When I was working on reviewing Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking, one of the things I looked forward to was trying out some of the natural, non-super-processed sweeteners out there. After all, they sometimes have slightly lower glycemic indexes, they usually have more nutrients, and they almost always have more flavor.
However, brown rice syrup is something I was rather dubious about. It doesn’t sound very good, does it? Before using it in anything I gave it a tentative taste, wanting to make sure I didn’t accidentally ruin a recipe by putting in a sweetener that would make it taste bad.
So I took that tiny taste. And then I held the spoon out to my husband and said, “oh my god, you have to try this!”
It doesn’t taste like sugar; I’ll be honest about that. It tastes far better than sugar. It tastes of honey and caramel. It’s the kind of deep, rich taste you can lose yourself in.
One of my favorite kinds of desserts involves fruit, often macerated in a bit of sugar and perhaps a little liqueur. Brown rice syrup, I’ve found, works particularly well for this. I worried it wouldn’t mix in well since it’s quite thick, but just let the spoonful of it sit in the bowl of fruit for a few minutes before stirring; the fruit juices “melt” it quickly and naturally. There’s something about the rich flavor of brown rice syrup that seems to complement berries perfectly. It makes them taste sweeter rather than sweetened, if that makes sense. Take the cherries I used it on last night, for example. They didn’t taste sugared afterward; they just tasted like they’d never been sour at all, and they had a delicious smoky caramel hint to them.
If this is natural cooking, I’ll throw that super-processed white sugar in the trash right now!