Sugar! We all love it. It’s embedded in all of our favourite foods and snacks. Sugar adds that sweetness to our lives. It gives us that boost when we need it. It’s comfort. It’s joy. It’s a lifetime on the hips but who cares!
There are actually numerous different types of sugars that exist. The most common type of sugar that you and I are familiar with, and use on a regular basis is granulated sugar or white sugar or simply “regular sugar.” A household staple. The ‘gran’ in granulated is actually derived from Latin origin, from the word ‘Granum’ which means “grain” or “seed.” The grainy texture is because of the non-existent naturally present molasses. The molasses is refined out. Granulated sugar is easily digested and gets into the bloodstream the fastest. Granulated sugar is great for sugar cookies, shortbread cookies, muffins and some cakes.
Icing sugar, also referred to as powdered sugar or confectioners’ sugar is essentially finely milled granulated sugar. The granulated sugar is finely milled into a powdered state. Icing sugar is great for creating frostings and icing for cakes and other baked delicacies.
Brown sugar on the other hand is usually unrefined (dark brown sugar) or very minimally refined (light brown sugar) of molasses, thus having a softer texture and of course, the beautiful brown and golden colour. We love brown sugar for various reasons. The naturally present molasses found in unrefined brown sugar are great in maintaining moisture, thus resulting in a softer and chewier cookie. The molasses in brown sugar are also acidic, thus binding well with leavening agents such as baking soda. The flavour profile also packs a much stronger punch.
You may notice brown sugar also tends to go hard in texture, if left in the open. This is because of the molasses that are present. If brown sugar is left exposed to air, the molasses evaporates and thus causes the brown sugar to harden in texture. If you happen to find yourself stuck with hardened brown sugar, you can simply place the brown sugar in the microwave with a wet paper towel over it. Take it by touch, try 30 seconds and assess accordingly. To ensure you don’t even get to this point, make sure you pack dark brown sugar in an air tight container to keep the molasses trapped and retain moisture.