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How to Make a Substitute for Brown Sugar — The Mom 100

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So you’ve softened the butter, you have the other baking ingredients ready to go, and suddenly, you realize you’re out of brown sugar. It happens to the best of us (too many times to count). But if you have molasses and granulated white sugar you can make a perfectly fine brown sugar substitute and not have to run out to the store.

Brown sugar is granulated white sugar with molasses added for a more complex flavor. Brown sugar can be light or dark, depending on how much molasses is added (dark brown sugar has more molasses than light brown sugar). It is often called for when a moist, chewy texture is the goal. Think Blondies, Brown Butter Apple Streusel Muffins, and Apple Coffee Cake.

This substitute works for brown sugar used in non-baking recipes, like Bourbon Brown Sugar Pork Tenderloins, Slow Cooker Pork Butt with Brown Sugar, Garlic, and Herbs, or Sweet Potato Casserole.

Also, note that sometimes it is ok to just substitute white sugar in for brown sugar. This is definitely fine if the amount is small, like a few tablespoons. It is also often fine in other recipes in larger amounts, though the texture may be slightly different. In baked goods, for instance, subbing in white sugar for brown may result in a crisper texture.

How to Make a Substitute for Brown Sugar: How to make homemade brown sugar at home with molasses and granulated sugar.
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Ingredients for Homemade Brown Sugar Substitute

1 cup granulated white sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons molasses – Adds that rich caramelly flavor. Molasses is a dark, thick syrup that is the by-product of the sugarcane refining process. I like to use light or dark molasses but usually avoid blackstrap molasses, which can be bitter.

How to Make Homemade Brown Sugar

Pour molasses over white sugar: To make your own brown sugar, simply blend a small amount of molasses into 1 cup of granulated white sugar. For dark brown sugar, use about 2 tablespoons of molasses per cup of sugar. For light brown sugar, use 1 tablespoon.

Mix thoroughly: You can mix up your brown sugar by using a fork, either in a bowl, or I find it easier to blend a smaller amount on a clean counter mashing it together with a fork. For larger amounts, use an electric mixer or a food processor to blend it thoroughly. A mixer will also allow the brown sugar to get a bit fluffy.

Brown Sugar Substitute Tips

In most recipes, you can use light and dark brown sugars interchangeably. The flavor difference is fairly subtle.

If a recipe calls for a larger amount of brown sugar and specifies either light or dark brown, try to use that, but it shouldn’t make much of a difference. I almost always use dark brown sugar in everything though, as I like the caramel flavor it lends to recipes.

To prevent brown sugar from hardening, place it in an airtight plastic bag, press out any excess air, seal the bag, and store the bag in an airtight container.

To soften brown sugar that has hardened, add a piece of plain bread to the bag containing the brown sugar and seal it. Within 24 hours, you will have soft brown sugar again.

To quickly soften hardened brown sugar, put it in a microwave-safe bowl, cover the sugar with a damp paper towel, and microwave it in 15-second bursts until it has softened. Use immediately in your recipe.

You can also grate hardened brown sugar with a fine cheese grater.

To measure brown sugar, always pack it into a dry measuring cup or spoon to remove any air pockets and get the most accurate measurement.

Recipes That Use Brown Sugar

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Place the sugar in a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon molasses for light brown sugar and 2 tablespoons for dark brown sugar.You can mix up your brown sugar by using a fork (either in the bowl or on a clean countertop).

This recipe doubles or triples easily. For larger amounts, you may want to use a food processor or an electric mixer to blend it thoroughly. A mixer will also allow the brown sugar to get a bit fluffy.

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