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 What can I substitute for brown sugar besides white sugar and molasses?

 We're not quite clear how to answer your question — there are only so many substitution options out there, and if you asked us, "What can I substitute for a nickel besides five pennies?," we'd be a little hard pressed to come up with a good answer. And often, as you stray further from the real ingredients, your finished dish can turn out to be a disaster. Indeed, for many foods, there is no practical substitution.

Brown sugar is white sugar and molasses combined; it is not, as many people think, a less refined version of sugar. Or at least, it is not anymore. So if you're objecting to the molasses in brown sugar and its easy-to-make substitute, what does that leave?

If it is the molasses that you resent, you can simply use white sugar in place of brown. But pure white sugar essentially has no flavor other than sweetness, so if you use it in place of brown sugar, what you're making will have less — and possibly significantly less — flavor. Brown sugar also adds more moisture to a dish than white, so, depending on what you're making, the result may also be drier.

There are so-called raw sugars on the market, that you may want to consider, but if you're asking this question because you're out of brown sugar and out of molasses, the chances of having any of these in your somewhat limited pantry also seems like a long shot. Raw sugar is what's left over from the process of refining sugar and removing the molasses from the sugarcane.

As Sharon Tyler Herbst explains in The New Food Lover's Companion, raw sugar often contains fibers and such impurities as mold. The "raw" sugar available in the United States has been steam cleaned or otherwise purified to make it acceptable to consumers. Demerara sugar and turbinado sugar, which are both dry and coarse-textured, and Barbados sugar, which is moist and fine-textured, can certainly be acceptable substitutes for brown sugar. But all three lean towards brown sugar in taste, so you can forget them if you are trying to avoid that flavor.

We're thinking you may be a white-sugar kind of guy….

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