By Laura Mack
December 14, 2016
Moderately spicy, with a moist, tender crumb, this low carb Gingerbread is oh-so-delicious. The scent of sweet, warm spices is a holiday favorite, and our Gingerbread recipe delivers big-time on both aroma and flavor.
For spice-heads like Deb and me, chai spice is in season all year, especially in Autumn with the peak of all things pumpkin spice in October. But for those of us who practice the dark art of warm spices, the pinnacle comes in December with gingerbread. Swoon!
You may have noticed that the spice intensity of gingerbread varies quite a bit. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the mildly spicy version (gingerbread on training wheels), which is pleasant. On the other end is the deeply spicy and peppery version, often dense with molasses and sometimes stout. I like them all. However, being low carb and grain-free, the latter version is out of the running for me. I now embrace a moderately spicy low carb gingerbread, with hints of molasses, cocoa powder, and espresso to add complex flavor and deep color, while still keeping it low carb and grain-free. It may sound like a compromise, but I assure you it does not taste that way!
There are so many ways to present the spicy goodness of gingerbread — bundt cake, gingerbread loaf, and gingerbread muffins, to name a few. Choose your preferred form and serve it with optional citrus cream cheese icing, a scoop of our spiced pumpkin ice cream, a dollop of softly whipped cream, or any combination thereof — we won’t judge! You could even enjoy it just plain, perhaps with a light dusting of powdered xylitol for extra looks. Trust me, it’s quite lovely that way. In fact, I often prefer my gingerbread without embellishment, although Deb will choose hers with icing every time!
The ingredient list may look a little long, but this is a straightforward “quick bread method” recipe, so it’s simple to put together. It’s as easy as measuring out (and sifting) the dry ingredients, combining with the wet ingredients, and mixing it all together. I use a standing mixture because I have one, but you could use a hand mixer or even do the whole thing by hand.
I wanted the texture of this Gingerbread to be like a muffin or quick bread, a little more sturdy than a cake. I adapted the batter from Carolyn Ketchum’s Pecan Pie Bundt Cake recipe, in which she combined almond flour with coconut flour and whey protein powder to give additional structure. Carolyn is a stellar low carb baker with a hugely successful blog, All Day I Dream About Food. I’ve learned a lot about low carb baking from her, and I’m often inspired by her creativity.
As I mentioned above, I’ve worked around the usual large quantity of molasses traditionally found in gingerbread by using a touch of blackstrap molasses, plus cocoa powder and espresso powder, to add a complex, slightly smoky flavor and deep color without all of the carbs. While molasses is a sugar, the very small quantity (1 tablespoon) used here adds only up to 1 carb per serving. You could leave it out if you prefer.
I’ve included a recipe for my Citrus Cream Cheese Icing, which is optional, but mighty tasty. (I’ve included the nutrition information both with and without icing, as well as for both 16 and 24 portions.) I’ve developed a few tweaks to my low carb icings over time. I prefer xylitol as the sweetener, but I grind it to a fine powder in my NutriBullet to stand in for confectioners’ sugar. I also add a tiny amount of xanthan gum, which is a natural stabilizer, to make the texture a little creamier. In this recipe, I prefer the consistency to be a little soft, somewhat between and icing and glaze. However, you can adjust the consistency to your liking by using more or less heavy cream. For the smoothest icing, be sure to use softened (room temperature) cream cheese and butter, and blend them well before adding the other ingredients.
I’ve enjoyed perfecting this Low Carb Gingerbread, especially the sweet-spicy aroma that has filled my home! It will be a lovely addition to my family’s Christmas Morning brunch, along with my low carb Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Scones and a piping hot Oven Omelet. And, as you might imagine, it makes a wonderful handcrafted gift for those you care about. They won’t guess it’s low carb unless you tell them, but you’ll feel good knowing that this confection is healthier than the average holiday treat.
What are some of your favorite holiday sweets that you might like adapted for low carb living?
Low Carb Gingerbread
Author: Laura Mack
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 25 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 16 to 24
Moderately spicy, with a moist, tender crumb, this low carb Gingerbread is oh-so-delicious. It tastes even better the second day after the spices have settled in.
- 12 oz / 3 cups / 340 g almond flour
- 2.1 oz / ½ cup / 60 g coconut flour
- 0.7 oz / ⅓ cup / 20 g whey protein powder, unflavored (or egg white protein powder)
- 3 tbsp / 15 g ground ginger
- 2 tbsp / 10 g unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1.5 tbsp / 10 g ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp / 10 g baking powder
- 1 tsp espresso powder
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp fine sea salt
- ¼ tsp finely ground black pepper
- 12 oz / 1½ cups / 355 ml almond milk, unsweetened (or coconut milk, from a carton)
- 6 large eggs
- 8 oz / 1 cup / 227 g xylitol
- 6 ounces / ¾ cup / 177 ml avocado oil
- 1 tbsp / 15 g blackstrap molasses
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp liquid stevia
- 4 oz / 1 cup / 113 g chopped toasted walnuts, or other nuts (optional)
- ---Optional Citrus Cream Cheese Icing---
- 3 oz / 85 g cream cheese, room temperature
- 3 oz / 85 g unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3 oz / ¾ cup / 85 g xylitol, finely powdered in a spice grinder or NutriBullet
- ¼ tsp xanthan gum (improves texture)
- 2 pinches fine sea salt
- 2 tsp fresh orange zest (or ⅛ tsp orange extract)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon zest (or ⅛ tsp lemon extract)
- 1 tbsp / 15 ml fresh lemon juice
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 oz / 2 tbsp / 30 ml heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare 9" x 13" pan or large bundt pan by greasing well with coconut oil or butter. Set aside
- Sift dry ingredients (except for xylitol) into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together xylitol with wet ingredients until well blended. On low speed, or by hand, incorporate wet ingredients (about ⅓ at a time) into dry ingredients. Mix until completely blended. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, or vigorously by hand for 2 minutes. Fold in nuts, if using.
- Transfer batter into prepared baking pan(s) about ¾ full, smoothing top(s) with a rubber spatula. Tap pan(s) firmly on the countertop to release any air bubbles. Transfer pan(s) to the preheated oven and bake until tops are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 to 60 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan(s) and continue cooling on wire rack. Makes 24 muffins; bake for 18 to 25 minutes.
- For Optional Citrus Cream Cheese Icing: Using standing or hand mixer, beat together room temperature cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Add powdered xylitol, xanthan gum, salt. Mix on low speed until completely blended, scraping bowl as needed. Add zests or extracts, lemon juice, vanilla, and cream, and mix on low speed until smooth. Ice as desired once gingerbread has cooled completely. To set icing, place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
- Transfer to an air-tight container (or wrap well) and refrigerate up to 5 days. Can be frozen up to one month, but be sure to chill thoroughly before freezing to reduce ice crystals.
Nutritional info* per 1/24 (no icing) serving: 206 cal, 16 g total fat (76%), 1.3 sat fat, 6.9 g total carbs, 3.0 g fiber, 3.9 g net carbs, and 6.5 g protein.
Nutritional info* per 1/24 (with icing) serving: 258 cal, 20.5 g total fat (79%), 4.1 sat fat, 6.7 g total carbs, 3.0 g fiber, 3.7 g net carbs, and 6.1 g protein.
Nutritional info* per 1/16 (no icing) serving: 310 cal, 24 g total fat (76%), 1.9 sat fat, 10 g total carbs, 4.4 g fiber, 5.6 g net carbs, and 9.2 g protein.
Nutritional info* per 1/16 (with icing) serving: 386 cal, 30.8 g total fat (79%), 6.2 sat fat, 10.4 g total carbs, 4.5 g fiber, 5.9 g net carbs, and 9.7 g protein.
Please note that I do not count the sugar alcohols from xylitol in the total carbs or net carbs.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.