The experiment: Make a tarte tatin-like food that's totally sugar-free (or no sugar added) and see how it comes out.
- 1/4 cup erythritol ("Z Sweet")
- 2 T water
- 1/2 tsp maple extract on standby (I used Frontier, not Mapleine)
- 1/2 medium sized apple, peeled, cored, and sliced
- 2 slices of low-calorie bread
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup egg white (from a carton; roughly equivalent to one egg white)
- 3 packets of Splenda
- 1/4 cup milk (I used nonfat because that's what I normally have in the house)
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- a few grates of nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Combine erythritol and water in a saucepan on high heat, stirring constantly, until it caramelizes. If the caramelization doesn't work as planned, dump the maple extract into it and mix well.
- Pour mixture into dish large enough to hold around 1.5 cups of stuff (I used a Pyrex soup bowl)
- Arrange apple slices artfully in the caramelized erythritol
- Crumble the two slices of bread on top of the apple/erythritol arrangement.
- In a small bowl, combine the egg, egg white, Splenda, milk, and vanilla extract. Beat with a wire whisk until well-blended and foamy.
- Grate in the fresh nutmeg and mix in.
- Pour egg mixture onto the bread/apple/erythritol mixture, making sure the bread is saturated. Don't worry if the mixture is a little gushy.
- Put into oven; bake for at least 20-25 minutes (can go up to 40 with no ill effects).
There I was, at 8:30 in the morning, not quite awake, with a tiny saucepan of smoke billowing into my kitchen. I put the ventilation hood over the stove on HIGH. I opened the garage door to vent the smoke out that way. For my own amusement, I took a long match, lit it, and then put the flame into the smoke to see if it would catch fire; it didn't. I then dipped the match into the boiling liquid, which did catch fire. I used the pot lid to smother the flame because I didn't think flaming the sweetener would make it caramelize. There was a little bit of a caramel-like burn, but not much, so I opted to use the maple extract and salvage the experiment. (Not to self: Use Torani Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup instead if you want caramel flavor.)
I poured the maple/erythritol mixture into the Pyrex dish, then arranged the apple slices artfully on top. I then crumbled the bread over it, did the rest of the recipe as planned, and then inserted the dish into my toaster oven, which was at a precise 350F (having an oven thermometer helps; I set it closer to 375F to get 350F). I'd planned on baking it for 20-25 minutes, but I got a phone call I needed to take and got caught up in doing work on the computer at the same time (I'm working at home the rest of this week and the beginning of next week), so by the time I got to the bread pudding it'd been in the oven 40-45 minutes. Luckily for me, that little extra bit of milk added a touch of insulation against this kind of thing. The top crust was a little darker than I'd have liked, but when I turned it upside down onto my plate, it looked -- okay. Any hint of caramel-anything from the now-top was gone, but it still looked pretty good because I had artfully arranged the apple slices and because the top had molded to the shape of the dish.
The flavor was excellent, albeit a tad oversweet from the now-dissolved erythritol, but it was also very filling (yaay!), healthy, and felt like a special treat. I think I'll just use the Torani syrup next time, as it'd make the whole thing much easier.
Fat: 6.6g (mostly from the egg)