When it comes to baking, recipes mostly call for powdered/confectioners’ sugar, plain sugar or brown sugar. The textures and properties of these three types are taken into account when the recipe is formulated. But they are not the be-all and end-all of sugars, and a few of the “specialty” sugars (by which I mean that they’re less common here in the US) are gaining in popularity and are becoming more widely available, especially as more consumers become interested in less-processed sweeteners.
Turbinado sugar is a type of relatively unprocessed cane sugar, unrefined and crystallized through evaporation. The crystals tend to be large and have an off-white color. Sugar in the Raw is this type of sugar and you may have seen it at coffee shops, even if you haven’t noticed the name “turbinado” before. It works in place of plain sugar in just about all recipes.
Demerara sugar is similar to turbinado sugar in that it also has large, irregular grains and a light brown color. It is unrefined and produced in such a way as to turn out very large crystals, larger even than those of turbinado sugar. The sugar still has lots of natural molasses flavoring, which makes it a popular sweetener for teas. It works in most recipes that call for plain sugar, although the resulting cookies will sometimes have a slightly crunchier texture and cakes may have a less-fine crumb.
Muscovado sugar is another type of unrefined sugar, a dark brown sugar. Unlike many brown sugars that are white sugars with molasses added back, it is darkly flavored from sugarcane juice left in during the production process. It tends to be sticky and can be used just like brown sugar.