Breaking All the Rules:
Sweet Keto Creations
A pastry chef bucks mainstream mantras and makes sweet magic for low-carb converts.
Written by Shelley Skiles Sawyer
Photographed by Kyle Ripley, Haigwood Studios
We’ve all heard the advice: Eat a diet filled with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and avoid saturated fats. This dietary mantra has been repeatedly drummed into all of us. But, an increasing number of folks are choosing to eat to a different beat. They’re embracing a low-carb, high-fat lifestyle known as the ketogenic diet, or “keto” for short, which sends the body into a state of ketosis, causing it to use stored fat as energy instead of carbohydrates.
Most reasonable people can get behind the diet’s focus on unprocessed or minimally processed food from plants and animals that haven’t first made their way through a factory. Same goes for giving sugar the thumbs down. It’s the ratio of macronutrients—fat, protein and carbohydrates—with 60 to 80 percent of calories coming from fat, that’s the rub for many. The notion of limiting fruits and veggies, giving whole grains the boot and embracing fat as fuel has mainstream doctors and dieticians bristling.
Pastry Chef Kathleen McDaniel, whose livelihood for the past 18-plus years has centered around sweet, gluten-laden goodies, is a recent keto convert. Despite her dedication to crafting stellar sweets—she was even dubbed a “rising star” by The New York Times early in her career—McDaniel was more focused on serving them than partaking herself. “I’ve long been the person who normally doesn’t eat many carbs, but had never tried keto until I met my business partner, George Coundouriotis,” she explains. “For him, it’s like a cult. He’s so into it and driven that he never cheats,” she laughs.
Together, they recently opened Zambawango, a boutique coffee and dessert shop in Sandy Springs. In addition to the traditional desserts for which McDaniel is known and Coundouriotis grew up eating in Greece, the restaurant offers an array of low-carb, gluten-free options. Providing healthy alternatives without the guilt was the main goal of the spot named after a “place where culinary magic happens ... and anything is possible,” according to their website.
“I’m definitely dedicated to the keto lifestyle. I have more energy, have been sleeping a lot better and feel really clean,” McDaniel says, admitting she also feels light in her size 2 jeans, especially after donating the size 14 ones she sported at the beginning of the year.
Excerpt is from an article featured in the WINTER issue of Flavors Magazine, subscribe today and don't miss a single issue!
Simple Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Cake
Recipe by Kathleen McDaniel, Executive Pastry Chef/Partner/Co-Owner, Zambawango Desserts and Coffee
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup Swerve*
1 3/4 cups almond flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil
Chocolate Mousse (recipe included)
1 pint raspberries, divided
Keto Butter Cream (recipe included)
Heat oven to 325 degrees. In bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine xanthan gum with Swerve. Add almond flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix. With motor running, slowly add egg, coconut milk and oil. Mix until smooth. Add 1/2 cup hot water and mix. Pour into 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove cake and cool to room temperature. Once cool, cut cake into 2 layers. Place 1 layer in bottom of 9-inch springform pan. Pour Chocolate Mousse on top of first layer. Top mousse with 1/2 fresh raspberries in an even layer, then place second cake layer on top. Put into freezer overnight. Unmold and ice evenly with Keto Butter Cream. Garnish with remaining raspberries.
*Swerve, a calorie-free, zero-glycemic sugar replacement, is available at Publix and some Whole Foods. Unless otherwise specified, you may use either Granular or Powdered, which both measure the same.
1/2 cup Swerve*
3 cups heavy cream, divided
1 1/4 cups sugar-free chocolate chips (McDaniel uses Lily’s brand)
3 tablespoons gelatin, bloomed with cold water
For the Chocolate Mousse
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whip yolks and sugar until yellow. In a small saucepot, scald 1 cup cream and pour over chocolate to melt. Mix until combined. Add bloomed gelatin to whipped yolks. Add yolk mixture to chocolate and mix to combine. Using a clean bowl and whisk, whip remaining 2 cups heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold into chocolate.
Keto Butter Cream
1 pound butter
5 cups Swerve, divided*
1 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
For the Keto Butter Cream
In bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, cream butter. Add 2 1/2 cups Swerve and blend until smooth. Add remaining Swerve and cocoa powder and combine. With the motor running, slowly add milk, vanilla and salt and mix until smooth.