Enhance The Flavor Of Your Carrot Cake With Brown Sugar

When it comes to baked goods, there are few things quite like the unusual combination of vegetables and dessert that create carrot cake. Subtle spices like cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg contrast perfectly with sweet, delicious cream cheese icing. There's one simple trick that can add even more complexity to your next carrot cake, though.

It's as easy as adding (or increasing the amount of) brown sugar in your cake batter. You can replace up to half of the white sugar with brown. This will strongly enhance the caramel and molasses notes in the finished product.

Mashed recipe developer Mark Beahm's carrot cake recipe calls for a cup each of white and brown sugar but those looking for an even more pronounced flavor can increase the brown sugar side of this ratio while keeping the overall amount of sugar the same. Keep in mind that this could alter the texture of your cake somewhat. Brown sugar picks up more moisture and is more dense than white sugar, producing a heavier but more moist final product.

The skinny behind the sweetness

The benefits of brown sugar in your carrot cake stem from the slightly different process used to create brown sugar. While some believe brown sugar is less processed than white sugar, the reality is that they start the same way. In both cases, the process extracts the sugar juice and then evaporates that juice, producing crystallized sugar from sugarcane or sugar beets. This process removes the naturally occurring molasses and produces refined sugar. Brown sugar is made by taking the refined white sugar that results from this technique and adding molasses back to it.

Many also forget that added sugars aren't the only things sweetening their carrot cake. The shredded carrots release some of their natural sugars during the baking process. Cooks have used carrots as a natural sweetener for hundreds of years, as far back as the Middle Ages, when they served carrots as a sugar substitute in some recipes. 

Don't limit this brown sugar swap to just traditional carrot cake. It works equally well with alternatives like Mashed's carrot cake baked donuts.