Homemade DIY Flavoured Sugar? Sounds difficult, doesn’t it? But these delicious, delicate sugars are easy to make, and they make even simple dishes shine. For the seekers of shortcuts (that’s me) you can make these homemade flavoured sugars weeks, sometimes months ahead of time and enjoy a more relaxed festive season.
Get your ingredients together. Consider flavours and aromas that you like and will have use for during the year. Cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla will see the most use. Though lavender and rose are so delicate that they add an elegant finish to my simple shortbread cookies.
Take a cup of sugar in an airtight container or ziplock freezer bag.
Add the flavour of your choice, and store for a week. Shake the jar every day and make sure it is evenly distributed.
When it is ready, transfer to an airtight, perhaps prettier container. Remember to label or leave a stick, pod something to help you identify the mixture months later.
Split a vanilla pod in half and embed it in the sugar. The fragrace from this homemade vanilla sugar is unbeatable and has crazy uses – from your kids’ hot cocoa to plain cookes. You could even replace some of the sugar in your plain cake recipe with vanilla sugar.
Mix the sugar with a tsp of cinnamon powder. Cinnamon is a strong flavour, and works very well on cookies, crumbles and pies. So when you’re invited to a pot luck and all you have is a store-bought pie, sprinkle some of this goodness on top and pop it in the oven. Bonus – your house will smell divine.
Crack the cardamom pods and take out the seeds. Mix a 1/2 tsp of cardamom seeds with sugar. A lot of people recommend taking the black specks out but that does not sound like something I would do – patiently picking cardamom seeds out of a jar of sugar. So I live with the seeds, and use this aromatic sugar in dishes that are darker in colour. Like tea. Obvious, right!
Adding cardamom sugar in your morning cuppa is the best way to start a day. Make your usual Orange Pekoe or Earl Grey with boiling water from the kettle. A half teaspoon of cardamom sugar, and I float away to India every time.
Mix sugar with a tsp of dried lavender. It smells and tastes heavenly, even more so when there is just a hint on your tongue along with the punch of aroma. Just remember to use Provençal Lavender and not English Lavender. The latter is what you find in lotions and creams – too floral for food.
Lavender sugar goes really well with dairy so consider milk and cream based desserts. I have had mine sprinkled on cheesecake and on shortbread. Delicious. A little goes a long way.
Mix sugar with a tsp of lemon or orange zest. You’ll need to zest a few lemons to get a tsp. Just make sure you’re not over-zesting – the white pith under the colour of the citrus is bitter. Spread the zest out on a baking sheet, put it in the over at 200 deg for 10 mins. Watch it because you want it dehydrated but not really crispy.
I tend to make my citrus sugar with limes. Great as a finish for sugar cookies, I also use it in cakes and on chocolate.
Mix sugar with a tsp of rose petals. It’s the same technique for dehydration as with the citrus sugar. One caveat – moisture left in the rose petals will make the sugar clumpy. While it’s still delicious you won’t be able to store it for as long.
Over the years Rose sugar has become my favourite and not just for the delicate look. The flavour and aroma is subtle and takes me back to my years in Dubai where late night dinners invariably ended with honey dipped rose-flavoured desserts.