More About Muscovado (& 5 Ways to Use It)

October 12, 2015

Muscovado sugar is a flavor ingredient, not just a sweetener.

Like the piloncillo (sometimes called panela) of Mexico, muscovado is the semi-refined (also called “raw”) cane sugar of Barbados or Mauritius. It is soft and moist, with earthy tropical fruit aromas and flavors and a nuance of smoke from the natural molasses it retains.

Dark (left) and light (right) muscovado sugar.

Light muscovado is similar in sweetness to ordinary commercial dark brown sugar (which is white sugar with some molasses added to it), but with far more flavor and complexity. Almost black, dark muscovado has deep aromatic notes of molasses without the bitter pungency we might expect. 

Here are five ways to add muscovado sugar to your life:

1. Substitute light muscovado for regular light or dark brown sugar. Try it in My Ginger Cookies or your favorite chocolate chip cookies, or put it on your oatmeal, make cinnamon toast with it, or simply sprinkle it on a slice of bread and butter!  

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2. Serve muscovado sugar—dark is especially divine—with strawberries and sour cream or crème fraîche.

3. Make muscovado bread pudding: Mix 1 cup (200 grams) packed light or dark muscovado sugar with 8 tablespoons (113 grams) melted butter. Spread the mixture on 8 to 10 slices of stale bread, and then use the bread to make your favorite bread pudding but use minimal sugar in the egg and milk mixture (I use 3 tablespoons for 6 eggs and 3 cups of milk or half n half) to compensate for the muscovado sugar. Assemble and bake as directed in the recipe (my book Pure Dessert includes a recipe for muscovado bread pudding and several other recipes that call for muscovado and other raw sugars).

4. Make an easier (arguably more delicious) flan or crème caramel by lining the cups or molds with dark muscovado sugar and salt as described here instead of caramelized sugar.

5. Make a stunningly delicious (and easy) muscovado toffee sauce by gently simmering 3/4 cup (150 grams) packed light or dark muscovado sugar and a pinch of salt with 1 cup of cream for 5 or more minutes, stirring constantly, until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in a 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or a little rum.  

First photo by Rocky Luten; all others by James Ransom

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My career was sparked by a single bite of a chocolate truffle, made by my Paris landlady in 1972. I returned home to open this country’s first chocolate bakery and dessert shop, Cocolat, and I am often “blamed” for introducing chocolate truffles to America. Today I am the James Beard Foundation and IACP award-winning author of ten cookbooks, teach a chocolate dessert class on, and work with some of the world’s best chocolate companies. In 2018, I won the IACP Award for Best Food-Focused Column (this one!).