Ran out of molasses halfway through baking ginger snaps? No need to panic — or run to the store — because there are several pantry solutions for molasses substitutes that will save the day (and your baked goods).
What is molasses?
Molasses is a byproduct of refining sugar. Juice is extracted from sugar cane, and boiled down to promote crystallization. The crystals become the white, granulated sugar you use in everyday baking, and the thick, viscous syrup left over is molasses.
Molasses can have different flavours, depending on the stage of the boiling process at which it’s collected.
What’s the difference between fancy molasses and blackstrap molasses?
Fancy molasses is extracted earlier in the boiling process, and is lighter and sweeter — perfect for baking a luscious gingerbread cake. In contrast, blackstrap molasses is removed in the final stages of the boiling process, and is darker, with a more robust, bitter taste that is not ideal for baking, but can add depth of flavour to savoury dishes. Cooking molasses is a blend of both fancy and blackstrap varieties, and offers a good middle ground. Use it for darker, less-sweet baked goods, like brown bread.
How to replace molasses
For a flavour most similar to molasses, use brown sugar. To match the consistency, replace three quarters of the amount of molasses called for with brown sugar and the final quarter with hot water.
For one cup of molasses
Stir together three quarters of a cup of brown sugar and one quarter of a cup of hot water.
For a one-to-one substitution, molasses can be replaced with an equal amount of dark corn syrup or maple syrup. The flavour and texture may differ as the moisture and sugar content of these liquid sweeteners vary.