Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

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Who says low carb desserts can’t be gooey?  These Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies are soft, gooey and rich.  They helped make our Labour Day weekend a good experience!

Low Carb Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies

Labour Day Weekend – summer’s last hurrah.  Like so many other people, we decided to take advantage of the extra day and take a little mini-holiday with the kids.  Except we decided this rather late in the game and we really had no idea where we wanted to go or what we wanted to do.  We had some vague idea of a rustic little cabin on a lake, seclusion, sunshine, and a beach.  Peace and quiet.  Camp fires and board games and lots of swimming.  We did a bit of research but many places were booked.  In the end, I took a gamble on a place I saw online.  I made sure to read the reviews and for all intents and purposes, it seemed like it matched our little fantasy perfectly.  I was more than happy to pay something of a premium because it was a holiday.

Low Carb Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies

Let’s just say that sometimes reality doesn’t match up with the image you have in your head.  Our little “secluded” cabin was practically right off the highway, with all the other cabins cheek by jowl beside us.  And although I was completely prepared to rough it (I’ve done a lot of camping in my day), I was slightly horrified at the interior of the cabin itself.  It just looked…cruddy.  The floors slanted crazily, the furniture was ripped and dirty and there was a pervading smell of cigarette smoke throughout the whole place.  The grounds were very rundown and the beach was not as pretty or as extensive as promised.  My disappointment was palpable and since I had done the choosing, I felt quite guilty about dragging my family there.

Low Carb Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies

Add to this an incredibly surreal experience in the local Shaw’s Supermarket the morning after our arrival.  We only noticed the signs saying the store was closing down as we walked in the entrance.  It felt like something out an apocalyptic movie, the almost bare shelves and people desperately trying to grab the last of the marked-down items.  A strange male voice came over the intercom, with eerie music playing behind it, talking in a sing-song about the great deals because the store was shutting its doors.  My husband and I looked at each other and we just left our cart right where it was and walked out.  It was one of the more bizarre experiences I have had of late.  We were more than happy to drive a few extra miles to the Market Basket!

In the end, the weekend wasn’t a complete loss.  We found some fun things to do with the kids in the area and we did our best to make the most of our “rustic” experience.  We swam at the not-so-lovely, not-so-secluded beach, we grilled some delicious meals and we played our board games with relish.  And we had these ooey-gooey low carb salted caramel blondies to cheer us up.  Nothing can be that bad when you have a great dessert!

Low Carb Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies

Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Yield: 16 squares

Serving Size: 1 square

Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies – Low Carb and Gluten-Free

Who says low carb desserts can't be gooey? These Salted Caramel Pecan Blondies are soft, gooey and rich. Gluten-Free.

Ingredients

    Caramel Sauce:
  • ½ cup water
  • ¾ cup Swerve Sweetener or other erythritol
  • ¼ cup xylitol
  • ½ cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp xanthan gum
  • Blondies:
  • 1 & 1/3 cup almond flour (Honeyville)
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • ½ cup Swerve Sweetener or other erythritol
  • pinch salt
  • ½ cup butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 oz high cacao chocolate, chopped
  • ½ tsp kosher salt (optional)

Instructions

  1. For the caramel sauce, combine water, Swerve Sweetener and xylitol in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir until Swerve and xylitol dissolve. Bring to a boil and cook without stirring 7 to 9 minutes, until mixture begins to darken in colour. Mixture may smoke slightly.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in whipping cream, butter, vanilla and kosher salt. Mixture may bubble vigorously.
  4. Sprinkle with xanthan gum and whisk in quickly to combine (if you get any lumps, use a hand blender to smooth them out). Set caramel sauce aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 325F and grease an 8x8 square baking pan.
  6. In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, chopped pecans, erythritol and salt.
  7. In a large bowl, beat butter, eggs and 2 tbsp caramel sauce until smooth. Beat in almond flour mixture until just combined. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  8. Spread batter in prepared baking pan. Pour caramel sauce over and swirl with a knife.
  9. Bake 20 minutes, until edges are golden brown and center is no longer jiggly. Let cool completely and then refrigerate 1 hour to set.
  10. Sprinkle with kosher salt (optional).

Notes

Serves 16. Each serving has 5 g of carbs and 2 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3 g.

234 Calories; 23g Fat (84.7% calories from fat); 4g Protein; 5g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 56mg Cholesterol; 204mg Sodium.

http://alldayidreamaboutfood.com/2013/09/salted-caramel-pecan-blondies-low-carb-and-gluten-free.html

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Comments

  1. Edith says

    I loved reading about your vacation! Here’s a couple of dumb? questions—No baking powder? And by swirl with a knife, do you mean like marble cake or just spreading it around evenly on top? Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Not a dumb question at all. No baking powder, because you don’t want them to rise, you want them to be dense and gooey. And yes, swirl it right into the batter itself. It will seem VERY wet, and that’s why it helps to put it in the fridge after baking, to set. Once it does, though, it’s great at room temperature.

  2. Eric says

    Just wondering what percentage cocao chocolate you based the nutritional info on? I would think that whether it was 70% or 85% would make a difference. I can’t wait to try these…I’ve been missing gooey.

    • Carolyn says

      I almost exclusively use 85% or 90%. I know not everyone can get their hands on these, though, so I make a general “high % cacao” statement. If 70%, it would add a touch more carbs per serving but not too much. Maybe about 1 carb.

  3. Carolyn says

    Do you think substituting pecan meal for the almond flour would work? How about adding a little coconut sprinkled on top?

    • Carolyn says

      Pecan meal typically isn’t as finely ground as Honeyville almond flour, but you can certainly try it. I’d probably add a little extra to help stabilize them in the end (maybe another 1/4 cup or so). Sure, coconut on top would be delicious.

  4. nichole says

    Do you think that coconut cream will work instead of the heavy whipping cream? I am allergic to dairy. I am going to give it a try and see what happens!

  5. Missymonypenny says

    These look great! Can’t wait to try them. I have
    to find Swerve though. I’m in SoCal, never have
    seen it at my local Health stores. Is it expensive?
    I have Truvia, stevia & Xylitol on hand.

    • Carolyn says

      You could use Truvia in place of the Swerve. I don’t think it’s as good and you will get more of a cooling sensation from it. Swerve is making its way into many stores, but the best way to purchase it is online. Right now, it’s $2 off per bag AND you can get 10% more off if you use DREAM10. http://www.swervesweetener.com/103.html

  6. Jean B. says

    First, I am sorry your vacation was far from what you envisioned, but it sounds like you made an at least semipalatable lemonade out of the lemons!

    Now, about this recipe. You must be a mindreader because within the past week I have spent some amount of time hunting for clues as to how to make this very thing. I have a lot more confidence in YOUR ability to create splendid low-carb baked goods than I have in my ability to do so. Yippee!

  7. Amber M. says

    Thank you for this recipe! Love your blog!! Made these yesterday and my kids loved em’! Me too! Cut them into smaller squares because they are rich and so satisfying!!

  8. says

    Carolyn – I loved reading about your vacation experience. I had visions of a National Lampoon movie with a title of Vacation Ketchum Style, LOL!!
    Wow, looking at this recipe and seeing only 3 net carbs makes me want to try this soon, real soon!! I noticed a comment about using only Swerve in the caramel sauce, and you replied that it would be gritty. Could Confectioner’s Swerve be used and not make it gritty?
    Sandi
    P.S.,
    Don’t know if you’ve been to my low carb cooking blog, but I’ve used your recipe for the Strawberry Hand Pies (crust only) quite often. My husband thinks it’s the best pie crust ever, and he’s not a big low carb fan. Thank you, especially for that recipe!

    • Carolyn says

      Confectioner’s might make it less gritty but I find it cooks up thicker in something liquidy like this. You can certainly give it a try. And congrats on your cooking blog, I am so sorry, I hadn’t noticed. I am off to check it out. :)

  9. says

    Carolyn: ack! I can almost feel the inside of that cabin – egads. And I so miss board games – love that picture of you eating treats and playing games with the fam – all was not lost!!!

  10. V says

    Just tried you caramel sauce. Unfortunately, it’s crystallizing right now (and taste like mint) but it was tasting awesome warm. I’ll keep on trying to find my perfect balance version as well (I don’t mind using a little of polydextrose to help inhibit crystallisation but it failed as a 1:2 ratio polyD/erythritol).

    • Carolyn says

      I am going to guess also that you used another erythritol other than Swerve? Because that minty sensation indicates that you did. :)

      • V says

        No, unfortunately, I made several of your recipes and found that my treshold is much lower than yours even using Swerve. I had also people around me tasting my recipes and I seems to be the only one tasting it.

        • Carolyn says

          Interesting! That’s a shame for you, I am sorry about that. But yes, some people really are more sensitive to the cooling sensation.

  11. says

    These look awesome, though I’m a little concerned about the xylitol…did anyone experience any stomach trouble from that? I may try it anyway…

    • Carolyn says

      It’s only a quarter cup, so it’s very little per serving. No one in my family had any GI trouble from it, but some people are more sensitive. If you’re really sensitive, you should perhaps go with all erythritol.

  12. says

    Just made these today. OMG – delicious – cross between warm chocolate chip cookies and magic cookie bars. My caramel did crystallize though and I’m not a fan of the Swerve. I can really feel the cooling. Also, the middle isn’t cooked at all. The outsides are brown and yummy but the middle is pretty mushy. Can I take out the end pieces and rebake the undone parts?

    • Carolyn says

      Sure, you can take out the middle and re-bake. Not for long, though, I suspect they will firm up quickly. Sounds like you are one of the people who is highly sensitive to the cooling sensation because I don’t get any of it from the Swerve. Regular erythritol, I definitely get it, but not with Swerve.

  13. Melissa says

    I find that if I add 1/8 tsp of powdered stevia to every 1/4 cup of Swerve in your recipes they are less cooling and sweeter to me.

    Sometimes I think we have to go through “icky experiences” just so we can laugh about it later and grow, but at the time it can be trying. We love board games, have you played “Ticket to Ride?”

    Is your butter salted or unsalted? Could I substitute coconut oil, or are you looking for that buttery taste?

    • Carolyn says

      Great tip about the stevia. I almost exclusively use salted butter in my baking, but I am a salt-aholic. You could use coconut oil if you prefer but I think it will change it a lot and the bars may not set as well.

    • Carolyn says

      Not sure why that is so funny! But honestly, gluten free things firm up and hold together better if you let them cool all the way. If you’re too eager to eat them you will likely have trouble getting them out of the pan while they are still warm.

  14. Jean B. says

    It took me a moment, but I think that alluded to the fact that the finished dishes are so fantastic that it is pretty much impossible to wait!

  15. Marv says

    Spot on Carol! I almost stuck a straw in the sweetened condensed milk (but was so glad I made the magic cookies). Nothing of yours lasts until it cools in my kitchen.

  16. Midge says

    My batter didn’t pour or spread. It was crumbly, not enough liquid. What could I have added to make it moister, before it was cooked? It wouldn’t spread or smooth into the baking dish. It crumbled into it. :/

    • Carolyn says

      It sounds like you didn’t use enough butter. It really has to be the full amount of butter. Also, did you use almond meal or almond flour?

  17. Heather says

    Hi Carolyn!
    These look and smell great! Haven’t completely cooled yet to try, but I was wondering if I used the wrong size pan…Mine took 40 minutes for the center to not be jiggly and the sides are just browned. I used a 9×13 baking pan, glass. Also, might be helpful for next time to note to add cream etc slowly…I had an explosion all over my range when it bubbled! and the caramel never really changed color that much for me, maybe not at high enough temp, it was bubbling/boiling but even after 15 or 20 minutes was not color changed, however was smoking quite a bit. Thanks for any help! Love your website!!!

    • Carolyn says

      It should be an 8×8 square pan. And I suspect you used a smallish pan for the caramel…it often does bubble a great deal but it shouldn’t burst out of the pan if you have high enough sides. What kind of erythritol did you use?

      • Heather says

        “Now foods” erythritol. Planning on ordering some swerve on your recommendation! Yes, the pan was smallish, but medium for what I have. should I have cooked the caramel longer to get the color change?

        • Carolyn says

          I think it’s the Now foods erythritol. Swerve changes colour after about 7 minutes of cooking. ZSweet caramelizes well too. I haven’t used Now in ages but I don’t think I ever tried to get it to caramelize.

  18. ML says

    Hi! This recipe looks incredible and I’d love to try it. However, I don’t know if my poor budget is willing to invest in buying/shipping many various sweeteners off of Amazon and whatnot. I personally only really care about the recipe being GF, and I don’t mind the recipe being a little less healthy, if it’s more convenient for me. 😉 As such, I was wondering if you thought there was maybe a way to swap out the erythritol/Swerve/xylitol for something simple like brown sugar, granulated sugar, honey or even coconut sugar?

    Thanks!

    • Carolyn says

      Sure, go ahead. I think you just want to find a salted caramel sauce made with sugar, and those recipes are all over the place.

  19. Manda says

    I made these last weekend. The taste was wonderful. However I could not get the center cooked for the life of me. I tried to take out the edges and cook it again, but it was more the consistency of fudge. Is this how it is suppose to be or did I maybe do something wrong?

  20. anna says

    i don’t have the xylitol. can I just put in a 1/4 cup more of the erythritol to replace it? I am craving something sweet and wanted to try these but I am lacking that one ingredient… Thank you for always putting up such great recipes!!!!

  21. Deborah says

    I made these on Friday and they were beyond heavenly. Absolutely delicious. However, a while after I ate probably 2 pieces, I developed raging diarrhea. I’m really puzzled by this; I’ve made your caramel sauce before, and had no problems, so I don’t think it was the xylitol. I used swerve and it was only the second time I’ve used it, the first was in scones, so a lot more swerve was in this recipe than in that. I use regular erythritol with no ill effects, so I’m wondering if it’s the swerve? I’ve got almost an entire pan of blondies in the fridge but I’m too scared to eat any more!

    • Carolyn says

      I am doubtful it’s the swerve, but it could be. There’s really nothing in Swerve that would cause it, since it’s erythritol and oligosaccharides and that’s just a sweet-tasting fiber. Really, it could be any number of things, so it’s very difficult to pinpoint.

      Or you may have recently developed an intolerance to xylitol. It’s the more likely culprit here, if it’s the blondies at all.

      • Deborah says

        well looking up oligosaccharides i found a reference to inulin, which is the type of fiber in jerusalem artichokes – which i am very sensitive to, and always gives me gas/stomach pains, although not diarrhea. so i think it might be the swerve, if oligosaccharides = inulin. many people have no problem with it, but i definitely do (which is a shame as i love the taste of jerusalem artichokes!)

        • Carolyn says

          Ah, that makes sense! Yikes, so sorry. I am more than happy to help you adapt recipes to other sweeteners, where possible…

          • Deborah says

            I’ve written to the Swerve people to ask if it *is* inulin. I think if I limit using swerve to recipes that use less sweetener maybe it’ll be ok for me, but back to the combo of erythritol and stevia for other recipes! If you could tell me what quantities of erythritol and stevia drops (I have nunaturals) i’d need for this recipe I’d be grateful because it was quite simply the best dessert recipe i’ve ever tried!! thank you!

          • Deborah says

            I’ve made your caramel sauce before with erythritol and xylitol and haven’t had a problem with it – so I think I could still make it without the coconut sugar, but with xylitol, as long as I didn’t combine the xylitol with oligosaccharides…?

  22. says

    HELP! I tried this recipe and used only Swerve, not having any xylitol. It really didn’t brown and didn’t bubble when I added the HWC mixture. The sauce was thin and the product neve4 cooked up like your picture shows. It was a gooey mess. I put it in the frig, because the thought of throwing away all those expensive ingredients upset me. WHAT HAPPENED?! It is gritty, and I put some with nsa ice cream. Really wanted a brownie type treat.
    I read a bunch of comments here but didn’t read that anyone made them. I wondered about no baking powder as well.
    Help please.

  23. Nass says

    I’m curious about the carb counting, how can both the caramel sauce and all the flour only come to 5g Carb per serving? Sounds too low to be true! Have you ever tried this without the Carmel sauce? I’ve never used ingredients such as swerve or xylitol and I would like to avoid using whipping cream but I imagine there is no substituting that? Recipe looks lovely!

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