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Sweeteners 101: Your guide to baking this winter

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Sweeteners 101: Your guide to baking this winter

With so many sweeteners on the market today, it’s hard to know what to buy.

This season is a great time to learn about sweeteners and get creative in kitchen. Understand the various natural sweeteners and what their benefits are, as well as the recipes where they work best to make your dishes pop.

Turbinado sugar. Popularized by the brand, Sugar In The Raw, this large golden crystal sugar has a distinct crunchy texture and molasses taste. Add it to your warm beverages such as coffee, tea, cappuccino or latte. Use in glazes, sauces and rubs for meat and poultry. It works wonderfully as a finishing sugar on muffins, cookies and other baked treats.

Stevia. This plant-based, zero-calorie sweetener hit the shelves in the U.S. in 2008. Works great in cold and warm beverages or in cooking and baking recipes. Stevia In The Raw has a Bakers Bag that measures like sugar, making it easy to reduce calories without tricky conversions. For recipes that require baking, in order to brown and rise, replace half of the total amount of sugar with stevia. For recipes that do not require baking, you can replace all added sugar with stevia.

Raw honey. Raw honey is packed with natural enzymes, phytonutrients and minerals. It’s not recommended for baking, because it kills the enzymes and removes the nutritional benefits. Raw honey can be used in frostings and dressings. Store-shelf honey can be heated and used in place of sugar, in recipes like pumpkin bread and granola bars.

Agave. This liquid sweetener is harvested from the core of the Mexican Blue Agave plant. It’s a delicious way to top pancakes, waffles, oatmeal or yogurt and works well to sweeten hot and cold drinks. It is also a good substitute for sugar in many baking recipes for its ability to brown and make baked goods moist. Consider Agave In The Raw, which is 100 percent organic, vegan and gluten free. Agave is also low-glycemic.

Molasses.  Molasses can add intense flavor to cookies, quick breads, muffins, or any baked good with aromatic spices like allspice or cloves.

Monk fruit. This sweetener is fairly new to the U.S. market but has been used for centuries in Asia. It is a zero-calorie, sugar substitute with a delicious taste that can be used in any recipe that calls for sugar, and is ideal for people looking to cut added sugars without sacrificing taste. Like stevia, Monk Fruit In The Raw is also available in packets and a Bakers Bag with equal measurement to sugar. People will never know your sugar cookies have half the calories.

Sugar. The tried and true holiday baking staple, Sugar In The Raw Organic White, is a 100 percent USDA organic certified, non-GMO verified, Eco-Social certified unbleached cane sugar. A more wholesome alternative to refined white sugar, it’s a great choice for your baked goods – and the environment.

Looking to make the perfect sugar cookie with fewer calories? Give this recipe a try.

Sugar Cookie

Ingredients:

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted sweet butter, softened
2/3 cup Sugar In The Raw Organic White
1 large egg plus 1 yolk at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup Monk Fruit In The Raw Bakers Bag
1/3 cup Sugar In The Raw, for decoration

Directions:

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt, and set aside. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat the butter until fluffy, two minutes. Add the white sugar and beat until the mixture for three minutes. Add the egg, then the yolk and vanilla, beating well between additions. Add the Monk Fruit and beat until just combined. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the dry ingredients, until the mixture is clumpy. Stop blending and use a flexible spatula to complete mixing the dough. Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. Shape each half into a log 6-inches long and 2-inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the sugar in a small bowl. With a sharp, thin knife, cut each log into quarter-inch slices. If the logs have flattened on one side, use your fingers to gently shape the slices into rounds. One at a time, lightly press one side of the cookies into the Sugar In The Raw, then place it sugar-side up on the prepared cookie sheet, leaving 1 1/2-inches between cookies.

Bake on the center rack for 11-13 minutes, until the cookies are firm when pressed in the center and evenly pale gold in color. Let the cookies rest for 1 minute on the baking sheet. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely. Keep tightly covered in a tin, for up to one week.

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