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Diet soda as substitute for oil???

First disclaimer: I am a CHOW HOUND and although I have some conditions that should have me searching for lower fat dishes etc. I subscribe to the "full fat, smaller portion" way of eating rather than substituting for the real deal.
Yesterday during a work out the instructor told the class how she made brownies substituting diet coke for oil? and if you make something "white" use gingerale???? I thought I'd heard it all until this. Does anyone bake with soda as a sub.????

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  1. the diet soda in baked goods is very common in weight watcher recipes. from what I understand, it acts to moisten the dry ingredients and has some levening properties.

    I've never tried it, mostly because I don't drink diet soda.. but also because it just sounds terrible. (and most of the recipes involve box mixes, and I don't feel like potentially wasting flour & chocolate to test it with a from scratch recipe.)

    it seems to me, it would be a "i'm desperate" instead of a go without and then have a small portion of the real thing type of situation... but even then...

    1 Reply
    1. re: withalonge

      Withalonge is right...someone in our office brought in cupcakes made with cake mix and diet soda, said his wife was trying Weight Watchers. I didn't try them probably because of the cake mix (neither ingredient sounded good to me!) more than anything but they generally went over pretty well among everyone. You can google it and come up with some hits, though not sure I saw anything for brownies.

    2. Yes, it is an old Weight Watcher "trick". I'll bet you could go to the Weight Watchers message boards and find lots of info on it. I was never a big fan, even in the days when I used refined flour cake mixes.

      1. I attended WW meetings back in '02 and '03. Someone brought a "brownie" made with a devils foods cake mix and diet cola to a meeting, cut up in little pieces, so we could try them. They were unpalatable and dry, with what I can only describe as a chemical aftertaste and little chocolate flavor. Please bear in mind I already dislike cake mixes, but this was nasty. I'd rather cut my real brownie recipe in small pieces and eat less, no question.

        You know, WW is really sensible except for this obsession with "diet" food that's so pervasive at meetings. Forgive my rant, but I would've gotten more from those meetings if there were fewer discussions adoring fat free cool whip...

        1. It works well with recipes that should be light - cupcakes, pancakes, drop biscuits - but not for stuff that should be denser or chewy, like brownies or cookies.

          1. This is only a guess on my part, but unless the diet soda is made with Splenda (and maybe even if it is), it will denature upon baking, leaving you with carmel-colored unsweetened water (I would imagine the carbonation would disappear too).

            >> However << take a few cans of fruit salad (in its own syrup, not sweetened) (do not drain out juice!), cut up some peeled bananas and apples, throw in a packet of vanilla or lemon sugar free/fat free instant pudding, and about 1/2 can diet soda (fruit flavor or lemon-lime are best) and you have a great, creamy, low cal/fat fruit dessert.

            1 Reply
            1. re: xnyorkr

              You can also use club soda instead of a flavored diet soda to avoid any aftertaste. I've made it using 10 oz. of club soda with a spice cake mix for muffins. It's a good way to "have your cake & eat it too". Does it taste as good as full fat baked goods? Well of course not, but it's a good compromise and way to scratch the sweet tooth itch when trying to diet.

            2. Just out of principle I wouldn't do it, but I don't do partially hydrogenated cake mixes or fake sweeteners. Instead I use unsweetened apple sauce instead of oil for things like quick breads and muffins, then use prunes (baby food, already strained) in chocolate goods. Much healthier than diet soda. Instead of empty calories and fake sweeteners/chemicals you are getting real fruit.

              4 Replies
              1. re: mels

                oh my god, thank you for posting your perfectly sensible suggestion, and in such a reasonable tone. i would have said something that would have offended well-meaning people, i'm sure. i think i'd better log off and lie down before i hurt anyone.

                1. re: mels

                  Thank you, Mels. This is exactly what I do and many professional chefs do when cooking
                  for their own consumption. Apple sauce instead of oil for most things, and prunes (pureed in
                  food processor, though) for chocolate, especially good in brownies. No, you don't taste
                  the prunes. They add complexity to the chocolate.

                  1. re: maria lorraine

                    you can do 1/2 oil 1/2 fruit puree as well. everyone loves the taste and can't figure out what it is. esp when you use pear puree.

                  2. re: mels

                    Hmm, very interesting. I agree, all natural is the way to go.

                  3. Soda for baking, absolutely! My Mom passed on this trick to me and I use it everytime in cakes, breads, cupcakes, etc. Haven't tried it in brownies though so I don't have any experience with using cola. I use ginger ale in place of any water or oil in these recipes. I've used regular ginger ale (makes cakes lighter and incredibly moist because of the carbonation, and adds an extra touch of extra sweetness, not too much) and used diet once or twice before in an effort to cut a few calories. It works like a charm and I highly recommend it. It's my favorite "secret" tip to making baked goods even better. Let me know if you try it!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: VirgoBlue

                      For brownies there is a boxed mix called Pudge that has you use fat free, sugar free yogurt and that's it. They come out really dense. Much better than the diet soda variation.

                      1. re: synergy

                        Yeah, I've had those. With the addition of four ounces semisweet chocolate chips, they're entirely decent brownies. Moist and fudgy, not the nasty dry things that passed for brownies at that WW meeting. There's also a way to make a single serving in the microwave on the box, which is pretty handy for a quick chocolate fix.

                    2. 7-up and Cola cakes are quite common in Southern cuisine, though the recipes call for the full sugar version of soda and no cake mix. The WW 'secret' probably originated with one of these.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Merryworld

                        HA! the "dr. pepper cake," complete with "dr. pepper frosting!"