Sugar Is Sweet

   This morning while preparing multiple batches of baked goods (some to freeze for myself, some to share, and some for a fund raiser) I was musing over the nature of gluten-free ingredients and how often I end up substituting ingredients. For the most part these substitutions are successful as it can be a financial as well as a culinary disaster to ruin a batch because of the expense of some gluten-free ingredients.
   Sugar used to be the least expensive baking ingredient until I started paying attention to the quality of ingredients including the sweetener(s). Sweeteners is plural now because of recipes calling for evaporated cane juice, agave syrup, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses and several others. These all have a different intensity of sweet as well as background flavor (and price).
   The flavor of brown sugar really speaks to my taste buds. So much so that many years ago I started using Myer’s Dark Rum as a flavoring agent to increase the intensity of that brown sugar flavor. My current bottle has been in the pantry for probably 15-20 years because it lasts that long using a teaspoon or tablespoon at a time. I think of it as a brown sugar extract in the same way that vanilla extract is a flavoring agent.
   Another way to intensify that deep brown sugar flavor is to substitute some Steen’s 100% Pure Cane Syrup for some of the other syrup in the recipe. Molasses is an even darker option but somehow it has a different quality that doesn’t quite make the same impression as the somewhat lighter Steen’s.
    And what is a discussion about sweets without talking about glycemic index? This is a topic of interest because of recipes that I sometimes prepare while keeping in mind people who are diabetic or sugar sensitive. For information on glycemic index as well as other nutrition data I often reference NutritionData.com. This reference possibly provides more information than you care about but one of the more recent, and interesting to me, is a value that is labeled Inflammation Factor or IF. When I have the time to build a recipe profile IF is one of my spreadsheet columns.

Mom

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