Molasses is a thick syrup, dark in color. It's derived from raw sugar when the sugar is refined. The sugar crystals are removed, leaving a brown liquid. Molasses is added back to white sugar to make brown sugar, giving the sugar a stronger flavor. Molasses has a somewhat smoky flavor that's utterly unique in baking and other recipes.
Cooking With Molasses
Molasses contains calcium which retards softening in some foods, particularly beans.
If you're making baked beans with molasses as a flavoring, they'll cook much more slowly if you add the molasses at the beginning of the cooking process rather than at the end. If you want the molasses flavor infused into the beans, add it in the beginning and plan on a long cooking time.
On the bright side, the calcium in the molasses helps the beans retain their shape — they won't turn to mush as they easily can without adding molasses as an ingredient.
There's nothing quite like real molasses, but if you find yourself out of this dark brown liquid gold, you can make some substitutions. By the same token, there are some substitutions that you do not want to make.
- Dark treacle can be substituted for molasses in recipes. Use equal measures — if the recipe calls for 1/4 cup molasses, use 1/4 cup dark treacle.
- Do not substitute blackstrap molasses for light molasses. Although blackstrap is the highest and most nutritious grade of molasses, this comes with a price — it's very strong. The resulting flavor may be too overpowering for the recipe.
- Although light and dark molasses are interchangeable in recipes, using the dark version will intensify the flavor and slightly darken the resulting product.
- One cup of corn syrup can be substituted for 1 cup of molasses in a pinch, but the result will be less sweet and you'll lose the robust flavor of the molasses.
- You can substitute 3/4 cup sugar plus 1/4 cup of water for 1 cup of molasses when you're baking, but increase the spices to compensate for the loss of the molasses flavor.
- Add 1 teaspoon baking soda to the dry ingredients per 1 cup of molasses when you're substituting molasses for refined sugar.
One pound of molasses equals 1 1/3 cups. Twelve fluid ounces also equals 1 1/3 cups. Lightly spray the measuring cup with vegetable oil before measuring molasses and it will slip out more easily.
Tips and Hints
- Baked goods using a lot of molasses tend to darken more quickly. Reducing the oven temperature by 25 degrees should do the trick.
- Molasses is naturally acidic and may require the addition of baking soda to counteract it in some baked goods.
- You can purchase either sulphured or unsulphured molasses, although most commercially-sold molasses are unsulphured. Sulphur acts as a preservative. It leaches the sweetness and it can leave a faint, unpleasant, chemical-like aftertaste.
More about Molasses:
- Molasses Substitutions and Cooking Tips
- Molasses Varieties
- Molasses Storage
- Molasses History
- Molasses Recipes