Swapping and Comparing Natural Sweeteners

The most important part in swapping natural sweeteners is understanding their properties. Some are moist and require adjusting liquid levels, some are dry and require some help there too. We’re going to talk about the three I have experience with and are most primarily used; coconut sugar, maple syrup and honey. Lets talk about it in terms of baking first. Coconut sugar = a dry brown sugar. So when using one for one you will end up with a drier baked good. Some things this doesnt matter/is more forgiving (such as muffins/bread) whereas some it does matter (cookies). I help out the dryness by adding a tbsp of honey, molasses or maple syrup per cup of coconut sugar to help with moisture. I didnt do side by side tests with maple syrup and honey because it really is so simple and reliable to swap with. Honey is the easier liquid sweetener to swap. In all my experimenting over the years, simply taking the amount of sugar called for and cutting it in half, gives you the amount of honey you need. So a muffin recipe that calls for 1 cup of sugar, use 1/2 cup of honey. Mix it with your wet ingredients, not your dry ingredients, and if its crystallized or creamed, you may need to warm it up a bit. Maple syrup takes a little math. In recipes where you can adjust the liquid level, (as in use less water/milk) refer to Michelle’s chart on substituting maple syrup for sugar. If its recipes like cookies where there isnt a liquid level to adjust, for every 1/4 cup of maple syrup used, add 1 tbsp extra flour. How about in drinks? Maple syrup and honey come out a LOT sweeter in drinks, whereas coconut sugar is not. In hot drinks, its a no brainer and easy swap to lower your consumption of processed sugar and use one the latter instead. In cold drinks, I only use maple syrup because its so convenient and makes the best iced coffee and mint mojito cocktail ever. If you had lots of honey on hand, you could make a honey simple syrup, but its going to have a lifespan in the fridge and your honey has to get boiled in order for it to work. Yeast breads? I think yeast breads are so incredibly simple of swapping sweeteners, IF you know what the finished dough is supposed to feel like. For the most part there is so little added sweetener in yeast bread that it wont make much of a difference, EXCEPT, its going to brown faster. Some people turn the oven down by 25 degrees (so like 350F to 325F) but personally I just embrace the browned goods because it doesnt effect taste! Quick breads- such as muffins, banana breads etc come out really well. Quick referring to them relying on baking soda/baking powder for leavening vs yeast/sourdough. Until I started testing some things for this post, I always used honey as my sweetener swap. Well friends, I’m here to tell you that maple syrup muffins are outstanding and I would definitely choose maple syrup over honey for quick breads! I used Mix and Match Muffins which are my favourite all purpose muffin recipe from this book. Quick breads are fairly forgiving to swap natural sweeteners for refined sugar in my experience. I think cookies is where it gets more complicated. But never fear! I have two different honey sweetened cut out cookies for you- Honey Cut Outs and Honey Sweetened Gingerbread cut out cookies. I started playing around with taking a standard chocolate chip cookie recipe (my favourite, from this book) and my results looked like this; On the left you have maple syrup sweetened chocolate chip cookies. On the right you have honey. The biggest difference from these to ‘normal’ chocolate chip cookies…is that they dont keep well. The next day they are soft, especially the maple syrup ones. I’m sure longer baking would help this…but then you have more crunchy cookies instead of chewy, so its up to you what you’d rather. The recipe called for 1 1/4 cup sugar. I used 1 1/4 cup maple syrup, plus an extra 5 tbsp of flour. Next time I would lower the maple syrup so they didnt spread so much. For the honey I subbed the 1 1/4 cup sugar for 1/2 cup+2 tbsp honey, which is half the amount. I think they were winners!! The chewy cookie I wanted, but again, they dont keep well. You just need to eat them all right away I guess?! Cooking is another forgiving way to swap for natural sweeteners. Its almost effortless to swap in marinades and sauces, I’m yet to have a problem with any of them. Now what about cost? Well, price is going to greatly vary, depending on where you live! The most lucky of all are those who have beehives and maple trees that put in the hard work to have their shelves lined with gorgeous jars of honey and maple syrup for the rest of the year. While there is obviously a cost involved, a lot of sweat equity pays off too! If you’re used to buying the cheapest sugar, using natural sweeteners is going to be a huge sticker shock to you. Personally I already pay about $1.50+/lb for organic cane sugar, which works out to about 50 cents a cup. So yes, still drastically different price vs other sweeteners, but I’m not buying the stuff thats pennies per cup either. For honey, I pay $95CAD for 7kgs of honey, which is 15.4 lbs. It works out to $13.50 a kg, and a kg has 3 cups of honey, making it $4.50/cup. In my cookie recipes, they use just 1/2 cup to make quite a few cookies, which is quite cost effective in my opinion. Maple Syrup costs me $14/litre (a litre is about 2 tbsp more than a quart) which equals $3.50 a cup. So while its cheaper per cup…you use less cups of honey vs maple syrup, which makes it equal or more expensive than using honey. There is some things that I just have to have maple syrup for, like coffee, obviously! I paid $15 for 4 pounds of Coconut sugar, which has about 2.5-3 cups per pound, making it roughly $1.50 a cup and quite frankly, the most simple one to simply swap! However, it is the most ‘processed’ of these three sweeteners…but you just cant win them all! So which should you use? …I cant really answer that for you. So much is going to depend on your families preferences, your availability, what you’re using it for. Personally, I feel its good to keep at least one of these in the house, I am always stocked in maple syrup and honey, but after doing the price breakdown…I think I need to to start using coconut sugar more and keeping it on hand because it is so drastically cheaper per pound!… This content is for members only.Login <a href=""...

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