- Unique flavor – honey, molasses, syrups – each adds its own distinctive flavor to homemade cookies
- Softer, moister, chewier cookies with better shelf life
Honey is probable the first known sweetener. It is natural and ready to use without further processing. It is sweeter and more expensive than sugar, however. Cookies made with honey tend to have a much softer texture and brown much more quickly.
Honey is a good substitute for granulated sugar on a one-to-one ratio by weight. However, one must reduce water or other liquids in cookie recipes by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used.
A by-product of sugar refining process is molasses. Premium grade molasses, however, do not have any sugar crystals removed from it. Dark molasses results from repeated boiling and extraction of sugarcane juice. It has a bitter flavor and is often not suitable for baking cookies.
Syrup, on the other hand, is a mixture of one or more sugars dissolved in water. Corn syrup, specifically, results from a chemical breakdown of cornstarch in the presence of heat and water. Potato and wheat starches are also common sources for this type of natural sweetener.
Corn syrup normally has 20% water, and comes in two varieties. Light corn syrup is clear, flavorless, and sweet. Dark corn syrup is flavored with caramel. Corn syrup has a long shelf life, and can be stored at room temperature.
Maple syrup comes from the sap of maple sugar trees. The production process is basically boiling and evaporating this sap. Since sugar content in sap is only 2 or 3%, it takes about 40 gallons of sap to produce 1 gallon of maple syrup.
Consequently, real maple syrup is extremely expensive. It comes in grades of various colors – light, medium, dark. The maple-flavored pancake syrup is actually a mixture of corn syrup, caramel coloring, and maple flavoring.
The recommended formula for using syrups in place of granulated sugar is:
- Divide weight of sugar by 0.80 to determine weight of syrup.
- Reduce the amount of water or other liquids in cookie recipes by the weight difference. For example: to substitute for 8 ounces of granulated sugar, use 10 ounces of syrup, and reduce the amount of liquid by 2 ounces.
Many cookie lovers with special dietary concerns may prefer homemade cookies that are sweetened with nonnutritive or artificial sweeteners. In this category, Splenda, also known as sucralose, does a decent job at tenderizing and creating volume. Homemade cookies will not brown, however, because Splenda does not caramelize.
It can substitute for sugar on a one-to-one ratio by volume.