I suspect the hidden cause of many a failed recipe is bad ingredients. Not bad as in spoiled or expired. Bad as in low-quality or the wrong ingredient.
High-quality and the correct ingredients are the difference between a delicious recipe and a…well, disaster. Or at least a low-quality product.
Today we’ll be covering sugars. I’ll cover all the other types of sweeteners (syrups, etc.) in another post!
Brown sugar (light or golden brown): a combination of granulated sugar and molasses. When measuring, it must be packed due to high air content. Lower molasses content gives it a lighter caramel flavor. Can be used interchangeably with dark brown sugar, if needed.
Brown sugar (dark): a combination of granulated sugar and molasses (dark has more molasses than light). Higher molasses content gives it a stronger, more intense flavor. Can be used interchangeably with light brown sugar, though.
Coarse sugar (decorating sugar/ crystal sugar): as name implies, coarse sugar. Used for decorating baked goods.
Doughnut sugar (snow sugar/ non-melting sugar): sugar mixed with cornstarch to prevent it from melting on baked goods. (You still need to cool the recipe before applying, though). Used only in speciality situations/by professionals.
Granulated sugar (white sugar): highly refined cane or beet sugar. When recipes call for “sugar” (with no other description), this is generally the type of sugar they are referring to. As a matter of taste preference, I recommend buying 100% pure cane sugar (for both white and brown sugars). It is generally clearly labeled; if not, it’s probably made from sugar beets.
Powdered sugar (confectioners’ sugar/ 10X sugar/ icing sugar): made by crushing granulated sugar to 10 times finer than normal (to a powder) and adding cornstarch (abt. 3%). When measuring, it is best to sift before using. Used for icings, frostings, glazes, and candies, as well as in decorative dusting a dessert. Should NOT be substituted for/with granulated sugar (but if you absolutely must: 1 & 3/4 C. packed powdered = 1 C. granulated).
Raw sugar (turbinado sugar): made from first pressing of crystallized sugar obtained in refining process. Dry, pourable, blond sugar. Used a decorative dusting for tops of cookies. Can NOT be substituted for/with granulated sugar.
Rock sugar: comes in lumps, hence name. Sugar cane is cooked until is just begin to color. Occasionally called Chinese sugar or Chinese rock sugar and used in some Chinese cooking and to sweeten tea.
Superfine sugar (bar sugar): extremely fine-grained sugar (finest granulated that is sold commercially). Used by bartenders & baristas to make mixed drinks & coffee drinks as it dissolves almost instantly. Good choice when extra-light, super-smooth texture is important, such as in meringues. Called caster (or castor sugar) in U.K.