| How to reduce sugar in cookies and bars: turning to science for success |
by: PJ Hamel
“Cut back on your sugar intake” and “enjoy an exquisitely delicious homemade chocolate chip cookie” seem like statements in direct opposition to one another, don’t they? But after recently testing lower-sugar versions of eight assorted cookies and bars, I feel confident that saying “lower sugar” and “exquisitely delicious” aren’t as oxymoronic as they seem.
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I begin this lower-sugar quest with recipes representing eight different types of cookies and bars:
• Tender: Sugar Cookies
• Moist: Soft and Chewy Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
• Crunchy: Gingersnaps
• Crisp: Buttersnaps
• Cutout: Holiday Butter Cookies
• Chocolate bars: Quick and Easy Fudge Brownies
• Non-chocolate bars: Sprouted Wheat Vanilla Chai Bars
• Just because: Chocolate Chip Cookies
I decide to bake four versions of each cookie or bar:
• Original recipe, a.k.a. “control” (A)
• 50% sugar, baker’s percentage (B)
• Half the sugar in the original recipe (C)
• 25% sugar, baker’s percentage (D)
My goal: To see what happens if I simply cut the sugar in each recipe in half. And then to refine the test further by using baker’s percentage to try to come up with some “universal truths” about cookies and sugar.
And what’s this baker’s percentage (a.k.a. baker’s weight), you ask?
It’s how professional bakers modify recipes — either scaling them up and down, or changing ingredient amounts.
Using the weight of the flour in the recipe as 100%, the recipe’s other ingredient weights are determined based on their percentage of flour weight. For instance, for a cookie that uses 8 ounces of flour and 12 ounces of sugar, the baker’s percentage of sugar is pegged at 150%. For a cookie using 8 ounces of flour and 6 ounces of sugar, the baker’s percentage of sugar is 75%.
At the end of this post, I’ll take all of my cookie data and draw some conclusions — tips you can use to reduce the sugar in any favorite cookie recipe. But first, let’s look at the complete test results.
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