White sugar is really good at making things sweet, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of flavor. This is what drove Shauna Sever—an avowed sugar lover who once wrote a whole book on marshmallows—to investigate and ultimately embrace natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave nectar and coconut sugar. It’s not about diet, says Sever. It’s about flavor.
Sever found that alternative sweeteners could create better, more nuanced versions of her favorite desserts. Her newest cookbook, Real Sweet, offers a tremendous amount of advice—and delicious recipes—to anyone interested in ditching white sugar. Here, Sever answers our questions about coconut sugar.
What is coconut sugar?
Coconut sugar is the evaporated and granulated sap of the flower of the coconut palm tree. It typically comes from Southeast Asia—specifically Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines—where it’s been the main sweetener for thousands of years. “It’s just new to us,” says Sever.