Life in Wassenaar
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By: Muna Mahdzar Fadaaq

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Thursday, 19-Apr-2007 06:20 Email | Share | Bookmark
Kitchen Conundrum--fascinating facts to fibrillate your follicle

Sugar and Sweeteners

Treacle in Cooking

Treacle is the British generic name for any syrup made during the refining of sugar cane. Therefore, theoretically, Treacle, Black Treacle, Molasses, Golden Syrup and Blackstrap are all treacles.

In practice however, there is a technical difference between “treacle” and “Molasses” in that molasses is obtained from the drainings of raw sugar during the refining process and treacle is made from the syrup obtained from the sugar.

Golden Syrup

Lyle's Golden Syrup is the most common brand. Golden syrup, like molasses, is a product of the process of refining sugar. It is simply sugar cane juice that has been boiled down. It has the consistency of corn syrup, but has a clear golden colour and a sweet, rich, distinctive buttery flavour, a taste different from either light or dark corn syrup, and also substantially different from its cousin, molasses.
It can be used just as it is, spread on bread or poured ice cream or pancakes, but in Britain has always been widely used baked goods and desserts, in particular the famous treacle tart, flapjacks and treacle pudding. It can also be used in many savoury recipes calling for sweetness, in particular sauces and glazes.
You can try substituting it with 2 parts light corn syrup and 1 part molasses or equal parts of honey and light corn syrup.

Black Treacle

Black Treacle has a slightly burnt caramel flavour that is a bit stronger than that of medium molasses. As the name would suggest, it is black (to all intents and purposes). It is most often used in confectionery such as toffee and baked goods such as breads, cakes and biscuits where it lends colour and flavour, but can also be used in savoury recipes such as glazes, sauces and stews or casseroles. It can be used as a substitute in most recipes calling for dark molasses.

Tips on using treacle
When measuring out treacle, lightly coat the measuring utensil with a bland vegetable oil so it slips off the spoon or out of the measuring cup more easily. Alternatively, dip the measuring utensil in hot water before measuring.
Baked goods using Black Treacle tend to darken more quickly.
In most recipes, do not substitute Black Treacle for Golden Syrup as the flavour will be too overpowering.

Corn Syrup

Corn syrup is just what the name implies, a liquid derivative of corn starch, that is primarily the sugar called glucose. It does not crystallize as readily as sugar and is generally less expensive (although it is also not as sweet as sugar).
It is available in two forms — light, which has been clarified to remove all color (and which is nearly flavorless), and dark, to which caramel color and molasses have been added. Because of its tendency not to crystallize, it is often called for in recipes for frostings, candies, jam, and jellies.
If light corn syrup is not available, you can substitute a sugar syrup made with 1-1/4 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water, boiled together until syrupy. If your recipe calls for dark corn syrup, we’d suggest using a sugar syrup with a dash of dark treacle or unsulfured molasses, both of which are derived from sugar cane.

Castor Sugar

Castor or caster sugar is the name of a very fine sugar in Britain, so named because the grains are small enough to fit though a sugar "caster" or sprinkler. It is sold as "superfine" sugar in the United States.
Because of its fineness, it dissolves more quickly than regular white sugar, and so is especially useful in meringues and cold liquids. It is not as fine as confectioner’s sugar (commonly known as icing sugar), which has been crushed mechanically (and generally mixed with a little starch to keep it from clumping).
If you don’t have any castor sugar on hand, you can make your own by grinding granulated sugar for a couple of minutes in a food processor (this also produces sugar dust, so let it settle for a few moments before opening the food processor).

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?

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, you’d be adding twice the amount of food. Maybe that’s OK, but since honey is sweeter than sugar, you’re 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 you’re 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, you’re 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.

For further informations on sugar and sweeteners, go to

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