Peanut Butter Blondies

Yep.  Still baking.  

Nope.  No pumpkin today.

There was no getting around today's unmistakable peanut butter vibe.  And whenever I get that feeling, I know it's going to be a good day!

Now, there are lots of ways to have a peanut butter day.  Peanut butter and jelly rolls are, of course, one of the absolute tastiest options... but maybe a little too many carbs all at once for this point in my bikini competition prep.  Low-carb PBJ Pinky Print cookies are certainly a good alternative... but maybe this time I only want the peanut butter flavor.  Actually, peanut butter straight out of the jar (or even on a super-quick protein pancake) is almost always my first choice - but today I wanted to make something to share!

I decided to do a little search for some inspiration.  Luckily, I didn't have to go far.  Carolyn at AllDayIDreamAboutFood.com has been artfully crafting low-carb recipes to please carb-watchers (and carb-scarfers) for years, and seems to have a recipe for everything!  Naturally falling into the carb-scarfer category with my sweet tooth, EVERYthing looked delicious to me.  So glad her recipes are ones I could feel good about digging into after baking!

Thus I found the perfect peanut butter recipe.  Something in which the peanut butter could really shine.

Honestly, I think one of the best things about adding peanut butter to anything is that the flavor really stands out.  It's like a diva ingredient - always in the spotlight, always calling attention to itself.  I suppose it does help that I love peanut butter with a firey passion!  But at times like these, when trying to bake without sugar, peanut butter's in-yo-face nature really helps to take the stevia-taste down a notch and make baked things seem more naturally sweet.

Even better, the blondies couldn't have been easier to whip up, and turned out as delicious as could be! 

Luckily, it seemed that my coworkers at the gym were having a peanut butter day, too.  Either that, or they just REALLY like peanut butter.  These bars did NOT last long, I am proud to say!  (Because otherwise I really might have eaten them all myself!)  And they even got some great reviews, I mean - chewy, soft, lightly sweet, and, above all, peanut-buttery - what's not to like?

Peanut Butter Blondies (gluten-free + low-carb)

Recipe originally by Carolyn, HERE - posted on PeaceLoveAndLowCarb.com HERE!

Makes 16 squares

Nutrition per square: 120 calories; 10.8 g fat (2.8 saturated); 3.4 g carbs; 1.5 g fiber (for 1.9 g net carbs); 4.3 g protein

Ingredients:

1 cup almond flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup all-natural (no sugar added) peanut butter, softened if not at room temp
1/4 cup butter, softened if not at room temp
1/2 cup sweetener of choice (I like Stevia in the raw!) 
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp liquid stevia extract

My topping: 4 T. sweetened or unsweetened dried coconut shreds + 3 T. chopped pecans (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and grease an 8 x 8" square baking pan.

Whisk together almond flour, baking soda and salt.

In a separate bowl, beat peanut butter, butter and sweetener until smooth and well combined.  Beat in eggs, vanilla extract and stevia extract until well combined.

Mix in almond flour mixture until fully incorporated.  Spread mixture in the baking pan and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle coconut and pecan topping across the top, if using.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes (less for a gooey consistency, more for a cakier consistency), until top is lightly browned and just set.

Remove and let cool on a wire rack to about room temperature before cutting and serving.  (This is the hard part!)