MS//Mommy is reaching a milestone this weekend: on Sunday we will be celebrating our one-year anniversary. In honor of this milestone, we asked Michelle Melton to share with us a sugar-free cake recipe – perfect for all sorts of celebrations.
One of my favorite lines from Ray Romano’s early stand-up routine was about his, then 3-year-old daughter, Alexandra. As they were driving along, he noticed that she stared out the window smiling at nothing in particular. When he asked her what she was thinking about, she replied “candy!”
Even at 60, I remember clearly the joy as a child that was candy, ice cream, and other sugary treats. My friends and I would walk to the drug store clutching our quarters and stand in front of the rows of candy trying to decide which choices would yield the most pleasure for our money. Our neighborhood was visited by three different ice cream trucks each day during the summer and though my mother would limit the purchases to occasionally, the sound of bells or a music box-like jingle would send me running home with the hope that, perhaps today, might be the day. A few years later, when a candy company introduced a large-sized lollipop with a sweet side and a tart side, bringing it to school, became the cool thing to do in sixth grade.
With such a long-standing and deep-rooted love of sweets, one would imagine that once I became a mother, I would be sympathetic to a child’s love of candy and desserts. But nothing could be further from the truth.
As I watched those beautiful new teeth emerge in my infant daughter’s mouth I vowed (successfully) that she would live life cavity-free. Since sugar-filled treats had been the source of my numerous dental fillings, I chose to limit the introduction of candy and other treats into her life. If we did indulge, I chose high-quality or homemade confections and desserts. We enjoyed candy on special occasions and holidays but rather than using candy as a gift or reward, I would instead choose small toys or other useful items like pens and pencils, especially on the annual homemade advent calendar.
It was by coincidence last year when my daughter decided to remove cane sugar from her diet that I had been investigating the idea at the same time. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was already living gluten-free off and on so the concept of removing sugar seemed daunting. I decided to postpone going entirely gluten-free until after the first of this year and instead joined my daughter in her effort to use sugar alternatives (honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, xylitol) in place of cane sugar. With birthdays and the holidays approaching at this time last year, the effort to convert favorite recipes to these substitutes was going to be difficult enough without the added trouble of trying to use gluten-free flours.
My first sugar substitute of choice was coconut sugar. It is readily available at most grocery stores and it is also the least expensive.
It could be substituted one-to-one for the sugar called for in recipes. However, one of the drawbacks is the brown color which, when combined with foods like fruit give the mixture an unappealing look, though it works well in recipes as a replacement for brown sugar.
The last drawback is one I haven’t read about so I am guessing few people have noticed this but coconut sugar is oily. It seems to retain some of the oil found in the coconut and therefore, can interfere in the finished product. For example, when I tried to make homemade chocolate chips, the final product would not solidify properly because of the added oil. Coconut sugar is a great substitute as long as these characteristics are taken into consideration. If appearance, taste and setting up isn’t an issue (as when making chocolate syrup for milk) then I use coconut sugar.