Saturday, November 29, 2008

a tale of 3 sugars…

I was about to start baking Palmiers for Thanksgiving day and noticed that there was periously very little granulated sugar left in my cannister. Palmiers or Palm Leaf Cookies are made from Puff Pastry dough dough that is sprinkled with granulated sugar, folded or rolled and cut into thin strips.

I did have on hand ample amounts of Demerara, Azúcar Morena, and Sanding Sugar. Each of these sugars have different flavors and react slightly different to the heat of baking, but all are larger grained that than the common table or granulated sugar.

Demerara Sugar
Demerara is used as the generic name of a type of specialty raw cane sugar often used in home baking and in sweetening coffee and tea. Demerara is normally brown in color—the natural color of cane sugar.
Demerara has a coarse texture due to its large crystals. It takes its name from the Demerara colony in Guyana, the original source of this type of sugar, which is produced today mainly in Mauritius.
Demerara is a type of unrefined sugar with a large grain. Its colour is pale to golden yellow.
It comes from pressed sugar cane which is then steamed for the juice to form thick cane syrup. The syrup is dehydrated to form large golden brown crystals. As it is not refined much so it has a it is rich and creamy flavor and very crunchy texture.

Azúcar Morena Pure Cane Sugar
A granulized cane sugar common in Mexican regions that is processed into a fine textured sweetener. Slightly tannish-white in color, azúcar morena sugar provides a sweet caramel flavor when added to foods.

Sanding Sugar
Sanding Sugar has a grain slightly coarser than table sugar and is perfect for baking cookies because it does not melt like regular sugar.
It is also called pearl sugar or decorating sugar.
White sanding sugar is slightly silvery in color and "sparkles" because the sugar crystal grains are large and reflect light.

Armed with these three sugars I began the Palmiers, rolling the sugar mixture with a pinch of kosher salt into the Puff Pastry that I had made the night before. The layer of sugars looked like a sparkly fairyland with a soft sheen of the pale yellow Azúcar, the silver sparkle imparted by the Sanding sugar and the Demerara looking like zillions of tiny golden quartz crystals.

I made the Palmiers as usual, but as they baked, my house filled with an incredible aroma of caramel and vanilla.
The fragrance transported me immediately to my corner pâtisserie in Paris.

The taste of the Palmiers has also been transformed by use of the three sugars.
The wonderful part of eating Palmiers for me has always been that first incredible light and flaky bite with a gentle but satisfying crunch of the sugars. They were sweet, but I have to admit a bit bland.
These cookies had a bit crunchier mouth feel with the addition of the larger grains in this sugar combination, but it perfectly highlighted of the lightness puff pastry. They were also far more flavorful with soft and creamy buttery light caramel flavor with a slight vanilla back taste, and held the lovely fragrance that had perfumed my kitchen.

Clearly, the lack of granulated white sugar in my pantry forced me in discovering a new spin on a cookie that has been a favorite for years
all over the world.
Palmiers (palm cookie) recipe to follow tomorrow…


lois said...

Hello, I've come here via Flickr, Thank you for the tale, it was very interesting.I know only the Demerara from your list, the other I have is the Muscovado - very tasty too :)
Your photos are gorgeous!

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Salut Lois, merci beaucoup for your visit.
I appreciate your comment and very kind compliment on my images.
I am pleased that you find what I write of interest as I spend a great deal of time on each post researching and photographing things that I love and want to share,
You made my day...!
Merci encore.

katherine said...

i can not find the sanding sugar any where any idea my friend?
I am loving these shots.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Salut Katherine,

I get mine at a local craft store "Michale's" that carry a full line of Wilton's baking products. This was the cheapest price for good quality I imagine becouse Wilton's is also a local company.

There are many place to buy Sanding Sugar on the internet as
and Amazon.
I have bought sugars at all these places and the quality is good, just a bit more expensive.

I usually but a big bag of white sanding sugar and make my own colors with gel food coloring.

Merci for your visit Katherine.

jeanette mistress of longears said...

Too quick with the keyboard! Thanks for the sugar tour...I'm guessing I could find Azucar Morena in my Mexican grocery store...?

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Salut Jeanette..yes, you can indeed find Azucar Morena sugar in most Hispanic and even in Italian markets that carry a wide range of products.
Merci beaucoups for your visits and support.

Anonymous said...

Great explainations on sugar. It's kind of like salt. The difference in grind can make a huge difference in your cooking and baking.

feasting-on-pixels (terrie) said...

Merci Cory for your kind words...

You are so very right, different sugars react so differently in a recipe.
I also love the variety of salts and peppers as well as sugars. Three fairly basic ingredients that change the taste of what is intended depending where they originated or how they are made or where they are collected.
These simple additions can change the taste of a meal for better...or for worse...;-)

If the cook does her (or his) homework...
et viola...a superbe dish...!

A Brush with Color said...

Always educating us--that's what I like! I have seen these but this is wonderful information. comme toujours!