Molasses is a byproduct of the processing of sugar beets and sugar cane. It is a thick dark substance that has been used for hundreds of years as a sweetener. It has more nutritional value than brown or white sugar and has a unique taste. Many cookie recipes use molasses as a sweetening agent, but some people don't like the flavor or may not keep it in the kitchen. It is possible to use molasses substitutes in some recipes with minimal adjustments.
Brown sugar makes a good substitute for molasses since it is simply white sugar mixed with some molasses in processing. Light brown sugar results from the mixing of 3 percent molasses into the sugar, while dark brown sugar is as much as 6 percent molasses based. Brown sugar is closest in taste to molasses than any other substitute. For each cup of molasses called for in a cookie recipe, use the same amount of brown sugar plus a few drops of water for added moisture. The taste will be much milder and the texture will be different.
Use honey in recipes calling for molasses, but consider that the taste won't be the same. Choose the dark variety of honey instead of light. For each cup of molasses, substitute an equal amount of honey. If dark honey is not available, try adding dark brown sugar to the honey before measuring it. The dark brown sugar and dark honey produce a taste that more resembles molasses than honey alone.
Pure Maple Syrup
Replace 1 cup of molasses with an equal amount of pure maple syrup in cookie recipes. While maple syrup makes a good substitute for molasses in gingerbread cookies, a slightly different taste results. Try adding additional spices to compensate for the loss of the robust flavor of molasses. An additional 1 tsp. of cinnamon and 1 tsp. ginger complement the maple flavor. The consistency of maple syrup is similar to molasses and produces cookies with similar texture.
Dark Corn Syrup
Dark corn syrup makes a good substitute for molasses in cookie recipes, because it is somewhat similar in consistency. Replace 1 cup of molasses with 1 cup of dark corn syrup for a somewhat milder taste. Dark corn syrup lacks the robust flavor of molasses, but offers one of its own. Corn syrup is less sweet than molasses, but produces cookies with similar texture.
Those on low-carb diets can substitute molasses by being creative. Try sugar-free maple syrup mixed with sweetener for cookie recipes requiring molasses. The taste is similar to higher-calorie sweeteners like molasses or brown sugar, but offers less calories and carbohydrates. Substitute 1 cup of molasses with 1 cup of the combination of sugar-free maple syrup and sweetener in cookie recipes.