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09 November 2009

Trying a New Kind of Sugar

Whenever Lovemuffin and Pricklypear move somewhere new and have to restock the pantry, we always have a discussion at the grocery store about which kind of flour and sugar to get. I want to get the national brands, because it just seems like they would be better, and he's all for the store brands, because they are cheaper. He figures that they are a commodity in economic terms (whatever that means), they are going to have the same quality no matter whose name is on the label, after all, flour is flour and sugar is sugar, right? Well, I finally found a way to back up my argument that the national brand flour is the right kind to buy, and it's right there on the label when you look at the amount of protein they each contain, but I kind of back down when it comes to sugar. It did seem that all granulated sugar is created equal. But a while ago I found this sugar, Zulka, and convinced Lovemuffin that we should buy it. It looked so good, so sparkly and pretty, and it sounded better than typical refined cane sugar. Listen to how they describe this stuff: "Zulka Azucar Morena is all-natural sweetener produced from the crystallization of fresh cane juice. Azucar Morena is 100% unrefined which preserves the nutritional value of nature's minerals and delivers a golden color with a mild molasses flavor." Doesn't that sound great? I am a little concerned because they say on the package that there is a website, but it doesn't actually exist, so I wonder if this stuff is still going to be produced and sold.

Here's a picture of three sugars, dark brown sugar on the top, regular granulated sugar on the left, and Zulka on the right. The crystals are a bit bigger than either granulated or brown sugar crystals, but I'm not sure how much that matters in baked goods. I used Zulka tonight for the first time to make cookies, and they were delicious! The dough was grainier than usual though, I suppose because of the larger crystal size, but the final product was no different in texture than regular cookies. I supposed I'll have to be all scientific and do a real double blind taste test, to see if there is a noticeable difference between cookies with evaporated cane juice sugar and regular granulated sugar. So far, though, I've been impressed with the flavor and I feel good about using this sugar.

The big difference that I noticed immediately when I opened the bag is that this sugar smells really good. I don't know if you've ever smelled regular granulated sugar, it smells kind of like stinky feet. I read on Rose Berenbaum's blog about why that is, apparently it has to do with the chemical refinement. The blog post is very interesting even though it is very long, and there is quite a bit of good information, including a bit about xylitol, which I've noticed is in Trident gum, but had no idea what it is or where it comes from. Anyway, here's a picture of my cookies that I made, chocolate oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips. Darling Lovemuffin ate four of them in 5 minutes and then said that I may have convinced him that there is a difference in sugars... :)

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