Ditch the Sugar, but not the Cake! – Sugar Free Baking

Doing away with refined sugar is becoming an increasingly popular choice to improve lifestyle and health, but it can be tough to wholly do without an occasional sweet treat.

There are lots of sugar substitutes on the market but you have to be careful – many options that seem less refined and more natural can be just as calorific as refined sugar, and also have a high GI value.

One sweetener that’s worth giving a try, especially if you’re really missing the odd baked treat, is xylitol.

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener found in small quantities in many fruits and vegetables, with commercial xylitol extracted from birch trees and corn cob fibres. It was first discovered in Europe in the late 1800s and has long been used there as an alternative for diabetics. Xylitol is considered to have a similar sweetness and taste to sugar, but has significantly less calories than sugar (2.4 cal per gram compared to sugar’s 3.87 cal per gram) and a very low glycaemic index value (7 as opposed to 65 for sugar). It’s also much better for your teeth than sugar and has been shown to have antibacterial properties. Xylitol really comes into its own in the kitchen, particularly with baking as it has the same level of sweetness and can be used gram for gram.

Carolyn Hartz was the first to bring xylitol to Australia in 2002. A self-confessed sugar addict, Carolyn had been diagnosed as pre-diabetic and was really missing sugary treats. But a chance conversation in Paris changed her life.

“She told me about a company in New York that sold xylitol, an all natural sugar-free sweetener made from birch trees or the woody fibre of corn cobs that actually tasted like sugar. They also had a cake mix that was sugar, grain and flour free and very low carb. It was a revelation,” Carolyn says.

Carolyn’s company SweetLife grew from there with the first shipment of xylitol and baking mixes selling out in three months.

Carolyn has been on her sugar-free journey for 27 years now, and is due to release her first cookbook in October, with 60 delicious recipes for a guilt-free sweet fix. The recipes are also gluten-free.

Sweetlife’s Perfect Sweet Xylitol can also be used as a sugar substitute in your favourite recipes, or even in your morning cuppa. In baking, it’s worth noting that it absorbs moisture, so some adjustments might be needed. Let’s face it, it’ll be tasty experimentation!

Call: 1300 768 783
Monday – Friday
Email: info@sweetlife.com.au 
Visit Sweetlife
Baked Lime Cheesecake

Serves 8Sugar Free Baking with Carolyn Hartz


  • 250g light fresh ricotta
  • 220g light cream cheese
  • 250g low fat natural yoghurt
  • 90g Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • 2 X-Large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lime, finely grated
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract


Pre-heat oven to 160˚C/140˚C fan-forced. Line the base of a 20cm spring form pan with baking paper.

Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Use an electric beater to beat at medium speed until smooth.

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes or until set and a round bladed knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

Turn oven off and leave cheesecake to cool in oven with the door slightly ajar.

Run a knife around the edge of cheesecake to loosen, remove the side of the pan and refrigerate cheesecake to chill until cold, preferably overnight.

VARIATION: Lemon Cheesecake

Replace the lime zest with zest of 1 lemon.

RECIPE TIP: Leaving the cheesecake to cool in the oven helps prevent the surface from cracking.

Beetroot and Chocolate Loaf with Cashew Frosting

Serves 10 – 12Sugar Free Baking with Carolyn Hartz


  • Butter or oil, to grease
  • 300g whole raw beetroot (approx. 5 medium beetroots)
  • 250g raw almonds, ground
  • 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
  • 2 X-large eggs
  • 100g Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 150ml mild olive oil
  • 150g Dark Bitter Chocolate (Recipe on Website) or good quality sugar free dark chocolate, chopped


1 whole raw beetroot, peeled


  • 300g raw cashews, soaked for 3 hours in enough warm water to cover, rinsed and drained
  • 20g Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • 60ml water
  • 60ml coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • Raw whole pistachios, to decorate


Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Brush a 25cm × 7.5cm × 7.5cm loaf pan with butter or oil to grease. Line with baking paper.

Roast the beetroot in the oven 180°C/160°C until tender, peel and puree to make 250g. Set aside.

Place ground almonds and baking powder in a large bowl and mix to combine.

Use an electric beater to beat eggs, xylitol and salt in a clean bowl on high speed until pale and creamy. Gradually add the olive oil and beat on medium speed until combined.

Fill a small saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a bowl large enough to cover the saucepan and set aside.

Once water is boiling, remove from the heat and place bowl with chocolate on top, stirring gently to melt. Set aside to cool slightly.

Stir egg mixture into the almond mixture. Mix in the melted chocolate and beetroot puree.

Pour into prepared cake pan and bake for 25–30 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in pan for 10 minutes. Turn onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Lower oven temperature to 120°C/100°C fan-forced. Very carefully, thinly slice the beetroot using a mandoline. Place beetroot slices on a silicon mat or baking paper in a single layer and bake for 30 minutes, or until crisp.


Blend all the ingredients until smooth and spread over the cooled Chocolate and Beetroot Cake.Garnish with beetroot chips and pistachios.

Chocolate, Coconut and Raspberry Gateaux

Serves 8 – 10Sugar Free Baking with Carolyn Hartz


  • Butter or oil to grease
  • 250g raw almonds, ground
  • 80g shredded coconut
  • 4 X-large eggs
  • 100g Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • Pinch of salt
  • 20g cacao or good quality cocoa powder
  • 150g coconut oil, melted
  • 100g fresh or frozen raspberries


  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 100g coconut oil, melted
  • 60g cacao or good quality cocoa powder
  • 75g Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 250g raspberries
  • Dark Bitter Chocolate (recipe on website) or good quality sugar free dark chocolate, shaved to decorate .


Preheat oven to 140˚C/120˚C fan-forced. Brush 4 x 17cm spring form cake pans with butter to grease. Line with baking paper.

Combine the ground almonds and coconut in a large bowl, then set aside

Place the eggs, xylitol and salt in a clean bowl and, using an electric beater on high speed, whisk until pale. Add the cacao and beat on slow speed until combined. Gradually add the coconut oil and beat on medium speed.

Add the almond and coconut mixture and fold into the egg mix to combine.

Pour a quarter of the cake mixture into each cake pan. Then place a quarter of your raspberries (25g) into each pan and push down into the cake mixture. If you only have 1 or 2 cake pans, bake 1 or 2 cakes at a time until you have 4 layers.

Bake 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes in the pan then turn onto wire racks to finish cooling.


Process all ingredients until smooth and shiny.


Use a quarter of the ganache and spread over the first cake layer, top with 50g raspberries. Add the second cake layer, use a quarter of the ganache and spread over the second cake layer, top with 50g raspberries, repeat for the 3rd layer. Top with the 4th layer, cover with remaining ganache and decorate with the remaining 100g raspberries. Finish with shaved/grated chocolate and serve.

TIP: If you cannot find sugar free chocolate and your lifestyle allows you to have a little sugar, you can use a good quality 70% dark chocolate.

Fig and Cashew Energy Balls

Makes 18Sugar Free Baking with Carolyn Hartz


  • 100g almond meal
  • 130g raw cashews
  • 4 dried figs, chopped
  • 2 tsp Perfect Sweet® xylitol
  • 1 tbsp cacao or good quality cocoa powder
  • 20ml coconut oil, melted
  • 50g dried goji berries
  • Desiccated coconut for coating


Process all ingredients except the goji berries in a food processor, until smooth.

Mix in the goji berries and shape into 18 walnut sized balls. Roll the balls in the coconut and store in the fridge.

Fruit Tea Jelly

Makes 4


  • 2 caffeine-free herbal fruit tea bags of your choice
  • 500ml boiling water
  • 1-2 tablespoons Perfect Sweet® xylitol, to taste
  • 3 tsp powdered gelatine
  • 200g fresh blueberries
  • Mint sprigs, to decorate


Place tea bags in a heatproof jug (for this recipe we used rosehip) and pour in 375ml of the boiling water. Infuse for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bags. Add xylitol to the infused tea and stir to dissolve.

In a small bowl, place the remaining 125ml boiling water, sprinkle over gelatine and whisk until dissolved.

Add sweetened water to the infused tea and stir well. Cool to room temperature.

Divide berries into four 160ml serving glasses and add the room temperature jelly mixture. (The berries will rise to the top if the jelly is too warm.)

Refrigerate for 3 hours or until set. Decorate with mint sprigs before serving.

VARIATION: Vegan Fruit Tea Jelly

Omit the gelatine and extra boiling water. Place 125ml cold water in a small saucepan. Stir in 1 teaspoon agar agar powder and stand for 5 minutes. Gently bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Proceed as per recipe.

Ice Cream Cake

Serves 8 – 10Sugar Free Baking with Carolyn Hartz


  • 2 vanilla pods
  • 500ml milk
  • 6 X Large egg yolks
  • 120g Perfect Sweet® xylitol

Raspberry Layer

  • 100g raspberry or strawberry puree
  • 30ml rosewater
  • 200ml cream

Vanilla Layer

  • 200ml cream

Chocolate Layer

  • 100g Dark Bitter Chocolate (Recipe on Website), or good quality sugar free dark chocolate, grated, plus extra to decorate
  • 200ml cream
  • Fresh berries to decorate


Line the base of a 17cm spring form baking pan with baking paper.

Open vanilla pods and scrape seeds, with the blunt side of a knife into a saucepan. Add pods and milk and bring to the boil. Remove from heat.

Using an electric beater, beat the egg yolks and xylitol in a bowl on high speed until pale and creamy. Using a balloon whisk, gradually pour the boiling milk mixture over the egg mixture, while quickly whisking. Remove pods.

Pour mixture back into the saucepan and heat gently, stirring constantly until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Raspberry Layer

Pour 200ml of the custard mixture into a bowl, add the raspberry puree, rosewater and cream. Mix well and refrigerate.

Vanilla Layer

Pour in 250ml of the custard mix into another bowl. Add the cream, mix well and refrigerate.

Chocolate Layer

Pour the remaining 200ml warm custard and the chocolate into a clean bowl and mix well. Add the cream and mix again. Refrigerate.

Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker to first churn the Raspberry Layer. Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth over with a spatula. Freeze.

Repeat for the Vanilla Layer then smooth mixture over the Raspberry Layer. Freeze.

Lastly, churn the Chocolate Layer. Spoon on top of Vanilla Layer and freeze, preferably overnight.

To serve, turn onto a serving dish and decorate with fresh berries and shaved chocolate.

TIP: If you cannot find sugar free chocolate and your lifestyle allows you to have a little sugar, you can use a good quality 70% dark chocolate.


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