February 8th is National Molasses Bar Day, but do you even know what molasses is? We usually consume the dark, thick syrup in gingerbread during the holidays, but you can use molasses to make a variety of breads and cookies, or as an additive in oatmeal, sweet potatoes, or baked beans. Today, molasses gets its own spotlight in the culinary world!
Molasses, also known as Black Treacle in the UK, is by-product of the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into sugar. Molasses varies by amount of sugar, method of extraction, and age of plant. Cane molasses is a common ingredient in baking and cooking. Juice from the sugar cane is boiled to concentrate it, promoting sugar crystallization.
The result of this first boiling is called “first syrup”, and it has the highest sugar content. First syrup is usually referred to in the Southern states of the US as “cane syrup”, as opposed to molasses. “Second molasses” is created from a second boiling and sugar extraction, and has a slight bitter taste. The third boiling of the sugar syrup yields dark, viscous blackstrap molasses, known for its robust flavor.
Click here for a recipe for Chewy Molasses Bars to celebrate!