The new October issue of Consumer Reports has all the details on a test that the magazine did of non-sugar sweeteners in baked goods, like cookies and cakes. Their test focused on low or reduced-calorie artificial sweeteners, and included Domino Pure D’Lite Sugar Blend, Splenda Sugar Blend for Baking, Splenda Brown Sugar Blend, Equal Granular and Estee Fructose. Fructose, which is the type of sugar found in honey and fruits, generally produced the best results with the best flavor, although it saved virtually no calories from the finished product when compared to real sugar. The artificial sweeteners all produced an aftertaste, to a degree, and preformed anywhere from acceptably (Splenda Brown Sugar in the Nestles Tollhouse Cookie recipe) to horribly (Equal Granular in cakes)
The magazine’s overall recommendation, after running their tests on 13 brands of sweeteners, is that if you want to bake with something other than sugar, it is a good idea to use a sugar blend, as those consistently produced better and tastier results than did artificial sweeteners alone. They note that if you want to avoid added sugar completely, you might be better off sticking to something that is naturally sweetened in the first place, such as fruit.
The entire report is worth a read if you are really interested in trying to bake without sugar, although there are natural alternatives that the magazine didn’t focus on. For instance, both Heidi and David have had good success using agave nectar. But the bottom line is that you’re probably not going to get the perfect chocolate chip cookie using that or any other non-sugar sweetener. With artificial or other non-sugar sweeteners is that if you want to use them, you have to be willing to experiment a little and you may have to compromise a little on taste or texture to put sugar content as your highest priority during baking, especially if you want to convert a recipe designed to be used with sugar into one that is made without it.