Artificial sweetener (Recipe: sugar-free Colombian cocoa muffins)
One scientific thing to know about artificial sweetener:
For many people, including those with diabetes, artificial sweeteners are a fact of life, but not all are created equal. In fact, not all are created the same way. Splenda® (sucralose) is the only one made from real sugar, by moving some atoms around on the sucrose (sugar) molecule. The change in molecular structure prevents the "sugar" from being absorbed into the body (i.e., no calories). It's more a modified product than an artificial one. On the other hand, both Equal (aspartame) and Sweet 'N Low (saccharin) are made from chemicals that, when combined, form crystals.
If controlling your blood sugar is an issue, please check with your doctor before incorporating any artificial sweetener into your diet. Stevia might be a good natural option.
Cooking or baking?
Both. For cooking, it's easy to substitute artificial sweeteners in most recipes, though occasionally you will notice a difference in texture. Splenda makes a special for-baking version that substitutes one-to-one for sugar.
Store packets in a container with a tight-fitting lid, to keep out any moisture. Boxes of the baking formulation will keep for months in a dry pantry cupboard.
Sugar-free Colombian cocoa muffins
The original recipe, which I've adapted from 1001 Muffins, Biscuits, Doughnuts, Pancakes, Waffles, Popovers, Fritters, Scones and Other Quick Breads, suggested having these muffins with cappuccino. Instead, I decided to turn a spoonful of my morning coffee into the icing! I've made the muffins sugar-free, but the icing uses real confectioners sugar, so have them either way, with or without the glaze. I'm not sure why these are called Colombian, when they use Dutch-processed cocoa. Makes 36 mini-muffins.
1-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups Splenda for baking
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup nonfat (skim) milk
1/2 cup (one stick) butter, melted (I do this in the microwave)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup confectioners sugar (optional)
1 Tbsp brewed coffee (with or without milk)
Preheat the oven to 375°F, and line two mini-muffin pans with paper liners (or spray with baking spray).
In a large bowl, combine the flour, Splenda, baking powder, cocoa and salt.
In a medium bowl, beat together the eggs, milk, melted butter and vanilla extract. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened.
Using a teaspoon, fill the muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake for 9 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one muffin comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 2-3 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack set over a baking sheet or paper towels.
To make the (optional) icing, whisk together the confectioners sugar and coffee, until there are no sugar lumps. With a spoon, drizzle the icing over the muffins.
Other recipes that use artificial sweetener:
Low-sugar and whole wheat garden harvest cake with zucchini, apple, and carrot, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Fresh blackberry jam, from Meathenge
Applesauce spice cake, from Teenie Cakes
Sugar free pound cake, from Life is Better with Cake
Low-carb pumpkin cheesecake, from Christine Cooks