Monday, March 16, 2015

Successful sugar-free caramel experiments today!

Sugar Free Caramel experiments in the Kitchen Cheetah Test Kitchens

Imagine a dab of rich, buttery, creamy smooth caramel on your finger tips, just waiting to be tasted...

That's what I got to do today. CARAMEL.

We have been working on formulating a delicious sugar free caramel, not an easy task. Today, great progress was made towards our goal!

Years ago, when my husband and I owned a gourmet candy manufacturing business, I experimented with sugar-free caramel and toffee. At the time, maltitol and maltitol syrup (sugar alcohols) were pretty new to the market and I experimented with those. I was only somewhat satisfied. I had to add some other natural ingredients to create caramelization (also known as the maillard reaction). Sugar alcohols do not caramelize on their own, which is a problem for sugar-free candy manufacturers. Artificial flavors and colors are used to achieve a caramel-like look and taste - but they don't really fool you.

Maltitol causes gastric distress in most people, but was an improvement over mannitol. Sugar alcohols cause gastric distress in general. Xylitol is generally better tolerated than maltitol, plus xylitol has many health benefits. Still, you only want to eat it in small doses.

Erythritol is generally tolerated the best out of all the sugar alcohols. However, erythritol recrystallizes much quicker than regular sugar does, leading to grainy caramel, grainy marshmallows, grainy fudge - yuk. Erythritol also does not brown, so you can't make caramel with just erythritol.

There are some newer, healthy sugar alternatives on the market now, which we are experimenting with. We are very close to reaching our goal of a delicious, natural sugar-free, chemical-free caramel that is firm enough to wrap in caramel wrappers, or dip in our sugar free chocolate. SO EXCITING.

I just had to share!

Freshly made sugar-free caramel.

This caramel has a nice rich color and caramel taste!

Sugar-free caramel experiment - after the cold water test. Nice texture :)

Stay tuned!

Author, Leila.