Toasted Sugar

Toasted Sugar

If you never toasted sugar, you might want to start. Toasted sugar is just sugar that is baked, at low heat, until it turns a caramel color. The sugar also picks up a lovely caramel flavor. That flavor change is what really makes it worth it.

I first heard about toasting sugar a few years ago. I was intrigued and decided to try it myself.  The flavor was wonderful. I always keep a supply of toasted sugar around.

So how do you use toasted sugar? Simple- just like regular sugar. Measures the same, bakes the same. The only difference is that extra caramel flavor it adds to everything. From your morning coffee, to baked goods, the toasted caramel flavor comes through.

How to Toast Sugar   

Preheat oven to 300 degrees- no higher. If your oven runs hot, you might want to bake at 275. Place sugar in a baking dish. I used a glass baking dish. You’re going to stir the sugar a few times during baking, so a dish with high enough sides is a must. I always toast at least 3 or 4 pounds of sugar at a time. It keeps, so why not? Also, I worry that smaller amounts might toast too fast.

Toast until the sugar turns an ivory color, about 1 hour. Stir thoroughly and continue baking, checking and stirring about every half hour, until the sugar gets to the color you want. The darker the color, the more intense the caramel flavor. You can bake the sugar until it looks like brown sugar, if you like. I usually stop when it looks like light brown sugar.

The sugar will produce steam as it heats up, so it should be stirred to allow that moisture to escape. Stirring will help move hot sugar from the edges toward the center, and cool sugar from the center toward the edges, for even toasting. Continue toasting and stirring every 30 minutes until the sugar has darkened to the desired color. The process can take 2-5 hours in total. It’s not a lot of work, mostly just waiting. You can see why I do a large batch at a time. I would rather bake 4 pounds of sugar- and have plenty for months and months.

When the sugar has finished toasting, remove from the oven and set aside and cool to room temperature, stirring from time to time to speed the process and allow for continued evaporation of steam. I like to transfer the toasted sugar to a large foil pan, where it cools down quicker.  Once fully cool, transfer to an airtight container and store as you would plain white sugar. It can be used interchangeably in any recipe that calls for white sugar.

Sometimes, the sugar clumps as it cools. You want to break those clumps up when you see them- or press the cooled sugar through a sieve to get out the lumps.

In the end, I think the effort is worth it. In cookies and other baked goods, toasted sugar adds the nicest flavor.

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