Molasses and maple sugar are both dark-colored sweeteners with very distinctive tastes. Molasses is a by-product of sugar production and maple syrup is produced from maple trees. Here are some other quick comparisons.
Molasses is a strong-smelling, thick syrup that is a by-product from processing sugar beets or sugarcane to produce sugar. It's basically the residue that's left behind in the processing vats.
Food grade molasses is generally made from sugar cane. Sugar beet molasses is very bitter and is mostly used as cattle feed or as a medium for growing yeast.
Light molasses is the sweetest and mildest type of molasses. It's often used as a pancake syrup or a beverage sweetener. Dark molasses is less sweet but more flavorful. It's the type to use if a recipe calls for molasses.
Natural maple syrup is made by boiling the sap of maple trees in the early spring. It is commonly made from sugar maple, as well as red maple, and black maple trees. It takes 40 to 50 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.
After the maple sap is collected, it is boiled to evaporate the water until a specific temperature is reached. The resulting syrup will be two-thirds sugar and one-third water. The primary sugar is sucrose with lesser amounts of fructose and glucose.
Maple syrup is considerably more expensive than molasses.
Maple syrup contains 50-55 calories per tablespoon. Light molasses contains 58-60 calories per tablespoon.
Molasses and maple syrup are both more nutritional than ordinary sugar. Molasses contains calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as smaller amounts of iron, vitamin B6, selenium and copper.
Maple syrup contains nutritionally significant amounts of manganese and zinc, as well as potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium, and riboflavin.
Maple syrup or dark corn syrup can be used as a sweetener substitute for light molasses. However, each has a distinctive taste which will affect the taste of the baked or cooked item.