A Chocoholic Faces Type 2 Diabetes by Jeri Westerson
I’ve been in denial for too many years. It crept up on me…just like the weight did. And I love to bake. And I love desserts. And the dessert I love best is…chocolate.
But blood glucose numbers don’t lie. I was pre-diabetic for years, though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. My doctor wasn’t exactly helpful in that regard. When I spilled over into Type 2 diabetes, my doctor was even less helpful.
But a new day dawned with a new doctor who sat down with me and really explained some things, like my numbers were dangerously high. I think that one word finally woke me up.
Then I got moving. I am a creative cook. I love to do it. All kinds of cooking and baking. So it was a blow to have to cut out bread, pasta, potatoes, rice—all the staples on the side of the plate. None. Nada. They spiked my blood sugar, which I was finally testing twice a day. This took a while to get it through my head. It took six weeks to get my glucose numbers down to what they were at the beginning of my Type 2 diabetes. More work and more weight loss to get it to pre and then, perhaps, no diabetes, but in the meantime, it didn’t mean uninteresting meals…or desserts.
But let me tell you about sugar substitutes. We must be in the golden age of them, because there is a wide variety. And through my many experiments with desserts—cheesecakes, flour-substitute cookies, breads—some just weren’t cutting it. (Everything sugar free and low carb are now labeled “Keto”. Be aware, not all “Keto” is the same.)
Also, I really hate the taste of these flour substitutes. I mean really hate the taste of them with a white-hot hate. Gluten flour, coconut flour, almond flour (although the almond flour is good for lots of other cooking and a pie crust recipe that I like). Add them together and they taste like gluey sawdust. Ack! Maybe some of you can bear them, but I can’t. That means soy or chick pea pasta is yuck. Nothing with a flour substitute will do.
Which finally led me to a flourless tort.
I can do this. And it required chocolate chips. I knew that Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate chips taste great (but do watch out, because it contains Maltitol. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol that can cause bowel discomfort, so no second helpings or you will be sorry!)
So the following recipe is modified from a King Arthur Flour recipe. I merely changed out the chocolate chips for the sugar free kind, and the added sugar for artificial sweetener. And as I said, some artificial sweeteners are better for things than others. I’ve been experimenting with erythritol, a monk fruit derivative, because it comes in granular form, has no weird aftertaste, and was not twice the usual sweetness of sugar. But the latter became a problem. Because it’s only 70% as sweet as sugar, you have to use more. And its other problem was that it doesn’t dissolve. Certainly not in cold drinks, and really not well in cooked things. And it recrystallizes once the cooked thing is cool. I threw out a lot of cranberry sauce working out the best sugar substitute.
Also, some sugar substitutes will actually spike your blood sugar, so please do your research. That means no Splenda. Darn it. And I liked Splenda.
But finally. A recipe that works. So here it is. King Arthur’s Flourless Tort with Jeri
For the Tort
1 cup/bag Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chips
8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/2 cup of Equal sugar substitute (or equivalent of other sweetener to ¾ cup of sugar)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons espresso powder or instant coffee (I use decaf)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
1 cup/bag Hershey’s Sugar Free Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Use cooking spray to grease a metal 8" round cake pan, with parchment at the bottom. Don’t forget to spray the parchment too.
2. To make the tort: Pour the chocolate chips and place the butter in a microwaveable bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips soften. Stir until the chips melt, reheating in the microwave if needed to melt all the chips. Stir until butter and chips are all incorporated, then transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl or mixer bowl (I prefer to use my mixer.)
3. Add in the sugar substitute, salt, coffee powder, and vanilla, and mix.
4. Add the eggs and mix until smooth.
5. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just until it’s all combined.
6. Spoon the thick batter into the prepared pan.
7. Bake the cake for 25 minutes. Don’t overbake. (The original recipe called for it to reach 200 degrees on a thermometer inserted into the center, but I found that cooking it to that temp made the tort too dry).
8. Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes.
9. Loosen the edges of the tort with knife and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top of the tort will now be the nice flat bottom. Allow the tort to cool completely before glazing.
10. To make the glaze: Pour the chocolate chips into a microwavable bowl. Heat the cream on the stove until it just shows fine bubbles around the edge. Pour the cream over the chocolate, stir slowly with a whisk to combine, then more vigorously — until the chocolate is completely melted and the glaze is smooth. If any chunks of chocolate remain, reheat very briefly in the microwave, then stir until completely smooth.
11. Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading with a spatula to just the edge of the tort. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.
You can garnish with a dollop of whipped cream (or sugar free Cool Whip), and include raspberries for a colorful flourish.
Los Angeles native JERI WESTERSON is the author of historical novels and fifteen Crispin Guest Medieval Noir Mystery novels, ending with the fifteenth book, THE DEADLIEST SIN, a series nominated for thirteen national awards from the Agatha to the Shamus. Jeri also wrote three paranormal series, BOOKE OF THE HIDDEN, an urban fantasy set in a small town in Maine with demons and angry gods; the ENCHANTER CHRONICLES TRILOGY, a gaslamp-steampunk fantasy series, with a stage magician who performs real magic by summoning Jewish daemons; and a werewolf mystery series, beginning with MOONRISERS, set in Huntington Beach, California with a surfer wolf solving crimes with the help of a Voodoo coven. Under the pen name Haley Walsh, Westerson has written the SKYLER FOXE MYSTERIES, a humorous and romantic LGBTQ mystery series set in Redlands, CA with amateur sleuth and high school English teacher, Skyler Foxe. She has served two terms as president of the Southern California Chapter of Mystery Writers of America, twice president of the Orange County Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and one term as vice president for the Los Angeles Chapter of Sisters in Crime. She’s also a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and the Historical Novel Society. See more about Jeri at JeriWesterson.com