The Ingredient Addition That Can Sweeten Desserts Without More Sugar

Spices can play tricks on your taste buds, which can enchant and even fool them with respect to what they're tasting. A bit of star anise can make something taste meatier, even if it's vegetarian, and freshly ground black pepper can completely mask a food's bitterness. These magic tricks are aided by chemical compounds that each spice brings to a dish, unlocking flavor receptors on our tongues to enhance or block certain tastes. If you're a baker looking to make your desserts taste sweeter without adding more sugar, spice is where you should turn to. 

One spice in particular can help you enjoy the sweeter side of life: cinnamon. The strong flavor compound in this spice, cinnamaldehyde, gives it its signature heat and is believed to make things taste sweeter while also reducing bitterness. With this bit of science on their side, bakers can use cinnamon to create sweeter recipes without having to add in more sugar. 

The sweet side of cinnamon

So how should you go about adding a hint of sweetness with the help of a bit of cinnamon? Start with recipes where the pairings are most complementary. Blueberry muffins and banana bread are great treats to add the spice to, as fruit and cinnamon work in concert to create a naturally sweet baked good. Cinnamon also helps enhance the sweetness of chocolate baked goods, while simultaneously downplaying the bitterness of the cocoa, so consider adding it to your favorite chocolate cake or chocolate chip cookie recipe. Nuts, and less refined sugars like molasses, brown sugar, and honey also benefit from the chemical magic cinnamon brings to the table. While not good for everything, there's very little that cinnamon can't bring a welcome jolt of sweet heat to.   

No matter what recipe you choose, begin by adding a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients, whisking, or sifting it in with the flour. Keep it small in the beginning, as you don't want the cinnamon to overwhelm the other flavors, but feel free to increase the amount if you want more cinnamon aroma in the next batch. The next time you're looking to sweeten up your baking, turn to your spice cabinet to help get the job done.