Treacle and molasses are similar, but they’re not exactly the same. ‘Molasses’ is a more common term in the USA, while ‘treacle’ is more common in the UK.
Both molasses and treacle are sugar cane juice by-products. Although similar, there are a few differences between them including taste, sweetness, and how the sugar product behaves during the cooking or baking process.
The two sugar products are produced slightly differently too. Once sugar beets and cane have been ‘juiced’, the juice is then heated until it boils. At this point, crystals of sugar are created and then removed, leaving the thick liquid behind. This thick liquid is the treacle or molasses.
To produce molasses, the sugar cane and beets are boiled for slightly longer than when producing treacle hence the old American saying, “You’re as slow as molasses”.
Differences Between Treacle and Molasses
If it’s a bold, strong flavour and a whole load of sweetness you want, molasses is the right ingredient for you. It is the stronger of the two in terms of flavour. There is less sugar in molasses after the beet and cane boiling process, and it is also thicker.
Molasses is used in a wide range of dishes, such as hot chilli, marinades, barbecue sauce, stews, various types of beer, glazes, and even gingerbread biscuits.
Brown sugar is also created from molasses mixed with white sugar.
Treacle is usually used in sweet and dessert dishes rather than savoury dishes and sauces. This is because the beet and cane is boiled for a shorter period of time, leaving more sugar in the thick liquid, and leaving it with a runnier consistency than molasses.
High-sugar treacle adds a sweeter taste to the dish, which makes it perfect for desserts, cakes, and other sweet treats.
Treacle tarts, ginger cakes, and sticky toffee pudding all require treacle, and the sugar product comes in lighter types (often called golden syrup) and darker types (often called dark or black treacle).
Can I Use Molasses in a Recipe That Needs Treacle?
Yes, you can use molasses in a recipe that needs dark or dark treacle. However, there are a couple of things you should know.
Black treacle is quite bitter in taste, and molasses is sweeter, so this will have some effect on the recipe or dish you’re creating.
The same applies to consistency. Molasses is thicker than treacle, and this can have some effect on the finished product.
Some bakers do not recommend using molasses in place of golden syrup or light treacle.
What Is the Best Substitute for Treacle?
Blackstrap molasses is said to be the best ingredient to use when you don’t have treacle in the house. However, most kinds of molasses can be used in its place, including dark and light as well as the recommended blackstrap molasses.
As well as molasses, you can also look at using dark or light corn syrup, using the same amount as the recipe called for in molasses.
Kim is a writer with more than a decade of experience, and a food enthusiast. When she’s not spending her time writing about her favourite dishes, you can find her in the cake aisle of her local supermarket, or making a mess in the kitchen.