Monday, January 16, 2012

3-2-1 Cookies and a review of Fibrelle

Before Christmas, I was approached by a company that makes Fibrelle, a sugar substitute, to see if I wanted to test their product. They said that it worked just like sugar in baking, that it measured just like sugar, and it tasted just like sugar.

Truth is that I don't use sugar substitutes. But you never know who I might be cooking for, so I figured I'd give it a try. I also though I'd be a better judge of a sugar substitute than someone who is accustomed to the taste of artificial sweeteners.

I figured I'd give it a tough test - something with a lot of sugar. Cookies. Plain cookies.

I made a very basic 3-2-1 cookie dough - three parts flour, two parts fat, and one part sugar. I added a bit of salt, some vanilla bean paste, and just a bit of water, and that was it. I figured that if it was going to taste funky, a simple recipe like this wouldn't hide the flavor.

And that's all I really wanted to judge. As far as whether this stuff is good for you, bad for you, better for you, healthy for you, or none of the above - well, that's up to you. Some people like artificial sweeteners, and some don't. And keep in mind that this product seems to be targeted for baking purposes - not for your coffee.

Here's the front and back of the packaging:

As far as use, the powder is finer than granulated sugar, and in fact it sent a poof of fine dust into the air when I poured it. Right out of the package, it wasn't clumpy and it flowed freely - I've got no idea what it will do after the package is opened for a while.

And then I made these cookies:

3-2-1 Cookies

6 ounces (by weight) all purpose flour
2 ounces (by weight) Fibrelle*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
4 ounces (1 stick) butter
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the flour, Fibrelle, salt, and vanilla bean paste into your food processor. Pulse a few times to distribute the ingredients. Cut the butter into pieces and add it to the food processor. Pulse it until it's in small bits, like wet sand. Turn the processor on and add the water while the food processor is running, until it forms a ball.

Use a teaspoon-sized scoop to portion small balls of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a bit of space between them. The cookies shouldn't spread a lot, but they will puff a bit.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly browned on the bottom.

Remove the cookies from the pan and let them cool completely on a rack.

*I used Fibrelle because I was reviewing it. If you prefer, you can use sugar in this recipe.

The result?

Not bad. My official taste testers didn't suspect artificial sweeteners. I thought I could detect something besides butter, flour, vanilla, and sugar, but it wasn't strong or offensive. And that might simply have been because I knew it was in there.

A better test might be a side-by-side comparison of a cookie made with sugar and another made with Fibrelle. See if anyone notices a difference. But really, given that there weren't any bad flavors, I don't know if it's worth that much nitpicking.

Am I going to use this product? Hmmm.... I don't know yet. I'm usually not a fan of artificial sweeteners. I have more of it left, and I'll probably use it in baking before I make a final decision.

On the other hand, if you do used artificial sweeteners, this might be worth checking out. As far as the health claims - I'll leave that up to you.