(low carb) peanut butter cheesecake brownie cupcakes

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These brownies are another archived recipe, from the days (2013-2014ish) when I fastidiously stuck to a low carb diet, utterly convinced that sugar was the enemy. While my view on diets has taken a significant turn towards the unrestricted, sometimes it just feels a bit better to cut down on sugar for a period of time. For me to explain my perspectives on “how to eat well” would involve a lengthy, personal post that I’m not sure would even begin to articulate what I really think. In any case – my body and how I have come to love, respect and nourish it is always going to be a work in progress, reflective of my current lifestyle and priorities. Two years ago, eating less than 25 grams of carbs a day and being in ketosis evidently felt incredible for a mere few months, however when I forced it in spite of not feeling my best doing it, I gained weight and barely had any energy for the Crossfit workouts I was determined to push myself through.

I made these brownies at a time where I had very little interest in baking for myself. With ridiculous restrictive tendencies, it was vastly easier to create something with plain flour to prevent me from being able to lick the bowl (and the subsequent fear of eating the whole batch). The recipes you see on my blog this year are all ones I make for the joy of eating myself, and sharing with others. That fear is gone.  My relationship with food and my own body image (unfortunately not always mutually exclusive) has changed hugely over the last five years, but the acknowledgement that there is a time and place for treats – and that they should be utterly delicious, and celebrated – has been paramount.

This is not to say that every recipe need be loaded with butter, sugar and sprinkles. For something to taste good, it doesn’t necessarily need to be bad for you, and a raw treat, or a sugar free treat can be a treat in its own right too. These brownies are fudgy and indulgent and with less than 1g of carbs per serve! I brought these as a goodbye gift in one of my last trainee intern rotations to the hospital, and none of the ward staff could differentiate between the decadence of these and the saccharine Oreo cupcakes. Sugar substitutes are not one and the same, but it’s great to see Natvia in most supermarkets in New Zealand as the perfect baking ingredient for those on low carb diets. While expensive for the box, it reflects how a little really does go a long way.

MACROS: Total batch: 2,822 calories, 41g carbs, 273g fat, 68g protein. Per cupcake: 78 calories, 1.13g carbs, 7.6g fat, 1.9g protein.

peanut butter cheesecake swirl brownies

Ingredients:

  • 110g salted butter
  • 60g dark chocolate (I used a sugarfree 70% cocoa version sweetened with stevia)
  • 1/8 cup coffee (make using instant or whatever you like to use, I had some leftover French press on hand)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 free range eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup xylitol/erythritol/Natvia
  • 1/4 cup stevia
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence

Peanut butter cheesecake:

  • 200g cream cheese, softened
  • 40g crunchy peanut butter (I used cheap commercial stuff with no sugar but plenty of salt)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/8 cup heavy/double cream
  • 1/4 cup stevia
  • 1/8 cup xylitol
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F fan-bake. Prep mini-muffin tins, lining them with baking paper cases.
  2. In a microwave-safe jug, melt the butter and dark chocolate in the microwave, heating for 30 second increments at medium power until liquid. Whisk with coffee to combine.
  3. Beat the eggs in a medium-sized bowl with the sweeteners and vanilla. Add the ground almonds, salt, and cocoa and beat again until combined.
  4. Beat the batter with the melted chocolate mixture. .
  5. For the peanut butter cheesecake swirl, simply pop everything in a food processor/blender and let it work its magic until smooth and velvety.
  6. Spoon heaped teaspoons of the brownie mixture into the cupcake cases and top with slightly smaller quantities of the cheesecake mix. The cases should look quite full.
  7. Pop in the oven for 3-4 minutes before taking the trays back out and swirling the batters together using a cake tester.
  8. Cook for another 15 minutes or until the cupcakes are looking set and the cheesecake swirl is getting a golden tinge.
  9. Cool in the trays until they’re set enough to handle, then cool further in the fridge for the fudgiest texture (but they taste good warm from the oven, too…).
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