Rich & Spicy Sugars
We’re starting and ending with the familiar—cinnamon sugar and vanilla sugar—but sandwiching them with some varieties that Grandma never dreamed of.
With coarse crystals that vary in color from pale golden to rich brown, the cinnamon sugar is toasty and warm with just a touch of sharp spiciness.
- Roll out the scraps of pastry left over after making pies, dot with butter, sprinkle generously with the sugar and bake just until golden brown, for what my mom always called “Sugar Pie.”
- Sprinkle a bit in coffee or hot chocolate.
You’ll be surprised how a bit of cinnamon sugar perks up sautéed, dark leafy greens.
- Stir in a little to any freshly sautéed dark leafy green. The warmth of the cinnamon and the sweetness will offset the bitterness of the greens and gives an almost Moroccan feel to the simple side dish.
- Mix equal parts Cinnamon Sugar, Clove Sugar and Ginger Sugar (see below) with fine salt and toss with still-warm toasted nuts for a quick party snack.
- Obvious as it sounds, enjoy crunchy cinnamon toast.
These coarse, cool brown crystals are assertive. The spiciness of the clove comes out clearly in aroma and flavor.
- Use Clove Sugar to top spiced cookies and cakes.
- Sprinkle it over freshly supremed orange slices. The combination of orange and clove is not only delicious but traditionally and delightfully Old World.
Dark Cocoa Sugar
Powdery matte with coarse crystals, the richness of good cocoa really comes out on the nose and on the palate. This sugar is rich and deeply chocolaty with just a hint of sweetness.
- Roll any flavor of truffle in the sugar, just as you would plain cocoa.
- Sprinkle a little on fresh raspberries or strawberries that need some extra flavor.
- Stir into rich beef and bean chili to give it that rich Cincinnati Chili taste.
- Sprinkle over chicken breast that has been marinated in a spicy marinade to mirror the flavors of Mexican mole.
Alas, much as we love espresso, the Espresso Sugar is the disappointment in this lovely line. The extremely coarse, dark brown crystals look promising; however, the aroma and taste are burnt and stale instead of rich and sweetly bitter as espresso should be. To see if it was simply a case of being too strong on its own, I stirred it into hot cocoa (coffee and chocolate being a lovely pairing). It invaded the rich cocoa with unpleasant bitterness and made it taste old. Espresso-flavored sugar has a lot of potential; we hope for a re-tweaking of the espresso infusion.
Fresh berries or other fruits that aren’t as exciting as they could be—and even those that are—can get a splash of instant excitement with Dark Cocoa Sugar. Photo © 2009 California Strawberry Commission. All Rights Reserved.
Coarse and pale golden brown, the Ginger Sugar takes its style from more Asian uses of ginger than from warm, English ginger baked goods. It is sharp and strong, bordering on antiseptic.
- Very lightly top gingerbread men for extra crunch.
- Cut a little with plain cane sugar and caramelize on top of crème brûlée for a holiday version of the classic dessert.
- Finish a simple stir-fry with a light dusting—the ginger will really pack a punch and the crunch of the coarse crystals will add textural interest.
Photo of crème brûlée courtesy of MackenzieLtd.com, which
sells ready-to-heat-and-eat crèmes brûlée.
Vanilla Bean Sugar
Some home cooks make their own vanilla sugar by sticking a vanilla bean into a jar of sugar—it’s a “kitchen tip” for optimizing a vanilla bean after the seeds have been scraped out for a recipe. Essential Cane Vanilla Sugar is a handy, packaged version of what you could make yourself—but of course, most people love convenience! It is alive with black flecks of vanilla bean; sweet, warm, and fairly fine-grained.
- Dip fresh strawberries in Vanilla Bean Sugar for a sweet, simple dessert.
- Roll drops of chocolate chip cookie dough in it before placing them on the sheet pan to bake. It will boost the vanilla flavor of the cookies and add sparkling crunch.
- Sprinkle it on chocolate covered fruit and pretzels while still wet; they will sparkle and have and extra layer of flavor and texture.
Continue To Page 4: Savory Sugars
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