Sunday, February 20, 2011

"Little Debbie" Be My Valentine Snack Cakes: Sugar-Free. Gluten-Free. Dairy-Free.

Little Debbie snack cakes.....  I had forgotten about these little devils! And then someone brought a box to work.

And, suddenly I was flooded with memories of mind-blowing sweetness! Litte Debbie Vanilla Be My Valentine Snack Cakes... even when I last ate these circa age 6, I could tell that these were far too sweet and artificial to really even be considered food.

And, of course, I knew I needed to whip up some of my own.

Out of curiosity, I checked the ingredients on the real things before I started. Do you really want to see it? Probably not if you are planning to eat one of these in the near future. Or, you can do what I did: read the ingredients and then run to make the ACD healthier version!

Little Debbie "Be My Valentine" Cakes: Vanilla --- the real deal:

INGREDIENTS (for diabetes):
Sugar, Vegetable(s) Shortening (,, Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated ),, Corn Syrup, Water, Flour Enriched Bleached (,, Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Folic Acid (Vitamin aB) ),, Dextrose, Egg(s) Whites, Color(s) (,, Caramel Color, Red 40 ),, Whey from Milk, Leavening (,, Baking Soda, Sodium Aluminum Phosphate ),, Salt, Emulsifier(s) (,, Sorbitan Monostearate, Polysorbate 60, Mono and Diglycerides, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Propylene Glycol Monostearate ),, Corn Starch, Sorbic Acid To Retain Freshness,, Egg(s), Soy Lecithin, Flavor(s) Natural & Artificial

 I bolded the ingredients that I deem acceptable on my diet. Water, egg whites, and baking soda-- now that's a tasty combination (blergh!!) Also note that (from which I got this list) gives them a health score of 32/100, and marks it with "AVOID" and "CONTROVERSIAL INGREDIENTS." Yep, I thought so.

Now let's take a look at what my packaging label might look like:

INGREDIENTS (for awesomness):
White beans, eggs, coconut oil, agave nectar, erythritol, coconut flour, strawberries, ghee, tapioca flour, almond milk, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, lemon juice, liquid stevia, salt, liquid chocolate raspberry stevia

 Looks a whole lot prettier, huh? Shorter, more natural, more healthy. 


1 cup white beans  ---> puree in high power blender (Vitamix)
1/8 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tsp vanilla
24 drops stevia
2 1/2 tbs agave -----> add, puree well
3 eggs***

1 1/2 tbs coconut flour
1 tbs tapioca flour
1/8 tsp sea salt
3/8 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda  ----> mix all dry ingredients well, then add to wet and puree again

*** There are two ways to do this to vary cake consistency. For a dense (pound cake-y) cake, blend eggs with wet ingredients. For a lighter, fluffier cake, separate egg yolks and whites. Add yolks to wet mixture, but beat eggs separately in a bowl, until stiff peaks form. After adding dry ingredients to the wet mix in the Vitamix, fold the batter into the egg whites. This will also yield a higher volume of batter, which will end up making more mini cakes.

I used heart shaped silicone cupcake molds to make these. Fill each one halfway, and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle of the largest one comes out clean.


1/2 c powdered erythritol* or, soy milk powder to desired consistency, plus extra stevia to sweeten
1 tbs ghee, sort
1 tbs coconut oil, soft
1/2 tsp vanilla (will slightly brown the color)
1 tbs almond milk (add slowly to make it the right consistency)

* Make your own powdered erythritol! Put ~1/2 c granular erythritol into the Magic Bullet small cup, and pulse for about 20 seconds with the crossblade. BAM-- powder!

To make frosting, blend all ingredients in the magic bullet. Add almond milk as necessary to make it a nice whipped consistency.


1/4 c coconut oil
1 tbs agave
1 tbs strawberry puree (I magic bullet-ed this first)
1/2 tsp lemon juice
dash of salt
8 drops chocolate raspberry stevia
1 tsp powdered erythritol (optional-- thickens consistency)

Blend all ingredients in the Magic Bullet. This should be a thin consistency which will harden in the fridge.


Middle frosting layer.
Slice a heart mini-cake in half, and spread white frosting between the two layers- then re-assemble them. Next, coat all visible sides of cake in pink frosting. Finally, pipe white frosting on top in a spider-webby pattern. (I was lazy and used a ziploc bag with a tiny hole cut in one corner, instead of a real piping tip.)

Result? Something delicious, and just about as (sickeningly) sweet as the real deal. But, it's low GI, (sucrose) sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, aaand pretty much awesome!!

Now, I'm not saying that I should (or could) eat these every day (there's a reason I only made six!) But, they certainly are perfect for a rare (non)sugar fix.  Happy (belated) Valentine's Day!


Also-- what's the deal with hating Valentine's Day? It's an excuse to eat chocolate and celebrate love of any sort- whether it's for yourself, a lover, a pet-- who cares? Just enjoy the day!


Also: check out February's SOS Challenge at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs, with challenge ingredient stevia!

I got off to a rocky start with stevia, back in the day. When I started exploring the world of ACD baking, the only stevia we had around the house was a powdered form left from my mother's dabbling in vegetarian healthfood... which was probably in the 60s. Or 70s. Or sometime when they made pretty poor quality stevia, SLASH it had just gone bad by this current millenium. At any rate, everything we baked using that stuff had a sickening taste... soapy, if you will. Not quite to the "bitter" realm, but just all too "stevia-ish". I could taste a grain of that stuff anywhere... in anything. It haunted me. And ruined many a baked good.

I avoided all baked goods cooked with stevia, subbing in anything from vegetable glycerine, to agave nectar (when I got to the point I could handle it). But as I did my research, I raid many accounts claiming that with the right quality stevia, the disgusting taste problem really wasn't a problem at all.

So, I decided to give stevia another shot. I would buy a new batch. This time, I opted for the liquid form, and purchased a bottle of SweetLeaf SteviaClear (from good old And it worked wonders! Gone were the days of ruined baked goods.

Stevia still can be a finicky sweetener when used carelessly, and certainly isn't for those with a heavy hand when it comes to measuring. Basically, its sweetening curve looks something like this:

Yeah-- tough. But as long as care is taken while sweetening, stevia can work wonders. I especially like it to sweeten beverages-- like when making chocolate almond milk!
So, in summary, I am a stevia convert. I still use it primarily in conjunction with other stronger sweeteners, but stevia does have its place in my baking arsenal. 

And who knows? I just might grow it in my garden this year. 


  1. These are truly a work of art, and an amazing recipe! Kudos on re-creating them in such a healthy recipe. :D

    I'm so sorry, but the SOS Challenge guidelines ask for only vegan recipes (ie no eggs or ghee). Is there a way to offer a vegan alternative so that we can keep the recipe in the roundup? It looks as if eggs are fairly integral to this recipe.


  2. Darn, I forgot about that! (And should have known better / re-read the rules!) Sorry about that. I'll work on a vegan recipe- hopefully before the end of the month. Thanks Ricki!