This time of year, we often come across recipes that call for sugars we don't normally use or remember to keep stocked, like superfine or confectioner sugars. What to do if you find yourself short? The good folks from Cook's Illustrated have a few ideas...
Here are the suggestions from Cook's Illustrated for sugar substitutes using regular granulated sugar:
For Superfine Sugar - Run one cup plus 2 teaspoons of white sugar in the food processor for 30 seconds. This gives you 1 cup of superfine sugar.
For Confectioner's Sugar - Run 1 cup of white sugar and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch in a spice grinder or blender until powdered. They say a food processor won't process the sugar fine enough, and to process in two batches if your spice grinder is too small. Once powdered, sift the sugar through a fine-mesh strainer to remove any larger particles. This gives you 1 cup of confectioner's sugar.
For Brown Sugar - Pulse 1 cup of white sugar and 1 teaspoon dark molasses in a food processor until combined. If you need dark brown sugar, use 2 teaspoons of molasses. This gives you 1 cup of brown sugar.
How can this work? This article reminds us that these "fancy" sugars are nothing more than commercially processed white sugars. Making them at home is just a matter of duplicating the commercial process. They said that their substitutes worked just as well as the store-bought kind in their recipe testing.
Knowing these substitutes is useful not only for when we run out of a certain sugar, but also when we don't want to buy a whole bag when only a small amount is needed. Give it a try!
• This tip was published in the November/December 2008 issue of Cook's Illustrated. To subscribe to this magazine, visit their website!