In a previous post Stevia and Agave: A Sweet Debate I mentioned all the ins and outs of the sugar substitutes stevia and agave syrup and compared them and their qualities. I had bought Stevia in my local Netto shop; a German supermarket chain. The stevia however wasn’t pure but a mixture of stevia and maltodextrin and cost 3 Euros. I decided to be brave and try it thinking it might be the answer to all my sugary butter cream filled dreams and prayers acting as a miracle wonder product substituting naughty sugar but keeping the gorgeous sweet taste and having health benefits too. So here is my response to my last post after trying stevia. This is what I think!sponsor:
The tub of powdered stevia weighs about the same as a bag of candy floss; it’s super light! The tub contains 75 g and if you look at the ingredients (Zutaten:) actually Maltodextrin is the first main ingredient then steviol-glycoside so it’s not a pure form of stevia and isn’t good for those on the candida diet nor is it probably a good idea to eat lots of cakes with this stuff if you’re diabetic. On the nutrition graph everything says 0 g except the carbohydrates column, which per 100 g says 92.8 g = 371 kcal so it doesn’t appear to be too bad but again isn’t looking that great either. Just sort of empty calories for sweetening.
When using stevia you’ll need to do a bit of maths and work out the amount to use. As said previously in my last post stevia is a lot sweeter than sugar and therefore you don’t need as much. It also helps suppress sugar cravings, which is a bonus and hopefully a large chocolate cake might actually last longer than a day in future! Although I found a conversion chart online and popped that in the last post, I was lucky to find that on the tub of stevia I bought it actually has a conversion guide to help you. It was still complicated though as firstly I had to convert British pounds and ounces to European grams and then sugar grams to stevia grams and then stevia grams to the amount of teaspoons of stevia needed. Oof. :-S Let me just say I flared in languages and art at school not science and maths lol!
So anyways once I got the right amount (I hope ) I had to then look at the volume as compared to sugar the mass of stevia was noticeably smaller. It has a fine powdery look and feel to it, finer and lighter than icing / powder sugar. I decided to bake a pumpkin pie for my first attempt at using stevia so for the extra volume mass lost by the lack of sugar I simply put in more pumpkin and coconut milk. I substituted 170 g sugar for around 10 teaspoons of stevia . I hope that was about right.
I decided to have a go at Ginger Lemon Girl’s Gluten Free Crustless Pumpkin Pie Recipe for my friend Galija Achmedschina from Kazakhstan. She is living part of the time with Andriy and I and for the other times she is in Chemnitz hospital undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma cancer. She isn’t a straight forward patient either as she has two strains of cancer, one being Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the other normal lymphoma. She studied here in Chemnitz for over 10 years and I got to know her well over two of those years. She’s 35 years old, teaches German at the Goethe Institute University in Almaty, Kazakhstan and has a 10 year old son named Alexander. She was diagnosed last year near Christmas and in Kazakhstan didn’t respond to treatment and she became very ill with large tumours. A small group of us here in Germany, namely two Ludmillas, Irina, myself and Andriy (the Fantastic Five if I do say so myself ) decided to raise the cash ourselves and get Galija flown over here with a visa to have treatment here in Germany at the cancer centre in Chemnitz. We’ve raised 36,000 Euros of the 60,000 Euros needed and Galija is living here with us during her 8 months treatment. She is responding slowly but it is a good sign to say the least and we are praying and campaigning and canvassing flyers I designed to every letterbox in town here and in Stuttgart (Galija also studied and worked in Stuttgart) to raise the rest for her. So getting back to stevia – sorry I tend to waffle on like a little old lady- Galija isn’t allowed any sugar or sweet things whilst having her chemo because like candida patients it can increase bad bacteria and affect the immune system and Galija is too weak to fight off illnesses / viruses. So on a very strict diet of everything must be sterilized, cooked and nothing raw, no nuts or sweets and with her birthday coming up I decided to invest in a tub of stevia and put it to the test for Galija! Pumpkins are also in season here and the supermarkets are overflowing with lots of the lovely brightly coloured orange vegetables and Galija loves Pumpkin so when I came across Ginger Lemon Girl’s recipe for a gluten free pumpkin pie I decided to have a go. I tried the stevia instead of sugar and added more pumpkin and coconut milk to make up the volume. (To read more about Galija in English please see our facebook page)
So how did it taste?
I have to say that although everyone praised the gluten free pumpkin pie and thought it tasted amazing and sweet with stevia and two people asked for the recipe to be translated, my husband and myself, well we were not convinced. For me it had a bitter aftertaste and left almost like a furry feeling on the tongue and palette. I thought perhaps I had used too much stevia but it might be that my taste buds are well trained to real sugar and I might have to get used to stevia and re-train my taste buds like anyone on a diet trying to resist chocolate cravings by having a boring piece of fruit. I have to say for suppressing sugar cravings it worked as I didn’t want another slice lol. For Andriy and I it tasted too bitter and strange but I’m glad Galija liked it. It was polished off in no time!
A week later I made a gluten free version of Stephanie Jaworski’s pumpkin cheesecake from joyofbakingcom with the other half of the pumpkin left over and used stevia again thinking I could try it in a different recipe (OK still pumpkin) and i might get used to the bitter aftertaste or it might take on a different flavour in a different cake. Again for me it was sweet but had a bitter aftertaste and that furry feeling in the mouth and I didn’t like it. The cheesecake went down a treat with my housemates and Galija loved it and the fact it was with very low sugar (contains maltodextrin) but I don’t think I am a fan. It might be the mix of stevia and pumpkin that is the problem; maybe they just don’t blend as ingredients so I think I will try a general plain Victoria sponge cake with stevia as my last attempt and see if I get on with the stuff. I’m not going to hold my breath though. I think for me a spoonful of stevia won’t help the medicine go down. It’s got to be sugar for me! it’s like using cheap cooking chocolate vs. the posh gourmet Lindt chocolate, just doesn’t compare!
I’d be interested to hear what you think about stevia so if you’ve tried it please let me know how you got on!
Recommended reading: Stevia and Agave: A Sweet Debate