The sweet component is the main factor of our love for biscuits, as we are sure you'll agree with us. But increasingly sugar is frowned upon in its conventional refined white form and biscuit manufacturers are always looking to make their products healthier and more delicious thus appealing to the masses. Here we are introduced to sugar substitutes, ingredients that keep the sweetness but make the biscuits more accessible to people looking to consume less sugar.
We have already written about sugar and its functional properties, a major ingredient used in various types of biscuits, apart from imparting a sweet taste it also has various applications in the processing of the biscuit dough as well in the structural and organoleptic properties of the baked biscuits. But now we're going to look to the alternatives. It should be noted that it’s the sugar that gives colours when baked, provides tenderness and helps in the development of volume and structure.
Natural and Artificial Sweeteners
Some of these we might consider trends which we have also covered in the rise of healthy baking, but in trends there are a lot of benefits we should differ. Few of these alternatives are honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, blackstrap molasses, fruits, stevia, and sucanat – difference being in its origin, natural of artificial sweeteners. These are probably the most popular sweeteners. For example, sucralose: this sweetener is 600 times sweeter than sugar. One teaspoon contains one calorie and 0 grams of carb, while saccharin is 300 times sweeter than sugar, and Stevia-based sweeteners are 200 times sweeter than sugar.
Most of these are not used in baking for the lack of functional properties other than sweetness, but many of the sugar substitute manufacturers also produce “sugar blends,” which combine a particular sugar substitute with sugar. Xylitol is a granular sugar substitute found naturally in fibrous fruit and vegetables.
Sweeteners for Cookies
As we have already mentioned, classic sugar doesn't just bring sweetness to the table, but also has other attributes beneficial for baking, that's why every substitute has its own recipe modification, to keep the consistency of the dough and sweetness ratio. If you're interested in experimenting with sugar substitutes for baking, here you can find a rather useful chart to help you with your recipe.
When it comes to cookies, one of the better options is molasses (made by boiling juice extracted from sugarcane or beets) which contains small amounts of B vitamins, calcium, and iron. Even coconut sugar made from coconut blossom is a good choice because of its dry texture which suits baked goods such as cookies.
Looking at the natural sweeteners, it's not all about calories when we're referring to the healthier side, it also includes types of calories, carbs, etc. So, even when it may seem they're the same because of the calorie count, the real benefits lie in their other properties, including a specific flavour which can contribute to the overall taste and the way your body processes – some have less of an impact on blood sugar levels which means you can enjoy that sweet taste without the resulting 'rush' that regular sugar gives you.