Maple sugar is a great way to add sweetness and a light maple taste to your desserts. Because of its distinctive flavor, there is no alternative that exactly matches its properties; however, there are a few that come close. Consider the maple sugar substitutes below.
Your best bet: Maple syrup
If your recipe requires maple sugar specifically, then you need to use something that can provide sweetness along with the notes of caramel and butter that maple provides. Nothing comes closer to the flavor of maple sugar than the maple syrup from which it is made. Maple syrup is the reduced sap of the maple tree and the process of making it into maple sugar involves reducing it until it crystallizes.
When using maple syrup in place of maple sugar, the fact that it is a liquid is the most important factor to keep in mind. You will need to reduce the quantities of other liquids in the recipe to compensate. Note that you will need to use roughly the same amount maple syrup as the amount of maple sugar that you are replacing.
A decent second choice: Raw sugar
The term raw sugar refers to types of cane sugar that have not been processed or that have only been partially processed. Whereas maple sugar is made from reduced maple sap, raw sugar is the product of reduced sugar cane juice. Raw sugars include muscovado sugar, sucanat, and demerara sugar. In addition to their relative lack of processing, these sugars all have a brown color and a deeper flavor in common. The flavor of raw sugar is that of molasses and caramel and a little earthiness mixed in. It varies depending on the type of raw sugar, but that flavor can do an excellent job of standing in for the flavor that maple sugar provides.
Since maple sugar is generally sweeter than raw sugar, you will need to use more raw sugar when using it as a substitute. Use 3/4 cups of sugar for every 1/2 cup of maple sugar that your recipe requires.
In a pinch: Brown sugar
Brown sugar is simply a blend of white refined sugar and molasses, both of which are products of the sugar cane. The molasses gives this sugar its brown color and a deep caramel flavor similar to that of raw sugar. As with raw sugar, the caramel notes of the molasses in brown sugar are great for replicating the maple notes in maple sugar.
When using raw sugar as a maple sugar substitute, use 3/4 cup for every 1/2 cup of maple sugar that you are replacing.
Palm sugar from the palm tree is another good option, though it may not be easy to find or as easy to use as some of the options above. Like maple, it has caramel notes and a golden color.
Maple-flavored pancake syrup is one of the easy-to-find options that you may want to consider. While it is usually considered an inferior product to maple syrup, it does have a similar flavor thanks to the inclusion of fenugreek and other additives. You would use pancake syrup just as you would the maple syrup option above.
Honey powder has the golden appearance of maple sugar and can provide a light honey taste that can make it an effective substitute for the flavor of maple sugar.