The Taste of Sweet has two sections:
- In Test Kitchen, we look at what happens when you substitute sugars and sweeteners in your favourite recipes.
- In What Sweetener Is That? we focus on specific sugars and sweeteners used in cooking to create harmony and a balanced flavour.
We aren’t chefs or sensory experts, so we called on colleagues who are to share their knowledge and their recipes with our readers. We provide links to their books and websites so you can taste more of their delicious fare if you wish.
Measures: We generally provide cup measures for ingredients with grams for dry ingredients and millilitres for liquids. Because some of the recipes we have selected use a traditional tablespoon (3 teaspoons or 15ml) and others use the Australian tablespoon (4 teaspoons or 20ml), we include millilitre measures so you can adjust if necessary.
Chrissy Freer's Vanilla Butter Cookie Challenge
In Part 3 of The Ultimate Guide to Sugars & Sweeteners, we asked food writer Chrissy Freer (author of Supergrains) to put some popular alternatives to regular sugar through their baking paces in a vanilla butter cookie recipe to see how they compared with the classic recipe made with caster (superfine) sugar. Chrissy called in an expert tasting panel of friends to rate the results. Recipes were tested in a conventional (not convection) oven. We briefly summarise her findings (there’s more detail in the book) and include the photographs she took of the cookies so you can see the difference.
Chrissy's Classic Vanilla Butter Cookie
This recipe made a delicious, crisp, sweet cookie with well balanced flavor and a vanilla, buttery taste. It was pale, light golden, slightly textured surface with small cracks. This was the crispest out of all the cookies tested with a light, almost shortbread-like, texture.
Preparation time: 25 minutes (including chilling time)
Baking time: 18–20 minutes
Makes 20 cookies
- 125g (4½oz) unsalted butter (9 tablespoons), diced, at room temperature
- 80g (2¾oz) caster (superfine) sugar (about ⅓ cup)
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 225g (8oz) plain (all-purpose) flour (about 1⅔ cups)
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- 2 tbsp (30 ml) milk
- Preheat the oven to 160°C (320°F). Line a large baking sheet with parchment (baking) paper or a Silpat baking mat.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer until creamy and smooth. Sift the flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the creamed butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the milk and the remaining flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to come together. Then use clean hands to mix until a soft dough forms.
- Roll slightly rounded tablespoons of the dough into walnut-size balls and place 1½ inches (3 centimeters) apart on the prepared baking sheet. Flatten them slightly with a fork dipped in flour. Place the baking sheet in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
- Bake the cookies for 18 to 20 minutes, until light golden. Remove the cookies from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 to 4 days.