Commercial brown sugar, the kind we include to our oatmeal, mix into cookie dough, and layer right into coffee cakes, is do from polished white sugar; a regulated amount the molasses is included back in for flavor and moisture. It’s soft, moist, packs quickly into measuring cups, and behaves well in recipes. However if friend love brown sugar (who doesn’t?), you can fall even harder because that its bolder, much less predictable, and unabashedly unstable sister—jaggery.

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Jaggery is organic brown street made either from palm sap (from coconut, date, sago, or toddy palms) or from street cane juice. The sap or cane juice can be boiled and also reduced to a crystalline syrup prior to being poured into molds come harden, or strongly mixed and also scraped for this reason it becomes granulated. Either way, the retains the brown hue, and also loads the flavor—think fruity, earthy, practically spicy caramel, or buttery toffee, possibly with note of smoke. All of this depends on the cane or sap itself, the locale, and also methods provided to create it.


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Nik Sharma, the san Francisco–based blogger behind abrowntable and author the Season: big Flavors, Beautiful Food speak me that the merchants approximately here (where we both live) lug in cane jaggery since they hail from components of India wherein cane is the norm, conversely, in coastal areas, consisting of his indigenous Goa, palm is preferred. Always in pursuit of flavor, i went in search of jaggery in ~ the 4 Indian stores in Berkeley, hope to taste both the cane and also the palm varieties. I found plenty—but I additionally found some confusion. Most of the labels perform “cane juice” together an ingredient, also when “palm jaggery” is touted on the prior label. That may be because jaggery production is usually a cottage industry, and not highly regulated—this may describe the inconsistent labeling. Regardless, I carried home a lot of jaggery.


Jaggery comes in cubes, half dome shapes, pyramids, or amorphous lumps that vary in hardness—and, less often about here, in granulated form. Shade varies from gold brown to a color darker than commercial dark brown sugar. Some go soft if girlfriend squeeze or knead lock in her hands—others continue to be hard and also must it is in shaved, grated, or hacked with a knife before using. The stuff is delicious appropriate out of the bag—and begs come be eaten like candy (which is exactly how a many South Asians I recognize like to eat it).


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among the ideal tasting-brands, Anand, offered light or dark cubes make from cane, follow to the ingredient label. I chose dark (why go light once you can go dark, methinks) and also used them successfully to replace the brown sugar in mine brown sugar shortbread recipe. One more delicious one (with palm sugar in the ingredient statement) to be also relatively hard, yet had a finer, an ext tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture than the others—exactly choose a gigantic chunk of pure maple sugar. If palm jaggery is come the palm tree what maple street is to the maple tree, possibly that finer texture is just one of the distinguishing characteristics of palm jaggery? i still don’t understand for sure (yet!)—but that didn’t protect against me from experimenting with jaggery.


“If friend can find kithul jaggery, that is the ideal kind. I used it to do a Sri Lankan dessert referred to as watalappan. Google it, it's amazing.Also, Alice, watch for some Malaysian palm sugar referred to as gula melaka. Additionally just remarkable stuff.”

Here are the obvious, no-brainer, ways to enjoy jaggery: certainly sweeten her coffee or tea with it. Certainly put a giant lump atop your porridge! offer jaggery through strawberries and yogurt or tart cream, use it in fruit compotes and salads. All over you could sprinkle or sweeten v white or brown sugar, shot some jaggery instead. You have the right to replace brown sugar v jaggery to make toffee sauce, or have the right to replace the dark muscovado sugar v dark jaggery in my Flan through Muscovado Sauce.


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I suspect you have the right to (and I setup to) substitute jaggery because that the brown sugar fillings in sticky buns, coffee cakes, babka, and pull-apart bread, as well as the saucy mixture at the bottom of pineapple and other upside down cakes. I likewise see no factor why jaggery can not be offered to sweeten the fruit portion of crisps, crumble, and cobblers.


However, baking jaggery—as in, times whereby jaggery would must be mixed right into a batter or dough—can it is in trickier. I’d love to say the it substitutes perfect for regular brown sugar and just provides everything better and an ext flavorful. It’s no that simple.

Jaggery contains more moisture than simple brown sugar and its moisture content (and possibly its acidity) varies among brands. This makes it unpredictable, yet not impossible, to roasted with. Cookie that are usually a little bit crispy or crunchy (even simply at the edges) or also chewy might come out softer or cakier or they may spread more when jaggery replace instead replace brown sugar. If you are willing to experiment and can pardon a few surprises and also a little imperfection—jaggery is worth play with. I can’t imagine numerous “failures” the won’t taste an excellent enough come eat in part fashion. Pick recipes where the smell of the jaggery will have actually the many impact. I tried coco chip cookies and also found that the coco overpowered the jaggery and also I didn’t love the extra soft cookie the it produced. On the other hand, I discovered a whole new cakey spice cookie when I substituted jaggery in my otherwise chewy-with-crunchy-edges ginger cookies.

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I discovered that fairly hard cubes of jaggery (harder = less moisture, i reasoned!), whether grated or smashed, operated well in mine brown sugar shortbread. My original recipe through pecans, brown sugar, and also rum has a an extremely Western—as in hemisphere (otherwise Southern, actually!)—flavor profile, and also did no include any kind of spices. Once I tasted it with jaggery, ns instinctively got to towards the spice drawer because that cinnamon, to which I included options because that nutmeg and also then cardamom. Ns think that’s the jaggery speak to me.

Or, ns think it is the jaggery speaking!


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1/2 cup pack (100 grams) grated dark jaggery (or 100 grams of jaggery chunks, pounded until lump-free)
1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt (I usage fine sea salt)
1 1/2 cup (190 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) pecans or salted roasted cashews, very coarsely chopped
1 piece jaggery for grating/sprinkling on top
1 or more spices because that grating/sprinkling: entirety nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cardamom seed crushed with a mortar and also pestle
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks/170 grams) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1/2 cup packed (100 grams) grated dark jaggery (or 100 grams the jaggery chunks, pounded until lump-free)
1 tablespoon dark rum, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt (I use fine sea salt)
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (75 grams) pecans or salted roasted cashews, really coarsely chopped
1 piece jaggery because that grating/sprinkling on optimal
1 or much more spices for grating/sprinkling: totality nutmeg, cinnamon stick, cardamom seed crushed v a mortar and also pestle