We all love a sugar buzz, but too much sucrose wreaks havoc on our health. Enter the alternatives: From agave to stevia, natural sweeteners are the hottest thing in markets. But can you bake with them? We tried. And failed. Then, we sought help from PCC Cooks teacher Ami Karnosh and Flying Apron Bakery’s Jennifer Katzinger. With their help, and practice, we found our refined-sugar-free desserts started to taste, well, tasty.

Sugar Sub Study in our Shopping Guide

Rapunzel Rapadura
Claim to fameIt looks like dirty sugar, but rapadura—unrefined, unbleached organic sugar cane that’s about as sweet as the white stuff—retains nutritional components lost in refined sweeteners. 
Taste and textureCaramel flavor, with a hint of molasses. Grainy. 

Calories per tablespoon 45
The test kitchen suggestsA one-to-one replacement for sugar, it works in any recipe. Go for it. 

Erba Dolce Stevia
Claim to fame A South American herb in the sunflower family, stevia is 200 percent sweeter than sucrose, has zero calories, and won’t affect blood sugar, so it’s safe for diabetics—and supermodels. 
Taste and texture Anise, with an acrid aftertaste. Fine granules.
Calories per tablespoon 0
The test kitchen suggests Tasty in Jell-o, stevia can overwhelm a cooked dish. Try it in dishes with other strong flavors like cloves, nutmeg, and cocoa.