THM {S} Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars (Sugar-Free, Grain-Free + Low-Carb)

PicMonkey Collage CC Bar

This recipe can now be found on my website here:

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Bars 

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Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Molten Cake

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Zach and I were recently having lunch at a ubiquitous chain restaurant and we were extremely tempted by a new peanut butter version of their chocolate molten cake. Zach wanted to order it and endure the consequences of eating wheat, but I promised him I would develop a gluten-free version at home instead.

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Despite my experience with gourmet and homemade desserts, I am unashamedly a huge fan of chain restaurant desserts. They’re over-the-top, creatively indulgent, and unapologetic. I am often inspired by them in my own baking. Creating gluten-free versions is a challenge I love to attempt. This peanut butter chocolate molten cake was delicious. I haven’t tasted the original, but I don’t need to now!

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GLUTEN-FREE PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE MOLTEN CAKE
This recipe is primarily assembled from other sources – an almond flour brownie recipe for the cake, a peanut butter pie filling recipe for the filling, and a few of my own pointers for pulling it all together. The number of cakes made will depend on the size of your pans/ramekins.

Cake: Prepare this recipe with peanut butter instead of almond butter. Fill well-greased miniature tart pans or ramekins 3/4 full of batter and bake for 20 minutes instead of 30. Cool completely before unmolding.

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Peanut butter cream filling: Prepare a half batch of the filling from this recipe.

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Assembly: Once the cake is cool, use a paring knife to remove a plug of cake from the top. Heat cake in oven or microwave briefly, fill the hole on top with peanut butter cream, top with a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt, a drizzle of the filling, and chopped peanut butter cups. Enjoy immediately!

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Gluten-Free Cookies and Cream Tart

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If you don’t already know this, Trader Joe’s is awesome. There wasn’t one where I grew up but since I moved to Wisconsin I have access to a TJ’s and I love it. When I was there the other day buying the cookies for this recipe, the employee offered me a list of all their gluten-free items. And he asked me about my day in the genuine sort of way that seems almost uncomfortably intimate until you realize how much you miss it in everyday interactions.

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This tart is simple, pretty, and delicious. It’s a sandwich cookie in tart form….because that needed to happen. I wanted to make a traditional cookie crumb crust, but opted to add cookie crumbs to an almond-flour crust because I didn’t want the crust to crumble when I un-molded the tart.  It worked perfectly! The tart is filled with sweet and creamy vanilla pudding, which then gets covered with more cookie crumbs.

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Here’s a tip for un-molding a tart from a pan with a removable bottom…..set the pan on a bowl or cake pan that is smaller than the base of the tart pan. The tart (with the removable bottom of the pan) can then sit suspended on the bowl/cake pan while you carefully remove the outside edge of the tart pan.  This picture should help that make more sense…

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GLUTEN-FREE COOKIES AND CREAM TART 

Crust ingredients:

1 box Trader Joe’s Gluten-Free Joe Joe Cookies

2 cups almond flour or almond meal

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 egg

Pudding ingredients:

1 cup cold milk

½ cup cornstarch

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. vanilla

3 egg yolks

3 cups milk

1 tablespoon butter

¾ cup sugar

Make the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Place all the cookies in a blender or food processor and blend until crushed into fine crumbs. Dump into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the almond flour, coconut oil, egg, and 1 cup of crushed cookies until mixture forms a ball (I like to use my hands, but a large spoon would work too).

Press this crust mixture evenly into a 10” tart pan, using a knife to level off the top edge. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, until set. Let cool.

Make the pudding filling:

Whisk the 1 cup milk, cornstarch, salt, and vanilla together in a bowl. Set aside. Combine the egg yolks, 3 cups milk, butter, and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves.

Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and continue whisking as the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding. Remove from heat, allow to cool briefly, and then pour into crust, spreading with a spatula if necessary.

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Place the tart in the refrigerator until ready to serve (three hours is ideal).

Before serving, sprinkle remaining cookie crumbs over pudding filling and remove tart from pan. Slice and enjoy!

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DSC_0562^ Poorly-lit photo of my late-night tart slice ^

The Struggle is Real

So, a little more than a week in and I’ve lost around…1 lb. Somewhat discouraging. I’m going to stick with this exact plan for another week and if progress continues to drag its feet I’m planning on adding in running one mile a day and a day of intermittent fasting.

Eats. 

I’ve cooked and eaten some delicious and healthy food this week. A couple highlights:

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Mac n cheese with bacon, collards, and leeks. I used Trader Joe’s brown rice pasta, which is the best GF pasta I’ve found and so affordable. This spur-of-the-moment flavor combo was super tasty.

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Steel-cut oats with chopped pear and toasted (oops burnt) pecans. Ignore the yellowed early morning lighting…this was the breakfast of champions.  Overall, the eating has been easier and more delicious than I first imagined. Yay!

Let’s talk about…

Cheats. 

I’ve missed one day of yoga practice so far and was unable to make EITHER Zumba class due to my schedule. Uh-oh.

 I was in Chicago for a weekend yoga instructor training (more on in a later post) and I ate some chocolate and Garrett’s caramel corn. Not in egregious amounts (two servings of corn and probably seven-ish pieces of chocolate over the weekend) and I did walk and do yoga a lot, but if my weight isn’t cooperating the cheats must end.

However, I was proud of how well I stuck to my guns this weekend eating-wise despite eating mostly at restaurants. A number of Chipotle salads + burrito bowls were consumed…

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I had a weird and gross continental breakfast, but bought some apples, almonds, and plain Greek yogurt at Trader Joe’s for the next morning, which hit the spot.

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We also ate a P.F. Chang’s, Corner Bakery, and FoodLife in The Watertower Place…very easy to eat healthy at all those places. Also very easy to eat TJ and Fannie May chocolate and buttery delicious caramel corn. Ehem. Onward and upward!