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Two Uncommon Sugars Every Baker Needs

By Amanda Agee Published

Keep your cakes, cookies, muffins, and cinnamon buns looking their best with finishing sugars that don’t melt.

Dusting baked goods with confectioners' sugar can instantly elevate their appeal, but only if the snowy coating doesn’t vanish. This disappearing act can happen when you don’t allow the item to cool completely before dusting it, but it can also occur with treats that are particularly moist. That’s because sugar is hygroscopic, meaning it has a strong tendency to bind with water. As it traps water from both the baked good and the air, the confectioners' sugar dissolves, becoming more and more transparent. 

Even chunkier turbinado sugar sprinkled over muffins, sweet breads, and other sweets is prone to a meltdown; over time, as the crystals pull moisture from baked goods, they shrink to just a portion of their original size, sometimes even leaving little pools of wetness in their wake. 

Luckily, the following two sugars can banish these problems.

  • Nonmelting Confectioners' Sugar

    Also called snow sugar or doughnut sugar, this finely powdered sweetener, which is slightly less sweet than the traditional stuff, is made with dextrose and a vegetable fat or oil, which forms a barrier that keeps the water and sugar separate. (It also contains an anticaking agent, often cornstarch, to help prevent clumping.) That means when you apply the sugar to treats such as flourless chocolate cake, lemon bars, pastries, and cookies, they will retain their snowy coating right up until you’re ready to eat them. 

  • Swedish Pearl Sugar (Pärlsocker)

    These crunchy “pearls” are a popular finishing touch on Northern European desserts, including the Swedish cinnamon buns called kanelbullar. The nuggets are made by compressing sugar crystals into larger, round particles; their limited surface area to volume means they won’t melt in the oven and will maintain their shape during storage. (Don’t confuse them with Belgian pearl sugar, which features larger crystals and is used almost exclusively in Belgian Liège waffles.Use them to add sweetness, crunch, and pops of white anywhere you might use turbinado sugar: muffins, cookies, sticky buns, and sweet quick breads.

Recipe Kanelbullar (Swedish Cinnamon Buns)

The sugar-and-spice delights known as kanelbullar feature a rich dough that's perfumed with cardamom and swirled with cinnamon and butter.

Recipe Torta Caprese

Torta caprese often trades on cloying fudge-like density and one-note chocolate flavor. Leave it to the Italians to whip up a version that's lighter and more nuanced.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.