Why It Works
- Molding sugar cubes at home allows for customization, including novel shapes, unique flavors, and special types of sugar.
When I was a kid, I thought sugar cubes were a fancy sweetener reserved for British royalty and millionaires. Regular people spooned messy sugar granules out of bags or bowls, while the elite picked up chiseled blocks with tiny silver tongs (or their butlers did this for them).
Even after I figured out sugar cubes were just plain old sugar, I still thought they were special and would pocket handfuls from coffee shops as a teenager, thinking I was doing something kind of dangerous and sticking it to the man. You probably don't have this same complicated relationship with blocks of sugar, but you have to admit that sugar is just more fun in cube form.
What's Available to Buy
White sugar cubes are available everywhere, and some stores will even carry cubes made with demerara, turbinado, and other types of sugar. Each cube (or lump) is about one teaspoon of sugar. I've never seen flavored or colored cubes at a shop, though it seems to be a fairly popular item for people to hawk on Etsy.
If you want to save a few bucks, making your own sugar cubes doesn't take much time or any fancy ingredients. Of course, you can buy a fancier sugar and make rich demerara or turbinado cubes.
Flavored sugar cubes are no harder than plain ones—and they're kind of a game changer. Use vanilla extract for vanilla sugar cubes, or grind up some vanilla beans to make a more intensely vanilla-flavored cube. Mix a little orange blossom water, rosewater, or jasmine water with sugar, and you can have floral sugar cubes, which are great for tea. Another option: flavor cubes with bitters for use in cocktails.
You can always get decorative with your cubes. A few drops of food coloring, and you can have sugar cubes in any rainbow color. Get some candy molds and make sugar hearts for Valentine's Day or pumpkins for Halloween. (Fun shaped-sugar cubes pretty much make any day into a party.)
For specific instructions on how to make these color and flavor variations, see the recipe notes below.
You can use your homemade cubes in coffee and tea—this works especially well if you add almond or other flavors to the cubes. You absolutely have to try them in a Champagne cocktail or old fashioned—you can make the sugar cubes with bitters or make them plain and add the bitters to your cocktails separately. Or try making your cubes with a bit of absinthe and use them in a play on a French 75.
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon water
Combine sugar and water until the texture is even. The sugar should still be crumbly, just slightly moistened. If it is watery, you have put in too much water and should add more sugar.
Measure about 1 heaping teaspoon per cube and press the mixture down firmly into a candy mold (see notes). Let cubes sit at room temperature overnight to harden, then remove from molds. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 years.
Candy molds or small ice cube tray or cake pan
If you are using floral water instead of plain water, you can do a straight substitution. However, if you'd like to use bitters or an extract (like vanilla or almond), use 1/4 teaspoon water and 1/4 teaspoon bitters or extract in place of the 1/2 teaspoon of water called for in the recipe. For colored cubes, you could split the water with food color in the proportion suggested above or use all food coloring in place of the water for very brightly colored cubes.
I used 1-teaspoon candy molds to make my sugar cubes. You could also use small ice cube molds. Another method is to spread the mixture 1/4 inch thick into a small cake pan and score with a knife to make 1/4 inch squares, then let dry and cut into cubes.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Servings: 10 to 12|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 4g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 4g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|