There are a few key ingredients that you always need on hand when baking cookies and other desserts, but when you run out, you run out. You either have to stop what you're doing and go to the grocery store, find a good substitute, or scrap the project entirely. Chances are, you'll never accept defeat, and why go to the store if there's a good substitute on hand?
If it's eggs you're missing, there are many good substitutions you can use. Baking soda and baking powder can be used interchangeably with the right know-how. Water can be used when you're out of milk. But what about when you've used up all your brown sugar?
If you have white sugar and some molasses on hand, then you've got all you need to make your own batch of brown sugar. Best of all, it only takes a few seconds, making a trip to the grocery store seem wildly insane.
That's it, you're done! I wasn't lying when I said 20 seconds.
The 1 cup of sugar to 1 tablespoon molasses ratio is only a general guideline. One of the many benefits of homemade brown sugar is that you can play with the ratio as you please. I personally go heavy on the molasses, because I simply love the flavor. But sometimes I go light on it if I'm baking something light and subtle.
By tinkering with the ratio you can find what you like best, and also be able to fluctuate between not only light brown sugar and dark brown sugar, but also piloncillo, muscovado, jiggery, and sucanat, if you wish to emulate those unrefined sugars.
Now I'm no mathematician, but I do know that it's easier to keep sugar and molasses around, and mix them as you see fit, than it is to keep six different kinds of dark sweeteners.
One last note on adjusting the ratio: a molasses-heavy concoction (three or four tablespoons per cup of sugar), drizzled over the top of an ordinary bowl of oatmeal is pure breakfast bliss.
There are many reasons, starting with the ones I already mentioned above (the ability to play with the ratio and not having any on hand for a recipe). Also, homemade brown sugar tastes better; it's essentially just a fresh version of the store-bought stuff.
And because it's fresh, it's also moist which means it doesn't seize up when it comes into contact with liquid (I know I'm not the only person who routinely opens their bag of brown sugar, only to find that it's turned into the consistency of a lead pipe).
Finally, brown sugar is quite a bit more expensive at a lot of stores than white sugar; given the small amount of molasses (a cheap ingredient), you can save money by making your own brown sugar.
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