You are on page 1of 10


Maddie Goots
NUTR 222 Science of Food II (Thurs 2-5)
June 2, 2012
Sugar plays a large role in the food industry. It is an important ingredient in anything from cured
meats to pastries. Part of the extraordinary versatility of sugar lies in the fact that it can be hydrolyzed
partially or completely to the two simple sugars, dextrose(D-glucose) and levulose (D-fructose) (Cotton
et al. 3-4). In baked goods specifically sugar contributes to not only the sweetness, but the texture and
browning of the product. In baked products, like cookies, the role of sugar on texture is it will
recrystallize as the water is removed during baking. This will result in a more crisp texture (Gusba).
It will also contribute to browning because of a maillard reaction between the sugars and the gluten
proteins in flour. As functional as sugar is in baked goods, it also contains 4 calories per gram and
increases the risk of many diseases such as diabetes.
There are many artificial sweeteners that can replace sugar and the calories in food products.
One sweetener that has been getting a lot of attention in recent years is aspartame. Aspartame is a
dipeptide bond of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It was first discovered in 1965 by
James Schlatter, who was doing research on stomach ulcers and accidently came upon the substance.
Aspartame was approved for use in 1996, after nearly 30 years of research. Not only is it FDA approved,
but approved by United Nations Food, Agriculture Organization, World Health Organization, and is
approved in 100 other countries. It is one of the most thoroughly tested food ingredients and does have
FDA approval, where as other sweeteners, even sucrose (table sugar), is only GRAS (Generally
Recognized as Safe). It is 180-200 times sweeter than sucrose.
Throughout the past years, many myths have been surfacing about aspartame and its dangers.
Most artificial sweeteners will have health suspicions, but many are able to be disproved. Aspartame has

recently been attacked for its supposed link to multiple neurological problems, such as headaches,
seizures, and memory loss. These associations have been invalidated because there is no more risk for
these problems in aspartame consumers than there are in those who do not consume aspartame.
Aspartame has also been targeted because it contains methanol, but many other foods contain more
methanol than aspartame does (Sweeteners). There is also a myth that the consumption of aspartame
causes a reverse effect and increases appetite (News Bites).
What has been proved, however, is the fact that aspartame and other artificial sweeteners can
aid in body-weight regulation. This was proven by multiple studies including one examining the
differences in body weight, fat mass, and blood pressure of consumers of sucrose and those of
aspartame. This study proved that these factors would increase with the consumption of sucrose and
decrease with the consumption of aspartame (Raben et al.). Studies that examined the effect of
substituting sugar with aspartame showed a significant reduction in body weight and energy intakes.
Studies had an average decrease of energy intake by about ten percent. Overall these studies showed a
decrease of about .2 kg/week for a 75 kg adult (de la Hunty et al.). During a diet program supplemented
with aspartame sweetened items, showed a positive connection with weight loss. Participants on the
aspartame side of the study reported that they had better eating control. Dieting with aspartame can
improve long-term weight loss results (Blackburn et al.).
Aspartame has been proven to be safe as well as aid in weight loss and health, which suggests it
would be an appropriate substitute to sugar. Since sugar does have such an important role in foods, it is
important to learn how this substitution would affect the overall products. To test this, an experiment
was conducted to observe the results of replacing sugar with a powdered aspartame sweetener.
Objective Statement
The objective of this experiment is to determine the effect on sweetness, color, spread, and
texture as a result of replacing sugar with the artificial sweetener aspartame in a sugar cookie.

Materials and Methods

The form of aspartame sweetener used in the recipe was Equal sweetener. In the first week, the
type used was sold in a jar like container and advertised that it was able to measure like sugar. The
second week, however, this type of Equal was not available so packets of the sweetener were used. The
packets contained one gram of powder each, which contained 5 calories each. The recipe was taken
from A control recipe was made with the ingredients and amounts shown in Table 1. The
aspartame variation was made with the ingredients and amounts listed in Table 1.

Table 1: A breakdown of all the ingredients in the recipe by volume and then by weight. The weighted
average of all the ingredients in each recipe is also shown.
Baking Powder

By Volume
1 tsp
1 tsp

By Weight (g)

Parts by Mass ( %)

All the ingredients were weighed accurately before being added to the mixture. First the sugar
or aspartame was added to the butter, which was at room temperature. These ingredients were
creamed together. The eggs, which were beaten first and then weighed, were added to the creamed
mixture. The vanilla was then added. The remaining ingredients were then sifted together once and
added in thirds to the creamed mixture. With the first addition of dry ingredients the mixture was beat
with an electric mixture for thirty seconds. With the second addition of dry ingredients, the mixture was
at first folded and then beat with an electric mixer for another thirty seconds. The last addition of the
flour required the mixture to be stirred at first with a spatula and then mixed by hand for 30 more
seconds. The dough was then chilled for an hour in the fridge. The dough was then rolled out to a height

of one centimeter. The dough was then cut into circles with diameter of 5.1 centimeters. The cut outs
were then laid on an ungreased baking sheet and placed in an oven for 7 minutes at 400F. The cookies
were then allowed to cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.
After the cookies were cooled they were tested for quality. A ruler was used to measure the
diameter in order to determine the spread of the cookies. A Konica Minolta colorimeter was used to
measure the surface color of the cookies in order to determine browning. The color was measured in
values of L* a*, and b*. A penetrometer was used to determine the hardness of the cookies. The
penetration was measured in millimeters. The nutritional information of each sample was calculated
based on the ingredients and amounts used. A paired comparison test was completed to test the
difference in sweetness between the two samples.

Table 2 shows the results of the nutritional analysis done on the two cookie samples. This shows
that the calories were decreased by about a forth and the carbs were cut in half in the aspartame
Table 2: A nutritional analysis of each cookie per serving size, which was set at one cookie.
Total Fat
5.0 g
5.0 g
23 mg
23 mg
76 mg
76 mg
Total Carbohydrates
14.7 g
6.5 g
6.7 g
1.5 g
1.3 g

The results of the colorimeter test is shown in table 3. Where the L* value denotes the darkness
(the higher the L * value the lighter the color), a* denotes the position of the color between green and
magenta (the more negative a* is the more green it is, and b* shows the where the color is between

yellow and blue (the more positive b* is the more blue it is). Through just observation, the aspartame
cookie seemed to stay the same color as the dough, while the sugar cookie became more golden brown
Table 3. The differences in color, measured in L*, a*, and b*, of the two different samples.
Week 1
Week 2
25.7 77.9
1.4 21.4 76.5 1.8
23.3 75.5
24.7 77.9
1.4 21.0 75.4 1.8
22.6 74.1
26.7 77.7
1.4 21.6 76.0 1.8
23.2 73.1
77.9 2.367 25.7 77.9
1.4 21.3 75.97 1.8
23.0 74.2
St. Dev.
.44 .15
0 .31 .55 0
.38 1.2
.1 .36

Table 4 shows the difference in diameter after baking the cookies. The original diameter was 5.1
cm. The aspartame cookies not only decreased in diameter but they also increased in height.
Table 4: The differences in spread of the two cookie samples while baking.
Week 1
Week 2
0.9 cm
-0.3 cm
0.9 cm
-0.5 cm
1.2 cm
-0.6 cm
0.7 cm
-1.1 cm
1 cm
-0.4 cm
0.8 cm
-1.1 cm
1.03 cm
-0.43 cm
0.8 cm
-0.9 cm
St. Dev.
0.15 cm
0.15 cm
0.1 cm
0.35 cm
Table 5 shows the difference in texture of the two samples relating to the penetration. This will
show how hard the samples are.
Table 5: The difference in penetration of the two cookie samples. This describes the texture relating to
Week 1
Week 2
4 mm
53.5 mm
27.5 mm
50 mm
3 mm
49 mm
25 mm
61 mm
1 mm
41 mm
25.5 mm
69 mm
2.67 mm
47.83 mm
26 mm
60 mm
St. Dev.
1.53 mm
6.33 mm
1.32 mm
9.54 mm
Table 6 shows the results of the paired comparison test where each sample was given a random
three digit number and then participants compared the sweetness of the two samples and then voted.
Table 6: A paired comparison to decide which sample was the sweeter one. Numbers are in people.

382 (Sugar)
437 (Aspartame)

Week 1

Week 2

The nutritional analysis shown in table 2 shows that the calories and carbohydrates significantly
decreased when sugar was replaced with aspartame. These results will make sense because the packets
used were composed of zero calories, but they most likely have a negligible amount of calories in them.
Nearly a 130 packets were added the second week, so they may have had a small effect on calories, but
most likely the amount was extremely small. Aspartame does not actually contain sugar, as previously
mentioned, so the amount of sugar in the aspartame sample will be zero. Since there is no sugar, it is
apparent that a little more than half of the sugar in the cookies was responsible for the carbohydrates.
This suggests that when trying to decrease the calories, sugars or carbohydrates of a food product
artificial sweetener would be a good thing to substitute sugar with. This, though, is a conclusion simply
based on the nutritional content, not the finished product.
The difference in color of the two samples, displayed in table 3, is that the color of the sugar
cookie was more golden and lighter than the aspartame sample. The L* values in both weeks was shown
to be higher in the sugar cookie than in the aspartame cookie. This means that it has a lighter color than
the aspartame cookie. The lower a* and b* values in the aspartame cookies suggest that it was more
towards a grey color than the sugar cookie. The sugar cookie was a lighter golden color. The reason for
this difference has to do with maillard browning in the cookies. The sugar in the cookies will dissolve
into the water in the dough in order to recrystallize during the baking process. The sugar will break
down into monoscharrides and will participate with the maillard reaction with the proteins from the
flour (Ameur et al.). This will produce a more golden brown product. Aspartame is made out of two
amino acids and contains no monosaccharides. Therefore, it would be unable to contribute to browning

and create a whiter cookie. This explains why the color of the aspartame dough and the finished product
did not seem to be different at all. It is possible that by preparing a recipe of half sugar and half
aspartame the browning may improve because there would be much more amino acids from the
aspartame for the sugar to react with in the maillard reaction. This would most likely be part of a
subsequent experiment.
During both weeks of the study, the sugar cookies spread and increased their diameter by about
one centimeter, whereas the cookies made with aspartame lost about half a centimeter or more during
baking. The reason cookies spread is due a lot to the fat in the cookie and how the sugar is creamed into
the fat. The fat will melt when being baked which causes the cookies to spread. Many other factors can
contribute to spread such as the temperature of the dough, the temperature of the pans, and if the
baking sheet was greased. All of these factors were kept the same in each recipe. Another role in sugar,
however, is to absorb the water which limits the amount of water that is available for gluten to form.
The aspartame will not be able to absorb the liquid like the sugar will so it will result in more gluten
formation. This will result in a more stable structure which will prevent the cookies from spreading and
increase its height (Taylor, Fasina, and Bell). In order to prevent this from happening, a sugar substitute
with a higher solubility must be used so that it can limit water for gluten formation.
The results for the hardness of the cookies show, in both weeks that the cookies made with
sugar are harder than those made with aspartame (Table 5).A cookie with a deeper penetration will
mean a softer cookie. In the first week the results were significantly different than those for the second
week. This is because the cookies may have been allowed to cool for a longer period of time during the
first week. The reason sugar cookies tend to be so crisp is the recrystallization of the sugars over time.
When sugar is added to the dough it is a solid. Then during the baking process the sugar becomes
dissolved and forms a super saturated solution. As the cookie cools the water is released and the sugar
recrystallizes which leads to its firm texture (Belcourt and Labuza). This can explain the reason why the

cookies that were allowed to cool longer in week one were harder than those in week two. The fact that
aspartame does not have a high solubiltity in water is again the reason for it creating a less desirable
product. The aspartame will not form a super saturated solution with the water. It also does not have
crystalline structure, it has the structure similar to a protein because it is composed of two amino acids
linked by a dipeptide bond. Therefore, it will not recrystallize during cooling. This explains why it stays
soft after cooking. Depending on the cookie being made, soft texture could be desirable, but not in the
cookie made during this study.
The paired comparison results did not produce significant results to support the fact that
aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar. This is because aspartame is not generally used in baked
goods because it is not heat stable. When exposed to heat the dipeptide bond will weaken and the
amino acids will break apart (Jegtvig). This is why aspartame is not generally used in baked goods and is
used more in beverages. When the molecule breaks apart it will lose its sweet characteristic which is
why the aspartame cookies were not identified as sweeter every time they were paired against a sugar
cookie. If the sweetener stayed intact, the difference would most likely be noticeable enough because of
the nearly 200 percent increase in sweetness. It is possible that not all of the aspartame had broken
down during baking so there was still some sweetness left in the finished product. In order to maintain
the same sweetness level in a cookie, an artificial sweetener that is heat stable must be used.
During current times when health and obesity has become such a concern the need for healthier
food products is rising. Food manufactures than can figure out how to maintain quality while lowering
the calories and sugars of a baked goods will be in great demand. This study proved that baking with
aspartame will not produce a quality product. Sweeteners that should be used for substitution should be
soluble as well as heat stable. Sweeteners that would be more appropriate for baking would be a sugar
that is closer in structure to sugar so that it will provide the same qualities that sugar does in a baked

good. This research should be followed up with testing other sweeteners for their effect on baked good
Ameur, Lamia Ait, et al. Comparison of the Effects of Sucrose and Hexose on Furfural Formation and
Browning in Cookies Baked at Different Temperatures. Food Chemistry 101.4 (2007): 14241433. Academic Complete. Web. 28 May 2012.
Belcourt, Laura A, and Theodore P Labuza. Effect of Raffinose on Sucrose Recrystallization and
Textural Changes in Soft Cookies. . Journal of Food Science 72.1 (2007): C065-C071. Print.
Blackburn, George L, et al. The Effect og Aspartame as Part od a Multidisciplinary Weight-Control
Program on Short- and Long-term Control of Body Weight. American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition 65.2 (1997): 409-418. Web of Knowledge. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.
Cotton, Robert H., et al. Use of Sugars and Other Carbohydrates in the Food Industry. N.p.: n.p., 1955.
Google Book Seach. Web. 26 May 2012.
De la Hunty, A., S. Gibson, and M. Ashwell. A Review of the Effectiveness of Aspartame in Helping with
Weight Control. Nutrition Bulletin 31.2 (2006): 115-128. Academic Search Complete. Web. 3
Mar. 2012.
Gusba, Jenny. Sugar, Sugar! A Looks at the Fuctional Role of Sugar in Baking. Bakers Jounrnal. N.p.,
2012. Web. 27 May 2012. <>.
History. Aspartame Information Service. Ajinomoto Food Ingredients, n.d. Web. 4 Mar. 2012.
Jegtvig, Shereen. Aspartame. Nutrition (May 2012): n. pag. Web. 29 May 2012.

News Bites. Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter 27.6 (2009): 3. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 4 Mar. 2012.
Raben, Anne, et al. Sucrose Compared With Artificial Sweeteners: Different Effects on Ad Libitum Food
Intake and Body Weight After 10wk of Supplementation in Overweight Subjects. American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition 76.4 (2002): 721-729. PubMed. Web. 5 Mar. 2012.
Rowan, AJ, et al. Aspartame and Seizure Susceptibility: Results of a Clinical Study in Reportedly
Sensitive Individuals. Epilepsia 36.3 (1995): 270-275. Web of Knowledge. Web. 8 Mar. 2012.
Sweetners. Harvard Womens Health Watch 4.1 (1996): 2. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Mar.
Taylor, T. P, O. Fasina, and L. N Bell. Physical Properties and Consumer Liking of Cookies Prepared by
Replacing Sucrose with Tagatose. Journal of Food Science 73.3 (2008): S145-S151. Academic
Complete. Web. 27 May 2012.