Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sugar Rush: How to Make Flavored Sugar and More

"Joy is a glassful of tea and a piece of sugar in the mouth."

Sugar was on my mind when I made Bailey's Irish Cream cupcakes.
As I assembled the ingredients, I couldn't find green sugar sprinkles. How was I supposed to make cupcakes for an early St. Patrick's celebration without sprinkles?
My mother had the solution. "Make your own!"
So that's exactly what I did. But I didn't stop at green.

I was overcome by a sugar rush, and I ended up with a wide array of sweet things to put on my cupcakes--and also in my iced tea.

How to Make Colored (and Flavored) Sugar

Start with sugar, food coloring, and plastic bags. 

My grocery sells several types of sugar. If you like large granules, look for sugar in the raw or Demerara. You'll also need white granulated sugar because some food coloring, such as yellow and blue, doesn't take kindly to the darker Demerara.
Place each type of sugar in a plastic bag.

Add a small quantity of food coloring to a bag--I started with four drops.
Seal the bag and shake.
And shake. Knead the clumps and continue shaking. If you need more color, add 1 or 2 drops of food dye at a time and keep shaking.
Let the sugar dry for an hour.

My experiments had positive and negative outcomes. Below, I mixed raw sugar with yellow food dye, then I added orange zest. The positive result: orange flavored sugar.

Next, I added yellow food coloring to white sugar and mixed in lemon zest.
The result was pastel yellow, with a sweet, alluring aroma. I can't wait to add lemon sugar to iced tea.

When I added green food coloring to raw sugar, the results were mixed--I had to add more and more dye to achieve the proper shade of green.

I mixed the sugars, added about 10 drops of green food coloring, and shook the bag like mad.
Finally, I ended up with sugar that could be served at The Emerald City Cafe in Oz.

My cupcakes were saved by Mama and McCormick's food coloring.

Just a reminder..if you want to make pink and blue sugar, I recommend using white granulated.
The darker sugars turn reds and blues into a muddy mess.

A quick step-by-step:

Flavored sugars add a punch to desserts and beverages. Imagine stirring a spoonful of orange sugar into a cup of hot tea--ambrosial. What about adding lemon sugar the next time  you make lemon meringue pie? Lime sugar will transform your key lime pie. Place a vanilla bean in sugar (look for an upcoming post about the versatility of vanilla beans), and you will get rave reviews on your cooking.

Wasn't that fun? And so easy. An exhausted cook can shake a bag of sugar while she watches TV.
Making your own colored/flavored sugar is an easy, economical way to garnish cupcakes, sweeten your tea, and boost the flavor of any dessert. If you'd like to skip the food coloring, you can add zest or vanilla beans to sugar.
I keep vanilla sugar in a sealed glass jar. I also add zest to brandy.
Like my mother says, "Never miss an opportunity to ramp up flavor."

Try an experiment today. Pour sugar into a bowl. Add the zest of one lemon (if you like lemony things). Stir. Come back in five minutes.
You'll be greeted by sweet-smelling culinary magic.

Or sprinkle a bit o' green on your St. Patrick's Day cupcakes.
Then give one of these kiss-worthy treats to your sweetheart.

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  1. Love the flavored sugars....they look so yummy....the orange sugar is to die for....

  2. What a great idea! I love to make my own when I can't find what I'm looking for or if I'm just too Lazy to go to the store!
    XO Cindy

  3. I've been wondering how to make this. How quick and simple-thanks! Will be trying this soon.

  4. I saw this picture on FB and I wasn't sure if it was sugar, sand or a frozen drink of some kind. I've colored my own sugar before, but I've never used the raw sugar to do so. I like that texture. I've also never tried using orange or lemon to flavor it...love that! So pretty!

  5. I need to try this! Your orange zested sugar looks like granita in your stemmed glass! Love your dreamy bokeh :)

  6. Fabulous post, Mlee! I am archiving this one to keep. I love the idea of orange or lemon sugar. I make vanilla sugar for baking. Vanilla beans are pricey so it pays to get as much use out of them as possible. xo

  7. Such great ideas! We love anything lemon here, so I'm going to try the lemon zest in sugar trick. The coloured sugars are just the thing for a wedding shower!

  8. These look so pretty! I have to try this...XoXo

  9. They LOOK wonderful and SOUND delish! Now how about the recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream cupcakes??????????????? THAT sounds GOOD!!! XO, Pinky

  10. Love the idea of flavored sugars and also those Bailey's Cream cupcakes. Gotta make those!
    Love your St. Pat's tablescape! ~ sarah

  11. Need to try this! These looks so nice - totally in love with it

  12. Thanks for the lessons. Have you tried to mold your colored sugars? My friend visited a tea room who had molded sugars for sale...pinks and blues for baby showers. They were so cute!

  13. What beautiful colors. I even can smell the aromas, just by looking at the lovely pictures, too! :)

  14. What a fun idea! I will have to give it a try. I love the idea of adding the zest too. Wonder if you could add flavor like Almond - maybe to the more granular sugar in the raw! Fabulous tutorial.

  15. That is simple enough, and Oh so practical as well. One doesn't think of flavoring sugar (well except for kool-aid, but that doesn't count), but using citrus zest is such a great idea!

    Thanks for sharing!

  16. Love the colors and the flavors too...This will be handy for my baking needs and for decorating as well. Thanks for sharing!

  17. Oh my, thank you for the great idea and tips! Think I'll have to try this too!

  18. I always have vanilla sugar and lavender sugar in the pantry -- but have never colored any -- the lemon one looks yummy!

  19. Green sugar- clever idea! I love your pictures!

  20. Love the idea of adding the lemon and orange!
    Now you have a lot of baking to do to use up that sugar!

  21. so many pretty shots, like jewels in the sunshine~

  22. what a great tutorial! Never thought about making something like this, a fun thing for that extra touch for sure! Thanks

  23. Hi Michael,

    New fan and follower here via GFC. Love this flavored sugar recipe. Pinning!

  24. Oh my goodness these ideas are amazing! Happy I just pinned too. Loving that gorgeous orange sugar...awesome!
    The photography is 'Cook Book Perfect too!'
    Thanks for sharing.