Palm Sugar


We rarely associated sugar with any flavour other than sweet. The sugar we eat is often so refined that there is very little left other than sweet. The more I bake the more I like looking at sugars, particularly those that are not refined as much, or even at all. In western countries when a recipe calls for sugar, we generally associate it with white sugar, but substituting it with a less refined sugar can change a recipe drastically, sometimes for the better but not always.

This takes me to this Cambodian Palm Sugar. Each of these palm leaf packages contains a row of disk-shaped pucks of palm sugar. When I've had palm sugar in the past, either in cooked into something or sometimes sugar specifically designed to be put into coffee or tea, it's very refined and tastes a lot like white sugar. These palm sugar pucks are very different, these have not been refined much at all as far as I can tell, and they have a strong flavour to them. I can best describe the flavour as being similar to the smell of hay. I'm sure you could also describe the flavour as being similar to the smell of palm trees, however I have more experience with the smell of hay so it’s the first thing I thought of.

These little pucks are also very sweet, as you might image, so eating more than a couple might make your teeth hurt. While tasting these was an experience, I'm more excited at the idea of baking with them. As a candy, they don't really work, it’s much like eating a handful of brown sugar, but as a sweetener I think these might add an interesting flavour to any cookie or cake recipe.