NATURALLY SWEET by America’s Test Kitchen

Click to purchase

Click to purchase

Bake All Your Favorites with 30% to 50% Less Sugar

I am a long time fan of Christopher Kimball and the company he founded, America’s Test Kitchen. I had heard they were working on this cookbook, I think on the podcast, which, weirdly, I like even more than the PBS TV show. So when I saw an advance copy in the Random House booth at the American Library Association annual conference, I grabbed it (with permission, I’m not a book thief!)

My husband is diabetic and I don’t like using artificial sweeteners, so I was definitely interested. I am happy to report that they do not use chemical sweeteners or even Stevia, but rather sugar substitutes like honey and molasses, coconut sugar and one I’d never heard of, Sucanat, which Google tells me is “(an abbreviation for sugar-cane-natural) and has a stronger molasses flavor than refined white sugar and retains all of the nutrients found in natural sugar cane juice, including iron, calcium, vitamin B6 and potassium.” That appealed to me, so I purchased it from Amazon.

I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but I have made a few of the recipes in the book. I tried the No Fuss Banana Ice Cream. It had no added sugar but rather frozen bananas blended and mixed with unsweetened cocoa. It wasn’t bad, sort of tasted like a banana split, but wasn’t fantastic.

I then made the Chocolate Pudding Cake. This also had no added sugar, just the sugar in the half a pound of semi-sweet chocolate that’s in the recipe. I used half bittersweet, half semi-sweet and it also had Dutch-process cocoa powder. I wasn’t sure I was going to like it, the batter had a bitter taste to it. It was made like most pudding cakes, if you’ve ever made one, in that you make a thick batter, then pour boiling water over the top before baking. It smelled amazing, the whole house smelled like chocolate. The finished product was pretty good, I thought it could have used a little sugar but I guess that would have defeated the point. It was very chocolaty and had streaks of a not very sweet pnaturally-sweet-blueberry-pieudding throughout, but it was the the little pockets where the chopped chocolate had been mixed in that gave it its deliciousness. This recipe took the usual 34 grams of sugar down about a third, so still not that low but certainly better.

The best thing I made was the blueberry pie, it was amazing, albeit a little messy. There was no added sugar either, which makes it even more miraculous. Instead, some of the fresh fruit is cooked down and that is used to sweeten the pie and it worked beautifully. Blueberry pie is one of my husband’s favorite desserts so he was absolutely thrilled with this.

The chapters:

Muffins, Quickbreads & Breakfast Treats
Cookies & Bars
Pies & Tarts
Fruit Desserts
Puddings, Custards & Frozen Treats

I’ve noticed in some of the online reviews comments from people who were upset that butter and cream were commonly used ingredients. This is a baking cookbook, not a diet cookbook, people! It is a low sugar cookbook and that is quite a different thing.

As usual, America’s Test Kitchen has done a terrific job. If you like your desserts less sweet than what you typically get, or are cutting back on sugar for whatever your reasons, take a look at this book. I’m glad I did. Up next: chocolate chip cookies!

9/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

NATURALLY SWEET by America’s Test Kitchen. America’s Test Kitchen; 1 edition (August 23, 2016). ISBN 978-1940352589. 336p.

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