjusting really well, I certainly have gone through a mourning period as I always loved to bake and was always the "dessert queen" when it came to potlucks, etc. It was hard to look through cupboards and see all the stuff that I shouldn't be eating, and to look through online recipes that I'd saved but hadn't yet made. I, too, am not a fan of Splenda. I would love to give erythritol a try!

  15. Emily Z says

    I am not entering the contest… I just realized it had been a while since we'd interacted and came by to say hi. Your grasshopper bars look AMAZING. I hope you are well!

  16. Lisa says

    I stumbled!
    I liked on FB!
    And I would totally make these grasshopper bars as chocolate and mint are one of my favorite combinations!

    I just discovered your blog and truly appreciate the low carb recipes you have to offer. Additionally, your presentation is fabulous!
    Thank you!
    Lisa

    (I signed on with google – think that will work for contact info)

  17. Island Vittles says

    I love your grasshopper bars, but if I was to win, the first thing I would make is a big pan of Nanaimo Bars! My fave…Theresa

  18. Jennifurla says

    The question should be, what won't I make with it.

    I have been eyeballing a coconut cake for some time though.

    Love these bars

  19. Heather C. says

    Hi! These look so delicious…love mint and chocolate together. Have yet to try erithrytol and can't find it in my store, so would love to win the giveaway!

    If I won, I'd definitely try to make these bars…mainly because my mom is diabetic and is trying to control her blood sugar levels with her diet and I'd enjoy showing her that she can still have that "grasshopper" taste and not raise her sugar levels. We'd share a batch!

  20. Day-Dreamin' Optimist says

    Hmm! Now you got me curious about this type of sugar. It has zero calories and is natural? That's almost an oxymoron! Almost hehe.

    I must check this out! I wonder if stores carry this?

    Thank you for posting, plus those grasshopper brownies look divine!

  21. Day-Dreamin' Optimist says

    Oh, I forgot to say, if I were to get my paws on this interesting sugar…
    I would make those grasshopper brownies! They look too good to be true.

  22. themommybowl.com says

    Hm… I think I'd try making cookies, because cookies are what I do best. :)

    Thanks for the give-away.

  23. Karen says

    I am amazed by people that can figure out how to make these substitutions and still make such amazing looking food! I'm sure it took much research and learning, but you really know your stuff!
    These grasshopper bars are no exception…they look decadent and delicious!

  24. Shannon says

    I am so eager to try zsweet! My boyfriend is Type 1 and I'm always trying to make sweet treats that are friendly for him. He also LOVES to cook (probably more even than myself) and I know would appreciate an alternative to Splenda or another artificial sweetener.

    These bars look incredible! I still want to make your Thin Mints too!

  25. Dorothy says

    I would definitely make cookies or cupcakes for my dad. He's pre-diabetic and not supposed to have sugar. Splenda just doesn't cut it!

  26. Parsley Sage says

    I feel so bad about it but I had to giggle at the 'POOF' comment. I could just see you there, wide-eyed and covered in white sugar. Bless. Thanks for teaching me about a new sweetener! I'll have to see if its even available in Cayman.

    Your grasshoppers look brilliant!

  27. Jill@MadAboutMacarons says

    So sad I can't enter your giveaway as I would LOVE to try this out on you-know-what 😉
    Love your idea of making mint sweets with it if it has a cooling kind of effect. I really need to try this stuff out, esp since I realise I'm being not fair to you. I have to have a few recipes for you, at least!
    Thanks for such an informative post, Carolyn, and your grasshopper bars look absolutely delicious!

  28. Cheez-e-poof says

    Ive been low carb for awhile now and jonesing hard for a treat I'd love to win and use the "sugar" to make something yummy

  29. marsha says

    First I'd make the Grasshopper Bars and then try some quick breads and muffins. I've also got some cookie recipes to try out. So many recipes, so little time!

  30. Alyssa says

    I think the first thing I'd make is your flourless chocolate cakes with chocolate peanut butter ganache! I showed them to my diabetic (type I) boyfriend and he did NOT believe that they were low-carb. Even if I don't win, I plan to start baking low-carb this summer – your site is an inspiration!

  31. Tabitha says

    Can you make curd with it? My dad's diabetic and I've noticed that for cakes and curds some of the artificial sweeteners stay sweet but result in density issues or won't go into a curd or caramel sauce very well. What is your experience?

    If I won, I'd be making coconut pie for my dad. Its his favorite and his birthday is coming up soon.

  32. Carina says

    I would totally make these Grasshopper bars!!! I have never had them before, so that would be my first thing to bake!

  33. GHarkness says

    Definitely I will use ZSweet to make my standard Peanut Butter/Cream Cheese frosting…to go on my Low Carb Brownies! I have found that a small amount of Xanthan gum (1/8 tsp or less) helps to get rid of the cooling effect of Erythritol.

  34. Dionne says

    It worked! They look delicious. Too bad we're out of town this weekend and can't stop by to sample them.

  35. Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} says

    These bars look ah-mazing!! I would make this exact recipe I think! My MIL is a diabetic and she can't enjoy sweets too often. She would be thrilled. A wonderful post indeed!! ♥- K

  36. hailey says

    Those bars look awesome! Yum :)
    I would use this sweetener to make desserts for my grandmother-in-law, she is diabetic and would love to enjoy some sweets with tea after dinner with us :)

  37. Erin says

    Totally making this delicious-looking recipe but probably more cakes for my boys' upcoming birthdays, so can actually partake while on my low-card diet!

  38. Sandra says

    This is great information Carolyn! Your bars look absolutely delicious..
    As always your photos are stunning!

  39. Laurie says

    Oh man, powdered erythritol? I'd love to try it. I'd definitely make some ganache to top my favorite black bean brownie recipe. Or buttercream!

  40. Susie Bee on Maui says

    Hmmm, what to make…probably start with some cookies and then follow with zucchini brownies.

    Your bars look terrific-great recipe and photos!

  41. Diane says

    I love all of your recipes but this one is one of my 85 year old mothers absolute favorites! I'd love to surprise her – she's diabetic and having treats is always something that makes her smile!

  42. kita says

    I love minty treats! These bars sound great. I never even knew such a sugar substitute existed (Erythritol) thing existed. This is a total newb question, but is this a common item in most grocery stores? Thanks!

  43. NANA Scriv says

    I would love to have the Erythritol and I would make several of your recipies—especially this one. Also I likes on stumble upon. I'm looking for the facebook page now.

  44. Kim - Liv Life says

    Thank you so much for this post. I know you have given me some of this info in the past, but I never really did anything about it and now you've made it easy for me (assuming I'm the winner!!! :) ) Seriously, my mother, MIL and FIL are diabetics and I try hard to cook properly for them when the visit, this product would make it so much easier.
    Thanks for the info!!

  45. Lisa, motyok says

    Hi Carolyn, I want a bag to make some frozen yogurt. I keep trying to find the perfect recipe. Maybe this would help.

  46. jeremyndelila@hotmail.com says

    i will be using this for… EVERYTHING! lol. i will probably make peanut butter cups first.

  47. baking.serendipity says

    These bars look amazing! I've never heard of erythritol, but am always envious of the recipes you post here and the healthier versions you make of some of my favorites :)

  48. Nami @ Just One Cookbook says

    Thank you for the "secret"! I didn't know about this product at all. I love sweets but I always have to watch out… Now with this secret… I can totally enjoy! Beautiful pictures as always!

  49. Lizzy says

    What a wealth of information in this post…go good to know, Carolyn! And your gorgeous grasshopper bars deserve a stumble :) Happy Friday, my friend…

  50. Becky says

    I will give to my neighbor for her granddaughter, Megan, who is 8 and has Juvenile diabetes. My neighbor loves to bake, and now she can make things that Megan can have.

  51. A Thought For Food says

    These look exactly like the bars my mom makes… and it's one of my favorite desserts. Have you tried eating them after putting them in the freezer for a few hours? It's a completely different experience. :-)

  52. Kristen says

    My father is a brittle diabetic. Regardless of whether or not I win this fabulous giveaway, I am going to hunt some of that Zsweet down and make something for him to prove that he can have his cake and eat it, too. Thanks for a very informative post.

  53. Meg (The Red Spoon) says

    I'll definitely have to let my mother in law know about the sugar replacement, she is always looking for a good one! Thanks for the recommendation. The grasshopper bars look splendid!

  54. Cara says

    haha, I've been there too, explaining to people that erythritol is NOT a chemical despite what it sounds like! I haven't been quite as successful as you with baking with it, however. I need to try some of your recipes, and soon!

  55. 123456 says

    My mother is diabetic so if I win I'll share some of the sweetener with her and make a few recipes with it so she can enjoy without guilt.

  56. Roxana GreenGirl says

    these bars look amazing, love the light green and dark brown contrast.
    If I win (I hope I do) I'd make lots of sweets for my mother in law who has to keep her sugar intake under control, and since we visit her at the end of the month, would be a wonderful gift.

  57. Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking says

    What a great recipe, Carolyn! These bars look incredible. I would have never known they were made with a sweetener! Let's see, if I won I would definitely give this product to my diabetic mother in law, who loves to bake. Thanks for sharing. I hope you have a great weekend!

  58. Melisa says

    I have a 3 year old daughter with Type 1 diabetes so I would make something fabulous and chocolate, probably your grasshoppers!

  59. Mags @ the Other Side of 50 says

    Hubby and I are both pre-diabetic so I'm always on the lookout for alternative sweeteners. I would make your grasshopper bars in a New York minute if I win this because chocolate and mint is my all time FAVORITE combination!

  60. briarrose says

    Good tip on using the closed system…I could totally see the cloud in the air. 😉

    These bars look just fabulous. A wonderful recipe as always.

  61. Barbara | VinoLuciStyle says

    I love these and have been making them for a holiday treat for years…why do I only do them them I now wonder!

    I Stumbled this post too although being new to that process; I can't say I know exactly what that means. :)

  62. Zoe says

    If I were to come into a ZSweet inheritance, I think I would have to make these bars. Why mess with perfection? 😉

    LOL, to be honest, I just wanted to let you know how great these look. Happy Friday!

  63. Ang says

    Well, my husband has been on the low carb diet twice, and the hardest thing for him is the sweet tooth he was born with. So I think I would try this, as you have, in recipes that would help curb that need for snickers bars and ice cream.

  64. sara @ CaffeIna says

    You really made me curious about ZSweet! I think I would be very selfish and keep it for myself to make a huge pound cake as I usually get scared by the amount of sugar listed in the recipes for pound cakes!

  65. Lynn @ I'll Have What She's Having says

    hmm.. I think I would keep it for myself and experiment with it. I'd probably start with muffins, or brownies. I've been craving brownies lately.

  66. Georgie Fear, RD, CPT says

    I would love to try xylitor and you have extolled so many virtues of Zsweet! Now I'm on the hunt, whether I win or not, thanks for the great recommendation! I typically use splenda, so I would like to see how this compares (sometimes, Splenda has an aftertaste that isn't perfect.)

    I would start off with those grasshopper bars!!!!!

  67. Danielle says

    My mother-in-law is a borderline diabetic and is definitely in the Splenda rut when it comes to baked goods (um, ew). I would love to try this out to make something for her that she doesn't have to feel guilty eating yet still tastes great!

  68. Kathleen says

    I would make the graham crackers for my husband with diabetes and I can't wait to try the chocolate peanut butter truffles for me–I love anything with peanut butter and chocolate and am following a low carb diet.

  69. Loving Our Homeschool says

    I just found your blog today and wondered what this ingredient was. I've already saved several of the gluten free, low carb recipes in my favorites folder, so I would make one of those. This recipe does look wonderful!
    Heather

  70. Jessica Foreman says

    How have I never heard of this stuff? I would LOVE to give it a try! My mother is insulin-dependent diabetic, I would love to make something for her with this. The first thing I'd make for her is strawberry shortcake – one of her favorite desserts, but she can hardly have it anymore with her diabetes. This would be a great mothers' day gift. :)

  71. Jessica @ Dishin' About Nutrition says

    I'm not much of a baker but I have recently been experimenting with "healthifying" dessert dishes I love, namely chocolate bars, cookies, cakes – all things that require a sugar substitute so winning this would be fab!!

  72. kathy says

    Because im allergic to sugar I can use it in tea and coffee. So I can stps using those chemical sweeteners everyday. And because i like to bake I can use it im my gluten free deserts.

  73. Amy says

    I am thinking that recipe looks like the one to try; it’s what caught my eye! It is for me! I am low carb!

  74. Andy says

    Just tried this – it’s a great recipe. I did not use ZSweet, but just plain erythritol and it turned out great. The only glitch was the filling hadn’t hardened enough before I added the ganache, so they kinda melded together. Next time, I’ll wait for some time to let it harden. Although the hot ganache might still end up melting the filling so I’m not sure what the best way to do this is.

  75. Dana Hill says

    I “like” you on facebook and share all your posts everyday. I love to paint and hike and do many things, but I am now spending all of my time in the kitchen cooking all of the delicious recipes you post!

  76. Angela says

    I haven’t read through all the comments prior, so if this has been an issue for someone else and resolved, I apologize!
    I made these a few days ago, and the brownie part is…. well… let’s just say it’s not pleasant. :( It has an overwhelming salty, but not really salty taste. I honestly think it’s the baking soda I can taste! What would happen if I omitted it complete, or maybe cut it in half?
    Also, the green filling part… Oh. My. Goodness. I am in trouble with this one. haha The mint Oreos were always my kids’ favorite until I banned them from the house, but this filling is IDENTICAL to the Oreo filling. I am so excited to find a chocolate cookie recipe and make fake mint Oreos with it! :) :) :)

    Oh- Side-note: I used Swerve in all parts of it.

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