Sugar is sugar and stevia is stevia. Stevia sweetens with a slightly different taste from sugar; but, unlike other sugar substitutes, it has been used for centuries.
The leaves of the stevia plant produce a very sweet non-caloric glycoside-containing substance that is approved in the United States as a dietary supplement.
If you want to avoid sugar, Lily’s offers up a quartet of bars: Plain, Almond, Coconut, and Crispy Rice. Each serving, about half a bar, or 40 grams, has 160-170 calories, 11-12 grams of fiber (they add Inulin), 25% of your RDA for iron, and 2-3 grams of protein.
My first sample was Coconut. Crammed with an abundance of tiny shards of dried organic fruit, it had a very appealing chewy texture. Crispy Rice was my favorite as its super crunchy texture played off the stevia-sweetened chocolate to the advantage of both. Almond was studded with small pieces of dry roasted nuts and delivered both flavor and texture, while the Plain is for all you purists. Personally, since stevia is different from sugar I preferred the bars with inclusions as they added complexity by introducing other flavors and textures. However, if you are already a fan of this sweetener, the plain rendition might be your favorite.
These 3 ounce bars are scored into 30 little rectangles, each with an imprint of the word chocolate, just in case you forgot what you were eating. I found this very sweet and amusing. The paper wrappers come in four different designs, all evocative of a tropical garden with stylized trees, flowers, and a hummingbird in a lovely color palette. You can even download a monthly screen saver from their website under “free stuff.”
In addition to noting Lily’s uses organic brown rice for their Crispy bar, I was delighted to see they buy non-GMO and fairly traded chocolate.
UPDDATE: I have been eating this chocolate quite frequently lately and just loving it. The other day, I cut up a bar of their Original flavor and used it in the following vegan cookie recipe. It’s super easy, fast and delicious. ( Since making these I tried their chocolate chips, the same 55%. They are just perfect! Size-wise they’re half way between a mini chip and a regular chip. This allows for even distribution in your batter. Of course, if you love those larger pieces, I would recommend cutting up a bar.)
CASHEW BUTTER COOKIE BITES WITH CHOCOLATE CHUNKS
Makes about 20 cookies.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and put a Silpat, or other silicone baking sheet, on top of a large cookie sheet. Do not grease.
3/4 cup of cooked garbanzo beans
1/2 cup cashew butter (you can probably use any nut or seed butter)
1/4 cup real maple syrup (agave could work, too)
1 teaspoon vanilla
A dash of sea salt (optional)
1 3 ounce bar of Original Lily’s Dark Chocolate cut into small chunks (each little rectangle equals two pieces when cut)
Mix the first 5 ingredients in a food processor until pretty smooth.
Stir in chocolate chunks.
Drop by tablespoonfuls onto Silpat.
Bake 18-20 minutes until bottoms are medium brown.
Cool on baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
They are super delicious the first day. After that, kept in a covered container at room temperature, they become a little softer.
If the chocolate hardens just nuke for a few seconds.