cocoaWe’ve all been there – you want to make a certain treat, but you’re out of dark brown sugar. What do you do? You can always ask to borrow from your neighbor – providing your neighbor bakes, too – or you can substitute what you’re missing with other ingredients that you have on hand.

The art of substitution can be tricky, because you may not get the exact same results as you would have with the original ingredient; texture and flavor can turn out slightly different than you expected, depending on what you sub. It’s also important to remember that different types of ingredients, like baking powder and baking soda, or different types of sugar, are not exactly interchangeable. I rely on my Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook for many subbing ideas, and the following have worked well for me; for more about substitutions, check out the BHG blog here.

Apple Pie Spice – make your own! For 1 teaspoon, combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon allspice with a dash of cloves.

Buttermilk – substitute with sour milk. For each cup needed, place 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar in a measuring cup, then add enough milk to make 1 cup total liquid. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes before using.

Corn Syrup – substitute with 1 cup granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water.

Light Brown Sugar – substitute with equal parts granulated sugar and dark brown sugar.

Self-Rising Flour – substitute with 1 cup flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.

Sour cream – substitute with 1 cup plain yogurt. You could probably use vanilla yogurt as well, depending on your recipe.

Super-fine sugar – make your own! Place granulated sugar in a food processor and pulse until you get a consistency like sand. I always measure out the total amount I need then add a few tablespoons of extra into the food processor, then I measure a second time before I add it to my recipe. You usually lose a bit of your original measurement in the pulsing process.

Pumpkin Pie Spice – make your own! For 1 teaspoon, combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon each of ginger and allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg.