I shared a favorite cookie recipe on my Facebook page recently; my whole family is crazy for my pretzel cookie bars, so I thought people might want to add them to their holiday baking repertoire.
The bars are so tasty, in fact, that I couldn’t resist revisiting them myself. I never tend to leave well enough alone, so I racked my brain trying to think of ways I could make them even better. Enter Steviva, my new favorite natural sweetener! Not only was I able to cut the calories and carbs, but I used it to make my own condensed coconut milk. The result? The same delicious, decadent flavor both lightened up and now gluten AND vegan.
I got to try Steviva Blend as a participant in the brand’s blogger recipe challenge. The granular sweetener is a combination of erythritol and stevia, and can be substituted in just about any recipe in which you’d use regular white sugar. The blend has a zero glycemic index, and is easy to digest (unlike many sugar alcohol products on the market. Added bonus? It’s sweeter than cane sugar so you can use less.
Canned condensed milk is used in layer bars like these as it both adds sweetness and helps bind the ingredients together. Did you know that traditional canned condensed milk contains 22g of sugar in just 2 tbs.? Yikes. Making your own is honestly not difficult, and using Stevivia allowed me to totally cut the sugar and greatly lower the calories.
To ensure these bars are allergy-friendly, look for gluten-free pretzels such as Snyder’s or Glutino which are also dairy-free. For chocolate I always recommend the Enjoy Life brand. If you’re nut-free, you could easily just omit the pecans or substitute flaked coconut for the nuts.
While everyone says that calories around the holidays don’t count, it’s easy to get weighed down with the seemingly endless array of treats. Try out this recipe and no one will believe it’s way healthier and lighter than it tastes!