How to substitute stevia in baking and preserves
Any baking that uses stevia in place of sugar should be eaten within a couple of days.
Words: Jane Wrigglesworth
Stevia can be used in baking and preserving, but some allowances need to be made.
When baking, if you’re taking out the sugar in a recipe, you need to replace it with something else, bulk-wise. That’s because 1 teaspoon of refined white stevia (even less for stevia extract) and 1½ teaspoons to 1 tablespoon of raw green stevia (powdered green leaves) is equal to 1 cup of sugar in terms of sweetness.
I like to use mesquite in my recipes as a bulking agent. This is the ground pods of a plant that grows in the tropical parts of America, South America, Africa and southern Asia. It has a malt-like flavour that goes especially well with chocolate, but I use it in most of my biscuit and cake recipes.
Any baking that uses stevia in place of sugar should be eaten within a couple of days (possibly three) – sugar is a natural preservative, helping baking to last longer.
I also use stevia in place of sugar in preserves that contain vinegar (chutneys and pickles). You simply cannot tell there is no sugar in it. The vinegar means these preserves last well (more than a year).
Stevia doesn’t work for jams in the same way as sugar. You can make a fresh jam with berries and add chia seeds (to bulk it out) and stevia, but it needs to be eaten within days, or frozen for later use.
When making chutneys, replace the sugar with stevia. You may need to experiment with quantities, as growing conditions, environment and harvesting times determine the sweetness of the leaves.
RECIPE: HAZELNUT SHORTBREAD COOKIES
Ready in 60 minutes
Makes 20 large biscuits
½ cup hazelnuts
⅓ cup whole raw almonds (or other nut)
1 cup flour – high protein bread flour is good to prevent crumbling
⅛ cup mesquite powder
¼ tsp raw green stevia powder
110g unsalted butter, roughly chopped
1 large egg
Place hazelnuts, almonds, flour, mesquite, stevia and salt into a food processor and process until the nuts are ground and the ingredients are well mixed. Add the butter and process until the mix resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and process until just mixed in – do not overmix.
Tip the mixture into a large bowl or onto a lightly floured surface and knead until a dough forms. Shape into a ball, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured bench until it’s 5mm thick. Use a 7cm-round cookie cutter and place cookies on a baking tray. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven, and cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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