When inspiration hits, it’s a lot like getting hit by a truck. Ignoring it is incredibly difficult.
A totally hypothetical example: seeing some “snickerdoodle sandwich cookies with cream cheese frosting” on sale and then thinking of how great that sounds for three days straight.
Outside of this totally hypothetical example, we all know how I feel about cookies. (TL;DR: High. Maintenance.) But the flavor combination was irresistible. Anything cinnamon. Anything cream cheese. But cookies? No. Life is too short for that.
And this is where the Truck of Inspiration™ came hurtling merrily down the Snackademia highway. Cheesecake bars. Of course. Bars are my everything. I would make everything into a bar version if I could (AND I HAVE). THE ANSWER WAS CLEAR. We were making snickerdoodle cheesecake bars.
But this brought about its own set of challenges. I was immediately imagining a graham cracker crust. This does not fit very neatly into a low-carb or grain-free diet. Then the Truck of Inspiration™ made an entirely legal U-Turn and came back around at top speed.
PECANS. Whether you pronounce them “pee-can” or “puh-kahn”, we can all agree that (second only to the macadamia), the pecan is a superior nut:
- High in healthy monounsaturated fats and may lower “bad” cholesterol.
- Contains more than 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, and E, folic acid, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.
- Rich in fiber!
- Research from the USDA shows that pecans are the most antioxidant-rich tree nut and rank among the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants.
With a little cinnamon and nutmeg, you’ve got yourself the perfect graham cracker crust analogue. No need for butter with the natural oils in the pecans providing all the binding power. And how could we forget the sweet, crunchy cinnamon “sugar” topping, so crucial to the snickerdoodle experience?? We could not.
So now the problem is that I ate all of these already and I’ve been thinking of making them again for three days straight. I don’t need inspiration for that one. Maybe I need the Truck of Distraction™.
Snickerdoodle Cheesecake Bars (low carb, gluten free, no added sugar)
Recipe adapted from Shugary Sweets
Yields: Around 24 – 30 bars
2 8 oz packages cream cheese (I used neufchâtel), softened
3/4 cup granulated sweetener, OR 2/3 cup granulated sweetener plus 2 tbsp sugar free brown sugar substitute
2 egg whites, or around 1/4 cup egg whites
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 butterscotch or molasses extract, optional
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup granulated sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9×13 inch baking pan.
To make crust, place pecans, spices, and sweetener into a food processor or high-speed blender and process until pecans form a crumbly mixture that begins to ball and stick together (make sure to stop before you’ve made pecan butter!).
Ugh I love pecans so much.
Press crust into the greased 9×13 baking pan and par-bake for about 8-10 minutes.
For the filling, beat cream cheese with sweetener, egg whites, vanilla, butterscotch or molasses extracts (if using), and cinnamon using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer. Beat for a few minutes until fluffy and smooth. Pour over pecan crust and smooth with a spatula.
In a small bowl, combine sweetener and cinnamon for topping. Sprinkle generously over the cheesecake layer.
Bake for 28-30 minutes, or until topping has browned and filling jiggles only slightly. Once cooled, refrigerate until completely set and cut into squares. Keep any (unlikely) leftovers in the fridge.
ALL HAIL THE TRUCK OF INSPIRATION™
Nutritional Info (Calculated for 26 servings):