I don't use white sugar much at home these days. Now I reach for a more unrefined cane sugar like turbinado, or experiment with maple syrup or honey as sweeteners. But the problem with this, for bakers in particular, is that you have to be careful about adding extra liquid to a recipe because it changes the entire composition and structure. So what's a good solution if you want to add a deep, dark sweetener like maple syrup? Pick up a bag of maple sugar!
If you have yet to come across maple sugar at the store, it's made by evaporating the liquid (water) out of maple syrup. It has much larger granules than, say, white sugar and a really distinct maple flavor that is so wonderful in a variety of baked goods, especially this time of year. I've used it in muffins, scones and waffles with great success.
As Emma explained in a post introducing maple sugar a few years ago, you shouldn't substitute maple sugar for white sugar completely in a recipe. The flavor will be pretty strong (and it would be an expensive decision since maple sugar is on the pricey side!). Instead, start by subbing 1/3 to 1/2 of the white sugar for maple sugar and see how you like the flavor. Take it from there the next time you bake up your favorite recipe.
Read Emma's Piece: Good Product: Maple Sugar
More on Natural Sugars: A Few Favorite Sweeteners by 101 Cookbooks
More On Getting Away From White Sugars: Sweeter Still by Sarah Britton for Bon Appetit
Other Great Uses:
1. Coffee and Tea: Using maple sugar in coffee or tea is a great way to impart a subtle maple flavor into your morning joe.
2. Your Morning Oats: There are days when I feel like maple sugar came about solely to join winter morning oats. Sprinkle a spoonful on top of your favorite oatmeal in the morning for a really warm maple sweetness that beats white sugar in complexity any day.
3. Pancakes and Waffles: I've done a few things here. I'll use maple sugar in the batter itself, but more often than not, I sprinkle it on top as more of a garnish. If the pancakes or waffles are hot off the griddle, the maple sugar will melt a bit and, if you use a little butter, it becomes a very merry maple/butter marriage.
4. Granola: I don't use added sugar when I make granola, but I do use maple syrup, and I'm eager to try cutting back a little on the syrup and trying maple sugar as an ingredient. Has anyone had any luck with this?
5. Warm Grain Bowls: If you do warm bowls of quinoa, millet, or couscous in the morning, maple sugar is a dream sprinkled on top. I'll often roast a few apples or chop a couple of ripe pears and in no time, a dreamy breakfast is made.
6. Yogurt: Maple sugar in yogurt is my new favorite snack. With very little of the sugar, you'll have a lovely, complex maple flavor.
How have you used maple sugar in the kitchen?
Related: Maple Cupcakes from Baked Explorations
(Image: Megan Gordon)