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Monday, 3 April 2017

Meringues using non-refined sugars

Before I got married nearly 32 years ago - I trained as a cook at what is now Cornwall College, formerly St Austell College of FE. It was a classical Cordon Bleu training - which would nowadays be deemed rather dated and quaint. However, it was a superb course (especially in time-keeping and maths) and my favourite element was the Patisserie element, i.e - cakes, puddings and all things sweet! I learnt how to make meringues, which of course use copious amounts of fine refined caster sugar.

At the moment I am doing an advanced diploma in nutrition - and this has opened my eyes to all the 'new' foods around - trendy seeds, Quinoa (hubby hates it!), Chia seeds and the rest! It is quite a journey of experimental cooking! Some successes and disasters of course.

But as my passion is still all things sweet - I have been making traditonal puddings and cakes using alternative sugars and definitely not artificial sweeteners, which are potentially very dangerous in the long term - some studies are linking aspartame and saccharine to cancer. Refined sugar causes premature ageing as it attacks our collagen. No need to mention the other bad thing about sugar - it has fuelled the obesity epidemic - leading to Type-2 Diabetes. So I have put all my refined sugars in our "famine" cupboard - for any emergency type events. I am hoping to publish a recipe book which is just for puddings and cakes, using better alternatives to refined granulated/caster sugar. It is a work in progress.

I have tried 3 different meringues so far:

The first one was a success. I made apple snow and made the meringue topping using Xylitol instead of sugar. Xylitol is a natural product of the Finnish birch trees - it actually has the recommendation of dentists, as it fights tooth decay. Children in Nordic countries are given a xylitol mint after lunch to fight any decay.

This meringue topping was tasty and soft, but you can't make 'hard' meringue out of Xylitol.

The next meringue was disastrous. Luckily I only experiment on family members. This meringue was made with Erythritol. The meringues went nice and crisp and looked like normal meringues, but the taste was salty and sour-like. They were binned.

The next one was made with coconut sugar - which looks like brown sugar. While I was mixing in the sugar, it collapsed into a wet heap of syrup. I put it into a cake tin and baked it like a cake. It turned out like a biscuit so that is a no no. Again I had immediate family membersd here for a lunch gathering - to be guinea pigs.

I havent tried Stevia yet, but I think that has a rather sharp taste, so probably a no no.

The next one will be with unrefined demerara sugar, but I will use less of it than usual. Molasses is another possibility.

Here is the baptism cake I made for my niece Audrey. I used Xylitol and pure Maple syrup. It worked very well.

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