How to Make Your Own Brown Sugar
As someone who cooks and writes about food for a living, I am sort of forced to have a lot of stuff in my kitchen. So, whenever I can find a way to streamline things, I do. And sometimes, that streamlining ends up presenting me with something I like even better than what I started out with in the first place.
For reasons unknown, I have always kept a jar of molasses in the cupboard. Maybe I get it from my mother. It never goes bad, so there is no real reason not to keep some around. And I have a few recipes I frequently make that require molasses.
What exactly is molasses? It is simply the byproduct of refining crushed sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. There are basically 3 types: light, dark, and blackstrap (which is more bitter).
In addition to my molasses, I also used to keep a box of light brown sugar, and another of dark brown sugar, in my pantry at all times. But on one occasion, I reached for the light brown, and realized that I was out! So I went for the dark...only to discover that It had totally solidified. What was I to do? I was halfway into the recipe, so a trip to the store was out. (And yes I know, I hadn't followed my own advice about having all ingredients measured out beforehand.)
But then I remembered my ever-present jar of molasses. Why not experiment? So I poured some white granulated sugar into a bowl, added a little bit of molasses and stirred...and stirred...and stirred. Eventually, I had some streaky, brown and white striped wet sugar. I tasted it, and yes, it tasted like brown sugar. I also realized that I now had a world of "degrees" open to me — not just dark or light, but everything in between. This was a real eye-opener.
Get the Recipe: Light or Dark Brown Sugar
But the endless stirring was a bit of a pain, which led me to question: Why bother to mix it? The sugar was going to be mixed in with the other ingredients anyway, so why not just add the white sugar and a drop (or a lot) of molasses to the recipe? Sure enough, it worked like a charm.
My cupboard now contains white sugar and molasses at all times. And there are two spaces freed up where the boxes of light brown and dark brown used to live.
I really love being able to customize the level of "darkness" in every recipe. Just remember, when making this DIY substitution, you may want to cut down the white sugar by the same amount of molasses that you add. (Or you may not, depending on your tastes.While sweet, molasses also brings a bit of bite, bitterness, and depth to the party.)
As you play around with molasses as an ingredient, you may find yourself using it on its own more than you planned. And if nothing else, it remains an incredibly easy option for homemade brown sugar.