The challenge is to make two Halloween-themed recipes without sugar. This is the first one.
“What??! Are you out of your mind?” My friend is looking at me in all seriousness; it’s he who’s posed this ridiculous challenge. I’m flabbergasted. And justifiably so, I believe. Me, Dessert Comes First and Disciple of Sugar eschewing my favorite substance during the most candy-centric holiday of the year?! How daft do you think I am? But I surprise even myself because I willingly take it on. It also gives me an excuse to develop some Halloween goodies, something I’ve always wanted to do.
But first you must understand my reluctance. I have a post on sugar free desserts written a few years ago where I lay out quite succinctly my suspicions about sugar free anything. Sugar is my life you see, and I eat everything else in moderation so that I can smother myself with it. But I am also not one to shy away from a challenge and when I think sugar free, I think Splenda. I’ll never forget the day someone came to my house for coffee and when I offered her sugar for her cup of joe, she whips out two packets of Splenda from her purse!
So I buy a bag of Splenda and wouldn’t you know, it’s got a riveting picture of a berry pie on its front. “Measures cup for cup like sugar,” the package croons to me. Hmm, we’ll see. So I take it home and let it sit on the counter for a few days in order for it to woo me. I’m a girl who believes in the power of courtship, and me and Splenda, we’re just getting to know each other.
A 275-gram bag is surprisingly light and it makes a crunching sound similar to panko crumbs being crushed. Splenda also looks like panko albeit whiter and finer. From a distance, it almost looks like powdered sugar so perhaps there’s hope for me yet warming up to it. Meantime, I’m getting used to having Splenda around by adding small amounts of it to my morning smoothie, my oatmeal, my hot chocolate, and even to my tomato soup to temper its acidity. Girding myself for the characteristic metallic taste so endemic to these sugar replacements, I’m surprised when there’s none in coming. I start to look at the bag of Splenda on my counter with more affection. See what I mean when I say that I can be won over by being wooed? (Most of the time at least).
On to that challenge posed to me by my friend. Green is my favorite color and the idea of a green punch appeals to me. I like the double entendre that color brings – green mind, green with envy, etc. And on Halloween, a ghoulishly green punch is entirely apropos.
I’m not much for soda but I do like its fizzy feeling and taste so in goes some soda water; punch isn’t punch without the bubbles. I’m trying to keep this drink free from any extra sugar so I add some unsweetened pineapple juice. Then I chance upon some passionfruit nectar in the supermarket, organic too. At this point my punch tastes like a really lively Four Seasons cocktail but it’s missing a little something. I add some Splenda to taste, about a teaspoon or so. So far, I’m feeling really good about my punch, and I dare say that it’s quite healthy too with just enough sweetness to make it sing.
Now on to the fun part, getting it green. Remembering past admonishments from my chef-instructors about my overly enthusiastic use of food coloring, I try my best to add the green color in drop by drop. Darn, that bottle’s slippery! But I end up liking the resulting florid green hue. Very ghoulish.
Try this punch that I make with Splenda and have yourself a growlingly green and ghoulish Halloween. Next week, my recipe for a dessert, also Halloween-themed and also sugar free.
Ghoulishly Green Punch
Serves two thirsty ghouls or three, if they’re willing to share.
1 cup soda water or club soda or sparkling water
½ cup unsweetened pineapple juice
1 cup fruit nectar of choice (Nectar is also a term for juice but make sure it’s pure juice with no added sugars. I use an organic passionfruit nectar.)
1-2 teaspoons of Splenda® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated
Green food coloring
In a large pitcher, stir together first four ingredients. Taste for sweetness and adjust liquids. I put in more passionfruit because I like its flavor and the soda water’s fizziness is a refreshing touch.
Add some of the green food coloring into a 1/8-teaspoon measure and slowly add the coloring drop by drop until you get the ghoulishly green intensity you desire. You can also use a clean eye dropper if you’ve got one around. I’m feeling especially ghoulish and green when I make this punch, thus the exceptionally vibrant hue in the photo.
Pour beverage into two tall glasses and just before serving, add plenty of ice.
Splenda is available in 500-gram packs and in individual sachets at all leading supermarkets.
For more information: Splenda on Facebook