Brown sugar is a sucrose sugar which has a brown color due to presence of molasses, which also gives it a soft texture. It may be light to dark brown in color, depending upon the molasses content. It is available in both granulated and liquid form. Popular brown sugar recipes include brown sugar cookies, brownies and cakes.
History of Brown Sugar
When white sugar production and marketing gained ground in the nineteenth century, a marketing campaign, that later turned out to be hugely successful, showed microscopic photographs of harmless but repulsive looking microbes inside brown sugar. The result was the mass preference of white sugar against brown sugar, the latter gaining the perception of an inferior quality of sugar.
How to Make Brown Sugar
Brown sugar is often produced by mixing refined white sugar with molasses. In this way, the ration of white sugar and molasses can be more strictly monitored. This variety is coarser and the molasses can be later separated from the clean white sugar crystals by washing. On the other hand, the one produced by using unrefined or semi refined sugar will give off- white crystals on washing, as some element of molasses is still inherent in the sugar crystals.
The sugar used for production can be of sugarcane or sugar beet, as its odor and color differences are covered by molasses. The molasses, however, are preferred to be of sugarcane, because of the better flavor they have.
At home, it can be produced by mixing one cup of granulated white sugar with one tablespoon of molasses. For a lighter brown variant, one to two teaspoonfuls of molasses can be used with one cup of white sugar.
Types of Brown Sugar
Brown sugar may be light or dark brown. The lighter variant generally has the more delicate flavor, while the darker one has more intense molasses flavor.
The percentage of molasses decides its level of brownness. Brown sugar is either unrefined or partially refined, and this accounts for its residual molasses content along with sugar crystals. It can also be produced by mixing molasses with refined white sugar. The lighter variant contains 3.5% molasses, while the darkest variant contains 6.5% molasses. Molasses are hygroscopic in nature, and hence brown sugar is naturally moist. When industrially produced, it may also contain some dyes or other chemicals. The size of its particle varies from very fine to sugar crystal size or less.
Natural brown sugar or raw sugar is the term used for sugar produced after the first crystallization of sugarcane. There is a higher percentage of molasses in this. It is also sold by different names.
Turbinado and Demerara sugar are examples of this type of sugar that are produced by first crystallization of sugarcane, after which they are allowed to spin in a centrifuge to remove water and impurities.
Muscovado is produced by first crystallization of sugarcane. It contains all minerals of the sugarcane and water or impurities are not removed by means of a centrifuge. It is damp and dark brown on appearance.
Brown Sugar Recipes
Brown sugar recipes are prevalent extensively in culinary science for making various kinds of cakes confections, appetizers, vegetables and non vegetarian dishes.
Brown sugar recipes are mostly light brown sugar recipes. Replacing dark brown sugar in the light brown sugar recipes will result in a deeper flavor with more caramel. Care should be taken while choosing one of the two in brown sugar recipes sensitive to moisture and density, as in cake recipes.
Here are some common brown sugar recipes-
Brown Sugar Cookies- To prepare these, brown sugar is mixed along with white sugar in the cookie dough. The cookies made by baking this dough are called brown sugar cookies.
Whipped Sweet Potatoes with Brown Sugar Topping: To prepare this, a mixture of cooked sweet potatoes, egg, sugar, spice and salt are blended and baked. The baked potatoes are topped with a mixture of brown sugar, crushed cornflakes, chopped pecans and melted butter.
Brown Sugar glazed Carrots: For this recipe, steamed carrots are mixed in a pre-heated and bubbled mixture of butter and brown sugar.
Nutritional Facts about Brown Sugar
Every 100g of brown sugar contains 380kcal energy, 97g sugar, 0.12g protein, 1.3g water, 94.5gsucrose and 0g fat. Nutritionally, it is similar to white sugar. Because of its molasses content, it does contains traces of iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium, but they are present in miniscule amounts, and there is not real health benefit of replacing white sugar with it. Consumption of both kinds of sugars should be kept within limits in one’s diet.
Brown Sugar Trivia
• For taste substitutions, 1 cup brown sugar is equivalent to 1 cup of granulated sugar. Or 1 cup brown sugar is equivalent to 1 3/4cups powdered sugar mixed with 1 ½ teaspoons of molasses.
• Brown sugar should be stored in well sealed plastic bags. It can be re-softened by including an apple wedge in the plastic bag and sealing it for 1-2 days.