As food and baking products grow more varied and accommodating to the average consumer, it becomes easier to suit the needs of people who have special dietary considerations. People who follow gluten-free diets and avoid sugar have plenty of dessert options, even if they do involve a bit of extra preparation and planning ahead. With substitute sweeteners, the options are even more varied.
Cook or bake fruits into sauces, pastries, turnovers or other dishes to take advantage of their natural sweetness. For a simple strawberry shortcake, make biscuits with a gluten-free mix of flours, slice them into pieces, layer with strawberries and sugar-free strawberry compote, and top with non-dairy whipped cream.
You can also cook fruits with wine, honey, maple syrup or other natural sweeteners, or combine the fruits with sugar-free jam to make them taste sweeter before adding them to pastries or crisps. Recipezaar.com lists a gluten-free, sugar-free recipe for a pear-apple compote that calls for reducing the pears and apples by simmering them with white wine and then topping the mixture with non-dairy whipped cream. GoDairyFree.com suggests a similar recipe that capitalizes on the natural sweetness of bananas by baking them, then seasoning lightly with cinnamon and citrus juices.
Take the sugar out of ice-cream recipes and replace it with natural sweeteners. If you have an ice-cream maker, follow the regular instructions for a recipe but omit the sugar, replacing it with honey, syrup, stevia or another sweetener. Another option is to add an egg or heavy cream to the recipe to make the final product taste richer without any added sugar.
Make a gluten-free pie crust and fill it with naturally sweet fruit. Cut butter or shortening into a mixture of gluten-free flours, and moisten the dough with water until it holds together. Chill the dough, and roll it out as you would with a traditional pie crust.
Add stevia or another sugar-free sweetener to the fruit filling, or simply thicken the fruit with cornstarch or another thickener without sweetening it. Bake the pie as usual, and serve with dairy-free, sugar-free ice cream.
Boost the nutritional profile of a cake by seeking out recipes that use whole-grain flour and natural sugars only. The Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen offers a recipe for chocolate layer cake that gets its sweet-bitter taste from cocoa powder, prunes and agave nectar and uses brown-rice flour instead of wheat flour to add structure.
Use sugar-free sweeteners or sugar substitutes such as agave nectar, maple syrup or honey in traditional dessert recipes. Instead of using wheat flour, try gluten-free baking mixes or a blend of gluten-free flours. If you stick to recipes that have only a few ingredients, it’s easy to make modifications that won’t negatively affect the flavor of the final product.