If you’ve ever run out of brown sugar right before you make a recipe, you’ll know what a pain it is. Made with just two simple ingredients (white granulated sugar and blackstrap molasses), you can make your own light brown sugar in less time than it takes to find your keys. This is one of those back-pocket recipes you’re going to want to keep handy for your holiday baking and the rest of the year too!
It’s difficult to explain how poor of a recipe reader I am.
Is that the most ironic statements or what? I mean, I DEVELOP recipes as my job.
I should have a better handle on how I prepare to make new recipes. Call it my undiagnosed adult onset ADD or just plain overexcitement at making new recipes, but it’s a fault I’ve accepted years ago.
To that end, I’ve had to come up with lots of ways to swap ingredients. I often need to fit the ingredients I have on hand, rather than the ones the recipe calls for. And that’s because I never picked up the correct ingredients at the grocery store because I didn’t read the recipe before going. UGH!
How to Make Brown Sugar
Brown sugar tends to be the ingredient I most often and unknowingly run out of. And yes, it’s a major pain!
I’ve been using this method with just 2 simple ingredients to make brown sugar for YEARS. And it’s such an easy one that you’re going to keep coming back to if you’re as forgetful as me.
Here’s how to make brown sugar (Be sure to keep scrolling to the recipe card below for the full list of Ingredient amounts and Instructions.):
First, the two simple ingredients you’ll need are white granulated sugar and blackstrap molasses.
PRO TIP BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Make a large batch of brown sugar – more than you’ll need for a single recipe. See the FAQs below for how to store brown sugar.
STEP 1: Place the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the blackstrap molasses over the sugar.
STEP 2: Mix on low speed until the molasses starts to incorporate. Gradually increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until all of the lumps have disappeared. You’re going to need to scrape the sides of the bowl several times to help the molasses blend into the sugar.
ANOTHER PRO TIP: Drape a clean kitchen towel over the mixer and bowl to prevent the sugar from launching out of the bowl while mixing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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How to Make Brown Sugar Soft. You can soften hard brown sugar 2 ways. One way is to gently warm it in the microwave at medium power with a damp paper towel over the bowl, just until it softens. The other way is to drop a slice of bread into the container and seal it. After a couple of hours, the sugar will have soaked up the moisture from the bread and the bread will harden. Discard the hard bread.
How to Store Brown Sugar. Always, ALWAYS store brown sugar in an airtight container. This could be a food storage container like an OXO Good Grips POP Container, a mason jar or saved jam jar, or even in a ziptop bag.
How Long Can You Store Brown Sugar? You can safely store brown sugar in an airtight container until about 2 months past the Best Buy date on the original package.
How to Keep Brown Sugar Soft. To prevent brown sugar from hardening between uses, my foolproof method is to slip a slice of apple peel into the storage container. One peel will keep the brown sugar soft for weeks before the peel shrivels and needs to be replaced.
Do You Need a Mixer for this Recipe? I always make brown sugar with my stand mixer because it beats the molasses evenly into the sugar. You could also use a hand mixer to do this. As a last resort, you can mix the ingredients by hand but it’s tricky to do because it takes some elbow grease to get the molasses to evenly incorporate without leaving lumps.
Light Brown Sugar or Dark Brown Sugar? Using this method, you can make light brown sugar and dark brown sugar. The only difference between the two sugars is that dark brown sugar has one tablespoon molasses than light brown sugar.
The Importance of Brown Sugar in a Recipe
There are two main reasons why recipes call for brown sugar:
- Flavor. Brown sugar has a depth of flavor that granulated sugar doesn’t have. That’s due to the molasses.
- Chewy texture. The molasses in brown sugar adds moisture to the sugar, leaving it softer than plain granulated sugar. When using brown sugar in a recipe with a higher ratio of brown sugar to granulated sugar, your baked goods will end up on the chewy side.
A great example of how brown sugar changes the chewiness in a recipe is with chocolate chip cookies. The Tollhouse chocolate chip recipe calls for an equal amount of brown sugar and granulated sugar. Along with 2 sticks of butter, you’re left with cookies with a bit of crisp and crunch.
America’s Test Kitchen’s original thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe has less butter and a higher ratio of brown to granulated sugar than the Tollhouse recipe. These two factors leave you with cookies that have chewy centers and just slightly crispy edges. They’re perfect!!
Excellent Brown Sugar Recipes
These are some of our favorite recipes that are heavy on the brown sugar:
- Brown Sugar Syrup (Cinnamon Dolce Syrup)
- Espresso Chocolate Chip Blondies
- Salted Brown Sugar Roasted Peach Jam
- Cinnamon Roll Blondies
- The Best Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Salted Caramel Apple Cheesecake
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp blackstrap molasses (unsulphered) - See Note below.
- Place the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Pour the molasses over the sugar.
- Beat on low speed for about 20 seconds and then gradually increase the speed to medium. You'll need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a silicone spatula a few times to help the molasses incorporate evenly. You don't want lumps of molasses here.
STORAGE: Store leftover brown sugar in an airtight container for up to 2 months. Drop an apple peel into the container(s) to keep the brown sugar soft and replace when the peel gets dried and shriveled.
- To make dark brown sugar, increase the molasses to 2 tablespoons for every cup of granulated sugar.
- I highly recommend making a few cups of brown sugar and storing it in an airtight container.
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