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Disclaimer: I received free samples from Cumberland Packing Corp., maker of Monk Fruit In The Raw. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Cumberland Packing Corp. and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

I’ve never baked with Monk Fruit before, have you? Monk Fruit is a small vine-ripened fruit, native to Asia. Thought to be cultivated by Monks, hence the name, it has been traditionally used as a sweetener and has now made its way to supermarket shelves. As part of this contest with Recipe ReDux, I wanted to give baking with Monk Fruit in the Raw a try. I’ve used sugar substitutes before in baking and haven’t really been successful in pleasing my family’s palate. But I might have found a solution.

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I decided to make a tried-and-true recipe from my mom that my family loves – Banana Bread. And it is also a recipe I use to say “Merry Christmas” to my neighbors, friends and many others by baking mini loaves of this tried-and-true banana bread and wrapping them up to give away as gifts.

So I gave it a try – and the result was really delicious. My family didn’t know that I had subbed out part of the sugar for Monk Fruit, it saved about 390 calories in total for these three mini loaves and they browned nicely in the oven (another common problem when you take away too much sugar).

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Monk Fruit in the Raw measures cup for cup like sugar, and there are a two tips if you are planning to use it for baking:

1. Check on your oven treats before the recommended baking time, they cook a bit quicker compared to those made with more sugar.
2, Replace only half of the sugar with Monk Fruit in the Raw. It’s important for the recipe to contain some sugar to maintain moisture, proper rising and browning.

Holiday Banana Bread Mini Loaves

Makes 3 mini loaves.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Monk Fruit in the Raw sweetener
3 tablespoons buttermilk
3 ripe bananas
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1/4 cup crushed walnuts

1. In a bowl, use a stand mixer or hand mixer to blend butter, sugar and Monk Fruit in the Raw sweetener.

2. Add buttermilk and bananas and mix well.

3. Add baking soda, flour and salt. Blend until thoroughly mixed. Evenly pour dough into three mini loaf pans. Top with crushed walnuts if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.

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