Erythritol – is cool …

5 Mar

Oooo… erythritol is cool – not cool as in great, super, can be used in equal amounts where sugar is called for but cool as in minty cool.

I’ve found quite a few recipes using erythritol which seems to be touted as THE sugar replacement and so this was another product I ended up ordering online – all the way from the US. A week after my order was placed, our nice postman rang the doorbell, smiled at me and handed me a little box.

The brand I bought was from Now-Healthy Foods and labelled Erythritol 100% Pure Natural Sweetener.

On the side of the packet was a short blurb about the product – ‘Erythritol, a polyol (sugar alcohol), is a good-tasting sweetener which is suitable for a variety of reduced calorie and sugar-free foods. It can be used as a sugar substitute in most recipes . …. Erythritol resembles sugar in consistency and taste but has a caloric value near zero. It is also a great sugar alternative for diabetics. ..’

I cut open the package to examine the product and saw that it was granular like fine sugar. It felt lighter than sugar. That was all I could tell. How it would taste waited to be seen.

So on with it. I decided not to waste any time and test it out. I remembered seeing a peanut butter cookie recipe somewhere which didn’t use flour and googled for it. I found the recipe on several sites, all with rave reviews. It was such a simple thing – 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg, 1 tsp vanilla flavouring. Roll into balls, flatten and bake at 190 degrees C for 10-12 minutes. I decided to test just a 1/4 recipe and it is a good thing I did. I replaced the sugar with erythritol, one to one. The only difficult part was measuring out a 1/4 of the egg!

After 12 minutes, I took the tray out of the oven. The cookies were still quite soft. I left them to stand for 20 minutes and thankfully, they did harden up.  Since I’ve got a lovely photo, here it is. They look good don’t they ….

…. and should taste good too… shouldn’t they?? I took a careful bite into the hardish, crunchy cookie, chewed on it and felt how the bit in my mouth got cooler and cooler – just like when you eat a mint and then take a breath, you can feel the coolness in your mouth and throat. A little disappointed, I took another bite and still the same. And oh yes, the cookie left a slight aftertaste on my tongue -sort of like when you’ve used too much baking powder or baking soda.

Which leads me to the conclusion, you can’t really substitute sugar 1:1 with erythritol. I googled a bit more and found someone with the same problem. Now, a week after receiving my erythritol package, I have tried out two other muffin recipes both of which called for 3/4 cup erythritol. Yes, you do get the slight cooling effect if you pay attention.  However, since cakes are often kept in the fridge and eaten cool, you may not notice the cool effect. Apparently, you should only substitute the sugar in your recipe with erythritol only so much so as not to get that cooling feeling. The rest of the sugar should be substituted with something else. So now I understand why some recipes have two different sweeteners in them – erythritol and something else.

If you are thinking of using erythritol, do keep this in mind. Do a test, start by replacing a small amount of sugar with erythritol and each time, keep increasing till you get the cooling effect – then you know you’ve gone too far.

And do be aware of that slight aftertaste. If you accept that you will get it, then all is ok.

Today, I made a plain pasta sauce and used a half tsp of erythritol in place of the sugar with no problems. Thank goodness, no cool spaghetti sauce! That would be disgusting.

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