Different sugars have different taste, texture and baking profiles. White sugar has the most versatility for both raw and cooked use. Brown sugar excels for use in baked goods, and powdered sugar provides the sweetness and consistency ideal for frostings.
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White sugar contains about 194 calories per 1/4 cup. This easily digested, highly refined source of carbohydrate energy typically comes from the highly processed juice of sugar cane or sugar beets.
Brown sugar contains white sugar plus added molasses. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than light brown sugar, and has a more intense molasses flavor. However, dark and light brown sugar contains the same calories, about 212 calories per 1/4 cup.
Powdered sugar consists of granulated white sugar crushed into a fine powder, with about 3 percent cornstarch added to prevent clumping. Because of the fine consistency, 1 cup of white granulated sugar equals about 1.75 cup powdered sugar. As a result, powdered sugar contains less calories per unit volume than white, granulated sugar, only about 118 calories per 1/4 cup.