Herbal Sugar for Bewitching Baking

Hand mill, sugar, vanilla, lavender, rose petals, rosemary
Hi, readers! With that Fat Thursday (still) approaching, I've decided to share another of my culinary secrets with you: to whit, herbal sugar.

Vanilla sugar (white sugar with added vanilla extract, or more often synthetic vanilin nowadays) is commonly available in shops around here, and often used in baking. It's okay, as far as those things go. However, vanilla-flavoured sugar is only one of the many super-sugars you can use in your baking to make it truly bewitching.

Huh? "Herbal sugar"?

Herbal sugar is, quite simply, sugar that was ground with aromatic herbs. The grinding part is important: simply mixing your sugar with some herbs may give it a little of the herb's aroma, but not nearly as much as you'll get if you grind the ingredients into a fine powder, letting them get really close and personal with one another.

For obvious reasons, dry herbs have to be used: you don't want all that moisture up in there, you want a fine, dry, delicate, aromatic powder. You can use a mortar and pestle, but I strongly recommend a handmill if you can get one, because that way you can get a really fine, smooth powder, which will mix well with your other baking ingredients and cause no problems (such as bits of herbs sticking to stuff or burning). You can use brown sugar or whichever kind you like, too.

Once you have your fine herbal sugar, store it in an airtight container and make sure it's absolutely, completely dry. This way it will have a long and happy shelf life.

Herbs to Choose From

I find that a good proportion is 3:1 sugar to dried herb ratio, but of course you can tweak that to have a stronger or milder aroma. My favourite herbs for bewitching sugar powders are:

  • lavender
  • rosemary
  • allspice
  • rose petals*
  • peppermint

but many more can probably give results, too. I always make herbal sugar powder with one herb only, but mixing is also an option, of course.

[* Do not use petals of roses that came from the florist's. These should be food-grade and, of course, completely dried.]

Other Uses

Apart from using them to give additional oomph to your baked goodies, you can use herbal sugar in coffee or cocoa to give them additional aroma while retaining the smooth texture (because seriously, who wants allspice shards floating in their coffee?), or - and this is by far my favourite trick - in whipped cream, to make absolutely magical whipped cream which people will taste and then badger you for days about.

And speaking of magic, herbal sugar can also be a spell ingredient. Why not mix a pinch of lavender sugar with your face powder for that extra bit of glamour?

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