Christine Burns Rudalevige’s pound cakes are made with maple syrup, a more environmentally-friendly sugar substitute. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Allulose is one of the newest sugar substitutes taking the health food market by storm. All the cool kids are eating it.

Keto diet devotees consume it by the bagful of KNOW Better cookies. Bodybuilders buy into the idea when they bite into their high-protein, low-carb energy bars. Weight Watchers dig into Halo Top light ice cream sweetened with allulose because an entire pint costs them only six SmartPoints. Folks concerned about diabetes are attracted to the fact that while the bulk and the mouthfeel of this sweetener is stunningly like white sugar, studies show consuming it has little effect on overall blood sugar levels.

You, too, have likely eaten a bit of it every time you’ve poured pure maple syrup on pancakes. Allulose, the chemical makeup for which is nearly identical to fructose and glucose, is naturally found in figs, raisins, jackfruit, wheat and maple syrup. Scientists first named allulose as a sugar over 70 years ago, classifying it as a “rare sugar” because it naturally occurs in such small doses. They found, though, that it has slightly different hydrogen and oxygen structures than its sister simple sugars. That variance means allulose possesses a tenth of the calories of table sugar while providing 70 percent of the sweetness.

Allulose’s physiological impact is different from other sugars because is not metabolized. Most of the allulose we consume leaves the body in urine. The U.S. Food and Drug administration in 2012 deemed manufactured allulose to be safe for human consumption, and it has been commercially manufactured since 2015. In an April 2019 ruling, the FDA said that, while manufactures must list it as an ingredient and include it in the total carbohydrate count on all packaged product, they did not have to include it in their overall added sugar counts because it effectively passes right through a body. Upon writing that sentence, I’m having flashbacks to the horrible effects of the Olestra-driven fat-free chip explosions of the 1990s.

Intrigued myself about this new sweetening phenom, I watched a YouTube video created in December by Modernist Pantry, an ingredient and kitchen equipment supplier based in Eliot that caters to experimental home and professional cooks. In the clip, owner Janie Wang and test kitchen chef Scott Garrett play with allulose to make dacquoise (flat nut meringues), buttercream frosting and chocolate mousse. The company recently started offering 200-gram bags of allulose for the home kitchen and 1-kilogram bags for the professional kitchen for $9.99 and $39.99, respectively.

Garrett likes the product because it has no aftertaste like other natural sugar substitutes like stevia. Because he is not a fan of overly sweet desserts, he replaces white sugar with granulated allulose (there are liquids on the market that act more like corn syrup as well) on a one-to-one basis. But if you want to swap sugar for allulose in a recipe and maintain the same level of sweetness, for every cup of sugar called for, add 1 1/3 cups of granulated allulose. Garrett did say that allulose speeds up the browning process of most baked goods and therefore advised cooks to reduce the heat called for in white sugar-based recipes by 50 to 100 degrees to avoid burning them.

Sounds like a good ingredient for my baking and my waistline. But from a sustainable cook’s point of view, I must point out few more ways in which allulose might burn us environmentally. Commercial allulose is most often derived from corn, long criticized as an industrial farmed monocrop that rapidly depletes both water supplies and soil health. Once the corn is grown and harvested, it gets fermented to pull out the fructose. From there, enzymes (often proprietarily created by various allulose manufacturers) are added to convert the fructose to allulose. Even if these manufactures are using solar power to offset carbon producing energy costs, and many are, with marketing surveys showing that 7 out of 10 people worldwide are looking to reduce their sugar intake, the fossil fuel energy required make the allulose to fill that need, is still likely to be significant. At this point in time, this eater is going to plan to reduce her sugar intake by just not having it. And when I do want something sweet, I’m going to stick to Maine maple syrup as my local sugar alternative.

Glaze and maple syrup for Christine Burns Rudalevige’s pound cakes. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Maple Pound Cake with Maple Cream Glaze

I make these in the small forms I inherited from my husband’s grandmother. The recipe also fills a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. Granulated maple syrup and maple cream are readily available at independent health food stores throughout Maine.

Makes 6 small loaves, or 1 large

2 sticks (226 g) unsalted room temperature butter, more for coating pan(s)
2 cups (240) all-purpose flour, more for coating pan(s)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cups (160 g) granulated maple sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup maple cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter and flour pan(s).

In a small bowl combine flour, salt and baking powder. In a measuring cup, combine milk, maple syrup and vanilla.

In a second bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and maple sugar soft and light, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beating for 30 seconds after each addition.

Fill pan(s) about 3/4 full of batter. Bake until golden and a knife inserted in the thickest part of the cake emerges clean, 20-25 minutes for small loaves, 45 minutes for a large one.

Cool on a rack in the pan. Once completely cool, gently unmold and drizzle with maple cream.

Christine Burns Rudalevige is a food writer, recipe developer, tester and cooking teacher in Brunswick, and the author of “Green Plate Special,” a cookbook from Islandport based on these columns. She can be contacted at: [email protected]

Christine Burns Rudalevige pours a maple glaze over her pound cakes. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


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