Made from the boiled sap of coconut palms, coconut sugar is a Southeast Asian specialty that has been slowly finding an audience in the US thanks to its low GI index - approximately half that of sucrose, conventional table sugar. For diabetics, it is a tasty (indeed!) alternative to stevia and the artificial sweeteners that make baked goods and jams taste nothing short of terrible.
Mom and I stumbled upon coconut sugar when we visited a local health food store looking for some multivitamins. As we looked through the gluten-free flours, I saw a bulk-packed bag of coconut sugar, something I'd never seen before. It was from Indonesia where it has been a staple ingredient in local dishes, though in recent years has fallen out of favor and is at risk of disappearing. This form of coconut sugar - in small granules - is different in taste and easier to use than cake palm sugar, which has to be broken apart before it can be used. It is a little more earthy and has a slightly stronger caramel flavor.
I used it in applesauce, where it added a hint of caramel color and slight sweetness. The cashier at the health food store told us that in baked goods it produces a moister product and that they've been using it in some of the prepared foods they sell out of their kitchen.
I was not able to find any at Whole Foods, though it can be mail-ordered or found at some health food stores. Conventional cake palm sugar is available at South Asian and Southeast Asian grocers.