Chat Leftovers: Too much turbinado


Lisa Yockelson’s Almond Crumble Sharing Cookie, a fine use for turbinado sugar. (Juana Arias/For The Washington Post)
March 5

I’ll tell you what cheered me up this week: Our annual list of community-supported agriculture (CSA) programs is out. And I don’t care how cold it is right now, that just HAS to mean that spring, as they say, is just around the corner. If you’re thinking about signing up for a weekly bag or box of produce from a local farm, check out the list and our interactive map to find one that works for you.

Also in Food this week, Ken Otterbourg introduces us to Steven Kim, a Virginia man who concocted a Korean hot sauce in his home kitchen and is now selling it to supermarkets and restaurants in the Washington area. Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin discovers the glories of smoked chicken stock. And Bonnie S. Benwick reports on Round 3 of our Superfood Chefs’ Challenge; this week’s cheftestants created four dinner-party-worthy dishes using kiwi and salmon.

That’s a good morning’s read right there — enough to take you right up to today’s Free Range chat. Starting at noon, it’s our weekly get-together to talk about all things culinary. Got questions? Comments? Bring them all. If we can’t get to yours within the allotted hour, maybe I’ll address it here next week. As I’m about to do with this question from last week’s chat:

I have a lot of turbinado sugar. Long and not very interesting story about why I have it. But can I substitute it for brown sugar in regular baking? Like in chocolate chip cookies or a caramel frosting? Any suggestions for things that specifically use this kind of sugar?

Turbinado sugar comes from sugar cane, like regular granulated sugar, but it’s not as thoroughly processed. Its grains are coarser, and it’s darker. But you can use it as a substitute for granulated white sugar — at a ratio of 1:1 — depending on what you’re making. It will add a slight flavor and, sometimes, texture that would be desirable for some dishes but not others. For example, if I were cooking a fruit chutney or a caramel or butterscotch sauce, I’d have no qualms about substituting turbinado for granulated sugar. If I were sweetening whipped cream or making a mousse, no way — the turbinado would just end up making them crunchy.

According to Imperial Sugar, a company that produces both white and turbinado sugars, “turbinado retains more moisture than granulated white sugar, so it lends itself to moist, rich baked goods.”

On the other hand, turbinado doesn’t hold as much moisture as brown sugar. So in baked goods — cookies, cakes, quick breads — swapping turbinado for brown sugar could create a drier result. The cookies might develop cracks on top. In other words, you can try it, but you might need to experiment.

One very common use for turbinado is as a crunchy topping or coating. Cookie dough sometimes is rolled in it before baking. Muffins or quick breads sometimes get a generous sprinkle before they go into the oven. The turbinado sugar doesn’t melt but retains its crunch.

A great recipe to help you use up your stash is the Almond Crumble Sharing Cookie, from fabulous local baking maven Lisa Yockelson. It’s one great big cookie that you break into irregular pieces for eating. She writes: “In this recipe, turbinado sugar lends a slight caramel flavor and crunchy texture to the baked cookie. Granulated sugar can be substituted, but the cookie will bake up a bit denser.” Check it out here in our Recipe Finder database.

A few other recipes you can try that specifically call for turbinado:

Chewy Sugar Cookies #2

Dry-Rubbed Maple-Glazed Salmon

Smoky Paprika BBQ Potato Chips

Pork and Plums

Double Peanut Butter Chocolate Chewies

And for the summer, when fresh fruit is available:

Grilled Spice-Rubbed Peaches

Hillbilly Blueberry Pie

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