“What kinds of sweeteners do you use?” People ask me this food question more than any other. In a world with so many choices, navigating our way through all the “healthy” sugars out there can cause confusion.
Many products proclaim themselves “natural” or “raw” sweeteners, despite the heavy processing involved in their production. “Raw” sugar stands as a favorite example; most producers take processed white sugar and add a bit of molasses for color!
I love using organic whole cane sugar (also known as sucanat) for baking and cooking. Producers take juice from organically-grown sugar cane and simply dehydrate it. The resulting crystals stay rich in minerals, trace elements, and vitamins, so I can use the deep, rich flavor guilt-free – in moderation, of course!
I’ve learned that whole cane sugar can replace many refined sweeteners we’ve grown accustomed to using. For example, Instead of brown sugar, stir together one cup of whole cane sugar with two tablespoons of real maple syrup until it’s a moist, wholesome substitute. You might also grind whole cane sugar in a coffee grinder until powdery, as a perfect stand-in for powdered white sugar.
If you’re new to unprocessed natural sweeteners, this butterscotch pudding is a perfect recipe to get your feet wet.
Adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan Serves 6
1/2 cup organic whole cane sugar or sucanat
3 tablespoons water
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons organic whole cane sugar or sucanat
3 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 3 pieces
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whisky
1/2 cup whipped cream
1/4 cup toasted pecans (optional)
Whisk together the whole cane sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for two minutes, while stirring (you may need to lower the temperature a little). Pour 1 1/2 cups milk and all of the cream into the sugar mixture and bring to a boil. Don’t worry if the mixture curdles.
While the milk mixture is heating, put the arrowroot and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Pour arrowroot mixture into a small bowl. Put 3 tablespoons whole cane sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of the processor and blend for one minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl then add the arrowroot mixture one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add the remaining 1/4 cup milk and pulse to blend.
Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the food processor, with the machine running, then pour everything back into the pan. Whisk without stopping over medium heat until the pudding thickens, about two minutes. If necessary, lower the temperature to avoid boiling.
Pour the pudding back into the food processor and pulse a few times. Add the butter, vanilla, and whiskey and pulse until blended and smooth. Divide the pudding into 6, 1/2-cup ramekins. Refrigerate for 4 hours before serving.
Serve with a dollop of whipped cream and a sprinkling of pecans (if desired).