Experienced chefs know how to swap out different ingredients for one another and that there is no "one size fits all" rule for making the choices. This can be particularly tricky with baking; for example, if you replace honey with the wrong thing or use the incorrect amount, the result could look and taste quite unappealing. Corn syrup can be an appropriate honey substitute, and there is a right way to do it.
Corn Syrup Substitute for Honey
You can find light and dark corn syrup in stores, and lighter versions work best in exchange for honey because you don't want the result to be excessively rich and heavy. Corn syrup is often used to make sweets, like caramels and candies, which might already be in your kitchen. It's just as sweet as honey with the same consistency, but the flavor profile is less complex. The two ingredients also contain almost the same amount of sugar per 1 tablespoon serving: 17 grams. Replace the honey with equal parts of corn syrup when baking sweet desserts.
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Honey and corn syrup have other things in common too. Both are sweet, thick, sticky and golden in color. However, bees produce and store honey, and corn syrup is produced from corn that becomes cornstarch. That gets heated with a dilute acid or combined with enzymes. It is often referred to as glucose syrup and is used to make jellies, jams and other foods.
Corn Syrup Alternatives
Golden syrup comes from Britain, but you may be able to find it closer to home. It's also called "light treacle" and is made from refined sugar cane. It has more of a buttery taste, and just like corn syrup, it won't seize up at high temperatures. This quality makes golden syrup an excellent choice for candy recipes.
Other options include brown rice syrup, which tastes sweet and nutty and has a darker color. It is similar to molasses with a correspondingly stronger taste. Use this for making marshmallows, gummies and nougats.
If you're never tried cane syrup, it's popular in the South and is extracted from raw sugar cane stalks. It has a rich, amber color and is also similar to molasses. It can't prevent crystallization in candy recipes, though. Another choice is maple syrup, but it doesn't work for candy recipes; you can substitute it for honey or corn syrup in baked goods if you like the maple flavor. As a last resort, a simple syrup of four parts sugar to one part warm water is an acceptable corn syrup replacement.
Corn Syrup in Recipes
Corn syrup sometimes gets a bad rap, but when it comes down to it, it's liquefied sugar just like all the potential alternatives that you may come across. It's a perfect ingredient for chocolate chip cookies and makes them taste sweeter and chewier. You can add it in when creaming the butter at the beginning. It is also a staple for cheesecakes, peanut brittle and pecan pie.
You can use honey and corn syrup in other recipes besides desserts, like honey-glazed hams, mustard sauces and green beans. The list of recipes that use these ingredients goes on and on. If you have a particularly refined palette, you might detect a change in flavor when switching out the ingredients; otherwise, it's entirely possible that you might not be able to tell the diffference between the two ingredients. In the best-case scenario, you might find that you like the substitute even better than the original.