Monday, July 4, 2011

Los Gustos Oscuros

To my non-hispanohablantes out there, los gustos oscuros is parlance for  "dark pleasures." And while I think some of our minds are drifting in many different directions when we hear that term, I assure you my intentions are sincere and far from anything lewd or ignorant--you'll see why soon enough.

I've always had an obsession with Wholesome Sweetener's Organic Dark Brown Sugar, and they didn't pay me to say so. It's simply one of the darkest brown sugars out there, so far removed from the blonde "dark brown sugars" you might ordinarily find at your supermarket. If you can get your hands on some, GRAB GRAB GRAB a bag. (Or two) Your baker's pantry surely won't ever be the same! I should also mention that India Tree also has a dark muscovado sugar that's produced out of Mauritius that has a similar and still fantastic flavor profile.

The darker a sugar is, the less refined it is. Consider a sugar spectrum, where high-fructose corn syrup is  at the refined end and sugar cane at the other. The darker the sugar is, the more molasses-forward it is in its flavor profile. As bakers know, we need to strike a happy medium when it comes to natural sugars, and sometimes our best bet is the granulated white sugar if we don't have any room to tamper with tastes in a recipe.

If you've got some leeway, or are thinking about giving new life to a recipe, turning up the volume on your brown sugar is a great place to start. They're conducive to richer sugar profiles and they're less-refined process almost tricks you into thinking you're eating something healthful. (It is, gram for gram, a few calories less than granulated white) You can even tamper with the proportions of brown sugar, assuming a by-weight measurement, of course. Say for example, if a recipe calls for two cups of brown sugar, add one cup of light and one of dark. That, however, is quite an amount of sugar. I sincerely trust you're caramelizing bacon for a banquet if you're using that much.

If you thought sugar was sugar was sugar, well I suppose you're right if you want to go all chemistry on my fanny. But I happen to think there's a very happy consumer choice thing going for sugar right now, and experimenting with other forms of sugars is always a sweet experience. When and if you do take a plunge into the more molasses-y sort, a formidable, airtight jar is always a good thing and will leave you with less of those pesky sugar bullets that develop in an unsealed environment.

I think I'll save my thoughts for high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, stevia, dextrose, and saccharin for another day.

Here's to wishing you a sugary new energy in your kitchen!

Keep it classy,
<3 David

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