Saturday, April 2, 2011

Baking without sugar. New Sonoma Cookbook author talks about using sugar alternatives in desserts

Dr. Connie Guttersen
What happens to the chemistry and/or taste of a dessert recipe when I substitute some other sweetener for sugar?  

This is the question I put to Connie Guttersen, RD, PhD, and author of the Sonoma Diet, the New Sonoma Diet and the New Sonoma Cookbook.  It's one of a series of articles she agreed to, most of them published on San Jose Fitness Examiner. (See those articles at Going sugar free? New Sonoma Diet author says 'Try these sugar alternatives';  and New Sonoma Diet author discusses sugar, alternatives and substitutes.

Dr. Guttersen has consulted with a broad range of corporations and Fortune 500 companies on food trends, including Kraft, Nestle, Marriott Hotels, and been a speaker on the nationally acclaimed Harvard Medical School Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives program. Among her impressive media lineup, she has been on The View, the Today Show a just to name a few.

What happens to the chemistry and/or taste of a dessert recipe when I substitute some other sweetener for sugar? 

Dr. Guttersen explains:  
In solution, sugar has the effect of lowering the freezing point and raising the boiling point of that solution. These are important properties in preparing frozen desserts and candy, respectively.

In ice cream, for example, sugar’s ability to depress the freezing point slows the freezing process, promoting a smooth, creamy consistency. 

In shortening-based cakes, sugar raises, delays and controls the temperature at which the batter goes from fluid to solid which allows the leavening agent to produce the maximum amount of carbon dioxide. The gas is held inside the air cells of the structure, resulting in a fine, uniformly-grained cake with a soft, smooth crumb texture. 

Honey, molasses, maple and corn syrup are liquid sweeteners. While they do provide sweetness they do not cream well, just as liquid vegetable oils can’t substitute for solid shorteners.

Honey, the globally popular liquid sugar produced by bees, is comprised of glucose, fructose, maltose and sucrose. It has a distinctive flavor, is sweeter than regular sugar, and producers moist and dense baked goods.

Molasses, a byproduct of refined sugar production, is made up of sucrose, glucose, and fructose as well as small amounts of Vitamin B, calcium, and iron. It is not as sweet as sugar and imparts a dark color and stronger flavor to baked foods.

Maple syrup, the sumptuous liquid most famous for sweetening hotcakes, waffles, and French toast, is also very good when baked into cookies, pies, and cakes. Grade B maple syrup has a vibrant flavor conducive to eliciting exquisitely baked products.

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