I found a recipe for brownies I want to try. It calls for

1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar

How can I recognize if they mean hard or soft brown sugar? And how much of a difference does it make for the completed brownies if I use the wrong type? Should I just adjust the amount of sugar or other ingredients (and if yes, by how much)? Or do I have to try to make a substitution? I found a question which explains how to make soft sugar, but it requires a food processor, and I don't have one.

Edit Here is a picture of sugars, as Jay suggested per comment:

sugar types

In Germany, the only type found under the name "brown sugar" (brauner Zucker) is the one in the upper right corner. But I have heard that American recipes might need the kind in the lower right corner, which is not normally available here.

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    If a recipe from the US calls for brown sugar, it means what I believe you're calling "soft" brown sugar - the kind that clumps and sticks to itself a bit, and can be scooped and packed. (That is what you mean, right?) I don't know about substitutions/adjustments, though. – Cascabel Jan 19 '12 at 18:01
  • Yea in the US there is only a distinction between light brown sugar and dark brown sugar(each with differing amount of molassess). I haven't come across "hard" brown sugar though. For curiousity's sake can you provide a url to a picture of what you are refering to as "hard" brown sugar. – Jay Jan 19 '12 at 18:09
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    The upper right one will usually be called "raw sugar" or "evaporated cane juice sugar" here; I think in France it's called blonde sugar, though that might be slightly different. I used to find brown sugar in the "American" section of the expensive supermarket in our town's department store, but in a pinch, I'd just mix a little bit of Zuckerrübensirup (sugar beet syrup, essentially molasses) with refined sugar until I got the desired color. – JasonTrue Jan 20 '12 at 1:12
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    FWIW, I don't consider brownies to be pastry. I think they're more of a cake. – KatieK Jan 23 '12 at 20:48
  • @KatieK I don't know what the difference between pastry and cake is, I always thought that every baked dessert falls under pastry. If you can provide a good definition, please give an answer in the relevant meta question, because I am really interested to hear it. – rumtscho Jan 23 '12 at 20:56

The in the US, light brown sugar always means the one in the bottom left. The bottom right is dark brown sugar and has a higher molasses content. In the US, I typically see the 'brown sugar' in the upper right referred to as 'raw sugar' or the brand 'sugar in the raw'. If you're using a US recipe, it needs the bottom left.

If you don't have any and its an ingredient like in brownies, try adding the molasses and sugar as separate ingredients. 1 Cup of sugar + 1 tablespoon of molasses is about the right ratio for light brown sugar.

If you can't get molasses...try dark corn syrup, honey, or depending on the flavor your want, maple syrup. (A comment from @JasonTrue above mentions that beet syrup is an option as well, althought I haven't tried it.)

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  • I hate when that happens. lol i guess I'll delete my answer. – Jay Jan 19 '12 at 18:22
  • @Jay lol, beat ya by (holds fingers up) that much. – rfusca Jan 19 '12 at 18:22
  • You know what, just because you taunted me I'm keeping it up. Whoever gets the most upvote wins. :P – Jay Jan 19 '12 at 18:26
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    Just for the search engines, I'll note that the "raw sugar" pictured is actually named "turbinado". I've never seen it mentioned in a recipe, except for rimming a few rum-based mixed drinks or coffees. – Dave Griffith Jan 19 '12 at 19:17
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    @DaveGriffith Margaritaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas! – Jay Jan 19 '12 at 19:40

As Jefromi suggested, brownie recipes call for the sugar found on the bottom of the picture you have added. Probably the lower left one since it's a lighter brown. However if you are unable to get the brown sugar you are able to easily make it using granulated white sugar and molasses by mixing about 1 cup granulated white sugar with 1 table spoon molasses using a fork.

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Just to add in the Australian terms.
Top - white sugar, raw sugar.
Bottom - light brown sugar, dark brown sugar

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