My husband loves sweets. I mean REALLY LOVES SWEETS. When I married eighteen years ago, I decided to learn how to bake all those delicious things he loved. Being her helpful self, my mother-in-law thrust a Nestle's Chocolate Chip bag into my hands a few months after my wedding. I asked her what I should do with it. She said to simply follow the directions on the back. Well, that seemed easy enough. I was proud of my first-ever batch of cookies. But when my husband took a bite, his face screwed up in a contorted grimace. I grabbed a cookie, tasted it, and sure enough – they were a disaster. Thus began my foray into the world of baked goods. Eighteen years later, thank goodness, the disasters are rare; everything these days is at least edible.
Over the years, I have baked chocolate cake brownies, irresistible chocolate chip cookies, cream cheese pound cakes, sugar cookies, gingerbread men, dinner rolls, devil's food cake, red velvet cake, oatmeal cookies... Surprisingly, none of us ever got really fat. Okay – the guys never got fat. And I didn't blow up really huge. I mean, I wasn't in the running for any Ripley's awards or anything like that – just a size 12 to an 18, sigh... yeah, it was bad enough to take all the fun out of baking. The guys still wanted their sweets though, and I dearly loved to bake them but I didn't need to be eating them!
I cut back on my baking so these tempting things wouldn't be floating around the house all the time. Then, what does my dear, darling man do? He buys the sweets at the store.
These store-bought goods were way sweeter than any of my home-made goodies. Not only were they sweeter, they were highly addictive. No – seriously. There was something in those chocolate cupcakes that was like a drug, a certain flavor... and it was in the doughnuts too, and the cookies... I'd pour over the list of ingredients, trying to isolate this drug, while the hubby just passed it off. But, he and the boys couldn't get enough of these store-bought sweets. Now guess who else was gaining weight? (He, he, he... shame on me, but there should be a limit to what these hyper-metabolic types can consume!) I decided that making my own sweets was far better for them, okay – us, than whatever we were consuming in these super-sweet delights.
Round about the same time, my husband began noticing crash and burn mood swings that affected his ability to sleep and focus which correlated with his consumption of sweets. So he cut back. But the mood swings were worse than ever when he did consume anything sweet. So then, he cut it all off – cold turkey. This man has ironclad will power. I couldn't have done it – there was nothing sweet left in the house.
However, the sweet tooth was still there and begging to be satisfied. We survived with fruits and honey – lots of honey. I stuck to baking whole grain muffins or multi-grain breads. In all of my tried and true recipes, I cut the white sugar in half, then in half again. I used molasses and honey to compensate. I tried cookies sweetened with honey. They tasted great, but the texture was nothing like real sugar. We made it through two whole years, even holiday seasons, without consuming sweets while my husband began feeling better. He lost the extra weight in the first 6 months; two whole pant sizes. Our two teenage boys dropped a pant size each. I dropped a couple of inches so that my 18's were comfortable again.
Then came my youngest son's birthday. Of all of us, he had missed the sweets the most, and was begging for a REAL cake, with all the sugar: Aunt Margaret's cream cheese pound cake that he loved. I made it, thoroughly enjoying working with real sugar again. The creaming phase was a joy to behold; real sugar and butter whipping up to a frothy mess. I served the cake, so proud that I hadn't lost my touch. Everyone relished a piece; it was so sweet and delicious. My husband had one piece, just to taste delight again. A week later – no mood swings, he was sleeping fine and concentrating just fine.
He began a slow process that anyone with food allergies will recognize: trying one thing... wait, try another thing... wait, try yet another thing... wait. Over the course of a year, he was able to isolate the ingredient that gave him trouble: corn syrup. Yeah! To finally find the culprit and be able to enjoy homemade brownies again! Chocolate bars! Cake! Cookies!