If you were a serious sweets person, you might think that the hardest part of having diabetes is passing on all the delectable sugary sweets the world has to offer. In my case, at least, you’d be wrong. I really was a serious sweets person, and I suppose in many ways I still am. But once I knew my health was at stake, it was remarkably easy to say no to sugar. I can pass by the candy aisle at the store without so much as a backward glance. I can stand in line at the checkout and barely notice the chocolate bars and candies put there deliberately to tempt me. They are simply no longer on my radar. If I am going to indulge in some high-carb foods, these are not the things that would lead me into temptation.
No, no, the hardest part for me is passing up things which are technically healthy and nutritious, but simply too high in carbs for me to eat. Sweet potato, for example. Or many of the tropical fruits, like pineapple, mango or banana. Cherries, oh, sweet, sweet cherries. Or that workhorse of fruits, the lowly apple…even that has too many carbs for me to indulge in a whole apple in one sitting. I may have always been a serious sweets person, but it’s passing up or cutting back on healthy foods that really burns me up.
Nevertheless, a girl does crave candy once in a while, and when that girl happens to be diabetic, she’d best be advised to keep walking right past the candy aisle and into her own kitchen. The Salted Peanut Caramel Clusters I made back in January have been on my mind lately, and I wanted to see what else I could do with them. The texture of the candy I can make with erythritol has always reminded me of maple candy…a little grainy and crumbly, compared to the perfect smoothness one can achieve with sugar. So I decided to play up that feature, and flavour it with maple extract and a touch of maple syrup for authenticity. Maple walnut ice cream is one of my all-time favourites, so I thought walnuts would be the perfect complement. I figured I would make it flat, like brittle or English toffee, so it could be broken up with the fingers and eaten in chunks.
The Results: I cannot, in good conscience, call this a brittle, because it just isn’t brittle enough. So I have simply titled it “Maple Walnut Candy”. I don’t know if this is because of the maple syrup in the mix, or that I didn’t cook the caramel quite enough, or if the humid weather has anything to do with it. Regardless, it still makes for an incredibly tasty treat with that distinct flavour and smell of maple. My whole house still smells of maple, although I made it yesterday afternoon! There are worse things in life, I think.
If you aren’t a walnut fan, you can easily sub in pecans or even almonds. But I think that the slight bitterness of the walnuts with the sweetness of the candy is perfect. This would be SO good broken up into little bits and sprinkled over low carb vanilla ice cream. Or better yet, swirled into homemade ice cream! Okay, I may have to come up with a recipe for ice cream made with this. But in the meantime, should you be craving some low carb candy, walk right past that candy aisle and into your own kitchen, because this is good stuff.
Maple Walnut Candy
¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
½ cup granulated erythritol
1 tablespoon maple syrup
¼ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon maple extract
⅛ teaspoon xanthan gum (optional)
Line an 8×8 square pan with parchment paper and set aside*.
Preheat oven to 350F and spread walnuts in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
Combine the erythritol and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir frequently until all of the erythritol has dissolved. Continue cooking until mixture becomes a dark amber colour, 6-10 minutes. Do not overcook.
Remove from heat, and add cream and maple extract. Mixture will bubble vigorously. Stir until smooth.
Return to heat and boil 1 minute more. Sprinkle xanthan gum lightly over mixture and whisk in quickly (xanthan gum is optional but helps to lessen the cooling mouth sensation of the erythritol). Stir in walnuts. Let mixture cool 3 minutes.
Pour mixture into prepared 8×8 pan and let cool to harden (you can hurry this process up by putting it in the fridge or freezer). Break up into chunks with fingers.
*For thicker candy, line a 9×5 loaf pan with parchment instead.
Serves 12. Each serving has a total of 10.7g of carbs, but only 2.7g if you subtract erythritol.