Ever since embarking on this sugar-free adventure back in March, the question I get asked most frequently is "do you miss dessert?" And there are two answers to it, really.
1. Yes. Heck yes. Give me all the cookies 'n' cream ice cream please. (I miss that.)
2. No - I actually don't really crave sugar anymore. It's when other people are eating it around me, and I would like to be eating it too, that it's harder to refrain. But on my own, I feel quite satisfied - especially since I've discovered some pretty amazing, sugarless desserts.
Sugar-free baking can be pretty easy, and so rewarding when done right! But because you're working with substituting, not everything is going to turn out the same as if you had sugar in it (or the way the recipe-writer promises). There are a couple things to keep in mind before you go about doing it (a couple things, actually, that I wish I'd known months ago! They would've saved a few failures...XP).
1. SALT REALLY DOES BRING OUT FLAVOR.
And in some cases, that's amazing! You've added a bit of heavy cream and vanilla to your sugar-free soft serve experiment, and salt is just the thing to take it to the next level. Generally, with frozen things, salt is a good idea.
However. If you're baking warm things, like muffins or pancakes - things that normally would benefit from a pinch of salt - when you don't have sugar in there to mask any other stronger flavors, it becomes a bit more difficult. For instance, I sweeten a lot of things with either bananas or dates...let's just say that hot, salty banana-flavor is not my idea of a delicious dessert! And speaking of bananas,
2. EVERYTHING TASTES LIKE BANANA
Few things provide that smooth, creamy texture like a banana. Sometimes, though I've gotten a bit carried away, and a lot of my desserts end up banana-flavored by accident. For the most part, this soft, protein-rich fruit is an excellent flavor canvas, but what spells the difference between success and disaster is the age of your bananas. The older, the better! Too green and -- though prime for eating fresh (anyone else like their bananas on the greener side??) -- they almost taste vegetable when mashed in with other sweet ingredients.
3. SWEET BY ASSOCIATION IS A REAL THING
Something I've been pleasantly surprised by is how simple it is to trick your palate into thinking you're eating something sweet. Don't believe me? Try adding cinnamon to a slice of toast with butter (I make homemade bread sweetened with a bit of honey, fyi) - doesn't it taste like pastry? Another great one is vanilla, dashed in the blender with a frozen banana, cocoa powder, cream, sea salt and a couple of dates. Basically ice cream. See our taste buds associate those flavors with other sweet things, and when we taste them - while they may not be sweet in and of themselves, they provide a similar enough experience that we're almost fooled. (Almost. Nothing ever will replace plain old sugar, unfortunately. ;)
Have you tried baking without sugar? What were your results? I'd love to hear anything you have learned along the way!