Happy Valentine’s Day, readers! Last year I made an amazingly delicious pizza for “My Yummy Valentine.” This year I decided to sweeten things up a bit.
Well, sort of.
Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” more than a romantic dessert, but I have been feeling overwhelmed by sugar since the holiday season. My boyfriend has had a craving for doughnuts, but I wanted to find a way to make the sweet creation without loading up my food with sugar.
The solution- use sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols, or polyols, are generally used as sugar substitutes. They are naturally found in foods like fruits and berries, but they are made in the food industry by hydrogenation. This process adds hydrogen atoms to sugars, making sugar alcohols that are almost completely resistant to digestion. Therefore, they contribute about 1/2 to 1/3 fewer calories than regular sugars.
Sugar alcohols are not common in home cooking, but companies create sugar-free products by using sugar alcohols. The most widely used sugar alcohols are mannitol, xylitol, sorbitol, isomalt, lactitol, maltitol, and erythritol.
Take a look around the grocery store next time you are food shopping. You’ll find sugar alcohols in candies, cookies, protein bars, shakes, and even toothpaste. Sugar alcohols are also used as bulking agents to give products more texture and prevent foods from drying out.
Sugar alcohols can even help whiten and protect your teeth! Why do you think Trident gum has whitening properties?
Sugar alcohols become important in product development for diabetic consumers. Anything we eat gets converted into blood sugar, or glucose, by our bodies. However, our bodies convert sugar alcohols into blood sugar very slowly. Therefore, sugar alcohols do not cause a huge spike in blood sugar when eaten.
There is a common misunderstanding that all products with sugar alcohols do not contain carbohydrates. Sugar alcohols are still sugar derivatives, so make sure to check the carbohydrate content of all foods if you are diabetic. Manufacturers that use sugar alcohols actually have to list the sugar alcohol content in their nutrition facts under the “total carbohydrate” section.
I decided to add xylitol instead of sugar in the Vanilla Lavender Doughnuts. There is a Relative Sweetness Scale that rates the sweetness of all sugars and sugar substitutes when compared to common table sugar, or sucrose. Sucrose is given a value of 100. Substances sweeter than sucrose have values over 100, and those that are not as sweet as sucrose have values lower than 100.
Xylitol’s sweetness is rated as 100. It makes for a relatively easy substitution when baking!
There are a few negatives to using sugar alcohols. They will not have the same mouthfeel as regular sugar, so you may not be able to achieve the same texture when baking. They also have a cooling effect in the mouth, so you might get a slight minty note when cooking with them. Finally, the small intestine absorbs sugar alcohols much more slowly than normal sugars. This may lead to occasional gas, bloating, and diarrhea.
These doughnuts are quite tasty, but you were warned why you should not eat the entire dozen in one sitting!
For the doughnuts: 1/4 cup butter (softened), 1/4 cup coconut oil (softened), 1/2 cup xylitol, 6 eggs, 1 Tbsp vanilla extract, 1/2 cup coconut flour, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 Tbsp dried lavender (more or less as desired)
For the glaze: 1/2 cup powdered (finely ground) xylitol, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 3 Tbsp heavy cream, 1 Tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a doughnut pan or cupcake tray and set it aside.
Cream the softened coconut oil, butter, and xylitol in a large bowl with a whisk or mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the vanilla extract. Add the coconut flour about 1/4 cup at a time.
Mix in the sea salt, baking soda, and cinnamon. Finally, add the delicious, dried lavender. I added an entire tablespoon to my batch. Feel free to add more or less lavender, depending on how many floral notes you want in the doughnuts.
Place the batter into the greased tray. Fill each section of the tray about 2/3 of the way.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the doughnuts turn golden brown on top and a toothpick comes out cleanly from the center.
I do not own a doughnut tray. The recipe probably would have been a lot easier to make if I had one. I cut a whole in the doughnuts after they were complete. I used a small cookie cutter and a knife to make the circles in the centers.
Place the finished doughnuts on a cooling rack. Make the glaze while the doughnuts are cooling.
Add 1/2 cup of xylitol into a food processor or blender. Process the xylitol until it becomes a fine powder. Place the powdered xylitol into a large bowl. Whisk in the vanilla extract, heavy cream, and water until a soft, gooey paste forms.
When the donuts are cool, put them on a plate and sprinkle the glaze all over the top of the doughnuts. Place them in the refrigerator for at least one hour so the glaze can solidify onto the doughnuts.
My Vanilla Lavender Doughnuts are far from the traditional dozen that you’d find in a fast food restaurant. Doughnuts are generally fried and have a fluffier texture than these creations. But Valentine’s Day calls for some extra decadence, don’t you think? Whether you are taken or single, these doughnuts will be sure to melt your heart.