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Dec 1, 2007 01:29 PM

Can I use dark molasses when a recipe calls for light?

All I can find in my grocery stores is dark molasses. I know that it has a stronger flavor than light - can I substitute, and if so, how much dark should I use for 1 tbsp of light?

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  1. Equal. What's the recipe? It will be a stronger flavour if you use dark. Too strong?... depends on the recipe. I'd be surprised if it were anything but a slightly stronger flavour, using only 1 Tbsp. I use the stuff in bran muffins by the 1/2 cupful. I prefer it, myself. I find the lighter molasses to be insipid, other than as a pancake/waffle syrup.


    1 Reply
    1. re: violabratsche

      Yeah, just drop back a bit - half, or even a bit less.

    2. You should be fine substituting. There's three grades of molasses that are produced during the process of refining sugar from the raw juice to the finished product - first, second and third molasses. Third molasses is called blackstap molasses and is marked as such. It's the strongest of the three and most people find it something of an acquired taste. The other two are fairly close to each other. They'll vary somewhat from year to year depending on the sucrose content of the cane.
      There's generally not much selection in grocery stores so you likely didn't have much choice anyway. Use what you have. One tablespoon for an entire recipe probably won't make a huge difference one way or the other. You might notice it with blackstrap but not the others.

      1. I also think it's fine to use whatever you have, knowing the flavor's a bit more intense.

        I usually use light brown sugar, instead of dark, for most recipes that call for dark. The final product doesn't suffer because the other molasses is in the sugar. But, yes, with certain recipes, the flavor is there, just milder.

        4 Replies
        1. re: MaggieRSN

          I had never heard of light molasses until it was listed in the ingredients for a ginger pudding in this month's Bon Appetit - I used golden syrup and a bit of treacle to make up the half cup and it was fine. I appreciate the clarification on the different types of molasses - there's always something new to learn!

          1. re: Athena

            There is, isn't there, Athena? But you bring up the point that often one can find substitutes by looking around the pantry. Sometimes it might alter the flavor, or even the texture, but not always to the finished product's detriment. Just...different.

            But the difference between light and dark molasses--not significant, in most recipes.

          2. re: MaggieRSN

            I never trouble with brown sugar - sugar + molasses works fine, and I buy it by the gallon anyway.

            1. re: wayne keyser

              wayne, what proportions do you use? Would it be measure for measure w/the sugar and molasses?

          3. I'm a molasses newbie... not sure exactly what the real differences are. Can you tell if a molasses is "light" by looking at it?

            Does anyone know if "Grandma's Molasses Original" is light or dark? By process of elimination, I would guess that their "robust" version is dark, but they specifically say "robust" is less sweet.

            Mr Taster

            3 Replies
            1. re: Mr Taster

              Grandma's Original is light, it will say dark or robust on the label to indicate dark molasses. You can't really tell light or robust by looking at it (in the bottle) unless you pour some out, then you'll notice the robust is a bit heavier in density. There is a obvious taste difference. I don't actually see robust or dark molasses in stores very often and blackstrap is usually found in natural or health food stores.

              CI just rated Grandma's Light Molasses as the best brand on the market.

              1. re: bushwickgirl

                Yeah, I saw the CI review. The winner was "Grandma's Molasses, mild flavor". However, the review was from 2006 and the photo of the bottle does not look like the one on my shelf, which does not say "mild flavor"... it says "original flavor". But I think I'm okay with that.... Original is mild.

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  The review was from 2006? I had to go into my inbox to check it, then I noticed the date on the review. Jeez, I guess CI is recycling.
                  Original, mild, same stuff, new label. I think original flavor sounds a bit better, for selling purposes, anyway. The general food purchasing population these days seems to equate "mild" with "flavorless."

            2. I won't tell if you won't ... 1T is very little. Doubtful you'd be able to tell the difference in a taste test ...