Make Your Own: Coconut Sugar Simple Syrup

wpid-wp-1426623842805.jpegThere are as many kinds of sugar out there as there are fruits and vegetables.  Most sugar we consume is made from either sugar cane or from sugar beets.  While there are numerous sugar substitutes the number of all natural sweeteners is also constantly expanding.  Case in point, Coconut sugar.  I had not seen this product before but there it was on an endcap at the grocery store.

Ever the experimental dabbler I picked up the only size bag they offered and endeavored to see what you could do with it.  This is the Madhava 1lb bag and it runs about $6.50.  For starters it is brown.  Not brown like brown sugar is brown, but a kind of rough woody brown with oddly uneven grains.  It is also unlike most other sugar cane based sweeteners in scent.  It lacks the bitter molasses notes that are so common to sugars and caramels.

I started with a test base of about 30g of sugar to 30g of water.  I elected to do this as a quick and dirty microwave batch rather than my normal stovetop method.  After about 10 seconds the grains had begun to dissolve and it took a full 20 more seconds to get the entire mixture combined.  It took some additional stirring to dissolve the grains and I think without that action they might not have dissolved at all.

The resulting syrup is dark, almost black opaque liquid.  The scents present before of woody, palm like aroma have increased dramatically.

On the tongue this is a very rich product.  The flavor is closer in content to an unsulphurated or blackstrap molasses than anything else I can compare it to.  There is very little in the way of a coconut flavor, this may stem from the source of the sugar.  Coconut sugar is dried palm tree sap, perhaps closer akin to maple syrup than granulated sugar.

While not sweeter than sugar the extra flavors present are not always complimentary and do make this a much harder sweetener to use in context.  I attempted a basic old fashioned and found that the woodiness of the sugar clashed horribly with the lemon in my cocktail.  Given the quantity of citrus drinks in the general catalog this could be a major hindrance.  Additionally the darker color makes anything you put this into a much darker drink that it would be otherwise.  In a bourbon or whiskey cocktail that might not be an issue but again the flavor is not fantastic with oak either.

I did use some of this syrup when making Irish Cream and the difficulty with getting the grains to dissolve again caused for problems in the finished product.  I have yet to find a cocktail that works well with this but I think more experimenting with rum and possibly an orgeat or falernum addition might turn this around.

In all, I cannot recommend this product.  The price per pound, general inflexibility in use, lack of availability and oddness of flavor make it so much less desirable than agave, honey or cane sugar.

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