Low Carb / Low Calorie Dessert Recipes

I set out to make a low carb dessert for Valentine's Day, and ended up making three. That's what happens when you attempt to save a botched recipe and discover that a few changes can make an entirely different (and surprisingly good) dessert.

My original plan was to make a low carb Pavlova. It's a meringue based "cake" either topped or layered with fruit - depending on how much work you want to put into it.

What started as Pavlova ended as...

  1. Flourless Angel Food Cake
  2. Chocolate Brownie Cake
  3. Chocolate Pavlova

All are low carb desserts.

Modifying Desserts to Become Low Carb

First, I figured that it would be easiest to modify a recipe that was already flourless and egg based, as there would be a great deal less to tweak, and I would thereby have a greater chance of success.

Having eliminated the flour issue, I now needed to cut the sugar. This is where Now Better Stevia comes in. (You can see a full post on the benefits and uses of stevia in my post "Featured Foods: Stevia") To help make things low carb, while still keeping the taste I love, I like to cut sugars in 1/2 and add stevia. There are a few recipes where I can use Stevia by itself, but most recipes taste best with a mixture.

Most of us looking for low carb are also looking for higher protein, so egg whites are a win.

Low Carb Pavlova or Flourless Angel Food Cake Recipe?

Flourless Angel Food Cake RecipePavlova is a traditional Australian and New Zealand dessert. I know, it sounds Russian, and there's a reason for that. Pavlova was named after Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova.

Pavlova is similar to meringue in that it is formed from stiffly beaten egg whites, sugar, an acid (vinegar, lemon, cream of tartar), cornstarch and often vanilla. One main difference is that instead of being cooked until crisp, the Pavlova is crispy on the outside with a marshmallow-like center.

I had decided I wanted to make a regular Pavlova and a Chocolate Pavlova. My first batch was good. It was billowy white and I shaped it into a heart.

I made a few mistakes that ended up with an entirely different, but delicious dessert. Instead of a crisp outer shell with a marshmallow-like center, I ended up with something a great deal more like angel food cake. Since I happen to love angel food cake, and think it's a good choice for Valentine's day, I was quite pleased. Still, I wanted to know what I had done wrong to end up with such different results. I wondered if the lower sugar was the culprit, but on closer consideration, I discovered a few things I did "wrong".

  • I misread the measurement of cornstarch. Instead of 1/2 Tablespoon, I put in 1/2 Teaspoon. This was better for low-carb, but might likely contributed to the change in consistency.
  • I left it too long before putting it in the oven. Since I was preparing more than one, I wanted to put them both in the oven together. Well...the 2nd Pavlova was a botched recipe that got modified, so my first one sat on the counter for too long. It had just started to get little droplets and moisture is the enemy of Pavlova.
  • I kept opening the oven to take pictures and show people. The Pavlova is cooked at a low temperature in order to basically dehydrate it. By continually opening the over, I introduced moisture and kept changing the temperature.
  • I left it in longer. Because I ended up with two Pavlovas put in at different times, I kept the first one in the oven longer than the recipe said to. (For those wondering why I didn't just take it out, your supposed to leave it in the oven for several hours afterward - it keeps drying.

All of these "mistakes" showed me that I can make a flourless angle food cake, so I'm still pleased. I intend to try making Pavlova again. Who knows? Maybe I'll get it right, and maybe I'll discover another wonderful recipe to add to the list! 

Low Carb Chocolate Brownie Cake Recipe

My next "botched" recipe ended up as one of our top two desserts of the night - Chocolate Brownie Cake.

Low Carb Chocolate Brownie Cake

In my attempt to make a Chocolate Pavlova, I had a brain-lapse and began adding in the cocoa with the sugar (at the soft-peak stage). Yeah, this doesn't work. Basically, by adding the cocoa at this stage, the egg whites would not whip up past the soft peak stage, and they even got a little less fluffy. It was at this point that I remembered that I'm supposed to fold in the cocoa after the egg whites are whipped to their hard-peak stage.

Of course I'm not going to throw it out. I've got to try something new. It may or may not work, but if I'm going to lose the whole batch, I'm at least going to learn something new that doesn't work. As I look at my mixture that definitely doesn't count as having structure, I remember that I have some almond flour. 1/3 cup of almond flour gets added to the mixture, and it's placed in a heart-shaped cake pan and put in the oven with the first Pavlova.

The taste and texture are somewhere between brownies and a flourless chocolate cake. It was delicious and very satisfying. Definitely one I'm making again!

Low Carb Chocolate Pavlova Recipe

Low Carb Chocolate Pavlova RecipeI do believe that this is the only one that turned out "correctly". It had all of the right ingredients, the cocoa was folded in, it went straight into the oven, and it didn't cook for too long. And though it was still quite yummy, it wasn't the favorite dessert of the evening. See - sometimes the "failures" are our greatest successes!

We all agreed that this one would be more fun made as "single-serve" sizes, instead of a plate-sized one that gets cut into pieces. The crispy edges are fun and it's nice to have just a little more of them. Also, depending on the topping, I might dial up the sweetness just a bit - or maybe the chocolate. If I drizzled some melted chocolate over the top, that'd probably do it.

Fails Become Successes

So, as you can see, my "fails" became successes and I discovered new and wonderful recipes that I can add to my repertoire. Not all of them were my favorites - and some I might still play with to make even better - but overall, they were all quite satisfying low carb dessert recipes for Valentine's day. They taste good and look good. Also, since they're low carb and low calorie, I can have more than one!

Don't be afraid to play with food. Who knows what you might discover?

What About You

Do you have a favorite low carb dessert recipe? What about fun discoveries or crazy mishaps with food? Do you have a favorite recipe that you're looking to make lower carb? Share them with us and let's see what fun, laughs and new discoveries we can come up with together!

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