About two or three years ago, Aunt Jemima had a low-carb pancake syrup on the market that my wife and I loved.
What we liked about it, aside from the great taste, was the complete lack of sorbitol or maltitol in the ingredients (really, who wants gas with their pancakes and waffles). This syrup was sweetened with Splenda (sucralose) and a little Fructose. It had a good consistency, too, unlike some of the other watery low-carb and sugar-free syrups on the market.
Well, we enjoyed this Aunt Jemima syrup while it lasted. And, like many things low carb, it disappeared from the supermarket shelves, never to be seen again.
But, I kept the ingredients label, in hope of one day re-creating the syrup in my kitchen. I say “one day” because I couldn’t locate one the key ingredients: cellulose gum.
Also known as “Sodium Carboxymethyl Cellulose Gum”, or “CMC gum” for short, cellulose gum is derived from cellulose, like cotton, and used to thicken liquids. It’s similar to other vegetable gums, like guar gum and xanthan gum, and often used in synergy with these gums.
Long story short, I could not find CMC gum two years ago as a consumer (it was only available to food manufacturers) and all but gave up on my quest to re-create my favorite syrup.
In retrospect, in the absence of CMC gum, I probably could have used guar gum or xanthan gum, but I was determined to use CMC gum in my recipe.
So, after having all but given up on the CMC gum, I found the Aunt Jemima syrup label tucked away inside my cupboard and decided to hit Google again for CMC gum.
This new search reveled several sources, as well as quite a bit more info on CMC gum and vegetables gums in general.
One online store carrying small quantities of food-grade CMC gum is Sugarcraft.com. Make sure you buy the powdered CMC, not the gum paste.
I also found some CMC on eBay and bought it there. Be careful, if you search for CMC gum, only buy food-grade CMC. CMC gum is also used in ceramics for glaze and is not for cooking.
I also picked up xanthan gum, the other gum listed on the label.
The gums arrived in Friday’s mail. After explaining why a baggie of white powder arrived in the mail, my wife Kris began bugging me to make syrup.
Today (Sunday) I gave in and started mixing. I found a few reipes on the Web to give me a starting point. All used guar gum, which is probably the easiest and cheapest gum you can find. Look for it in the health food or supplements section of your supermarket (or health food store).
About an hour later–success! We had a good-tasting maple-flavored pancake syrup with a decent viscosity and mouth feel. This syrup tastes better than anything we’ve found on the market, with no aftertaste or unsettling “digestive disturbances.”
The syrup was thick, with only a slight bit of a gel quality, which I was happy to live with. The syrup pooled on top of the pancakes and didn’t soak in immediately, the way I like it.
So, without further ado, here is the recipe:
Low-Carb “Maple” Syrup
(makes approx. 17 oz syrup)
2 cups (16 oz) boiling water
24 packets of Splenda
4 tsp. crystalline fructose
4 tsp. erythritol
2-1/2 tsp. maple flavor extract (we used McCormick’s)
3/4 tsp. CMC gum
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. molasses
1/4 tsp. xanthan gum
1/8 tsp. butter extract (we used McCormick’s)
Blend the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Pour the boiling water into a large bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients into the water, whisking in small amounts at a time. I later found that using an electric hand mixer worked even better.
You’ll notice the water thickening quickly and you may notice small lumps, called “fish eyes,” forming in the solution. Turning up the speed of the electric mixed will break these up. Don’t worry about any air bubbles in the syrup; they will rise out of the finished syrup later.
Once all the dry ingredients have been added to the water and mixed until dissolved, add the remaining liquid ingredients, whisking until blended.
The resulting syrup isn’t as sweet as sugar-based syrups, but as a low-carber, I’m accustomed to less sweetness. Simply add more Splenda if you want a sweeter product. And feel free to adjust the flavorings to meet your taste. Remember, to always add a little at a time, then taste.
Because we didn’t use preservatives, you should refrigerate the syrup. Pour your finished syrup into a bottle and pop it in the fridge. Cold will not cause the syrup to thicken further.