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Jan 31, 2012 12:16 AM

Powdered Brown Sugar?

I've never seen it in stores, but am curious as to whether or not this can be made at home. If it's possible, basically...because of the molasses content.

Anyone have any tips or advice...even pictures? Can't really find that much online about this, either. Scant info here and there, but not very detailed.

Someone suggested, on another site, to dry out the brown sugar in the oven at 250 degrees for 35-40 minutes and then take the dried sugar and blend it for a powdery texture, but I can't help wondering if "drying" it first would make the sugar caramelize.

What would I use powdered brown sugar for? A variety of things, but specifically for making a buttercream icing.

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  1. Wouldn't it be simpler to use regular powdered sugar, and molasses to taste (when making the icing)?

    6 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      I don't want to use any bleached or refined white sugar. I'd rather use a natural brown sugar. That's why I prefer using one of the brown sugar varieties that I already have in my pantry. I am assuming that a really dark variety like muscovado is out of the question, in terms of powdering. LOL The molasses content is quite high in that. Not even sure that would "powder."

      1. re: Airo

        You're talking about two different things.

        Brown sugar, as sold in the US, is nothing more than white sugar blended with molasses to get the moist brown product.

        Then there's raw (unrefined) sugar, which is colored brown because of the residual coloring left in the sugar itself. You might see it sold as turbinado, raw, or demerara sugar. There's no molasses in these forms.

        The raw sugar will powder like confectioners' sugar - brown sugar (with molasses) will not, as the moisture will just make it clumpy

        No idea what you'd use it in, as the color would be a no-go in most recipes.

        1. re: sunshine842

          Those are the natural brown (or tan) sugars (light and dark) I have in my pantry - demerara, turbinado, sucanat, light muscovado, and dark muscovado. They're the kinds I bake with when I use natural tan or brown sugars in my recipe, nowadays. Each for different qualities in my recipes.

          I now mainly cook and bake vegan and with whole foods and ingredients. So when I am making desserts, I don't use refined white sugar. I'll substitute that with natural cane sugar (a brand like Florida Crystals or some of the selections from Whole Foods Market).

          I hadn't planned on using a powdered brown sugar in most recipes, just ones that I'd specifically want that kind of flavor and visual profile with. I was thinking that the distinctive taste of a brown sugar would be quite intriguing and different in the context of utilizing a powdered sugar, made with it, in a buttercream icing.

          But since I've never tried it, I was curious about whether or not it would work and if anyone in a community like this has tried it. I was told that brown sugar powder is popular in some Asian markets. I've no idea because I've never seen it anywhere.

          I've made a brown sugar icing before (with just brown sugar as it is), but it has a different texture than an icing made with a traditional powdered sugar.

          What do you think of the oven-dried suggestion that was mentioned elsewhere that I described? Do you think that might eradicate the issue with the brown sugar being too clumpy to powder?

          1. re: Airo

            I don't think it's an issue -- the raw/demerara/turbinado/etc sugars are sugars that are unprocessed and just happen to be brown because the brown pigments haven't been refined out of it. It's dry, so it should whizz to powder in a few minutes in a coffee mill, just like refined sugar does.

            Traditional brown sugar is moist because they add molasses to refined sugar.

            THAT would clump.

            It's pretty cheap to give it a try -- give it a shot with 1/4 cup or so and see if it works -- if it doesn't you're out $0.05 worth of sugar.

            1. re: sunshine842

              What about the muscovado sugars? Well, not the dark kind, as I can see that is going to be crazy to even think about "powdering" that, but the light muscovado sugar? I've got LOTS of that, as well.

              The brands I buy for light muscovado are India Tree and Billington's.

              I love using the light muscovado for my blondies, but if I wanted to give them a buttercream iced top layer, then I could use a powdered sugar treatment there with the brown sugar (?).

              1. re: Airo

                I'm not in the US, so brands have little to no meaning, sorry.

                Why not just try it? The only thing at stake is a little sugar.

    2. I also wonder if I'd need a starch of some kind to add to the powdered sugar, if this could be done? Like cornstarch, arrowroot, or something like that?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Airo

        yes, powdered sugar has cornstarch.

        1. re: magiesmom

          You can make powdered sugar by putting regular sugar in a Vitamix and adding a small amount of cornstarch. You can try it with another blender or food processor but it may not get to quite the consistency of powdered sugar, more like a superfine sugar.

          1. re: Budser1228

            Yes, I love Vitamix. I have a deluxe set which contains both a wet and dry blender and use it for so much. I will definitely give this a try in my dry blender.

            Can potato starch be used as a starch addition, as well?

      2. When I think of butter cream I think Italian meringue butter cream. You could certainly use brown sugar in your sugar syrup if you went with IMBC. But it sounds like you are thinking of the American version, butter and powdered sugar whipped together? Sugar starts to caramelize around 325F, so drying it at 250F shouldn't be a problem.

        1 Reply
        1. re: babette feasts

          Yes, exactly. American buttercream.

          OK, cool. I will give the oven suggestion a try and see how that works. I guess I should add cornstarch to this once the sugar is ready to blend after being dried out?

        2. Perhaps evaporated cane juice plus molasses in the frosting?

          1. You can buy Domino Brownulated Sugar anywhere, would that work? It's the consistency of regular granulated sugar.