- When sugar is removed from ice cream, new ingredients need to be added to compensate for more than just the lost sweetness, according to Food Business News. Sugar lowers the freezing point, preventing ice crystals, and also contributes to the dessert’s texture and mouthfeel.
- Top selling ice cream brand Halo Top is able to create low-sugar ice cream by using an exact balance of natural sweetener erythritol, high-intensity natural sweetener stevia, prebiotic fiber and organic cane sugar.
- Ice cream makers can easily reduce sugar by 25% to 30% when combining erythritol and stevia, Ravi Nana, polyols technical service manager for Minneapolis-based Cargill, told Food Business News. “That’s enough to make a reduced-sugar label claim yet still deliver an ice cream treat that consumers will rave about,” he added.
One of the many secrets to Halo Top’s rapid ascent to become the best-selling ice cream in the U.S. is its recipe that delivers a delicious low-sugar dessert using natural ingredients.
Erythritol, the main sweetener in Halo Top, is a sugar alcohol, which is naturally found in plants and contains fewer calories than traditional sugar. It helps stand in for sugar in ice cream recipes by reducing the freezing point and softening the product to make it more scoopable. It’s also commonly found in chewing gum, breath mints and sweetener packets.
However, erythritol alone will not provide enough of a sweet kick that consumers expect with the frozen treat. Hence the common combination of erythritol and high-intensity sweeteners, including stevia or monk fruit.
While erythritol has many benefits, there is one drawback to the ingredient. Because its a sugar alcohol, large amounts of the sweetener have been found to cause stomach cramping.
Inulin and chicory root extracts are also commonly used as bulking agents in reduced-sugar ice cream. The chicory root fiber can be up to 65% as sweet as sugar, so an additional high-intensity sweetener is not always necessary. This could be especially helpful in ice creams with a savory flavor, or at least a less sweet one.
Halo Top is the greatest success story to come out of the reduced-sugar and alternative sweetener ice cream market. The company’s many recipes taste indulgent enough that consumers got over the stigma that low-sugar ice cream must taste bad. Competitors have struggled with overcoming that image, and have had trouble finding just the right combination of alternative sweeteners.