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    Spread some love this Diwali with naturally sweetened treats, featuring caramel-flavoured coconut palm sugar, plum juice and more

    Every week we wake up to new debates like the ill effects of pasteurization or cancer-causing meats. But sugar has managed to be a cause of concern for as long as we remember. The growing awareness about sugara��s contribution towards obesity, hypertension and cardiac stress has made us look out for healthier options. So this Diwali, choose from traditional Indian mithai to baked classics that use innovative substitutes like coconut sugar and berry extracts. High on health and taste, with uniquely different flavours, these treats are the perfect
    way to celebrate, guilt free.

    Text: Preeti GT

    Pics: P Ravikumar, R Satish Babu

    Date palm jaggery

    This dark brown jaggery is rich in minerals and nutrients and provides more depth of flavour. Make it a liberal part of your sweets this season and allow Sara Koshy to show you how. Starting November, her classes will include lessons on a popular Malaysian sweet that has small pancakes made with coconut milk, pandan juice and other staple ingredients, stuffed with a mixture of more pandan leaf flavoured coconut and date palm jaggery. a�?The pleasant green colour and interesting flavour combination will be loved by everyone,a�? Koshy assures. Workshop costs Rs 1,000 per person. Details: 8124145884

    Coconut sugarPERUNGUDI8

    Home baker Smitha Kuttayya says, a�?Using coconut sugar in baking elevates flavours while retaining moisture and creating an interesting taste.a�? If you are looking for a head-start, try her Coconut Cake made with the sugar, along with fresh coconut flakes that could even be dressed up with a luscious butter cream icing. Recommended for coconut lovers, the taste is intense with a lingering after taste that is bound to make you reach out for another slice. Fewer calories on your mind? Kuttayya also whips up an indulgent spongy Apple cake that features the low-cal Stevia with cinnamon. From Rs 1,000 per kilo onwards. Details: 9444385425


    The badam peda is paired with honey at Hilton. It keeps the peda, soft and intensely sweet, even when used in small quantities. The peda is rich, thanks to the use of natural khoya and saffron, with a lovely almond aftertaste. Also addictive is their creme brulee that uses a never-fail combination of masala chai spices (think cardamom, cinnamon and star anise) and jaggery alongside the humble sweetener. The result is a creamy and refreshing custard. Pre-order from Rs 475 onwards. Details: 22255555

    Plum & berry extractSugar-free Desserts at Taj Coromandel - Chocolate Fudge Cake from Anise

    Taj Coromandel offers a sinful baked berry cheesecake with a reduced puree of fresh berries. Its interesting flavour profile combines a hint of sweetness from blueberries, tartness from the strawberries and the velvety texture of mascarpone. And if chocolate is your true love, then try the dark chocolate fudge cake that uses sugar-free chocolate, pureed juicy plums as a sweetener, and a topping of luscious cocoa flour chocolate sauce alongside a spot of strawberry reduction. Using a fruit substitute can increase the cooking duration, but plums and berries are a tasty way to add anti oxidants to your diet. Priced at Rs 500. Details: 66002827

    Nolen gur

    Typical to West Bengal, this dark sweetener is healthier in its unrefined form, but is an acquired taste. But if you fancy it, stock up when ita��s available during winter. For a taste of it, try homebaker Deepasri Kara��s nolen gur sandesh. The treats are strikingly original with the essence of Kolkataa��s date palm jaggery, gently flavoured with cardamom. Kar also makes nolen gur cupcakes, complete with icing that has whipped cream and more of the sweetener. Priced at Rs 265 per dozen. Details: 9884868162

    Common jaggery

    Probably the easiest substitute for its versatility, jaggery is used in a powdered or liquid form to create a sweetness that is not as sharp as sugar. Try The Parka��s A�saffron rasagullas that are steeped in a golden jaggery syrup to see what this substitute can do. They also do an elaneer payasam with crushed cardamom pods and palm sugar, A�garnished with a smooth and pale tender-coconut malai. Pre-order for Rs 499. Details: 42676000


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