December 17, 2003

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How many times have I explained that the reason granular Splenda has 24 grams of carbohydrate per cup (0.5 grams per teaspoon) is because sucralose - sugar with a chlorine molecule patched in, so your body won't recognize it, and will simply pass it through - is so darned sweet that MacNeil, the folks who make the stuff, bulk it with malto-dextrin, a not-very-sweet carb, so it will measure like sugar? Further, I've explained and explained and explained, if we could just get liquid sucralose - liquid Splenda - it would be carb-free, and we could cut big whacks of carbohydrate out of various recipes. This difference between liquid sucralose and the malto-dextrin-bulked granular stuff is the reason why commercially sweetened products, like Diet Rite Splenda-sweetened soda, have no carbs, while we home cooks have had to put up with that 24-grams-per-cup figure.

Finally, I've found liquid sucralose! It's actually sold as a "Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate," the idea being that you can add the flavoring extract of your choice, dilute it, and have something similar to the Atkins or Da Vinci sugar free syrups - and you certainly can do this. But on its own, Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate is simply a very sweet, carb-free, liquid sucrolose sweetener. I've tried the Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate a few ways now - to sweeten yogurt, to bake a cheesecake - and it tastes just great.

Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate is, as the name implies, very concentrated - 1 teaspoons roughly equal 1 cup of sugar - or of granular Splenda - in sweetness. This has a few implications for recipe adaptation: Figuring out just exactly how much Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate replaces how much sugar is less straightforward than the one-for-one substitution possible with granular Splenda. Also, the volume of your recipe will be changed pretty dramatically. This is not that great a change from granular Splenda, however, since Splenda's fluffy texture collapses instantly on contact with liquid, deflating its volume dramatically. Still, the liquid will contribute even less volume than the granular.

Finally, there is that tiny bit of water that the Zero Carb Syrup Base contributes to a recipe - in most cases it won't be enough to worry about, but you couldn't, for instance, add the liquid to melted bitter chocolate without some other ingredient to bind the two - water makes unsweetened chocolate "seize".

(I've had a few readers write me about a company called Nature's Flavors ( that sells a "Splenda syrup base" - a liquid sucralose product designed for making sugar free snow cones; the idea is that you take the mostly unflavored liquid, add the flavoring extract of your choice, and pour the resulting flavored syrup over shaved ice. However, Nature's Flavors is far more dilute than the Zero Carb Syrup Base; it actually takes 4.5 cups of the Nature's Flavors Splenda Syrup Base to equal 1 cup of sugar in sweetness! This makes the Nature's Flavors product unworkable for most recipes, simply because of the vast quantity of extra water.)

And of course, you can't sprinkle the liquid over things - on top of cookies, for instance.

Still, despite some need for adjustment, the availability of a concentrated, zero carb form of sucralose is a tremendous boon to those of us trying to cut carbs wherever we can.

Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate is available only from . An 8 ounce bottle will set you back $17.99, which sounds expensive - until you remember that this is the equivalent of 32 cups of sugar (or granular Splenda) in sweetness. It really works out to being quite affordable to use.

I would be very interested to hear about readers' cooking experiences with Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate! I would also like to gauge the level of interest in recipes using the Zero Carb Syrup Base Concentrate instead of granular Splenda - I simply can't go testing every recipe with both!

Posted by HoldTheToast at December 17, 2003 09:29 PM