Making Brown Sugar At Home Requires Just Two Ingredients

If you're a frequent or even just an occasional home baker, there are some ingredients worth having on hand at all times; stashed in your pantry so that whenever the urge pops up to bake cookies or coffee cake or bars, you're ready to go. And yet, even despite the best attempts at being prepared, ingredients will sometimes go unreplenished and forgotten until the oven is preheating. For many ingredients, there is simply no choice but to run to the store — or beg some from a neighbor. However, brown sugar is one ingredient that you can easily make yourself. All you need is white granulated sugar and one, syrupy ingredient: molasses.

The reason brown sugar is brown and moist is because it contains molasses, a natural by-product of the sugar refining process. When molasses is removed from sugar crystals, white sugar is what remains. Brown sugar is created by only partially refining the sugar so that some molasses remains, or by adding liquid molasses back into white sugar. At home, you can do this, too. Here's how to combine molasses and white sugar to create soft and flavorful brown sugar.   

Use this trick for dark or light brown sugar

The ingredients you'll need to make homemade brown sugar are white granulated sugar and molasses. Use light or dark molasses (which will have a somewhat stronger flavor) but avoid using blackstrap molasses as this variety is much more bitter and will negatively affect the taste. To make light brown sugar, mix 1 tablespoon of molasses with 1 cup of white sugar. Combine them using a food processor or mixer. You can also mix them together by hand in a bowl or squeeze them together in a resealable plastic bag. Mix them thoroughly until all of the molasses is absorbed into the sugar crystals. This is your brown sugar, and it should have a uniform color and be very soft. 

To make dark brown sugar, an ideal choice for gingersnap cookies and barbecue sauces, change the ratio to 2 tablespoons of molasses for every cup of sugar. 

Once the brown sugar is ready, transfer it to a tightly sealed container. You can add in a brown sugar saver: a small, terra cotta tile that you run under water and then add to the brown sugar container. It helps hold in moisture so the sugar won't dry out. Measure and use your homemade brown sugar exactly as you would do with the store-bought stuff. 

These other syrups can be turned into brown sugar, too

If you have granulated sugar, but no molasses on hand, check your pantry because it's still possible to make some homemade brown sugar. A tablespoon of maple syrup can be combined with 1 cup of granulated sugar to create a passable and pretty delicious brown sugar. It won't have the intense molasses flavor of course, but maple syrup will create a light brown sugar that brings moisture, color, and flavor to recipes. 

There are two other syrups that you can try, too: agave nectar and honey, in the same ratio of 1 tablespoon for every cup of white sugar. These sweet syrups will create a moist sugar that will mimic brown sugar in recipes. They won't have the deep flavor or brown color of molasses or maple syrup unless you use a dark, more strongly flavored honey such as those derived from buckwheat or chestnut. 

There you have it: a clever and very handy hack to create your own brown sugar anytime you run out. This magic trick is dependent of course on keeping your cabinet stocked with, at the very least, white sugar and one of these four sweet syrups ... otherwise, grab your coat because that trip to the store is just unavoidable. 

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