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How Baking With Less Sugar Can Make Your Desserts Taste Better

05/07/2015 02:27 pm ET | Updated May 07, 2015

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Of all the trends in the dessert world, "low sugar" doesn't sound particularly sexy. But according to some of the country's leading pastry chefs, desserts with less sugar are the wave of the future.

It's not necessarily that chefs are using less sugar for health purposes, though a low-sugar diet is one of the top recommendations for Americans from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC). Chefs are embracing less sugar in their desserts to add nuance to flavor, resulting in better-tasting and more interesting desserts.

Brooks Headley, pastry chef at New York City restaurant Del Posto, said at last month's Brooklyn's Food Book Fair that sugar can overpower other flavors, and ultimately dull the palate. The chef said he thinks about sugar "the way a savory chef thinks about salt. Sugar should be used to enhance the other flavors [in a dish].”

Pastry chef Joanne Chang, who owns Boston's Flour Bakery, echoes Headley's sentiment in her new cookbook "Baking with Less Sugar: Recipes for Desserts Using Natural Sweeteners and Little-to-No White Sugar." Chang doesn't demonize the white stuff, but celebrates using less of it. "You will discover, as I did," Chang says, "that when you don't focus on sugar and sweetness, you end up with desserts that are full of amazing, compelling flavor."

Using less sugar isn't always easy, however, because it does more than make food sweet. It also affects texture, the moisture and the lifespan of the food. So chefs often have to develop creative fixes when cutting back. Chang, for example, treats her low-sugar ginger cookies like biscotti. She dries them overnight so that they get the right amount of crisp.

For more successful ways to eliminate sugar, and achieve more flavor in the process, check out the 11 recipes below.

Also on HuffPost:

  • Whole-wheat crackers, 8
    bhofack/iStock/360/Getty Images
    Up to 12 grams sugar

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
  • Crispy chicken and spinach salad, prepared in a restaurant
    TBird59/iStock/360/Getty Images
    Up to 13 grams sugar

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
  • Tomato basil soup, 1 can
    molka/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 13-22 grams sugar

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
  • Crunchy broccoli salad, 1/2 cup
    ElenaFabbrili/iStock/Thinkstock
    7 grams sugar

    Source: Kraft recipes
  • Energy drinks, 8-ounce bottle*
    Up to 21–30 grams
    *Some energy drinks are sold in 16-ounce bottles

    Source: University of California, Davis, Department of Nutrition fact sheet
  • Yogurt, single serving-size cup (usually 6 ounces)
    moranaF/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 25–34 grams of sugar

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
  • Coleslaw, 2 tablespoons
    TheMalni/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 12 grams of sugar

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Baked beans, 1/2 cup
    Ju-Lee/iStock/Thinkstock
    11–16 grams of sugar

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Beef jerky, 1 serving
    bhofack2/iStock/Thinkstock
    4–6 grams of sugar

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Vanilla almond milk, 1 cup
    bhofack2/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 14 grams of sugar
    (Unsweetened almond milk: 0 grams sugar)

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Hamburger buns, 1 bun
    sautepl/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 3–6 grams

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Teriyaki marinade
    Svetlana Kolpakova/Hemera/Thinkstock
    Up to 8 grams sugar

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
  • Cereal bars, 1 bar
    rzeszutek/iStock/Thinkstock
    12 grams of sugar, on average

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Hot cereal, 1 envelope
    AbbieImages/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 7–12 grams

    Source: Sugar Has 56 Names: A Shopper's Guide, by Robert H. Lustig, MD, MSL
  • Dark chocolate, 1 bar
    Zakharova_Natalia/iStock/Thinkstock
    Up to 16–21 grams
    (You can find dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao with as little as 5 grams of sugar)

    Source: Eat It to Beat It! by David Zinczenko
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