The Best Sugar Substitute We’ve Ever Tried

stevivaLike you, we’re bakers and pastryologists. We love the sweetness and flavor that sugar brings to our food. We can’t imagine baking, feeding ourselves, feeding our kids without it. Mastering the use of sugar was one of the crowning achievements of modern civilization IMHO. Besides the sweetness it adds to a dish, refined sugar brings out flavors in fruit, allows cakes and shells to brown evenly, takes away the bitterness in a tomato sauce, adds structure to souffles and a hundred other things.

We also recognize that sugar is way, way overused in our modern lives, and that commercial food producers continue to ramp up the sugar to ridiculous and unhealthy levels. Processed foods are invariably sugar bombs; breakfast cereals are atrocious. So are commercial baked goods. As artisan bakers and pastry makers, we would no sooner double and triple the sugar in a recipe than we would add a cup of cinnamon because we like the flavor. Sugar is just part of the balancing act that makes an exquisite baked good. One of the reasons that our homemade baked goods are so wonderful is because we control the element of sweetness and bring it into balance with the rest of the dish. We don’t have to mask junk ingredients or increase the shelf life of our foods (which only last about ten minutes around here, anyway) by dumping in tons of added sugar and other sweeteners.

That said, we’re all for alternatives to refined sugar, with the huge caveat that they must enhance and improve the finished product, and not take away from it. We’ve tried cooking with Splenda and find that it’s bitter, brings a noticeable chemical taste and a horrible aftertaste. We would no more put that stuff into our bodies than we would snack on high-fructose corn syrup. Neither one has a place in artisan, home baking.

Stevia has been promising, but we’ve always found it a little too bitter. Until we tried this product, which mixes Stevia with Erythritol — another low-calorie, low glycemic sweetener derived from fruit alcohol that we’ve tried in the past — and the combination seems to make them both better.

We’ve used this many times (always half as much as the sugar called for in a recipe, because it’s so powerfully sweet), and are always impressed by how well it bakes, the flavors it delivers and how clean it feels and tastes on the palate, with the barest trace of a kind of lemony aftertaste. We’ve whisked it into puddings, baked it in cookies and cakes, dropped it into muffins and batters, and it works every time. Seems like a very good compromise for cutting the sugar exposure that our kids invariably have in their lives.

And no, we don’t have any business dealings with this company, nor receive any endorsement consideration for talking this stuff up. We just like it and use it often at the ranch. Let us know what you think of it.

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