In an attempt to actually follow through on my plans this year I've decided to start a new series on the blog: Gifts from the Kitchen. Every Monday, I'll post a new recipe for a food related gift. Since many of these need to sit for a few weeks, I'm starting now. That way, we'll all have a some good ideas before holiday crunch time hits in late November, AND you can help keep me accountable towards my goals!
This week I'm talking about flavored sugars. Any gourmet food shop will have all sorts of flavored sugar but this is so easy to make at home! I first made a lavender sugar a few years ago, and it was such a hit that I always keep dried lavender on hand. (If you can't find it locally try Etsy-search for culinary lavender. I've had some really good luck there!) It's good in coffee, but amazing in Earl Grey Tea. The bergamot and lavender pair so well together.
The cardamom version is something I only discovered recently. As I started cooking more ethnic foods at home, cardamom became one of my favorite spices. The delicate scent is so evocative of a different world and if I ever find a cardamom perfume it will be all I wear. I was wandering around on Pinterest looking for different ideas for flavored sugars (beyond vanilla bean and citrus-which are delicious as well) and stumbled on this. I'm not entirely sure I'll be able to give it away to anyone this year! It's going to be the perfect addition to my coffee in the morning. It might elevate my school run to something slightly more sophisticated...until I have to break up an argument about who is going to be what Ninja for Halloween. A girl can dream, right?!
I'm thinking about pairing these with a pretty mug and some fancy tea or coffee.
adapted from Joy the Baker
1 to 11/2 cups sugar
1 heaping teaspoon of dried lavender blossoms
Using a spoon, press the lavender into the sugar and mix thoroughly. You want to slightly crush the blossoms so they release the oil or flavor into the sugar itself. Pour into a jar and seal. I like to leave it for a few days before I give it to the recipient because I think it tastes better over time, but it is useable immediately.
adapted from Recipes from a Pantry
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp ground cardamom OR 25-30 cracked cardamom pods
Cardamom pods can be hard to find and a bit pricy, but the ground spice is readily available so you have options here. If you choose the ground cardamom, mix the sugar and tablespoon of cardamom thoroughly together and pour into your jar. It can be used immediately.
If you choose to use the pods, crack them by pressing down on them with the back of a spoon. Add them into the sugar and mix to evenly distribute. Pour into a jar and store for 3-4 weeks in a dark place. Shake it regularly. When it's ready, strain the pods out and it's ready to use. If you prefer the presentation with the pods still in the sugar, just give your recipient a heads up to strain before using. No one wants a big seed in their coffee :)