A healthy alternative to sugar?

Last week in my interview with Sarah Wilson we chatted about the benefits of quitting sugar.

The good news is, there are healthy, natural sugar alternatives out there. So quitting or cutting down your sugar intake need not mean the end of enjoying delicious sweet treats.

So what are these healthy sugar alternatives?

1. Stevia.
Stevia comes from a naturally occurring herb. It’s hundreds of times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way. It’s best for adding a dash of sweetness to things like your tea or coffee. I’ve also found it great to use as a ‘seasoning’ anywhere you’d like a bit more sweetness like in a Thai curry.

It generally comes in liquid form and because it’s so potent, it can’t be used on its own for baking.

2. Erythritol.
Erythritol is found naturally in fruit such as grapes, melons and peaches and in fermented products like wine, beer and soy sauce.

It’s a ‘sugar alcohol’ and has about 70% of the sweetness of regular sugar. It comes in granular form and acts like sugar in baking without the calories or impact on your blood sugar levels.

3. Stevia / Erythritol Blends.
These give the best of both worlds by combining the sugar-like baking properties and granular bulk of erythritol with the extra sweetness of stevia.

Where do I get these healthy sugar alternatives?

My local supermarket supplies both liquid stevia and a stevia/erythritol blend (Natvia brand). The downside here is that Natvia is quite expensive. So I’ve recently been ordering pure erythritol online which is still expensive compared with sugar. But then sugar is one of the cheapest ingredients out there so I don’t worry about the comparison too much.

Health food stores are also a good bet for finding erythritol and/or stevia.

What do I do with these healthy sugar alternatives?

I’m glad you asked!

You may remember last year I wrote about a brilliant healthy baking ebook called ‘Guilt-Free Desserts‘. I’m still loving it for healthy desserts and baked goods. And made a divine flourless chocolate cake from the ebook over the weekend.

The same people have recently released a followup ebook, ‘Carefree Candies‘. I’ve been playing around with some of the recipes over the Christmas holidays.

My favourites have been the peanut butter cups below. And I just LOVED the healthy ‘ice magic’ ice cream topping which took me back to my childhood. I’m also planning to try the salted caramel and the truffles.

Guilt_Free_Desserts_Banner_B CAREFREE-CANDIES-medium-book

To be honest, my gripe with these ebooks is that the recipes are in cups and spoon measurements, rather than weights. But Carefree Candies does have a conversion chart at the back. The other downside is that if you’re looking for tempting photographs, you won’t find them in either book.

BUT! If you’re keen for some great healthy recipes for sweet treats, then you’re in luck.

If you do decide to buy either ebook, these are affiliate links so you’ll be supporting Stonesoup. To say thanks, I have an extra gift for you…

GF baking 3D Cover
2 easy steps to claim your bonus gift:
1. Buy a copy of Guilt-Free Desserts OR Carefree Candies. Just go to:
www.guiltfreedesserts.net OR carefreecandies.com

2. Come back and enter your details and receipt number on the page over here:
www.thestonesoup.com/blog/gfbonus/

chocolate peanut butter cups-2

guilt-free peanut butter cups

takes about 20 minutes

Adapted from Kelly Herring’s Carefree Candies.

These are super rich so it’s best to make them in small mini-muffin papers. I was able to pick some up (in lurid colours) from my local supermarket.

If you can’t find mini muffin papers, make them in regular cupcake papers, but consider slicing them before serving.

The first time I made these, I missed the instruction to use ‘powdered’ erythritol and just popped the granular stuff in. The texture ended up being quite ‘gritty’. Still edible but no where near as good as when I blitzed the erythritol in my spice grinder to powder it before using.

enough for 12
60g (2 oz) butter
100g (3.5oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or more), chopped
100g (3.5oz) peanut butter
1-2 tablespoons erythritol, powdered

1. Melt butter in your smallest saucepan. Remove from the heat.

2. Add chocolate chunks and stand for a few minutes. Meanwhile, place 12 mini-muffin papers in a tray or on a plate.

3. When the chocolate has melted, stir the chocolate and butter until smooth. If there are still some unmelted chunks, pop back on a low heat for a few seconds.

4. Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate in the base of each mini-muffin paper. Use the teaspoon to push the chocolate up the sides of the papers. Then pop in the freezer for 5 minutes to set the bases.

5. Combine peanut butter and erythritol. Taste and add more erythritol if needed.

6. Divide peanut butter mixture between the mini-muffin papers. Top with remaining chocolate mixture, so no peanut butter is visible.

7. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to serve.

VARIATIONS
can’t find erythritol? – you could use powdered (icing) sugar instead. Or to keep it healthy use a few drops of liquid stevia to sweeten the peanut butter.

milk chocolate – Milk chocolate has quite a bit of sugar so this option is best if ‘health’ isn’t a priority. Replace butter and dark chocolate with 160g (5.5oz) milk chocolate. Melt it carefully over a double boiler or in the microwave, then use as per the chocolate butter mixture.

salted chocolate peanut butter cups – sprinkle sea salt flakes over the top before refrigerating.

different nuts – feel free to play around with different nut butters. Almond is good and hazelnut even better.

nut allergies – moisten some dessicated coconut with coconut cream and use in place of the peanut butter.

dairy-free / vegan – replace butter with coconut oil.

Video version of the recipe.

With love,
Jules x

ps. I’ve just realised we’ve had two sweet recipes in a row and it’s only January! Don’t worry, next week we’ll be back to normal healthy savoury meals…

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{ 16 comments }

Monique January 22, 2013 at 7:57 pm

I watched this video last night. Being Canadian and a lover of chocolate and peanut butter I miss Reese’s Peanut Butter cups. So needless to say I could not wait to make these. I used half milk and half dark chocolate, and what was left of the no name brand peanut butter I had in the cupboard, so there was no need to add any sweetener. They were rich but delicious! I can see myself making these way too often!

Kath January 22, 2013 at 9:13 pm

These look amazing! I am definitely going to try them, and might have to get one of those ebooks sometime :-)

Unrelated question – where do you buy black beans from? I’m in Canberra and haven’t been able to find them, I must be looking in all the wrong places. I saw some of the photos in your flickr have black beans so hopefully you can help!!

Gene January 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm

We’ve had a stevia plant for several years. We harvest it regularly. I find the crushed, dried leaves particularly effective in teas.

Ginny Phang January 22, 2013 at 11:15 pm

Hi, I am new to your website and thoroughly enjoyed your interview with Sarah Wilson. I was so motivated by the information I read on her e-book and Sweet Poison that I am on Day 2 of going sugar-free :-D

Being a dessert lover, I am so pleased to see your online offer. However, i have a question. For alternative sweeteners as you have suggested in your post, does it still break down as fructose in the body? What about other sweeteners such as xylitol and Zylitol?

Looking forward to hear from you, Ginny from Singapore :-)

ladyphlogiston January 23, 2013 at 10:49 am

I have found wolfram alpha (wolframalpha.com) very useful for converting from cups and spoons to weights, if there’s ingredients not covered in the conversion table. (Has to be by ingredient because cups and spoons are a volume measure so density affects weight, which is super annoying but such is life)

Nic@diningwithastud January 23, 2013 at 2:28 pm

OMG peanut butter cups are such a weakness of mine! I adore them!! Now that I know theres a guilt free version – look out! haha :)

Caroline January 23, 2013 at 3:15 pm

Hi Jules,

I really want to believe these are ‘guilt-free’, but gosh, they’re full of butter, peanut butter and chocolate! Taking out the sugar helps a little, but there’s an awful lot of fat! Maybe there’s a better way to describe these than ‘guilt-free’?

Thanks! Love your blog!

Katie January 24, 2013 at 5:16 am

Does anybody know much about natvia? Not sure if its only australian Or not.. I’ve used it a couple of times now in baking and things like microwave insta puddings and it’s been fantastic because it’s an equal substitution. The packet says its all natural etc but it’s hard to believe what’s written on boxes these days.. There’s always a little asterisk you missed somewhere. It also makes a mean hot/iced chocolate when mixed with cocoa, they actually sell it as a kids sugar free drinking chocolate at woollies too.

Elle January 25, 2013 at 2:59 am

I’ve tried Stevia and didn’t care much for it… it tastes too much like artificial sweetener for my liking. I will have to try the other one! The best thing I’ve found to sweeten things naturally is frozen fruit juice or grinding up dried dates.

mild January 25, 2013 at 7:09 pm

wow! this sounds really nice.=)

Nic January 28, 2013 at 6:35 pm

I made the Paleo banana bread for the first time yesterday. I thought it tasted really good whilst I was eating it, but there’s a bit of an after taste. I’m imagining that’s the ‘Nativia’. Is there any natural sweeteners without the after taste? Loving the recipes though. Made the avocado chocolate mousse & loved it! Great texture, although I did use icing sugar as I couldn’t find liquid stevia. The dutch processed cocoa was so good I was thinking of just not adding any sweetener next time.

dana January 31, 2013 at 7:48 am

Love these! Great concept and lovely photos, as always, Jules.

Nat February 4, 2013 at 6:19 am

Yum! these look simple yet fantastic. Dark chocolate and natural peanut butter go so well together… one of my favourites ;)

Thanks for the recipe!

Penny February 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

My family all the time say that I am killing
my time here at net, however I know I am getting familiarity everyday by reading thes
pleasant articles or reviews.

Suzanne March 13, 2013 at 7:01 pm

These are great. I have made these about five times already but I usually skip the Natvia in the peanut butter and it tastes great. These are certainly guilt-free!

Kelsey May 14, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Could I use Rice Malt Syrup instead? I do have stevia (now pushed FAR back into my pantry) but I have only used it once or twice and can’t stand the after taste!

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