Chocolate Chunk Cookies made with Cane Sugar

During on our second week in Hawaii, we spent two days in Maui – the island home of Haleakala Summit where the dawn breaks above the clouds and the beaches ooze black sand. I miss that warm salty breeze! And though your hair dries in sea salt after a day at the beach, the other sweet thing about Maui is their cane sugar. Cane sugar is harvested on Maui, but sent elsewhere for processing into white and brown sugar.

Curious as to how cane sugar tastes when baked, I brought back 2 lbs of Sugar in the Raw to do a little bake test. Two dozen chocolate chunk cookie contenders, recipe provided by Ms. Martha Stewart.

But before I get to the results, here’s a little info on the function of sugar in baking.

The finer the grain, the finer the texture of the baked good – so that’s why sponge cakes and custards will ask for superfine sugar – it helps with achieving a smooth finish. The size of the sugar will also affect how easily it dissolves in the mixture. Coarser sugars with larger crystals are usually sprinkled on top – because they’ve got more hold and provide a crunchy texture.

Air also gets beat into the batter when you cream together sugar and butter. The more vigorous the rubbing of sugar molecules in the fat, the more air bubbles will form. So in this case, the finer crystals in white granulated will be better incorporated in the cookie batter than the cane sugar. And with more air incorporated, the better the ability for the batter to rise.

Alright, let’s get to the contending cookies.

The pile on the left uses the same recipe with brown and white sugar, and you can see that it’s a much smoother cookie, and it’s also puffier. The ones on the left are made with cane sugar. Chunky looking and crunchier too! Actually, when I tasted the cookie batter of both, I could taste the granules of the sugar cane one.

So, my mini-experiment taught me this: granulated sugar is great if you want to smooth baked goods. Cane sugar worked well to give more of a chunk factor to the chocolate chunk cookie – I might try it again with oatmeal cookies – but probably it’s a good idea to keep the half-half proportion of granulated to brown when you’re making basic chocolate chip cookies.

I’ve said a lot in this post. But if you like my science-talk, you’ll find a lot more at Joy of Baking and The Food Lab from Serious Eats.


One Response to “Chocolate Chunk Cookies made with Cane Sugar”

  1. OMG these look delish! I’d love to try making them. And then eating them.

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