Friday I talked about the quintessential scented sugar, Vanilla Sugar, and how to make it. But the options do not end with vanilla, and today I will talk about scented sugars and share three ways of making them!
Above is a few of the spices you can use o make scented sugars, these are the ones I will cover in this post.
Cinnamon sticks (these are real cinnamon, not cassia, you can recognize them by their thin, almost cigar-like layers, these can be crumbled with your fingers)
Vanilla pods, use your favourite kind!Dried hibiscus flowers, they have an intense flowery smell and taste. Star anise, one of my favourite smells! Dried Maroccan roses, they smell amazing! Is there anything more pretty than cardamom pods?
So, I promised you three techniques, and I will cover these before suggesting flavour variants.
The first technique is very basic. You take a powdered spice (this is very often done with cinnamon) and mix with sugar. Easy peasy, and gives an intense taste right away. However, powered spices loose most of their aroma so fast, so this should only be done with scented sugar you are using immediately, such as cinnamon sugar for snickerdoodles or Danish rice pudding.
The second technique is reminiscent of the first, but here whole spices/herbs/flowers are grinded with the sugar. Using the whole spices ensures more aroma than pre-powdered spices, and you immediately get an intense taste. You can either grind with an electric coffee grinder or a mortar. I have both, and actually two mortars
The coffee grinder is great for grinding hard spices, such as cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, cloves and allspice.
The granite mortar was given as a groomsmen gift from a good friend, and I love it. It is so heavy (!) and is great for ‘brittle’ spices/herbs/flowers, such as real cinnamon and hibiscus flowers.
The smal mortar is from Le Creuset (a part of my ongoing love affair with the French lovelies), and while it is not great for grinding hard spices into powder (though it can be done with patience and arm muscles), it is great for smashing up star anise or cardamom pods, and breaking other spices into pieces.
No matter which grinding method you use, I recommend having a fine-meshed sieve with you, to sieve the grinded mixture into a bowl or glass, so you can grind larger pieces down to the size you want.
The third method is the one used for vanilla sugar, basically fill sugar in a glass and stick whole spices into the glass and shake it. This will yield a more subtly flavoured sugar than the first and second method.
So, for flavouring suggestions:
The above sugar was made with the second method, by grinding sugar in a granite mortar with vanilla seeds, dried roses and hibiscus flowers. The resulting sugar is flowery and slightly pink. Perfect for meringues, cupcakes and other light baked goods that need a flowery twist.
You can see the specks of red and pink from the dried flowers in the sugar, beautiful. Using the third method, you can make a subtle rose scented sugar. This will be very subtle in taste, but the smell is amazing. For more taste, use the second metod. This christmas-y sugar is made with the third method, and all the warm spices I could think of. Cinnamon, cloves, star anise, mace, cardamom and allspice. Compared to the cinnamon sugar made by the first method, this sugar is subtle. Compared with the rose sugar, it is potent. The smell is amazing, but if you want an intense sugar, use the second method rather than the third. (If you do use the second method, I recommend an electric coffee grinder, for the sake of your arms!)
Finally a couple of words about spices. I buy my spices from ASA Spice. They sell organic spices and ship all over the world. I love using whole spices, and am considering buying a second coffee grinder, to have one for ‘warm’ spices and one for ‘cold’ spices. (Word of warning, fenugreek seeds leave a lot of taste and smell in your coffee grinder. Also, spices in general leave a lot of taste, so don’t use the grinder you use for actual coffee!)
ASA does in no way compensate me for the exposure here, I just happen to love their products!
I hope you have been inspired to try out scented sugars, they are great to have on hand, try experimenting with substituting regular sugar with scented sugar in your recipes! If you have any questions or want to share your experiences, use the comment form below!