Rapadura sugar? Unrefined, evaporated cane juice?

David Menkes
@david-menkes
02/02/15 12:23:50AM
32 posts

 We've spent the last year trying every cacao bean we can get our hands on, and it's just about time that we're starting to look at which sugar to use. We're currently using C&H Organic unrefined cane sugar for all our evaluation batches, though I'm curious to try Rapadura (sold as Rapunzel in the US). My question before buying it - has anyone used it in bean to bar chocolate? Does it have a low moisture content? I was interested in Zulka but we were having tempering issues (which may or may not have had anything to do with the slightly higher moisture content) - so we've stopped using Zulka and are back to C&H unrefined for now.

If anyone has a sugar recommendation (the less processed, the better!) that has a low moisture content and have experience with it, please let me know - thanks!


updated by @david-menkes: 07/25/16 11:58:51AM
Jack Meyer
@jack-meyer
02/02/15 08:46:57AM
9 posts

I have been using Rapidura sugar and prefer it over other sugars that I've tried. Mainly for the flavor and the fact that it's organic. I did have an occasion where it seemed too moist so I put it on cookie sheets and heated it in the oven just long enough to remove the moisture. That sugar was from a small package I bought. I always put it in a vegi blender to make it finer before it goes into the melanger. I started buying it in small quantities and just recently purchased a 33 lb. bag from a co-op here in the states. It's actual origin is Brasil. The state side co-op is called Bulk Natural Foods , Tennessee. I can give you the name of the Brazilian manufacturer if you like. Let me know.

Sebastian
@sebastian
02/02/15 11:42:26AM
754 posts

Almost all sugar is produced - essentially - the same way - there's a series of extraction steps to get the sugar out of the plant, then it's concentrated, then it's purified.  It's at this purification step where you end up with a range of colors - every single region around the world calls their higher color sugars a different name - but they're all effectively the same thing - higher impurity sugars.  That may sound bad (and in some cases, it is - i've been to most sugar refineries in the world and some of them are abyssmal.  In other cases it's just more natural colors and is fine).

Since it's not effective to talk about each regions individual nomenclature (there's literally hundreds of names for the various brown sugars) - the world has standardized how they talk about it in the form of ICUMSA color standards - it's an analytical measure of how dark the sugar is.  Your standard white sugar has an ICUMSA value of perhaps 40-50.  A tan sugar may be ISCUMA 100.  A very dark sugar may be ICUMSA 600.  Not sure you're going to do anything with that, but sometimes the back story is interesting.

The easiest way to get higher color sugars is simply to run it through the washing, crystallizers, and centrifuges less often than one does for a white sugar, leaving effectively more molasses in it.  This typically results in a higher color, but still low moisture sugar (< 1%).  However, in some of the more modern high t hroughput refineries, it's not efficient for them to run like this, so what they do is highly refine everything at the high speed rates, then blend back the previously extracted molassess stream into the highly refined white sugar - sort of 'reconstituting' brown sugar.  These can be much 'wetter' and higher moisture than their counterparts - so it's important to get a specification on your sugar to know the moisture.  As you are aware, high moisture does bad things (tm) for chocolate.

David Menkes
@david-menkes
02/04/15 03:35:03AM
32 posts

@jack-meyer Thanks, I ordered a sample to evaulate.

@sebastian - very interesting! Where in your experience have you found the most interesting sugar, both in taste and in processing?

Sebastian
@sebastian
02/04/15 03:26:57PM
754 posts

For just sugars, i like palm sugar or jaggery mixed with local things.  I'd not likely use either of those for chocolate however because in chocolate, i'd want to emphasize the chocolate, not the sugar.  Personal preference.

Dave Huston
@dave-huston
02/06/15 12:48:36PM
4 posts

Hey David,

I've tried Rapadura once before.  From my recollection, it was much drier than brown sugar and I don't recall having tempering issues because of it.  I do recall that it added a noticeable molasses flavor to the batch of chocolate I used it in, so I haven't used it in chocolate since as I'm not looking to try to add flavors from the sugar...yet.  Anyway, my wife slowly used up the remainder in baked goods.  Tasty!

Another lesser-refined sugar that I have tried and really enjoyed was called Muscabado from the Philippines.  Alter Eco (I think) sells it here in the US.  It had a noticeable "unrefined" odor to it, not quite molassesy.  The package said vanilla and caramel notes.  The chocolate that I made with it didn't seem to have an altered tasted because of it though.  Note that at that time, I only had one refiner so I made two back-to-back batches of the same cocoa bean origin:  one with bulk organic cane sugar and one with Muscabado.  Didn't notice any major flavor differences and actually I liked the Muscabado more for that particular origin.

Are you buying the organic C&H from say Costco?  I had a negative experience with it in my Santha Spectra 11 refiner.  Relative to other organic cane sugars that I had tried before testing the C&H sugar, it had a seemingly much larger particle size.  When I put it in my refiner, it was like hearing Pop Rocks going off in my Santha and it definitely dogged the melanger down.  Enough so that I was worried it was going to fry my Santha's motor.  A heat gun helped though.

Other organic cane sugars that I have tried that had much smaller particle size were from United Natural Foods Inc (UNFI) and Florida Crystals.  Both I've ordered 25 lb bags from in bulk from our local natural foods COOP.  On sale they were about $30.  I know other chocolate makers have mentioned Wholesome Sweetners, but I haven't tried them.  Last week, I purchased two 1 lb bags of Muscabado and Wholesome Sweetners sugars to test out and compare to the Florida Crystals I'm currently using.  Each 1 lb bag was $3.99 at our COOP, which is pretty pricey but not going to break my bank to test with.  I'm sure there's a much larger price break for 25 or 50 lb bags of each, if they sell that large.

Anyway, hope that helps.

Dave

Daniel Haran
@daniel-haran
02/20/15 12:59:02AM
49 posts

Every professional I asked to taste my chocolate told me they tasted raisins and dates. I tried different beans, roasts and conche times and I could never, ever get it out.

Then one day I was making a simple syrup for some cocktails and when I tasted it I could taste that raisin and date. Hopefully my misfortune here gives you a tool to help you choose the sugars you want to try making chocolate with Happy

Like Sebastian I want to highlight the chocolate, so I bought every sugar I could get and tasted them to find the one with the least added taste. Wholesome Sweeteners organic sugar was the best compromise until I found out about Native sugar in one of Taza's transparency reports. It's organic, available white, and has very good pricing for bulk orders.

Wholesalers should have spec sheets that indicate moisture and ICUMSA colour. Useful to make sure you're clear on what you're ordering.

If you find a darker sugar and chocolate combination you enjoy, please do post about it.

eg
@eg
05/21/16 11:08:10PM
22 posts

I have tested some of the sugars mentioned here, and am running into too high a moisture content in the bulk bag though the smaller bag I bought for testing worked fine. I don't want to add a sugar drying step to my workflow but I wonder if others do this? And, or, is there a simple way I can test for moisture content myself?

Sebastian
@sebastian
05/22/16 06:54:08PM
754 posts

It's relatively easy to do a moisture test - measure out some of your sugar, weigh it, bake it at a low temperature (250F) for say 2 hours, then re-weigh it - the different win weight is moisture loss.  Note:  you may need to play with your times/temps for the best accuracy.

eg
@eg
05/23/16 01:22:35PM
22 posts

Thank you! I did this over the weekend but I don't think my oven was warm enough - will try again tonight.

eg
@eg
05/24/16 12:31:27PM
22 posts

So I redid this test at a higher temp (250 - 3 hrs) and with the two organic sugars I tested there was no change. Even so, though the weight did not change, I noted that one of the two became very static while the other clumped a lot more - I can't help but wonder if the staticky one is drier. The one that appears more moist upon hearing caused my choco to seize in the grinder, so I'm looking for an alternative organic brand. 

Sebastian
@sebastian
07/22/16 04:51:14PM
754 posts

That is definately enough time to dry out the sugars.  Perhaps your scale isn't precise enough to capture the difference?  4% of 100g, for example, would be 4 grams of moisture loss (which is a TON of moisture for a refined sugar, by the way - i'd expect that number to be closer to 1, or less)

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