The Golden Touch
Many recipes for sticky-sweet baked goods call for corn syrup. But our callers were curious whether golden syrup could be used as a substitute. And if so, does it make a difference in flavor?
Corn syrup is a sugary liquid derived from corn. Common in American baking, corn syrup’s hygroscopic nature (it draws in water) makes it a good choice for ensuring a moist texture. It also does not require additional dissolving the way granulated sugar does. (It is worth noting that corn syrup is not the same as high-fructose corn syrup, a more processed and controversial food additive.) Golden syrup, also known as “light treacle,” is a sweetener from the U.K. that often can be found in the baking aisle of American supermarkets. It is made by boiling sugar cane juice down to a thick, amber-colored syrup that tastes less sweet than corn syrup with a hint of caramel. To test whether it can be substituted for corn syrup, we used both to make pecan pies and marshmallows and were pleased with the results. Both pies were equally gooey, and the marshmallows were nearly identical—the golden syrup marshmallows were only slightly creamier. The biggest difference was in flavor. The versions made with golden syrup had toasty, caramel notes, while those made with corn syrup did not. Ultimately, we find the choice comes down primarily to taste preference.