Coconut sugar, also known as coconut palm sugar, is a type of sugar that is produced from the sap of the coconut palm. It is very common in areas of South Easter Asia, where coconut palms are abundant, but is growing in popularity as an alternative to cane sugar and is now becoming much more widely available. It is produced by harvesting the sap from the stems of the blossoms of a coconut tree. The sap is heated and reduced until it is a thick, dark-colored syrup in a process similar to the maple syrup production process. The finished syrup can be further reduced into a granulated form that is similar in appearance to brown sugar.
Coconut sugar has a high mineral content and is classified as a low glycemic index food, and both of these traits are why coconut sugar is appearing on more shelves. It has a toasted smell to it that is reminscent of molasses, and a flavor that is similar to brown sugar. It can be used for baking, cooking and just for sweetening up tea and coffee. It is just as sweet as sugar, so it can be used in a 1:1 substitution for it in recipes. That said, since it has a distinct flavor, it is a good idea to use it as a substitution for brown sugar if you are looking for a more subtle effect in the finished product.