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Friday, January 27, 2012

Brown Sugar, For Realsies

When groups of expats get together, especially if they don't know each other well, tend to gravitate to the topics related to "Have you noticed that ________ is different than back home?" and "Have you been able to find (product x)?" I'm no different, I discuss these topics all the time.  One of the food items that habitually comes up is brown sugar.  This is an item that I don't use much, but when I want to use it and don't have it, I'm really missing out.  For me, the two most common examples are chocolate chip cookies and additive to my oatmeal.  I have scoured China Town for an imported version of the rare and delicate brown sugar and though I've gotten some close impersonations, I have yet to stumble across the real thing.  The general substitution here is something called Azucar negra, or Azucar de fantasia, as pictured to the right (you can find it in most supermercados).  It sounds exotic, right?  Sugar of my fantasies, or something like that?  I assure you, this is no sugar of your dreams, it's really just kind of weird. 
Azucar de fantasia became a hilarious joke for me and my American friends.  The hilarity is that there are two ingredients: sugar and comun tipo A colorante caramelo.  My hilarious jokes started with the phrase, "I'm not sure who knows what goes in to real brown sugar, but I'm pretty sure it's not this colorante stuff..." and laughter would ensue.  Until one day, when I was telling my funny jokes, and someone interrupted me to say, "You know brown sugar is just sugar and molasses, right?"

Um, no, I did not know that.  And even better, you know who else knows what goes into brown sugar?  The internet.  Why didn't I think of that before?

So, here is it, the easiest recipe you'll never use:

Brown Sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 T Molasses

Mix together with a fork until fully incorporated.

Awesome.  Now to find some molasses.  This is another item that I have never seen in Buenos Aires, but I've been told it exists.  So I learned the word for molasses (melaza) and headed off to our local dieteca (a little shop that sells seeds, dried fruits and baking supplies).  If you are in the area, I went to the New Garden on Rodriguez Peña, but I've seen lots of these shops all over the city.  They knew exactly what I meant, and $18 pesos later, I was the proud owner of:
Melrico.  It's muy rico.
The mixing part took some patience.  Molasses is really a sticky, gooey mess.  I won't name names, but somebody ran out of patience way before I was done mixing.

But before too long I had some good looking brown sugar on my hands.  So easy!  So much better than the sugar of my fantasies!  Chocolate chip cookies, here we come!  If you have been missing out on this little gem, miss out no more - go and get your melaza today!

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh. THANK YOU. I just never put in the effort to look for (or make) anything "real". This is great! (I love that picture of Gretchen!)