In a world full of flavorless, refined white sugar, baking with more natural, white sugar alternatives is both exciting, and let?s face it, kind of scary. At first glance, it seems like there?s a fine line between hip and hippie?no amount of virtue will get me to swap my 3 p.m. coffee and chocolate chip cookie for a granola bar that tastes like it should be burning incense and wearing a poncho. But with an arsenal of inspiring, foolproof recipes and a few natural sugar staples in your pantry, the leap from crummy to crave-worthy will be effortless.?
My latest cookbook, Real Sweet, aims to get everyone in on the natural sugar wave, baking with a veritable rainbow of white sugar alternatives (albeit a sort of brown rainbow) that bring unbelievable flavor, texture, and, yes, sometimes even a nice little nutrient punch to all manner of sweet treats. Here are the sweet stars I keep on hand to use in my baking repertoire:
Dark muscovado sugar
What it is: Rich, heady, sticky, dark, rough, and unrefined, this sugar is the ?bad boy? of the natural sweetener pantry. ?Like conventional dark brown sugar on steroids, dark muscovado sugar is so shockingly dark and full of molasses flavor, it teeters on the edge of being bittersweet, with an almost savory quality. Light muscovado is much milder and comparable to supermarket dark brown sugar in color and flavor.
Sometimes labeled ?Barbados,? ?moist,? or ?molasses sugar,? muscovado sugar is a minimally processed sugar derived from sugarcane. It?s made by boiling down sugarcane until it evaporates, leaving sticky crystals behind. Muscovado sugar isn?t chemically treated or stripped of its molasses, which gives it its deep color and sticky texture. Most muscovado production happens on the islands of Barbados, Mauritius, and the Philippines, close to the sugarcane source, by people who have been producing the sugar for generations, making it a sort of heirloom sugar with great character. This is a sugar with a true sense of story in its rich flavor.?
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