When I saw Linzi’s Elderflower challenge over at Lancashire Food I didn’t think I’d have a chance to participate, even though I wanted to. I just haven’t managed to gather any elderflowers this year, even though they are plentiful and beautiful as ever. I’m hoping I haven’t left it too late and I might still be in with a chance to make my annual batch of elderflower cordial. However, scrabbling around at the back of the cupboard, I came across a bottle of last year’s cordial which is still in fine fettle – excellent, I can play along after all!
I’ve recently been sent a jar of Truvia to review by. Truvia is a sweetener derived from the Stevia plant. The compounds it contains are very sweet but are not sugar and have no calorific value. It also contains a bulking agent, erythritol, another non calorific sweetener – presumably to make it more practical to use. We’ve grown stevia for many years and use it to sweeten stewed fruit, tomato sauce and so on. Our plant was unfortunately killed in the hard winter of a couple of years ago, but we still have some dried leaf left. I was interested, therefore to try a commercial product which dispenses with all the green leaf material leaving just the active ingredients in a white caster sugar like form.
This challenge seemed like a good opportunity to try the product out. The advice is to use some sugar when baking cakes as Truvia has different properties to sugar. Due to the sugar present in both the white chocolate and in the elderflower cordial, however, I decided I’d try using Truvia without any additional sugar. Truvia is meant to be far sweeter than sugar and only 1/3 of the amount is needed. So instead of 150g of sugar I used 50g of Truvia. For more exacting bakers than I, the Truvia website has a handy conversion chart. It also has more information about the product and a number of recipes to try.
This is what I did:
- Melted 125g unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 50 white chocolate (G&B).
- Sifted 100g flour (half spelt, half white), 50g ground almonds and 1 tsp baking powder into a bowl.
- Stirred in 50g Truvia
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the melted chocolate.
- Mixed together then beat in 2 duck eggs, one at a time.
- Stirred in 1 tbsp Greek Yogurt (2% fat) and 4 tbsp elderflower cordial.
- Spooned into 12 cupcake cases and baked at 180C for 20 minutes.
- Left to cool
- Melted 100ml whipping cream in the butter pan I’d used earlier over low heat with 50g white chocolate (G&B).
- Stirred until smooth.
- Poured into a large bowl and left to cool.
- Added 2 tbsp elderflower cordial and stirred.
- Sifted in 80g icing sugar.
- Added 200ml mascarpone and whisked until smooth and stiff enough to ice the cupcakes.
- Used a palate knife to spread over the cupcakes, then decorated with some yellow sugar strands to tie in with the yellow cupcake cases.
The icing was delicious and turned out to be the exact colour of elderflowers which pleased me. I found it a little too sweet, so would reduce the icing sugar next time to about 50g. The flavour of elderflower was delicately present, but was later overpowered by the Truvia. Stevia has a distinctive taste, which to be honest, is an acquired one. It takes a while for the flavour to come through, but when it does it hangs around for a long time. So although this is a really useful way of cutting down sugar consumption, I would advise cautious use until familiar with its properties. The sponge tasted good, but was rather dense. I’m not sure if this was because of the lack of sugar or because of the method I used to mix the ingredients.
NB – I managed to raid my mother’s garden this very evening and now have elderflower cordial brewing – hooray!