First, I must claify this fact, since my regular readers will obvious miss them: I did have step-by-step photos, until a minor mishap (ahem…hubby!). In the interest that I already did the recipe twice and the results were, well, read-on to find out, I’m not re-doing the photos.
I grabbed a book called Sensational Stevia Sweets to begin my quest. As I flip through the book, there are seemingly lots of great recipes; I didn’t hardly know where to start! I settled on pumpkin bars, because I adore pumpkin. Pumpkin and citrus–these are my weaknesses in baked goods. Ooh–and adding orange to pumpkin? Divine!
I grabbed the Stevia Extract (as called for in the recipe) and promptly mixed up the ingredients. Other than the Stevia, it was all basic: butter, flour, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin, salt… Simply mix, blend and bake. Once it popped out of the toaster oven, I set it about to cool. As soon as I could stand the heat, I took my first nibble…very pumpkin-y. I noticed immediately that the texture was better than expected, and that the lack of sugar hadn’t changed too much, but I suspect it is because pumpkin tends to take over most baked goods, anyhow. As I continued to nibble, I felt that the bread wasn’t the least bit sweet, seemed much more like a squash quick-bread, instead of the promised dessert.
Assuming I had used the incorrect Stevia, I returned to the store and purchased Stevia Concentrate. I then decided to rustle up two more batches, side-by-side: a repeat of the original, with the called-for Extract and a new version, with the concentrated form. As once taught to me by a chef, always taste things raw—once they’re cooked or baked, it’s too late to adjust the flavors. I tasted a wee bit of the batter with the concentrate, and my eyes rolled back in my head with disgust!! Clearly, I had not made a mistake–Extract was definitely the correct choice! The concentrate had made such a bitter, terrible flavor. I thought perhaps heat could temper the flavor of the Stevia, so I baked on. Heat definitely does not temper the flavor—I had one nibble, and promptly had to trash it. There was no rescue for this!
Batch #2 of the pumpkin bars, with the originally-called for extract (though, I doubled the measurement this time) was better…but, still left me craving the sugar. Texture was fine, no complaints, really. It did seem a little rubbery, but I can’t for sure say that was the Stevia. In the end, I scrapped them both and made a small-batch pumpkin cake–with real sugar!
I won’t rule out the Stevia overall, but I think I will rule it out completely for baked goods. Based on the mild sweetness that it offered, it seems that it would best be paired with any fruit-type dessert, such as cobblers, smoothies, etc. The Stevia allows the strong flavor of the main ingredient to shine through, so it definitely has promise. I’ll be trying some fruit dishes soon.