Greetings Cookies Addicts! As the Holiday Season and the colder temps seem to make home made bakers of more and more of us, one question we’ve been getting a lot lately has to do with Sugar. In particular, the difference between Light or Brown Sugar. What is the difference between Light Brown Sugar and Dark Brown Sugar? Are they the same? Which kind do you use? Can I use one instead of the other when I don’t have both? On and on...
Let’s start out by discussing what makes Brown sugar Brown. Brown Sugar is simply sugar with molasses added. Light Brown Sugar, which we will refer to as ‘Light’, has less molasses added and lighter in color than Dark Brown Sugar. Dark Brown Sugar, which you’ve probably guessed we will refer to as ‘Dark’, has almost twice as much molasses added to it than Light. It also is much darker in color. With the simple difference of more molasses being added to one over the other, most of the time they can be substituted for one or the other. But not always.
The difference in using one over the other become apparent when the recipe calls for a larger amount. This is because molasses in the sugar produces more of an acidic nature to the ingredient. If you read our ‘Baking V. Powder’ article then you learned that acid in a recipe directly affects your Baking Powder or Baking Soda- which are NOT interchangeable.
For example, if a recipe were to call for a tablespoon or two of one or the other then the acid isn’t going to really change one way or the other. If the recipe calls for a cup or two then the molasses, and the acid which it creates, become much more pronounced. This allows for more of a reaction to the Baking Soda or Powder in the recipe.
Another noticeable difference is the color. Light will produce a much lighter color in the mixture while Dark will produce a much darker color. Light will have a much more subtle flavor while Dark will have a richer, more complex flavor, like a caramel. The color and taste becomes much more pronounced when the recipe calls for more sugar.
At Mad Doh Cookies most of our cookies contain Light but we do have a few cookies that contain Dark. Those that contain Light do so primarily for color and the reaction they cause with the Baking Soda or Powder in the recipe. Those containing Dark usually have slightly less sugar to account for the richness of the flavor and the compounded reaction to the Soda/Powder in the mix.
At any rate, it is very possible to substitute one for the other especially since most of us don’t usually keep both stocked in the pantry. If you are going into the Holiday season with one stocked over the other you should probably pick Light. Light is simply more common and easily substituted into recipes with little to no adjustment.
Hope this helps. Happy Holiday baking and remember... Friday is for Cookies.