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Using Sugar, Brown Sugar, Honey, & Maple Syrup Interchangeably

 Are sugar, brown sugar, honey and maple syrup (the real thing) interchangeable in recipes? For example, could you put honey instead of sugar in a recipe that calls for sugar? And how would you adjust the amount? And which one of these natural sugars is the least "fattening?"

 You donít really expect us to say "yes," do you? There are several factors at variance among the different types of sweetener, among them weight, moisture, acidity, and, of course, taste. You can manipulate most of these variables, though, to allow you to substitute one for another selectively.

First of all, consider the difference in weight. A cup of granulated sugar weighs 8 ounces. A cup of brown sugar weighs only 6. But a cup of maple syrup weighs 11 ounces and a cup of honey weighs 12. So if you were to substitute honey in a recipe that calls for brown sugar, youíd be adding twice the amount of food. Maybe thatís OK, but since honey is sweeter than sugar, youíre not only adding more material, but more sweetness as well.

In addition, honey and maple syrup add moisture to a recipe, which can upset the texture of what youíre making. Honey adds acid to a recipe, which you might have to neutralize with the addition of a pinch of baking soda. And honey can cause baked foods to brown more quickly. Brown sugar, on the other hand, attracts moisture, so it will keep baked goods from drying out so quickly. Also, brown sugar includes molasses, which adds moisture, and certainly changes the taste. On that question of taste, youíre on your own.

Having babbled enough now, here are the general substitution rules for sweeteners, but remember, most people consider these emergency substitutions, not daily rules to live by:

  • In spite of their difference in weight, you can substitute brown sugar for granulated white on a 1 to 1 basis, and the most significant difference will be taste.
  • Substitute white sugar for brown sugar on a 1 to 1 basis, but add 4 tablespoons of molasses per cup, and decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons.
  • To use honey in place of sugar, use 7/8 cup for every cup of sugar, and reduce the liquid in the recipe by 3 tablespoons.
  • To use sugar in place of honey, use 1-1/4 cups of sugar plus 1/4 cup more liquid.
  • To use maple syrup in place of sugar in cooking, use 3/4 cup for every 1 cup of sugar.
  • To use maple syrup in place of a cup of sugar in baking, use 3/4 cup, but decrease the total amount of liquid in the recipe by about 3 tablespoons for each cup of syrup you use.
  • To use sugar in place of a cup of maple syrup, use 1-1/4 cups of sugar plus 1/4 cup more liquid.

Finally, granulated sugar has 46 calories per tablespoon, brown sugar has 50, maple syrup has 53, and honey tops them all with 64.


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