I'm looking for the sugar version of kosher salt...
November 21, 2007 10:26 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a reputable source of coarse-grained sugar to decorate cookies with.

There are these sugar cookies at Potbelly's Sandwich Works that are decorated with sugar that is large and coarse grained...almost the sugar equivalent of kosher salt. I've seen in on pastries at fancy bake shops too. I always thought it would be easy enough to find, but none of the grocery or gourmet stores I've been to seem to stock it.

I can find stuff online when I search for coarse sugar, but they don't seem to have good specifications, so it's hard to know if it's what I'm looking for. Is there a standardized name for what I'm looking for and where can I buy it? If you've bought something similar before, where did you find it?

Thanks for the help!
posted by melissam to Food & Drink (13 answers total)
Best answer: I'm not sure what's the problem with the stuff you're finding online? The coarse sugar I've bought for baking has been from King Arthur Flour. They have a real in-person store near me so I've seen this stuff, but you can also buy it online and it's not fiendishly expensive. I think this link goes there or you can search their website for coarse sugar.
posted by jessamyn at 10:29 PM on November 21, 2007 [2 favorites]

I know this type of sugar as pearl sugar.
posted by disaster77 at 10:31 PM on November 21, 2007

Wikipedia says it's called "sanding sugar". I thought I remembered there being a different, more appetising name for it, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:35 PM on November 21, 2007

Googling for "sanding sugar" turns up 33,000 hits, a lot of which seem to be offering it for sale.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:38 PM on November 21, 2007

Response by poster: The King Arthur site has very nice pictures...I think it's what I'm looking for. I've ordered it, so my fingers are crossed.
posted by melissam at 10:40 PM on November 21, 2007

Best answer: Looks like you're in good shape, melissam. In general, sanding sugar is smaller-grained and the grains are more angular, translucent, and sparkly. Sanding sugar is the sugar that is used on sugar cookies in the US. It comes in lots of colors. By comparison, pearl sugar has larger more rounded grains and the grains are frosted and opaque; it isn't really that shiny. Pearl sugar looks like the salt you might find on a pretzel from a pretzel stand. It's common throughout Scandinavia as a decoration for baked goods, and you can often find it at Ikea labeled "pärlsocker". It's also called hail sugar. Liege waffles, a type of snack waffle found in Belgium (but distinct from the larger square Brussels waffles that are known as "Belgian waffles" in the US), can be made with pearl sugar also. The grains caramelize while the waffle cooks. Mmmm.
posted by Saccade at 11:14 PM on November 21, 2007

Is this the stuff that I (in Britain) would call demerara sugar? I'm not familiar with kosher salt, so can't compare it myself!
posted by Lebannen at 12:04 AM on November 22, 2007

Surely you want "Sugar In The Raw" right?
posted by sourwookie at 12:41 AM on November 22, 2007

Lebannen, it is similar to but not the same as demerara sugar. This stuff is larger and more coarse grained - much more along the lines of, say, rock candy crystals.

But it is, as melissa says, most like kosher salt, which you probably actually are at least conceptually familiar with, because it is indistinguishable from sea salt. You know those salt and pepper shakers where you actually have to grind out the contents? You put whole peppercorns in the P one and sea salt or kosher salt in the S one. So probably you have encountered it at some point and just not noticed...

/ bizarre kosher hijack
posted by DarlingBri at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2007

I've generally found that kind of sugar in the bulk food section of the grocery store -- y'know, the part with the bins and scoops? I know not every grocery store has this, but many do, particularly the more organic whole wheat style stores.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:20 AM on November 22, 2007

But it is, as melissa says, most like kosher salt, which you probably actually are at least conceptually familiar with, because it is indistinguishable from sea salt.

Sea salt comes in a whole range of crystal sizes; I have some that is as fine as table salt, so I think the statement above is a little confusing. Kosher salt is coarse grained salt, either from seawater or salt mines. Its coarse grains keep it from dissolving as quickly as fine grained salt, so it does a better job of leaching blood from meat in the koshering process.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:46 AM on November 22, 2007

I've always bought similar sugars at the grocery store, right in the cake decorating area. They usually have plastic tubs of different colors. Then again, I'd never heard of Potbelly's til today, so maybe it's a regional thing...
posted by pupdog at 4:26 PM on November 22, 2007

Are you in the US? Wilton sells this by the name "Sparkling Sugar." You can get it from wilton.com or at a Michael's (or another store that sells cake decorating supplies or specialty foods).

One of my favorite online baking supply stores is www.intotheoven.com. They usually have a great selection of hard-to-find stuff.
posted by eldiem at 5:25 PM on November 22, 2007

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