I love baking. Always have, particularly come exam time (no better time for #procrastibaking).
On receiving a kind invite from Natvia to attend the VIP Sugar Free Masterclass, I jumped at the chance. What better way to spend a Tuesday afternoon than observing a master baker (Sheryl from Cupcake Central, an IT consultant turned cupcake extraordinaire, a story not dissimilar to Dietitian Mary Lin from Merry Cupcakes if you replace IT with Dietetics).
The fear of sugar is rife these days, and though I fully comprehend the necessity and enjoyment to be had with the real deal, being able to use a natural replacement like Natvia is a pretty clever way to cut down on kilojoules, without compromising on flavour.
Made from a mix of Stevia (a naturally sweet tasting plant) and Erythritol (a naturally occuring sugar alcohol), Natvia tastes, looks, and can be used almost exactly like ordinary sugar, without the bitter aftertaste of many sugar replacers. This is a real plus for baking, as often artificial sweeteners need to be used in much smaller amounts than sugar, due to their intense sweetness. Keen bakers will tell you proportions are essential to stick to in baking, so the fact Natvia can be used in a ‘one for one’ ratio means it can be easily subbed into recipes. Add this to the fact that a teaspoon of Natvia contains only 4 kilojoules, compared to sugars 80 kilojoules, and it’s all looking pretty good.
Upon arrival at Cupcake Central, my friend, fellow student dietitian and new blogger Emily and I had a glass of sparkling (after assuring the concerned staff member that we were, in fact, of age), and met the team behind Natvia – who are incidentally locally based in Windsor.
We then watched on eagerly as Sheryl demonstrated how to make the ‘Not so devilish’ chocolate cupcakes. Along the way she offered tips on baking with Natvia, for example using oil (she used vegetable) rather than butter, as the sweetener requires more moisture than regular sugar. She also suggested filling cupcake containers more than the usual ¾ full, as Natvia aerates less than traditional sugar, meaning the cupcakes rise less than usual.
We then had the chance to ice our own cupcakes, using Natvia’s new icing mix (and a lot of butter, don’t worry it wasn’t all healthy).
These cupcakes tasted great. They passed the taste test with all my usual guinea pigs, with the only complaint from a picky 7-year-old, who wasn’t sold on the crunchy texture the icing mix had.
So with all that good, how about the negatives? Aside from the fact that excessive consumption of erythritol can cause a laxative effect, the price of Natvia may be slightly off-putting if you’re looking to save your pennies. Compared to regular sugar, expect to pay an absolute premium for this product, priced at just over $22 for 700g. When sugar is available for as little as 10c per 100g, it’s easy to see those on a budget may struggle to justify a purchase like this.
Want to try it for yourself?
You’re in luck. The lovely people at Natvia have offered to give away a prize pack to one lucky reader, containing:
- Natvia icing mix (375g)
- Natvia baking mix (700g)
- Natvia canister (200g)
- Natvia apron
- Cupcake baking premix (this is the cupcakes that we made on the day, amazing).
To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment below, or on my facebook page and I will randomly select the winner.
* Open to Australian residents only. Giveaway will run for one week until Saturday 1st June 2014.
*UPDATE: Using a random number generator, the winner of the amazing Natvia prize pack is number 5: Paula Yeo. Congrats Paula!