I love sugar. In fact, I often tell people just that! I love sugar. I love sugar in all of its forms. Yum. Yum.
My favorite sugar is raw sugar (turbinado sugar). This is what I use most often to sweeten by coffee and tea. It has just a hint of molasses to it because it contains molasses as it has not yet been refined. Honey comes in close second for sweetening coffee and tea, but I'm more apt to grab my sugar bowl (I have a special one for ,turbinado sugar) than the honey jar.
Granulated sugar is what most of us are most familiar with using in the kitchen. It sweetens our cakes, pies and custards superbly. You might be like me and have several types of granulated sugars available in your house- fine, superfine, coarse and sanding. I even powder my own sugar (leaving out the cornstarch).
Powdered sugar, or confectioners sugar, contains about three percent cornstarch to prevent clumping. Don't bake with powdered sugar, as the cornstarch changes the properties and it will ruin your baked goods. I like to use my Vita Mix and powder my own sugar for glazes and icings because I find that the cornstarch gives my glazes and icings a strange taste. You can purchase glazing sugar, which doesn't contain added cornstarch, but it is quite expensive. Much cheaper to make your own
Brown sugar is granulated sugar with molasses mixed in to give it a darker color and deep flavor. You can substitute brown sugars for granulated sugar in a recipe, just keep in mind there will be an added molasses taste to the end product.
Maple sugar is another yummy version of sugar that I just love! It is made by cooking maple syrup down and then it is beaten to a crystalized form. It isn't a good substitute for sugar in recipes because of its unique flavor.
There are many other forms of dry sugar, these are just a few of my favorite sugars. One last of my favorites it to make vanilla sugar. I slice a vanilla bean length-wise and shake it into a container of sugar. Let it sit for a month or two for the strongest flavor! Add it to coffee or your favorite recipe calling for vanilla to add an extra vanilla flavor, you'll love the results!
I have a few bread recipes that call for honey and the honey gives them an extra depth of character that granulated sugar just couldn't give. If you bake with honey, you need to bake at lower temepratures because it has different browning properties than regular sugar. It also keeps baked good moist because of its hygroscopic properties.
Maple Syrup is a natural sweetener like honey that doesn't have undesirable stuff that needs to be removed before consumption. It takes 35 to 50 gallons of sap to boil down to one gallon of maple syrup! Early season sap makes the Grade A syrup which is lighter and grade B and C comes from the later sap and is darker.
Molasses is what is left after the juice of the sugarcane has been boiled and concentrated. Molasses is made in three stages. The first molasses is lighter in color and flavor than the second and third stages. The third stage is known as blackstrap molasses.