Fantastic Food with Splenda:160 Great Recipes By Marlene Koch
by Marlene Koch
Copyright © 2004 by M. Evans & Company.
Provided with permission from M. Evans & Company.
Slash the Sugar without Sacrificing Taste
The Sugar Association (yes, there is an association whose sole purpose is to promote the consumption of sugar) is quick to tell you of all the wonderful things sugar imparts to food beyond acting as a sweetener and flavor enhancer. In fact, sugar contributes to the texture and appearance of many dishes and is often the main reason they taste and look as good as they do. This is why it can be tricky just eliminating sugar and replacing it with any of the substitutes. When it comes to sweetening, Splenda is excellent; it tastes just like sugar and has no aftertaste. Splenda is great for baking, too, because it does not break down under heat. However, Splenda is does not caramelize like sugar, nor can it stabilize egg whites or thicken like sugar, but these differences can easily be overcome by applying a bit of kitchen chemistry. In order to understand how I create my recipes with so little sugar and fat, I share the following tips:
- In cold beverages, salad dressings, and where smaller amounts of Splenda are required, Splenda can be used in its packet form. Each packet is the equivalent of 2 teaspoons of sugar. (3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon)
- To maintain the various properties of browning, texture, and taste that sugar imparts to many dishes, it is necessary to use small amounts of natural sugar in addition to Splenda for the best results (especially in baking). A few carefully selected teaspoons or tablespoons add minimal carbohydrate (compared to cups of sugar), yet can make a big difference in the quality and appearance of the food.
- Adding small amounts of molasses or brown sugar to recipes will add color, aid in browning, and contribute a unique flavor. Keep in mind that some baked items will simply be slightly lighter in color than their traditional counterparts.
- Adding cornstarch will help to thicken syrups made with Splenda. If you choose to substitute any of the low-carb thickeners on the market, such as ThickenThin no/starch, follow the instructions on the package.
- When baking with Splenda, additional leavening may be necessary. Splenda's manufacturer recommends that an additional 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda be added for each cup of Splenda used in a recipe. One drawback to this is that baking soda is high in sodium and can make some foods taste too salty, so try using some additional baking power as another alternative.
- Splenda does not have the bulk of sugar, so it doesn't give foods the same volume that sugar does. Therefore, the volume, weight, and yield may be smaller than a similar traditional recipe. Adjustments can be made by increasing other ingredients, using a smaller pan size (when there is less batter), and/or changing the portions.
- A tablespoon or two of a liquid sugar, like corn syrup or honey, will help give a more traditional texture to drop cookies. In addition, using a glass or spatula to flatten cookies before baking also helps to make them look like their traditional counterparts.
- Jellies or preserves need to be made using no-sugar pectins. Jams and jellies made without sugar will not be clear and sparkly in appearance. Remember that even a touch of granulated sugar helps clarity.
- Splenda-based frozen desserts freeze very hard. To make "scoopable" again, place in the refrigerator one hour or more before serving to soften a bit.
- Baked goods with Splenda cook faster. Check cakes up to 10 minutes sooner, muffins 5-8 minutes sooner, and cookies 3-5 minutes sooner. Also be sure to adjust the pan size if the batter does not reach the appropriate level in the pan.
- Dust a mere teaspoon or two of powdered sugar or cocoa powder onto desserts through a fine sieve after they are cooled to create a nice appearance. Before or after baking, adding a sprinkle of granulated sugar can add terrific sparkle. (These techniques add less than 1 gram of carbohydrate per serving).
- Wrap cooled baked goods tightly to keep them from drying out. You may freeze cookies, muffins, quick breads, and plain cakes. Thaw and microwave when you want to bring back that just-baked goodness.
After all is said about the virtues of Splenda (and there are many), I am sad to report that it's impossible for it to work in every type of recipe, especially those that depend on sugar to provide most of the structure or volume (angel food cake), to caramelize (caramel syrups), or to crystallize (for crackly toppings). I think this is a small price to pay for a product that makes it impossible for us to enjoy such a variety of foods without guilt or health risks.
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