Brown sugar is distinct from its white counterpart in that it contains higher molasses content, giving it the brown color that it is known for. Brown sugar comes in raw or processed forms, with the former having higher molasses content and a stronger taste of the sugarcane that it is derived from. Brown sugar also comes in larger crystals compared to refined white sugar, and dissolves more slowly, therefore requiring more effort in food preparation.
Here are some of the health benefits of brown sugar, as well as some of the ways to use it as a substitute in cooking.
Brown sugar contains slightly fewer calories compared to refined white sugar, therefore is more effective in preventing obesity. According to the World Health Organization, carbohydrates such as rice, barley and sugar are best in their unrefined form and have higher nutritional value. Studies have also shown that raw and brown sugar contains some of the natural minerals that are maintained during the process of refining sugar that prevent growths and abnormalities in mice. Although it is unclear whether these results can be extrapolated to humans, it is evident that there are natural components in the brown sugar that are beneficial to your health.
The most obvious usage of brown sugar to substitute white sugar is in baking. A cup of granulated sugar is roughly equivalent to a packed cup of brown sugar, and this gives off a more aromatic taste to the cakes and biscuits. Brown sugar goes well with chocolate, since the creamy taste of the chocolate complements the sugar perfectly. It is also used in caramels, which capitalizes in the sugar's strong burnt flavor in making caramel. Using brown sugar as a substitute lowers the calorie count in baked goods, making it a healthier option than white sugar.
In terms of sauces, brown sugar generally does not form a good substitute, since most savory sauces are more delicate and lighter in flavors, requiring the more conventional white sugar, instead. However, with Asian sauces, brown sugar is a good way to enhance flavors and bring about tangible health benefits in what otherwise can be a heavy and slightly unhealthy sauce base. Some of these sauce types include Thai sweet chili sauce, and sesame dressings for salads, and spicy tom yam soup bases. Brown sugar also makes food more diabetic friendly.
Using brown sugar as a substitute can play a large part in breakfast, given that breakfast generally has a higher sugar content compared to the other meals in the day. The prime example of this is using the sugar in jams and spreads for toast in the morning. Brown sugar also goes perfectly well with coffee, although it is less compatible with tea. Mixing brown sugar, water and cornstarch and reducing the mixture also creates homemade pancake syrup that can add a homely and healthy touch to the morning’s breakfast.