Published November 1, 2005. From Cook's Illustrated.
Is this hybrid brown sugar an effective substitute for the real thing?
Splenda is the trademarked name for an artificial sweetener made from sucralose, a chemically altered form of sugar that tastes sweet but isn't digested as calories or carbohydrates. Unfortunately, Splenda lacks the volume of real sugar--an important consideration in some baking recipes. So Splenda has come out with reduced-calorie spinoffs that split the difference, blending sucralose with the real stuff. Brown Sugar Blend is a mixture of sucralose and brown sugar that is twice as sweet as regular brown sugar, so you use half as much. (One teaspoon of brown sugar has 15 calories and 4 grams of carbs; the equivalent half-teaspoon of Brown Sugar Blend has 10 calories and 2 grams of carbs.)
We tested Brown Sugar Blend in three applications—chocolate chip cookies, blondies, and a streusel topping (sprinkled over a yellow cake)—tasting them side by side with versions prepared with regular brown sugar. Tasters detected a "bitter" and "soapy" aftertaste in the cookies and blondies made with Brown Sugar Blend and also found them somewhat dry. The cause of the texture problem was clear. Real sugar has moisture-retaining (or hygroscopic) properties; because the Splenda blend contains less real sugar, it retains less moisture. Where Brown Sugar Blend really failed as a substitute, though, was in the streusel topping, which simply sank into the batter instead of crunching up into a recognizable streusel. Not much of a replacement in our book—even if you do save a few calories.