Making tiny molded sugars – no, not moldy sugars, sugars shaped in molds – surely pegs me as a fussy, fussy girl. Anyone who deliberately takes sugar from its god-given home – the pourable shaker – and hand-spoons it into wee tins has got to be a little touched, right? Fussy.
But…is it fussy, or patient? I am in fact extremely patient when it comes to pressing sugar into tins and piping swirls on cakes, and doing extremely skilled tasks like making palm trees out of Styrofoam. But I’m not truly patient, like my mother. Her diligence is rare even among the patient, no kidding – if you need your necklace untangled or your candlesticks cleaned, she’s your girl. Her patience is a virtue, and mine is, shall we say…sweet. Frivolous.
Clearly, one’s relationship to the sugar bowl says volumes – packets – about personality. My Grandma Edna had a kitchen cabinet devoted solely to pocketed Sweet-n-Low; Greg likes a two-second pour (no more), and my Dad does not want sugared coffee but does want a big bowl of chocolate ganache, thank you very much.
My father-in-law has been known to tank three sugars into one small tea, but generally prefers the double whammy of sugar icing on sugar cookies. Me – I like one full Splenda – properly wapped around in the air first – sprinkled on cappuccino. My daughter takes a Wonka-esque view – never too much, it’s all good and you know, that gobstopper should be everlasting.
Flavoring sugar and pressing it into darling little shapes takes sweet devotion to a whole new level, true that, but I think once you see – and taste – their sparkly goodness, you’ll convert, at least once.
My inner Queen Elizabeth has always wanted to clutch a violet-blue handbag and say “one lump or two?” when friends come to tea, but as yet no one’s come to tea – um, we go to coffee – and I’m still not living in England. I am here, drinking cappuccino from a large paper cup. Still – I’m so beguiled by this idea, sugar cubes as art, so precious, too civilized. Set aside the Splenda and summon your inner fussy, and all your patience, to make them – because after all, a spoonful (or shape-ful) of sugar, well…you know.
Cinnamon & Chocolate Sugars
1 lb. (16 oz.) superfine sugar*
2 tsp cocoa powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a small bowl, combine half the sugar with cocoa powder, stirring to blend. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining sugar with cinnamon, stirring to blend. Add 2 1/2 tsp cold water to each bowl. Using hands, mix each well, to the consistency of barely wet sand.
Use a spoon to press sugar mixtures tightly into butter/sugar molds, pressing with the back of the spoon to pack. Invert onto parchment-lined backing sheet. Tap to release shapes, and allow sugars to dry at room temperature, at least a few hours, until completely dry and firm.
Sugars will be slightly fragile; to serve, transfer by spoon or spatula. Store in airtight container.
makes about 30
note: you can use miniature tartlet tins to mold the sugars, as shown, or you can also try the flexible silicon mini-molds designed to form candy or butters.
other note: This idea was originally culled years ago from a now-forgotten or misplaced source. If you were the first-ever molded sugar-maker, please accept the credit and my compliments. You’ve done a great service for dentists everywhere.
* superfine sugar note: if you do choose to indulge in this bit of luxurious fussy-craft, I urge you to actually pick up and use the superfine sugar. Regular granulated sugar will produce a more open-grained, less stable shape, and nothing can ruin that “one lump or two?” moment like broken sugar filling your carpet.