#veganmofo – How to use stevia in baking and cooking

October 30, 2012

Because I’ve been posting a lot about sugar free baking and cooking, I’ve been getting questions here and there about how to properly use stevia in sugar free baking, since there are so many varieties of it. So I’m writing this post about it now, since tomorrow’s recipe is going to be sugar free!

But first, check out the above vintage orange measuring cups I got from Ritas Garden on Etsy! I can’t wait to bake with them. There’s even a 2/3 cup measure! OMG!

Ok so there are basically four types of stevia: the uncut kind, the liquid, the granulated kind for baking, and the packets.

Pure Stevia in its “uncut” form is over 200 times sweeter than sugar. It comes in a powder. Therefore, when you’re using this kind, you use a tiny amount – 1/16th of a teaspoon of the powder would be more than enough to sweeten a cup of coffee. Because of the amount of guesswork involved, it’s very difficult to use this kind of stevia in baking (though people have tried, as it used to be the only kind of stevia available). It works best for things like coffee, hot cocoa, tofu pudding, or chocolate sauce – things where you have to add sweetener to taste.

Stevia liquid is similar to the above – you use it in tiny amounts to flavor things. 4 drops of alcohol based stevia liquid is enough to sweeten a cup of tea. Because of this, it is also best used the same way – when you need to sweeten something “to taste”. The main difference between the liquid and the uncut powder is, in my experience, the liquid dissolves better in cold and room temperature beverages (like lemonade, or when making sugar free maple syrup or chocolate sauce), while the powder dissolves better in hot beverages like tea and coffee. I do not know why.

Granulated (or baking blend) stevia is stevia combined with filler material so it is appropriate for use in baking. Usually you can use it on a 1 to 1 ratio with sugar. In plain English, that means it can be used the exact same way as sugar in all recipes. Most of the time it comes in a standard granulated form, but it also comes in in a powder. Be warned that while most stevia powder is free from milk and other allergens, not all stevia powder is vegan – sometimes it is mixed with lactose or other milk-based fillers. I know, for example, that Trader Joe’s sells 2 kinds of stevia powder – one that comes in packets and one that comes in a bottle – and the one that comes in a bottle is made with lactose (the packets are vegan though).

Speaking of which, stevia also comes in packets (either powdered in packets, or in little tablets in packets). These are mostly for sweetening tea and coffee, but I’ve been known to toss a couple packets in a recipe here or there. Despite this, however, I don’t recommend trying to bake with the kind in packets unless, again, you’re only going to use 1-2 packets. Most of the time it will not work with the same ratios as the granulated stuff above.

Unlike most artificial sweeteners, the taste of stevia varies from brand to brand and not all of them are good. Some brands taste good in small amounts, but will turn whatever you’re making bitter if you use too much. Other brands just don’t taste good at all.

I haven’t sampled every brand, but I have tried a lot of them. I’ve said this already, but NuNaturals makes the best tasting stevia (liquid, uncut powder, and baking blend). Pretty much everyone agrees on this. The main downside is that their Baking Blend is not calorie free, so if you avoid sugar for diet reasons or if you count calories, that may be of concern to you. It definitely is to me, so I usually use Stevia in the Raw for baking instead, it is also great in coffee and tea. The Trader Joe’s packets are good in small amounts, but, like I said above, they don’t work in baking or pretty much anything where you’re going to use more than 2 packets. More than that will turn whatever you’re making bitter.

I’ve also tried the Whole Foods brand liquid, and the Truvia packets – I didn’t really like either of these that much, but I’d like to try the other varieties these brands offer.

Hopefully this will clear some things up and you’ll be making sugar-free sweets in no time.

The last day of veganmofo is tomorrow! And it’s also Halloween! Sadly, I have no Halloween plans at all this year, other than sharing a recipe with you guys. It’s too bad, I love Halloween. :(

Until then…


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