Molasses is used as a natural sweetener in baked beans recipes to add rich flavor. A basic molasses baked beans recipe includes bacon, onion, brown sugar, and navy or great Northern beans. New England-style baked beans recipes use unsulfured molasses, maple syrup and dark rum.
An easy baked beans recipe with molasses is made by soaking and boiling 1 pound dried navy beans one day in advance. Dice four thick slices of bacon, and coarsely chop 1 onion. Alternate layering beans, bacon and onion in a casserole dish. Create the sauce combining 1 cup hot cooking liquid from beans with 4 tablespoons molasses, 1/3 cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon each of black pepper and ground mustard, pouring it over bean mixture. Bake the beans for several hours until tender, adding liquid and stirring as needed.
New England beans makes up to eight servings and require preparing 1 pound dried navy beans, which are added to a Dutch oven along with 1 yellow onion studded with 4 whole cloves. Trim and cut an 8-ounce slab of bacon, and add it to the pot with 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses, 2 teaspoons dry mustard and 1/2 cup ketchup. Also stir in 1 tablespoon each of cider vinegar and dark rum, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cook for several hours until beans are tender.