As promised, here’s my printable guide and Question and Answer post for baking with sugar-free sweeteners! Thank you for submitting your sugar-free baking questions through Facebook and email.
Download the printable chart at the following link:
Sugar-Free Baking Cheat Sheet
I created this sugar-free baking tips sheet with reminders of how you use sugar-free natural sweeteners and a couple of widely available low carb artificial sweeteners. Feel free to post this chart on your own website, or link back to the chart as a reference. The more people who have access to information explaining how to use these healthy sweeteners, the better! I’ll update the body of this post (not the comments) with answers as more questions come in. You are welcome to provide your own feedback and answers to questions in the comments. I’d love to hear about your experiences with sugar-free baking, and any information you might have to add! Hopefully we can all collaborate to make this a helpful post for both fledgling and veteran sugar-free bakers.
Troubleshooting Questions for Baking with Sugar-Free Sweeteners
Question: How do I eliminate the “minty” cooling sensation in baked goods made with erythritol?
Answer: Reduce the amount of erythritol you’re using, and/or use another sweetener along with erythritol in your recipe. In my dessert recipes, I like to pair a good-tasting stevia extract with erythritol in order to boost and “round out” the sweet flavor. I use NuNaturals brand stevia since it does not have an aftertaste when used properly. The pure powdered stevia extract is what I use for the recipes on this blog since it is very concentrated and does not contain carby fillers (starches or sugars to add “bulk” to it, e.g. maltodextrin).
To sweeten your batter or dough with stevia and erythritol, start with a very small amount (1/32 of a teaspoon) of stevia and add more, pinch by pinch, till your dough tastes sweet, but not bitter. Then, add a little erythritol, and taste the batter again. Mix in more erythritol and keep tasting and adjusting till your dough is sweet enough. You want something to be little too sweet if you’re going bake it. Remember to use as little erythritol as possible to avoid the “cool” aftertaste. It takes some practice, but you’ll get a feel for it! You could also use artificial sweeteners like Splenda or saccharin to boost the sweetness of erythritol while keeping your recipe low in carbohydrates. I dislike the aftertaste and the chemical processing associated with Splenda and saccharin, so I don’t have much experience baking with them. Another solution to the “cooling” problem is to add ingredients like xylitol and xanthan gum that keep the erythritol dissolved. Read the questions and answers below for more information about this.
Q: How can I get erythritol to dissolve more easily? How can I ensure that my baked goods made with erythritol do not taste gritty?
A: Keep erythritol dissolved to avoid grittiness or a cooling effect. Grind erythritol into a powder in order to dissolve it in cold or room temperature liquids. The texture of powdered erythritol should be like that of powdered sugar. You can buy erythritol in powdered form, or grind it yourself! J I use a coffee grinder or my Magic Bullet blender to powder erythritol before using it in recipes that require that step. The recipes on this blog require you to measure out your erythritol before grinding it into powder.
In recipes containing a lot of fat (e.g. frostings, “fudges,” and homemade chocolates, use as little erythritol as possible, or none at all, to avoid a gritty consistency. I like to combine erythritol with xylitol, xanthan gum, and sometimes a little honey to minimize erythritol’s tendency to crystallize. See the below questions for much information on how to use xylitol and xanthan gum with erythritol.
Q: How do I avoid a dry and crumbly texture when using erythritol?
A: Increase the amount of moisture in your recipe. If you’re making a cake, add a little sour cream or coconut milk to the batter, or bake the cake for a shorter length of time. If you are making a cookie or other hard pastry, you won’t achieve the best-tasting results using erythritol and xylitol. Cookies require sugar for structure and a crunchy or crispy texture. You can only make cake-like cookies with xylitol and erythritol.
Q: What is xanthan gum, and how do you use it?
A: Xanthan gum is a naturally derived thickener with zero carbohydrates, subtracting fiber. A little bit goes a long way in most recipes! It can enhance the bread or cake-like texture of gluten-free pastries, and increase the “creaminess” of liquid fillings and ice cream. To ensure that your treats made with erythritol don’t become gritty or “cool”-tasting, you can add a little xanthan gum (start with 1/8 of a teaspoon), which forms an invisible web that will stop erythritol from crystallizing. You can get away with using more xanthan gum in a baked dough or batter than in a sauce you are thickening. In liquids, xanthan gum can quickly become slimy, so add it little by little, whisking and checking for consistency.
Q: What is xylitol, and when do I use it? How do you use xylitol with erythritol?
A: Xylitol is a sugar alcohol with a slightly different molecular structure than erythritol. It has less of a tendency to crystallize and taste “cool” compared to erythritol. Using a small amount of xylitol (1/2 teaspoon to 2 Tablespoons, depending on the recipe) can help to keep the erythritol stay dissolved in your desserts. I use as little xylitol as possible in my recipes since I get unpleasant side effects (gastric discomfort and bloating) if I eat more than a small amount. People vary in their tolerance to xylitol. Xylitol is unsafe for some animals due to how their bodies process it, so be sure to keep your treats made with xylitol stored out of reach of pets.
Since I can’t create a post without a recipe, here’s my current favorite quick and easy vanilla ice cream. It’s perfect for summer! It’s best eaten within a couple days of churning it. Still tweaking it to come up with that perfect premium vanilla blend…
This healthy vanilla ice cream recipe is sugar-free and a snap to make. Just throw everything in your blender or Magic Bullet, chill, and freeze in your ice cream maker. No cooking or fussing with eggs required! There a two versions of this posted below – one version made with ingredients available at the grocery store, and one version with the usual sweeteners (erythritol, xylitol, and stevia) I use for this blog. Try the version with the ingredients that suit your taste and lifestyle. The ice cream recipe using erythritol, xylitol, and stevia is my favorite since it has no aftertaste and uses natural sweeteners. Since there is no sugar in either of these recipes, the ice cream is best consumed within 24 hours of making. Otherwise, leave your storage container out on the counter for 10 minutes, or till it becomes softened n’ scoopable. It’s worth the wait!
Sugar-Free Vanilla Ice Cream
1 cup half and half
1 cup heavy cream
1/16 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons Truvia
4 packets of Splenda
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 tsp + 1/16 tsp xanthan gum (available in the health foods section of most grocery stores)
Add half and half, heavy cream, salt, Truvia, and Splenda to blender. Blend for 20 seconds. Add vanilla, salt, and xanthan gum. Blend for 10 seconds. Chill mixture in a bowl (or in your blender) in the fridge overnight. For faster chilling, place mixture in a bowl, and set it over a larger bowl full of ice cubes and water. Cover bowl containing ice cream mixture with plastic wrap. Chill mixture in ice bath for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, till the mix is very cold to the touch. Pour ice cream mix into ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions. Transfer freshly churned ice cream into tupperware containers or steel canisters, and let it chill in the freezer for 4-6 hours before attempting to scoop it. You can also enjoy your ice cream soft-serve style, straight out of the ice cream maker.
~4.4 g carbs per 1/3 of a recipe
~6.5 g carbs per serving (1/3 of a recipe)