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The SPLENDA World of Sweetness:
Recipes for Homemade Desserts and Delicious Drinks
From the maker of SPLENDA Sweetenersr
Chronicle Books, 2006
ISBN 0811854876
Review By William I. Lengeman III

The idea of a food manufacturer cobbling together a bunch of recipes to promote their product is hardly a new one. Now here comes SPLENDA, jumping on the bandwagon with an array of sweets recipes that mixes in a bunch of somewhat unusual recipes along with plenty of good old-fashioned standards.

What is SPLENDA, you might be asking yourself. Well, as the book says, SPLENDA "is made from sugar, so it tastes like sugar." So if you're wondering why you shouldn't just use sugar, you should note that SPLENDA is actually made with sucralose, a patented no calorie sweetener derived from sugar.

In addition, there's also SPLENDA Sugar Blend, a mix of sugar and sucralose and SPLENDA Brown Sugar Blend, which substitutes brown sugar for white. Got it?

If you'd like to adapt your own recipes so that you can use SPLENDA products, the authors have provided a handy section of useful conversion tips. There also a substitution chart for SPLENDA products and sugar.

And there are the recipes, as you might have guessed, which are broken down into ten categories. Hot and Cold Beverages includes smoothies, lattes, eggnog, lemonade, iced tea and such offbeat treats as the quite refreshing sounding Cantaloupe Agua Fresca.

Special Occasion Cakes includes many of the usual suspects - Angel Food Cake, Chocolate Cake and Cupcakes, and a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake. Among the more unusual recipes in this chapter, a Banana-Hazelnut Cake, a Polka-Dot Cake, a Mexican Spiced Coffee Cake, and a Lemon Velvet Layer Cake with lemon filling and whipped cream frosting.

Among the highlights in Quick Breads, Muffins, and Coffee Cakes chapter, Applesauce Snacking Cake, Blueberry-Almond Coffee Cake topped with a glaze made from egg whites and almonds. There's also Quick Monkey Bread, in which the baker is encouraged to "cheat" by using pre-made frozen dough.

In the Pies and Tarts section, the Banana Cream Pie sounds particularly enticing and is low in fat, to boot. Then there are the standbys like Pecan Pie, Chocolate Cream, Coconut, and Pumpkin pie, as well as some more quirky delicacies like Mango Mosito Pie, a tribute to the popular tropical rum-based drink. If you’re looking for something with a patriotic twist, there's the Red, White, and Blueberry Tart – the red tint is provided by fresh strawberries.

And there are cookies, of course. What self-respecting sweets cookbook would be complete without them? All of your old favorites are on hand, naturally. There's Gingerbread, Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal-Raisin, and that old warhorse, the plain old Sugar Cookie. Then there are the less common recipes such as Coffee Toffee Bars and the Spritz Cookie, though the latter doesn't seem to be that far removed from the Sugar Cookie.

The Cheesecakes chapter provides a surprisingly diverse selection of recipes based on that treat, from a Classic Cheesecake and Pumpkin Cheesecake to miniature Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cheesecake Cups, Raspberry Cheese Tartlets, and a Mocha Swirl Cheesecake.

The next three chapters are devoted to Fruit Desserts (Easy Pear Crisp, Double-Crust Peach Cobbler); Custards, Puddings, And Other Desserts (Cuban Rice Pudding, Baked Mango Custard); and Frozen Desserts (Key Lime Yogurt Bars, Blueberry-Sage Granita). The final chapter - From The Chefs - presents a varied selection of recipes from ten chefs from across the United States.

If you're looking for recipes that stray from the beaten path, this might be your favorite chapter. The treats here range from Lorena Garcia's Tres Leches Cake With Mango, a Latin American favorite, to Stephan Pyle's Warm Minted Strawberry Shortcakes to an Orange-Vanilla Panna Cotta, contributed by Gale Gand.

If you're looking to reduce your sugar intake and you'd like a mix of traditional and more forward-thinking recipes, this volume just might do the trick.

William I. Lengeman III is a food writer, book reviewer and publisher of Tea Guy Speaks and Weird Eats.


 
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