I grew up with a health nut mom who served raisins to trick-or-treaters and insisted carob tasted as good as chocolate, so when she raved about an alternative sweetener called sucanat, I was a bit wary. Then I tasted her molasses spice cookies – one version made with refined white sugar and the other with sucanat. Sucanat won me over, and I've kept some in my own pantry ever since. Sucanat, also known as Rapadura, is a whole, unrefined cane sugar made by crushing sugar cane, extracting the juice, heating it, and dehydrating it into granules. It is still sugar, but many consider Sucanat healthier because it contains less sucrose and retains the natural molasses and trace nutrients like iron, calcium, potassium, and B vitamins. (Sucanat is also preferred by many vegetarians and vegans because no bone char is used in processing.)
This molasses gives Sucanat a distinctive color and flavor. Although it can usually be substituted 1:1 for white or brown sugar, the sweetener works best in recipes where you'd use brown sugar, such as gingerbread, carrot cake, spice cookies, rich chocolate desserts, and marinades. I also enjoy its deep flavor in hot cereals, black tea, and coffee. For more delicately flavored recipes, you might swap a quarter or half of the white sugar for Sucanat.
Emily Ho is a writer, recipe developer, and educator. She lives in Los Angeles, where she teaches classes on food preservation, wild food, and herbalism. Emily is a Master Food Preserver and founder of LA Food Swap and the international Food Swap Network.
Read more from Emily »