Pronunciation: [ah-SPAHR-taym; AS-pahr-taym]

An artificial sweetener that's 180–200 times sweeter than sugar. It's synthesized from two amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine), the building blocks of protein, and contains about 4 calories per gram. Regular aspartame breaks down and loses its sweetness when heated but is excellent for sweetening cold dishes. A new encapsulated (and therefore heat-stable) form of this sweetener has been developed especially for baking. At this writing, however, it's not available to consumers. See also acesulfame-k; alitame; neotame; saccharin; sucralose.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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