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Flavored Sugars for Quick Desserts

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These "almost-instant" flavored sugars are a boon to busy cooks and strawberry lovers. Just hull and slice a pint of strawberries and add one of these flavored sugars. Let the berries sit for 5 or 10 minutes for the sugar to dissolve and the flavors to blend, and you've got dessert. Shown at right is one of many possible variations: Stir mint sugar into sliced strawberries and cubes of fresh mango; top with yogurt.  See all the recipes below for more flavored sugars.

Lemon or Lime Sugar
  • 2 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon or lime zest

Process the sugar and zest in a coffee or spice grinder (or pound the zest and half the sugar in a mortar until finely ground; stir in the remaining sugar). Or stir the ingredients together in a bowl until well combined.

Serving idea: Hull and slice a pint of strawberries and stir in the lemon sugar. Serve layered with strawberry and mango sorbets in a tall glass.

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Fennel Sugar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar
Scant 1/4 tsp. fennel seeds

Process the sugar and fennel seeds in a coffee or spice grinder (or pound the seeds and half the sugar in a mortar until finely ground; stir in the remaining sugar).

Serving idea: Hull and slice a pint of strawberries and stir in the fennel sugar. Serve with dollops of sweetened Greek yogurt or fresh ricotta cheese.

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Mint Sugar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar
4 to 6 fresh mint leaves

Process the sugar and mint leaves in a coffee or spice grinder (or pound the mint and half the sugar in a mortar until finely ground; stir in the remaining sugar).

Serving idea: Hull and slice a pint of strawberries, toss with cubes of mango, and stir in the mint sugar.

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Ginger Sugar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 quarter-size piece crystallized ginger

Process the sugar and ginger in a coffee or spice grinder (or pound the ginger and half the sugar in a mortar until finely ground; stir in the remaining sugar.

Serving idea: Hull and slice a pint of strawberries and stir in the ginger sugar. Spoon over brownies or meringues.

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Vanilla Sugar

2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1-inch piece of a vanilla bean, finely chopped

Process the sugar and chopped vanilla in a coffee or spice grinder (or pound the vanilla and half the sugar in a mortar until finely ground; stir in the remaining sugar).

Serving idea: Hull and slice a pint of strawberries and stir in the lemon sugar. Serve layered with strawberry and mango sorbets in a tall glass.

Photo: Scott Phillips

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