Ever heard of monk fruit? Me neither. And I write about this stuff for a living! And while it looks like we won’t be replacing that apple a day with the small green melon any time soon we may be incorporating it into our healthy diet in the near future—especially if you have a sweet tooth.

No you can’t bite into the Southeast Asian fruit or even slice it up for an afternoon snack but the super sweet antioxidants within the monk fruit can be extracted and that’s just what the folks at Nectresse are doing to create a 100 percent natural, zero calorie sweetener. Skeptical that it would be possible to create something so sweet without any calories or chemicals, I spoke with David Thorrold, CEO at BioVittoria, the company that provides fruit extract to the makers of Nectresse. Thorrold explained that BioVicttoria handpicks the monk fruit, which is grown in China. The fruit is then crushed and soaked in hot water to release the sweet antioxidant, mogroside. The infused water is then filtered and dried to create monk fruit extract, which is then blended with a small amount of other natural sweeteners to create Nectresse.

Sounds good so far but what are these “other natural sweeteners” and why are they necessary? Apparently the fruit extract is incredibly sweet and such a small amount is needed it would be near impossible for you to measure it into your morning coffee. Plus, the volume of Nectresse needed to replace sugar in recipes would be so small your baked goods would look a little undersized. To make the product easier to use at home the monk fruit is mixed with erythritrol a sugar alcohol that occurs naturally in some fruits and fermented foods. Erythritrol is readily absorbed by the body and does not affect blood sugar. Nectresse also contains a small amount of sugar and molasses.

Because it is so concentrated you can’t eliminate all the sugar in baked goods but you can use it to replace a lot of the sugar in your favorite sweet treats! Also, Nectresse won’t caramelize, so no Nectresse brûlée, but it works in most recipes. My favorite is this tiramisu recipe. Give it a try, it’s delicious! 

Tiramisu
Serves: 9
Prep time: 30 minutes

Chill time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:
8 ounce block of light cream chese
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup Nectresse Natural No Calorie Sweetener
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon instant espresso*
1 cup hot water
1/3 cup coffee flavor liqueur
1 7-ounce package of Italian lady fingers (approximately 24 cookies)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:
Allow cheeses to come to room temperature. Using a hand mizer, whip cheeses, Nectresse, and vanilla in a bowl for two minutes. Set aside.

Dissolve espresso powder in hot water. Stir in liqueur. Quickly dip one lady find in the espresso mixture and place in and eight by eight inch pan. Repeat with 11 more cookies for a total of 12 for the bottom layer. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture on top. Repeat process with remaining 12 lady fingers and cream cheese spread.

Sprinkle cocoa powder and cinnamon on top of cream cheese.

Refrigerate for at least two hours. Recipe can be made up to two days ahead.

*Instant espress can be replaced by one cup of freshly brewed coffee.

Nutrition score per serving: 330 calories, 23g fat, 105mg cholesterol, 170mg sodium, 26g carbs, 14g sugar, 8g protein

As an editor at SHAPE I have the chance to learn about the healthiest ways to cook, eat, and live from all sorts of experts but I’m also a single girl living in NYC with a busy schedule, active social life, and chocolate cravings. I’m here to share what works for me—and where I need a little help from you.

 

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