Not all sugars are created equal. Depending on what you’re making, the recipe you’re using might call for any number of sugars and not all are interchangeable. We’re delving into some of the most common and not-so-common varieties to help you decipher which sugars are best for what.
White sugar is the most common type of sugar and the kind you’ll find in most homes and sugar bowls. The refined sugar is made from sugar cane or sugar beet, and it’s also the sugar called for in most recipes. White sugar is also referred to as granulated sugar and comes in various crystal sizes.
Brown sugar is simply white sugar combined with molasses. It has a lighter, softer texture than white sugar and there are both lighter and darker varieties. You can substitute brown sugar for white sugar in a recipe, but make sure to pack it down when measuring so the sweetness is equal. Lighter brown sugar has a milder taste, where dark brown sugar will taste more of molasses.
Icing sugar, sometimes called powdered sugar, is simply granulated sugar ground to a powder and then sifted. It’s most often used in icings, whipping cream and as a garnish for cakes.
Muscovado sugar is unrefined cane sugar with the molasses left in it (molasses gets removed when sugar is refined). Because of this, it has a strong molasses flavour and comes in lighter and darker varieties. The darker the sugar, the more molasses flavour you’ll get. The texture of muscovado sugar is similar to that of wet sand.
Demerara sugar is a partially refined sugar with large crystals and it contains some natural molasses (unlike brown sugar where all of the molasses is refined out and then added back in). There is a hint of toffee in the flavour and a nice crunch to the crystals. You can use Demerara sugar in place of brown sugar.
When you want a sweet taste without having to add granulated sugar, you can turn to liquid sugar, which is simply granulated white sugar dissolved in water. Liquid sugar (sometime referred to as simple syrup) is a great way to sweeten cocktails and iced coffee beverages.