What do you visualize when you hear the word sugar? If you’re seeing mounds of sweet white grains or cookies and cakes, think again. There is more to sugar than you’d typically expect. This sweet taste has many disguises and hides in a wide range of tasty forms that you’d never expect.

1. Molasses


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Molasses is essentially everything from the sugar cane that doesn’t get refined into pure sucrose. This means that molasses contains many vitamins, minerals and true flavors from the actual plant, which gives it a deep, rich and even spicy flavor. Theses qualities are perfect for baking something such as a nutty and hearty oatmeal molasses bread. While pure sucrose (AKA cane sugar) would add an unnatural and over-sweetened taste to bread, molasses is ideal for baking a warm, bold bread.

2. Muscovado Sugar or Barbados Sugar


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Unlike brown sugar, where the molasses is retroactively added, muscovado sugar never has its molasses removed. This natural processing of muscovado sugar allows it to keep all of its intricate, floral flavors while maintaining its sweet taste. It is fantastic for adding a hint of sweetness to savory dishes or desserts, like ginger cookies.

3. Turbinado Sugar


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Turbinado sugar  is made by spinning sugar cane juice in a turbine to create large, golden crystals. This process causes the sugar to pick up an aroma that is caramel-like and almost smokey. Turbinado sugar’s large crystals also give a crunchy texture that is great for garnishing desserts and drinks, like scones or cocktails.

4. Palm Sugar


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Palm sugar is made from the sap of palm trees, which is collected, boiled and cooled to form large, rock-like pieces. This sugar is less sweet than its standard granulated counterpart, and it has a wonderful butterscotch-like quality to it. It is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine, adding flavor that counterbalances the saltiness of shrimp paste and a sweetness that marks their signature green papaya salad.

These are just a few sugar alternatives to add to your meals. Don’t be afraid to search around your local grocery store or more niche markets to find these specialty sugars. They are certain to step up your dinners and desserts by adding a greater spectrum of sweetness to your life.