About Me

I have been cooking my way through life for over 50 years, beginning with mud pies as a child. I've turned a corner now and feel a Renaissance in my life. Recipes and Random Thoughts is my personal spin in a blog about how to prepare good food and how it prepares you for life. I want to share with you, honest to goodness food punctuated with perspective from the special memories and moments that have marked my journey.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

It's In the Details - Toasted Sugar

Note the contrast between toasted sugar and white
This is a blog only true foodies can appreciate.

Redistribute the sugar from the edges, and center to edge 
I've been house bound for a few days with a bug and finally feel well enough to do something in the kitchen - not much, just stir the pot at most.  While abed, I studied Stella Parks' BraveTart.  Her seminal tome on American iconic desserts which won a James Beard award.  Admittedly, I ordered this cookbook because of just one recipe which is her version of all butter crust which I haven't gotten around to yet but also spied the really weird title "Toasted Sugar".  As maligned as sugar is today, what good does it do to toast it, how, exactly, does one toast sugar?  It's a curious verb to apply to sugar.  You can dissolve, melt, burn, brûlée, spin or sprinkle sugar but how do you toast it?  The very form of granular sugar makes this a curious proposal but clever, culinary chemists think outside the box.  Cooking is always about time and temperature and it turns out if granulated sugar is baked at low temperature for a good length of time, it will change composition slightly.  It's color changes from white to tan and it takes on a more complex flavor and a little less sweetness but retains it's powdery form.  It's one of those subtleties that a more dedicated cook finds intriguing.  So given that I'm quite bored and caramel notes are among my favorite, I toasted sugar this afternoon.

 Toasted sugar can be used the same as its virgin kin but will provide more complex flavor to any recipe you choose to use it in.

Use only a pyrex or ceramic baking dish. No metal, they conduct heat differently.  Use only granulated white sugar not light or dark brown sugar.  They are a different animal that involves molasses.

4 pounds granulated white sugar
9x13 inch pyrex baking dish

Preheat oven to 300 degrees

Spread sugar in an even layer in the baking dish.

"Toast" in the oven for 3-5 hours depending on desired color, stirring the sugar every 30 minutes.  Be sure to stir the sugar away from the edges as the edges heat first and turn the center toward the edges, promoting even heating and releasing any steam.  The sugar should retain a powdery texture and be the color of sand.  If a few clumps develop, sift them out at the end.  Cool completely, stirring occasionally to release moisture.  Store in an air tight container.  Lasts for about a year.