Last week my next door neighbor gave me the oddest sugar I’ve ever seen. Piloncillo. It’s a Mexican version of unrefined cane sugar. You’ll find the same thing in health food stores labeled as rapadura. The difference between piloncillo and rapadura is that the Mexican version is sold in cones, very hard cones, while rapadura is generally sold in granules, just like brown sugar. Oddly enough, after you process the piloncillo it ends up being more soft and moist that rapadura.
The first thing I said to my husband was, “How do I use this?” It felt rock hard, and I didn’t know if I was going to have to microwave it or boil it in water or what. Fortunately, five minutes of internet research was all it took to realize I could grate it. It was surprisingly yielding. I thought it would be like trying to grate a piece of clay, but the center is much softer than the outside.
Doesn’t it look like a root beer popsicle?
Of course, you could probably get finer granules in a food processor, but since I was going to mix it with warm butter, I didn’t worry too much about it.
You can see the ring of hard crystals around the edge of the cone.
The flavor of piloncillo and rapadura is very similar to brown sugar, but with heavier notes of molasses. Brown sugar is white sugar, with a little molasses added back in, while these cruder types of sugar have never had the molasses taken out.
This recipe is really similar to my Mini Banana Bread With Toasted Maple Glaze. I just replaced white sugar with piloncillo, and reduced the amount by a quarter cup. It’s stronger flavor means you don’t need as much of it. Of course, if you’re in love with molasses flavor, you could keep it the same! I also removed the nutmeg because I thought the bread would have a complex enough flavor with just cinnamon.
The resulting loaves are very moist (thanks to that extra molasses), and the flavor is similar to regular banana bread. The only flavor, besides molasses, that is unique to this bread is a very faint smoky flavor.
Apparently, that smokiness makes piloncillo the perfect sweetener for marinades.
It is so faint that it doesn’t ruin the flavor of banana bread though. Don’t worry!
I think the next recipe I would try piloncillo in is Mexcian hot chocolate!
I’m gifting these loaves to the neighbor who gave me the sugar, hence the bows.
Have any of you ever used piloncillo or rapadura? I want to hear what it goes well in. Besides banana bread.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup grated piloncillo, packed (just like brown sugar)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¾ tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 large ripe bananas
- ¼ cup plain yogurt
- 2 large eggs
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Grease and flour miniature loaf pan.
- In a medium bowl, Mix together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.
- Attach stand mixer with paddle attachment.
- In the bowl of stand mixer, mix hot butter and piloncillo on medium speed for one minute, or until the mixture is homogeneous.
- Then add to butter mixture bananas, yogurt, eggs, and vanilla extract.
- Pour banana mixture into flour mixture and combine. Be careful not to over mix.
- Fill each loaf compartment ¾ of the way full.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until loaves are golden brown and tops are set.
- Cool for at least 15 minutes on a cooling rack before eating.
- PS - This whole recipe makes a standard 9" by 5" loaf if you don't want to mess with minis