Impulse Buy: Pearl Sugar from IKEA

Shopping for gourmet food at Ikea sounds like a wacky idea. Once you've dragged yourself and your huge hard-to-pronounce pieces of furniture through miles of store, any remaining energy must be devoted to braving long lines and the Tetris game of fitting your purchases in your car (or, God forbid, on the bus). We usually skip right past the small Swedish food marketplace perched by the entrance, thinking, "Who needs more frozen meatballs, anyway?!"

But on a recent visit we were able to ponder the actually inspiring foodstuffs here. Not only were there deals to be had on things we usually buy in the city, like Anna's Ginger Thins and elderflower syrup, but we also found intriguing black currant preserves, lingonberry jam, and our favorite find, pearl sugar.

To put it simply, pearl sugar is to granulated sugar as coarse sea salt is to regular table salt. Sprinkle it on top of scones, breads and muffins, where it will stay white and crunchy, or mix it into cinnamon swirl bread and thick waffles for melting pockets of caramelized sweetness. (There's also an intriguing recipe for cinnamon buns on the back of the box.) We can't wait to sprinkle it on top of a pie, for an extra crunchy crust.

Next trip: Hit the food first, and save the Tromsö bed and Bjursta table for later.

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