Friday, March 19, 2010
On of my favorite "secret ingredients " are spiced sugars.
They are made with along the same lines as vanilla sugar.
You know the familiar method in which vanilla beans that have been split in half or have had the seeds removed for a recipe are stuck down into a jar of sugar imparting the oils of the bean to flavor the sugar.
I use the containers the spiced sugar will eventually be stored in to measure the amount of sugar I want to spice.
for this recipe I am using regular white granulated sugar, but in some I use organic.
If your sugar is lumpy you can sift it or crush the limp out of it .
The one I made tonight and am posting here I call my Figgy-Sugar because it contains dried figs, but some think it smells or tastes a bit like root beer.. It definitely makes my root beer hard candy special and unusual, as well as one of my most requested hard candies..
Slice the dried fig into 4 to 5 pieces (depending on the size of the fig.)
Break up about 3 to 4 inches of Cinnamon stick broken into smaller pieces.
add about a teaspoon of whole cloves
Add 3 whole star anise
add about a 4 inch length of vanilla, sliced down the center and cut into about 4 - 1 inch pieces.
( if there is a piece of the bean left, split it down the center and place it in your bottle of home made vanilla extract or in your vanilla sugar jar.)
prep a piece of lemon peal as you would for candid orange peal , removing the pith and cut the sliver into about 4 pieces
add the prepped lemon peal.
Give every thing a good stir .
You can cure this in a glass bowl with plastic cling wrap ( don't use plastic as the sugar will absorb any undetected odors and this will destroy the flavor you are trying to achieve.)
or you can use a zip top plastic storage bag.
give the sugar a good stir or shake every day for at least 6 weeks.
taste the sugar periodically to be sure you are getting a smooth light flavor.
you can always adjust the flavor by adding a bit more of what ever ingredients you want a stronger flavor of .
once you have cured your sugar , pour it out onto a paper plate or plastic cutting mat.
Sift the sugar to separate the spices and fruit pieces
once the sugar is sifted. you will want to remove any excess sugar from the spices and fruit pieces . do this with your fingers, a small basting brush, and or a tooth pick.
pick through the sifter and remove all the spices and fruit pieces and add any lumps of sugar to the spiced sugar. you can run this through a spice grinder or pulse in a food processor to desired texture
You can place some of the spices and very dried fruit peals in to the tops of the jars if there is space to remind for decorative purposes or to remind you what it is spiced with ( i wouldn't place any dried fruits like figs in there as they may still hold moisture which can cause molding. )
These also make a great gifts . I love to add them to gift baskets that contain teas or with a recipe the recipient can use the sugar in.