Mastering Sweeteners: A Comprehensive Guide to Replacing Sugar in Your Cakes*


**How to Substitute Sweeteners?**


Imagine this scenario: you have a dessert recipe that calls for a sweetener you don't particularly like or don't have on hand, but you're eager to make the dessert. What do you do? It's simple: you substitute! However, when substituting, it's essential to consider its sweetness and whether it's dry or liquid. 

The first important factor is sweetness level (sweetness coefficient). Each sweetener has its own level of sweetness, and failing to adjust the quantity based on this level can result in a dessert that's either not sweet enough or overly sweet.

 Understanding sweetness is crucial, but it's not enough. You can't always replace a dry sweetener with a liquid one, or vice versa, without considering the chemical properties of the ingredients. Not all recipes allow for a simple sweetener swap without adjusting the recipe.

For instance, coconut sugar will color cream and add extra flavor, which may not be suitable for all desserts. When replacing a dry sweetener with syrup in a biscuit recipe, you must consider the balance between liquid and dry ingredients and monitor the consistency of the batter. In this case, you may need to adjust the quantity of dry ingredients or liquids accordingly.


Choose your favorite sweeteners wisely and use them skillfully in your recipes!


**Exploring Glycemic Index (GI) and Sweetness Coefficient**

Every sweetener has a glycemic index (GI), which indicates how quickly carbohydrates are absorbed by the body and raise blood sugar levels. Low GI sweeteners are especially important for diabetics. Additionally, each sweetener has a sweetness coefficient, indicating its sweetness relative to regular sugar. Adjusting the quantity based on this coefficient ensures the desired level of sweetness in your desserts.


**Considering Color**


If preserving light shades in creams and biscuits is important to you, opt for light sweeteners like grape sugar, xylitol, or erythritol, as they won't darken the final product. However, if you prefer using dark sweeteners like coconut sugar, be aware that it will result in a darker hue for your cream or biscuit.


**Substitution Tips**


In most cases, you can substitute a dry sweetener for another dry one (or liquid for liquid). However, it's crucial to consider the sweetness coefficient of the new sweetener. If you decide to substitute with a sweetener that's either sweeter or less sweet than the original, adjust the quantity accordingly and compensate for any changes in consistency by adjusting other dry or liquid ingredients.


What to look for when buying sweeteners: Look for pure stevia extracts without added fillers or artificial ingredients. Avoid stevia blends with added sugars

When buying sweeteners, always consider factors like the level of processing, added ingredients, and potential health benefits. Opt for natural, unrefined options when possible and be mindful of any allergies or dietary restrictions.


**Exploring Major Liquid Sweeteners**

Liquid sweeteners offer a versatile alternative to traditional sugar, each with its own unique characteristics and applications in baking. Below are the most common ones that are widely used in baking and that are easily accessible in the market:


  1. Sugar (Sucrose):

    • Qualities: Provides sweetness and helps with browning and caramelization in baking.
    • Applications: Used in a wide variety of baked goods and desserts.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): High (around 60-70).
    • What to look for: When buying sugar, look for organic or less processed options like raw cane sugar. Avoid highly refined sugars with additives.
  2. Honey:

    • Qualities: Adds sweetness and moisture to baked goods.
    • Applications: Suitable for cakes, cookies, and bread.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): Varies depending on the type, but generally medium (around 50).
    • What to look for: Opt for raw, unfiltered honey for better taste and potential health benefits. Avoid heavily processed honey with added sugars.
  3. Maple Syrup:

    • Qualities: imparts a rich flavor and sweetness to baked goods.
    • Applications: Great for pancakes, waffles, and desserts.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): Moderate (around 54).
    • What to look for: Choose 100% pure maple syrup without added sugars or corn syrup. Look for Grade A or Grade B for baking.
  4. Agave Nectar:

    • Qualities: sweetness with a mild flavor and high fructose content.
    • Applications: Suitable for cakes, muffins, and sweetening beverages.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): Varies but generally considered low (around 15-30).
    • What to look for: Select organic, raw agave nectar to avoid highly processed versions. Use in moderation due to high fructose levels.
  5. Stevia:

    • Qualities: Intensely sweet with zero calories.
    • Applications: Ideal for diabetic-friendly or low-calorie baking.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): Zero.
.      6.Chicory Syrup:
  • Qualities: With a GI ranging from 0 to 10 units, chicory syrup offers a low-glycemic alternative with a light sandy color, perfect for maintaining the delicate appearance of your baked treats.
  • Applications: Ideal for drizzling over pancakes, adding to granola bars, or incorporating into glazes for pastries.


 **Exploring Major Dry Sweeteners**

- **Coconut Sugar:** With a GI of 35 units and a brown color, coconut sugar adds richness to chocolate or caramel-flavored desserts.


- **Cane Sugar:** With a GI of 55 units and a light brown color, cane sugar influences the color of the dessert but less intensely than coconut sugar.


- **Xylitol:** With a GI of 8-12 units and a white color, xylitol doesn't affect the color of the dessert and has a cooling effect, making it unsuitable for meringues or caramel.


Erythritol is a sugar alcohol (polyol) used as a low-calorie sweetener. It naturally occurs in some fruits and fermented foods but is commonly produced from glucose by fermentation with yeast.

- **Low-Calorie:** Contains about 0.24 calories per gram, roughly 6% of the calories in sugar.
- **Moderate Sweetness:** Approximately 60-70% as sweet as sugar.
- **Heat Stable:** Suitable for cooking and baking.
- **Non-Glycemic:** Does not affect blood sugar or insulin levels.

- **Digestive Tolerance:** Generally well-tolerated, but excessive intake may cause digestive issues in some people.
- **Tooth-Friendly:** Does not contribute to tooth decay.
- **Antioxidant:** Can act as an antioxidant, helping to combat oxidative stress.

- **Sweetener:** Commonly used in sugar-free and low-calorie foods and beverages, including candies, baked goods, and soft drinks.
- **Bulking Agent:** Used in combination with other sweeteners to provide volume and texture.

- **Weight Management:** Low-calorie content makes it beneficial for weight control.
- **Diabetes Management:** Safe for diabetics due to its non-glycemic nature.
- **Dental Health:** Does not promote tooth decay.

**Glycemic Index:**
Erythritol has a glycemic index of 0, indicating no impact on blood glucose levels.

Erythritol is a versatile, low-calorie sweetener suitable for various dietary needs, offering benefits such as non-glycemic properties and dental health support. It is a useful sugar substitute for both weight management and diabetic-friendly diets. 


Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo, is a small, round fruit native to southern China. It belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. The fruit has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine for its purported health benefits.

- **Natural Sweetness:** Monk fruit is naturally sweet due to its content of mogrosides, which are intensely sweet compounds.
- **Zero Calories:** Unlike sugar, monk fruit extract contains no calories, making it a popular choice for low-calorie and low-carb diets.
- **Heat Stable:** Monk fruit sweeteners are stable at high temperatures, making them suitable for cooking and baking.
- **No Glycemic Impact:** Monk fruit does not affect blood sugar levels, making it safe for diabetics.

- **Sweetness:** Monk fruit extract can be up to 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
- **Antioxidant:** Mogrosides, the active sweetening components, have antioxidant properties.
- **Anti-inflammatory:** Traditional use suggests it has anti-inflammatory benefits.
- **Shelf Life:** Monk fruit sweeteners have a long shelf life and do not degrade easily.

- **Sweetener:** Monk fruit is commonly used as a sugar substitute in beverages, baked goods, desserts, and sauces.
- **Dietary Supplements:** It is often included in dietary supplements for its potential health benefits.
- **Traditional Medicine:** In traditional Chinese medicine, it is used to treat coughs and sore throats.

- **Weight Management:** As a zero-calorie sweetener, monk fruit can aid in weight management by reducing overall calorie intake.
- **Diabetes Management:** Its lack of impact on blood glucose makes it a safe alternative for people with diabetes.
- **Allergy-Friendly:** Monk fruit is typically safe for individuals with allergies, as it does not commonly cause allergic reactions.
- **Potential Health Benefits:** Due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, monk fruit may contribute to overall health and wellness.

**Glycemic Index:**
Monk fruit sweeteners have a glycemic index of 0, meaning they do not raise blood sugar levels.

Monk fruit offers a natural, zero-calorie sweetening option that is suitable for a wide range of dietary needs and preferences. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties add potential health benefits beyond its primary use as a sugar substitute.


 From household names to niche brands, a plethora of sweeteners flood the market, each with its own unique qualities and applications. Let's delve into some of the most common ones found in the local market:

  • Tropicana Slim:

    • Description: A popular low-calorie sweetener.
    • Applications: Suitable for sweetening beverages and light desserts. Not so good for baking. I prefer using a blend of stevia with monkfruit or erythritol to lower the bitterness of the dessert. 

  • Splenda:

    • Description: A sugar substitute with zero calories.
    • Applications: baking cookies, brownies, and other treats.
    • Personally , I don't use it in my baking and do not would not recommend it due to the ingredients, such as dextrose and maltodextrin.

  • Silver Spoon:

    • Description: Well-known for its quality sugar products.
    • Applications: Versatile for use in various baked goods and desserts. I tried it as a replacement for granulated sugar and loved it. Not so cheap and not easily available, though. I only saw it once in Carefour.. If you happen to find it somewhere else, please give me a shout. 

  • Canderel:

    • Description: Offers sugar-free sweetening solutions.
    • Applications: adding sweetness to hot drinks or low-calorie desserts.
    • I do not recommend it for baking or general use due to its artificial ingredients,  such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium (or Ace-K)

  • Lakanto:

    • Description:  monk fruit sweetener blended with erythritol.
    • Applications: Suitable for keto-friendly baking and desserts.
    • A oerfect combination for my keto baking.  I do recommend it as it has 0 gl index and its texture and taste are very close to sugar. 

  • Hermesetas:

    • Description: Provides sweeteners with a low calorie count.
    • Applications: Perfect for sweetening tea, coffee, and light dishes.
    • I found it in Carefour and tested it in my baking. Well, yes, it acts almost the same as the sugar, however, I will not be using it again, for the same reason - artificial sweetener, containing maltrodexin, etc. 

Sweet 'n Low:

  • Description: A classic artificial sweetener.
  • Applications: Widely used in baking and beverages as a low-calorie sweetening option.
  • Personally, I didn't use it in baking, simply because, as mentioned above,  stevia on its own will give a bitterness to your cakes. 
  • Monkfruit


My favorite sweeteners that I used in my low calorie and keto baking. 

      • Agave Syrup.   With its  moderate GI and excellent solubility, agave syrup is a versatile option suitable for a wide range of baking recipes. It is perfect for sweetening cakes, muffins, and beverages with a milder sweetness profile. I like to use especially dark agave syrup for my vegan honey cakes, as it reminds me of honey. And  it is available and the most affordable out of all the liquid sweeteners in the local supermarkets. You can find it  in organic sections or sometimes on the shelves for baking.

      • Maple Syrup  With its rich flavor and sweetness , it is excellent to use when baking pancakes, waffles, and desserts. I also love using it in my raw vegan desserts, especially the ones that i make for Christmas, for example, a carrot cake or Christmas pudding. Same as Agave syrup, it is easily accessible in the market, but a bit higher in price. 

      • Monkfruit  

      • Allulose   This one deserves special attention , in my humble opinion. I love using this sweetener for many reasons. Allulose syrup is a low-calorie sweetener with the same clean, sweet taste as sugar but with only a fraction of the calories. It doesn't raise blood sugar levels significantly.
        • Applications: Ideal for use in beverages, sauces, and baked goods where a liquid sweetener is desired. It provides sweetness without the added calories.
        • Benefits: Suitable for those looking to reduce their sugar intake or manage their weight. Allulose syrup may also have prebiotic effects and can aid in maintaining better blood sugar control.
        • Glycemic Index (GI): Allulose has a negligible effect on blood glucose levels and has a GI close to zero.

    Allulose Powder:

    • Qualities: Allulose powder is a versatile sweetener that can be easily measured and mixed into recipes. It provides the sweetness of sugar without the calories.
    • Applications: Perfect for use in baking, powdered beverages, or sprinkling over fruits and cereals. It dissolves well and can be used in a variety of dishes.
    • Benefits: Offers a low-calorie alternative to sugar with a taste that closely resembles traditional sugar. Allulose powder can support weight management and may be suitable for those monitoring their blood sugar levels.
    • Glycemic Index (GI): Similar to the syrup, allulose powder has minimal impact on blood glucose levels and typically has a GI close to zero.


    Utilizing allulose syrup and powder in your recipes not only provides a sweet flavor without the guilt of excess calories but also offers potential health benefits for those seeking alternatives to traditional sugar. Incorporate these allulose products into your baking and cooking to enjoy the sweetness of sugar without compromising on taste or your health goals.

    The drawback is that it is not as easy accessible in the market as for example, monkfruit. The price tag is quite high too. 


Whether you opt for liquid sweeteners to add depth to your creations or choose from a selection of renowned brands, the world of sweeteners in baking is vast and dynamic, offering something for every palate and dietary preference.

Understanding the properties of various sweeteners empowers you to make informed choices when substituting sweeteners in your recipes, ensuring your desserts turn out just the way you want them to!





With the knowledge gained from this comprehensive guide, you're well-equipped to embark on your sweetener journey with confidence. Whether you're baking for health-conscious individuals, managing diabetes, or simply exploring new culinary horizons, the world of sweeteners offers endless possibilities for creating delectable treats without the guilt. So go ahead, experiment with different sweeteners, and let your creativity flourish in the kitchen!


Remember, the key to mastering sweeteners lies in understanding their unique properties and learning how to harness them to elevate your baking to new heights. Happy baking!


User avatar
With Love,
Anna Heenan

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