Coconut sugar is fast becoming a popular sugar to add to everything from coffee to dessert – and it can be a great ingredient to work with when you know how to use it. Coconut sugar is made from the sap of coconut palm trees in a process that is very similar to the production of maple syrup. The harvested sap is reduced to a thick syrup and then boiled until it is reduced to a granulated form similar to that of brown sugar. Coconut sugar has many culinary applications, but my favorite way to work with it is to use coconut sugar in baking.
Coconut sugar does not taste like coconut (disappointing to coconut fans, I know!), but instead has a unique caramel flavor. While it is similar in texture to light brown sugar, it isn’t quite as “wet” and doesn’t pack down quite as tightly as real brown sugar. It also doesn’t have the same molasses notes, so it brings a lighter overall flavor to baked goods it is used in. Despite these differences, coconut sugar can be used like both white and brown sugar in recipes and a 1:1 substitution for it can be used between the two. Coconut sugar works well in cakes, cookies and quick breads – all recipes where it can be used exactly like cane sugars. You’ll be able to taste the toffee and caramel flavors from the sugar in the finished products, especially if they’re “simpler” recipes where butter, sugar and vanilla are typically the standout flavors, such as butter cakes and sugar cookies. The only types of recipes where you need to be very careful with coconut sugar are candy recipes, as coconut sugar burns more quickly and at a lower temperature than white sugar, which can throw off a whole recipe.
Coconut sugar is widely available at stores these days and can usually be found in the baking/sugar section of the store. Many brands are organic, too. If you want to start experimenting with the sugar, my Coconut Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies are a great place to start.