In the last couple of weeks we are have received some really great 'care packages' from home. Boxes stuffed with Mac and Cheese - or Kraft Dinner according to my Canadian husband, candy corn (a craving I have had since October), Crystal Light, Reeses Pieces, gossip magazines. It's the little things that really make it feel like home over here. But it is also the little things that make me long for everything else at home.
What I wouldn't give for a Route 44 Sonic drink, a taste of Pei Wei, queso from Taco Cabana, fajitas from Taco Cabana....anything from Taco Cabana! Its pretty much like a spring Thanksgiving when we get back to Texas. We gorge on everything that we'd been missing the last 8 months. Then loosen our belts and go back for seconds.
It's not just the availability of junk and fast food that I crave, but I also miss little things that you can't find in the grocery store. Case in point (and the purpose of my post today) is brown sugar. Unless you want to pay an arm and a leg in an online store for a small box of brown sugar, you are hard pressed to find it over in Europe. Germans think they have 'brown sugar', but only disappoint you when they lead you over to the raw sugarcane. No, ich don't think so. But who can blame them, they don't know the importance of soft brown sugar in chocolate chip cookies, in sweet potato casserole, or on top of warm oatmeal.
I was tired of lugging heavy bags of brown sugar over with me in August, only to have them run dry in early September, so I took the matter into my own hands. I found a very do-able and tasty alternative recipe, changed it around so it would work with what was available in Germany, and made my own damn brown sugar. Take that! And I'll tell you what, my cookies have never tasted so good, or stayed so moist. I might just never go back to store bought brown sugar again!
So, I hope all you other North Americans in Germany and the rest of Europe will be able to once again enjoy melt-in-your-mouth homemade chocolate chip cookies. At the very least, this simple recipe will bring a bit of North America to your Küche.
How easy is this, only two ingredients. You'll need a (500g) bag of rag sugar cane, or in German "Brauner Zucker". You will also need "Zuckerrübensirup", which is essentially carmelized turnip syrup, if I am not mistaken. It is usually found in the jam aisle of the grocery store. All recipes online originally called for Molasses, but no luck on finding that in Germany. This was the next best thing, and it works great.
Measure one cup of the raw sugarcane sugar, and place in a small food processor. Now, if you don't have food processor, you can skip this step. But I think there is a pretty noticeable difference when you grind the sugar down into smaller bits. I think it helps it to combine with the syrup and stay moister longer.
So, pulse the food processor a few times until the sugar is a finer consistency. And if there are larger granules left, no biggie.
Mmmm, the burnt smelling Zuckerrübensirup with its grossly thick consistency. But really, not any worse than Molasses, which I really can't stand.
I use a soup spoon and add one spoon full to the sugar mix. Not heaping, but not sparse either. No real measuring here, because you can't really go wrong.
Give the mixture a good stir, about one minutes worth, until it is a good 'smashed up Butterfingers' texture. How do you like that baking analogy, I think it describes it pretty good!
You could continue stirring by hand, but I am lazy and I pop the mixture back into the food processor for a good mix.
Whoops! Mine turned out a bit dry, so I drizzled a bit more syrup in. A little heavy handed with it, but that's ok. Guess this batch will be 'dark brown sugar' now. Oh well!
A good mix, and a some pulses until the ooey goodness begins to slowly clump and no longer spin in the processor. Check out that good looking sugar!
A quick stir to make so there were no big lumps of syrup...nope, we're good.
And the best part about this recipe is that it stores in a zip lock baggie in your pantry for as long as you need it to.
So, it does taste and smell a bit different than normal, store bought brown sugar. But it doesn't effect any recipe one little bit. I know once you try this, you won't want to hide any more brown sugar in your luggage for the trip over any more! Hope you enjoy!