I love Sucanat, Fruitsource and Maple Syrup Granules which are all dry sweeteners that sub near perfectly for granulated refined white sugar. They are all found in HFSs and co-ops,but not all stores carry them. Often stores are more than happy to specialorder, or once they know of an interest, to start stocking it regularly.
Here are some definitions:SUCANAT: evaporated whole cane juice...about the same color as brown sugar,but opaque instead of shiny, tastes richer...as far as I know, nothing is refined out of the cane juice, so it retains the maximum amount of the nutritional of the whole food, short of eating the cane itself. Use like amounts when substituting for either refined brown or white sugars. Runs about $2 a pound or slightly more.
FRUITSOURCE: A dry sweetener, kinda yellowish white, made from evaporated rice syrup and white grape juice. This is the hardest of the three to find,but it does substitute well for white refined sugar, especially when color is important. It has a slightly fruity taste, so may altar the taste of theend product somewhat. I usually don't use straight Fruitsource, but use ithalf and half with another sweetener, usually Sucanat.
MAPLE SYRUP GRANULES: evaporated maple syrup....really wonderful, really expensive. A rich-tasting, granulated dry sweetener. Use in like amounts when substituting for either refined brown or white sugars. The last time Ibought some, it was over $8 a pound, but it is a tad more wonderful than Sucanat.
I almost forgot....DATE SUGAR....easier to find, pretty spendy, though.
The only reason I don't use date sugar much is because Sucanat is so much cheaper. I think I paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 per pound for date sugar last time I bought some.
For every 1 cup white refined sugar, substitute 1/2 cup raw honey; decreaseliquid in the recipe by 1/4 c.; if there is no liquid to reduce, add 3-4 T.FLOUR per half cup honey used. Also, decrease oven temp by 25 degrees, because goods containing honey brown faster than goods baked with refined sugars.
You have to be willing to experiment with honey. Sometimes the honey tasteis overpowering and you have to get used to it. It seemed almost unpleasantat first, when I first started using it, but now I like it. There are manydifferent kinds of honey, some are milder tasting than others. I tend to buy whatever is cheapest (I get it in bulk at my co-op, and there is usuallytwo to choose from, and it is always changing) In some recipes the textureis altered a lot, in others not much. When making quick breads, I have found that wet sweeteners never work out right, so I use Sucanat and Fruitsource exclusively in quick breads.
Also, unless the recipe is coming from a health-conscious source, most recipes call for way more sweetener than is necessary, so cutting back is agood idea and the recipe may not suffer at all-just use a little less liquid to compensate for the reduction in dry ingredients. When tinkering with recipes, always take notes...don't be tempted to think you'll rememberexactly what you did.
Brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, maple syrup, and blackstrap molasses also work well in things like cookies (not cakes or quick breads, though!).Again, just add slightly less liquid to the recipe or slightly increase thedry ingredients. I don't think these sweeteners are as sweet as honey, though, so you may want to use 2/3 to 3/4 of the amount of white or brown refined sugar called for in the recipe. I also routinely use wet sweetenersin recipes that call for just a tad of sweetener...like spaghetti sauce or yeast breads.