Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free


Food is like language.  When I see this, I realize that it’s no wonder that I fell in love with food blogging, because it combines two of my favourite things in all the world…language and food.  These may seem like disparate passions, but in fact they are not.  In many ways, they are remarkably similar.  In human language, there are endless combinations of words that allow us to continually be creating unique sentences that have never been uttered before.  Food is the same.  There are endless combinations of ingredients and flavours that allow us to constantly create new dishes and new tastes.  Both are a unique expression of ourselves, of who we are and how we think.

Look at me getting all sorts of philosophical here.  But it’s true and this recipe is a perfect example.  It is essentially a riff on Maria Emmerich’s Flourless Chocolate Torte, which she kindly allowed me to post a few weeks ago.  I got thinking about how I wanted to add peanut butter to this torte, because I want to add peanut butter to pretty much everything.  It’s a sickness, really.  And then it somehow occurred to me that the basic torte batter would make a great brownie too.  And suddenly I could see in my mind’s eye a perfect, dark dense brownie with swirls of peanut butter throughout.  I knew it would be a match made in heaven.

Sometimes, however, reality doesn’t quite go as smoothly as the image in my head.  I find that the ingredients didn’t quite combine the way I thought they would and I have to improvise.  But the same can be said for language and writing.  When sitting down to write, I have a basic structure in my head but sometimes as I go along, I find it’s not quite coming together the way I thought and I need to change tack.  Again this recipe is a perfect example.  When I’d mixed in my eggs, I found all of my oil rising to the surface of my batter and it wasn’t combining properly.  I knew I needed something to bring it together, so I threw in a little almond flour and bingo.  The oil reabsorbed and away we went.  And when I first started writing this post, I had a different idea altogether.  I’d written half of it when I hit upon the idea that food was like language, the way they both combine in infinitely unique ways.  Suddenly I found myself writing a whole new post.

Food and language.  Language and food.  I love them both.  I love the way I can play with them and rework them and reinvent them constantly.  And I love the way they can both suddenly challenge me in the middle and force me to rethink my approach.  A never-ending adventure.

Peanut Butter Swirl Brownies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 16 brownies


  • 14 tbsp (1 3/4 sticks) butter or coconut oil
  • 7 oz very dark chocolate (85 to 90% cacao)
  • 2/3 cups Swerve Sweetener (or granulated erythritol)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter


  1. Preheat the oven to 375F and grease an 8x8 inch baking pan.
  2. In a large saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and chocolate together until smooth.
  3. Add the Swerve Sweetener and stir until well combined.
  4. Let cool 10 minutes.
  5. Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Stir in the almond flour until batter is smooth.
  7. Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Drop peanut butter in spoonfuls over the surface of the batter and use a knife to swirl in and create a marbled effect.
  8. Bake 18 to 22 minutes, or until surface of brownies is just barely firm to the touch.
  9. Remove and let cool, then cut into squares.


*You may find that much of the butter and peanut butter bubbles up and is on the surface of the brownies when you remove them from the oven. It will reabsorb as the brownies cool.

Serves 16. Each brownie has 5.6 g of carbs and 2.1 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.5 g.

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  1. Lora @cakeduchess says

    Food and language-yes, indeed! It is a never-ending adventure for me too. Love your GF brownie creation: decadent and lovely:)xx

  2. says

    A question about Swerve. I bought 2 bags of it a couple of months ago, and baked an almond cake the other day and used Swerve instead of Erythritol. The Swerve in the already-opened bag was hard as a rock, even though it had been carefully resealed. So I checked on the unopened bag and it was also hard as a rock even though it has a factory seal. In order to use either of them I will have to run it through a blender or similar to repulverize it. And I may have to do it every time I want to use it. Is this typical?

    • Carolyn says

      Hi Marcia, I’ve had a similar problem, actually, but I find that I can easily chip some off and measure it out, and then break it up more in a bowl. And unlike sugar, it doesn’t stay in rock hard bits when I mix it with other ingredients. I have actually mentioned this to Swerve and they know of the issue already and are addressing it. They said it may have something to do with the packaging it’s in, and they are looking into changing that. They are VERY responsive to issues with the product, which is great.
      One thing I keep meaning to try, but haven’t yet, is putting a piece of apple peel in, like you do for brown sugar. There are some other tricks as well, but I haven’t had a chance yet. I will let you know if they work!

      • Jackie says

        Hi Carolyn, just found your site today and can’t wait to try out your recipes. I’ve been recently diagnosed with diabetes so need to change my eating habits so am doing the research so I can stock up on everything I’m going to need. I’ve never tried sweeteners other than sugar so am wondering which you prefer overall? Erythritol or Swerve? I’ve also seen Xylitol but don’t know what the difference is between that and Erythritol and everyone says something different.

      • Kristen says

        Hi Carolyn,

        I’m very excited about this recipe and have them in the oven now. I am concerned, however, about the carb count. If this recipe makes 16 brownies as indicated there will be over 17 grams of carbs per brownie. There are a lot of carbs in Swerve (5 grams per Teaspoon) and since the recipe calls for 3/4 cup Swerve that means 36 grams of carbs are going into the batter in Swerve alone.

        I’m on a Keto diet so I’ll just cut them into half size bites so each serving has less than 10 grams. Can’t wait to try them. Thanks for the recipe!!

        • Carolyn says

          Swerve has non-effective carbs, meaning they do not ever enter the bloodstream and thus do not raise the blood sugar. They are excreted whole into the urine, this is why, as I have stated in several places on my blog, I don’t count them in the carb count. I have the advantage of testing my blood sugar on a regular basis and I can tell you that it truly does not raise my glucose levels at all. You should read up on erythritol.

  3. Stacy Wade says

    I made these today with peanut flour instead of almond, and they were fantastic. I topped with a homemade sugar free ganache. They are so good, I had to put them in the freezer to stop me from eating the whole thing. Thank you.

  4. says

    You’re getting all intellectual on me :) It’s awesome! And you’re totally right…with cooking you can constantly find brilliant dishes from the same staple ingredients.

    Like peanut butter. Which makes EVERYTHING better!

  5. Dita MacDonald says

    I love all your recipes and your writing style is terrific. Both together make your site and joy to read. Can’t wait to try these brownies!!!

  6. says

    Jane Bowles, who was sort of a precursor or big sister to some of the Beat writers, was herself a writer. She turned to cooking and other creative pursuits as forms of art when she felt she couldn’t write any longer.

  7. Janice Plemon says

    I made these for Sunday dinner dessert today. Sometimes these healthy desserts disappoint and do not deliver when it comes down to taste and texture. Have to say, these were delicious and I will be making them again! I think next time I will swirl in some cream cheese dollops.

  8. Susan says

    These are amazing! Such a rich decadent texture…I refrigerated mine and slowly ate one as I was making our espressos this morning! Now I am going for a bike ride so I can have another or two this afternoon!

    love the idea of adding a bit of cream cheese to them also. Thanks once more for all you do to keep fab desserts going.

  9. Lisa says

    Finally, a moist and chewy low-carb brownie! I made these with Splenda and Sunflower Butter. Delicious, we loved them!

  10. Barbara says

    I have a question and hope you know the answer. :) First … these sound delish and I am going to try them tomorrow for my birthday. I couldn’t find 90% chocolate so I got the unsweetened. Will there be a problem with using it and just adding a bit more sweetener to them, do you think? I have not tried baking with chocolate since going low-carb.

    thank you!

  11. Lisa says

    Um. This is the best low carb treat I’ve had thus far of going low carb 6 month ago. Decadent, rich & moist chocolate with no aftertaste. I did add about 1/4 cup Splenda in addition to 2/3 Xylitol bc I wanted the batter a tad sweeter. I omitted the peanut butter only bc I didn’t have any on hand. My non low carb friend SWORE by these brownies & asked to take 2 home with her :). These are truly decadent.

  12. Catherine H. says

    I have made these three times so far: they are easily in my top ten low carb desserts. They are rich and moist and filling–the perfect chocolate treat. The recipe turns out more like a flourless cake than a brownie, but that is not a complaint. I actually made these to go with the dulce de leche, so I made them without peanut butter the first time, then cut them in tiny squares and spread the dulce over them–it was over-the-top delicious! And I thought it was great when I saw you come out with a chocolate torte recipe for the same purpose.

  13. says

    Hello, I think your site is great and I am learning alot to help my low carb diet.
    I have a couple of questions about this recipe; where does the 2.1 g of fiber come from? And I have not been able to find the cacao chocolate locally, is it unsweetened or sweetened with a sugar substitute? Thanks for your blog. It is becoming very useful to me. :)

  14. desertbronze says

    I made these today. Did not have any erythritol, so used 1/2 cup of Splenda. I had checked a sweetener equivalent chart and thought that was the right amount. Texture was good, but they are very bitter. Will try a full cup of Splenda next time and I think they will be good to go.

    • Carolyn says

      I don’t really think Splenda is a good substitute in these, and a full cup may leave you with a strong aftertaste. Just my opinion.

  15. says

    I made these on Friday! I had to do a couple of substitutions because I didn’t have enough Swerve (put a little xylitol), only had chunky peanut butter (added a little PB2), only had unsweetened chocolate (added liquid sucralose). Had a hard time telling if they were done, but once the were refrigerated and cooled all the way through, they were yummy. Very fudgy, dense, and choco/peanut-buttery. I like to eat them with sugar free ice cream. Thanks Carolyn!

  16. Caroline says

    Do you have the calorie count on these delicious treats? I made them last night and when I tried them warm I wasn’t too impressed. But once they are left to sit out overnight, wow, totally different texture and taste in the morning. I’m addicted!

    • Carolyn says

      That’s very typical of GF treats, they are best once they’ve cooled completely. I don’t count calories, but it should be pretty easy to enter the ingredients into some of the free online calculators to get a count. It won’t be low, though, I can tell you that much!

      • Carolyn says

        LOL! I was actually thinking “I am pretty sure I put the pan size in, it’s usually one of the first things I mention in the instructions!”. Glad you figured it out!

  17. says

    I’ll be making this for guests on Sunday in a double batch, and the ice cream turtle pie for more guests on Saturday night (which means I need to start parts of it tomorrow).

    And thank goodness for your blog because I now have to be serious about no sugar, and I don’t think I could do it there weren’t such delicious alternatives.

    • Carolyn says

      Uh oh, why do you now have to be serious about no-sugar? One word of advice on the IC pie…Let it sit out a bit before serving because it does freeze quite hard. The joy of making ice cream without sugar!

    • Carolyn says

      YOu can purchase Swerve online through the links in my blog (use DREAM10 for 10% off). But yes, you could use Truvia

  18. Shel says

    Made em, loved em, shared them at a karate school summer picnic. It was a tasty way to find out which other parents eat low carb or gluten free. I’d labeled them to keep all the hungry teen ninjas from hoovering them up! I had a 6 oz bar of Dagoba 100% cacao. I added a little less than 2 tbls more of the Swerve to compensate.

  19. Stacey says

    I’ve tried this with dessicated coconut instead of the almond flour! Gives a bit more texture and a lovely coconutty aftertaste ! Yummy!!

  20. says

    Carolyn, you make this stuff seem so easy. I’ve been playing around with brownie recipes all weekend and after more than five failed “drafts” I can testify that there is nothing easy about making a no-sugar dessert that has integrity. Thank you for sharing your gift, as always!

    • Carolyn says

      The same amount, I guess, since they are both supposed to measure like sugar. But I think the consistency may change drastically. Hard to say for sure.

  21. S M says

    I just made these yesterday – my first recipe from your site – and they turned out well! I only used PB on half of the brownies since I wanted to see what the brownies would taste like plain and actually preferred the PB side. I’ve been wanting to make the raspberry mousse tart and will try that next!

  22. ceece says

    I think I thought you meant 7 oz of dry cocoa powder. Which turned out to be WAY too chocolatey and dry
    did you use chocolate bar or cacao? the powder?

    • Carolyn says

      Yikes! Looking it over, I can see how you made that mistake so I’ve changed the wording. I used very dark chocolate bars, the kind that are 90% cacao.

  23. Bri says

    Oh my goodness, these are AMAZING!! I’m so glad I found your blog, so many yummy looking recipes. I have already made these twice in two days! I used Truvia, it’s the closest thing to real sugar I have found and zero NET carbs. I just started low carb a few weeks ago. This is my number one chocolate go to now! My other favorite is getting a small package of sugar free pudding mix (my favorites are chocolate and butterscotch) and whisking it with two cups of heavy whipping cream until it is like a mouse. Add whipped cream and it’s heaven, right next to these brownies!
    The only thing I might try next time I make them is melting the peanut butter and just drizzle it on. I find it difficult to spread it being as thick as peanut butter is.


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