Brown sugar can give a rich caramel flavor to sweeten so many foods. As it sits in your pantry next to the canister of white granulated sugar, you may have wondered, “What makes brown sugar brown?”
Molasses is the answer. While the processing of white sugar creates molasses, it is processed further to remove it. Brown sugar, on the other hand, begins as white sugar, but then has molasses added back in. Although raw sugar also contains hues of brown color, it’s not the soft, moist texture that brown sugar provides. Raw sugar, also labeled natural or turbinado, is white sugar that doesn’t go through the removal processing, and therefore still contains some molasses from the original refining process.
The amount of molasses added to brown sugar determines if it’s “light brown” (approximately 3.5 percent molasses by weight) or “dark brown” (approximately 6.5 percent molasses by weight). The molasses in brown sugar is able to absorb water, which creates moist baked goods. However, when exposed to air, that moisture evaporates, leaving brown sugar as hard as a brick. Nonetheless, adding a piece of bread on top and letting it sit for a day will soften it again.
Brown sugar is not any healthier than white sugar. In fact, they have a similar nutrient profile. A high intake of sugars may contribute to tooth decay so care should be taken to limit foods and beverages with added sugars. However, in moderation, brown sugar is delicious when used in sauces, glazes, marinades and various baked goods.
Baked Oatmeal Berry Casserole (Printable PDF)
2 cups rolled oats
⅓ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dark chocolate chips
1 cup strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ cup blueberries
1 ripe banana, sliced
2 cups nonfat milk
3 Tablespoon margarine, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a 10 x 10 casserole dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, gently stir oats, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, chocolate chips, strawberries, blueberries and banana. Spread into casserole dish. In a separate bowl, mix together milk, egg, margarine, and vanilla. Pour on top of oatmeal mixture. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove casserole and serve. Store leftovers in refrigerator.
Yield: 8 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving): 250 calories, 10 grams fat, 85 milligrams sodium, 38 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 7 grams protein