Infused Sugar Sugar Cookies



Sugar cookies are classic and these cookies will produce a lovely cookie just using regular white sugar. But with a bit of advanced planning by making up some infused sugars, these cookies can become something extra special.

Start infusing some sugar ahead, as it should sit about 2 weeks before making cookies. Use any leftover sugar in coffee, tea or in other baking (to top muffins or loaves, for example) or give away a small decorative jar of it with the cookies for a great gift!

Infused Sugar Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup infused sugar of your choice (see below for ideas) or just use regular white sugar
1/4 cup icing sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. fine salt
Egg white, for brushing
Sugar, for decorating

Method

Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and icing sugar and cream until smooth. Add lemon zest, vanilla and egg and blend well.

In another bowl, sift flour with baking powder and salt and add to the butter mixture. Combine just until dough comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap and chill for at least 2 hours before rolling. If preparing far in advance, allow dough to soften at room temperature an hour before rolling.

Preheat oven to 325° F. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough slightly to soften. Roll dough to1.4-inch thick and cut out desired shapes. Unused dough can be re-rolled and cut again.

Place cookies on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on the centre rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until bottom of cookies turn a light golden brown. Remove cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely.
Cookies can be brushed with egg white and sprinkled with infused or coloured sugar to finish. Let egg white dry completely before packing in an airtight container.

Makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies

Bay Laurel Sugar

3 cups sugar
8 fresh bay leaves or 14 dry
Partly fill a 3 cup jar with sugar and insert half of the bay leaves. Cover with remaining sugar and add remaining bay leaves. Give the jar a gentle shake to distribute leaves and let sugar infuse for at least 2 weeks. Sift out leaves before using.

Jasmine Sugar

3 cups sugar
3 Tbsp. loose jasmine green tea or 2 jasmine green tea bags
Fill a 3 cup jar with sugar. Add loose jasmine tea or tear open tea bags and pour into jar. Close jar and shake to distribute tea. Let sugar infuse for at least 2 weeks, up to 1 month. Sift out tea to before using.

Chai Sugar

3 cups sugar
12 whole green cardamom pods
6 whole star anise
6 black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks or instead of spices, 4 chai tea bags (not the sweetened mix)

Partly fill a 3 cup jar with sugar. Press half the spices into sugar (or if using chai tea bags, follow the method for Jasmine Sugar). Top with remaining sugar and spices. Cover and shake gently to distribute. Let sugar infuse for at least 3 weeks. Sift out spices to use.

Vanilla Sugar

2 cups white sugar
1 whole vanilla bean

Pour the sugar into a jar. Slice the vanilla bean lengthwise, exposing the vanilla beans. Scrape out the seeds and put them in with the sugar. Bury the bean in the sugar as well.

Fasten the lid tightly. Shake the jar to distribute the vanilla bean and seeds through the sugar.
Leave the sugar to sit for 1-2 weeks.

Cinnamon Sugar

1 whole cinnamon stick
2 cups granulated sugar

Place the cinnamon bean into a glass jar and completely cover it with the sugar. Close the lid, making sure it is airtight. Shake the container once a day to help the aroma of the cinnamon permeate throughout the sugar.

Violet Sugar

Violet petals (the tiny violets that often grow wild in lawns)
white sugar

Pick as many violets as you can find. Remove all petals from the green parts of the flower. Layer white sugar and petals in a glass jar until petals are used up and the last layer is sugar. Cover tightly. Allow petals to sit in sugar for at least one week. You can sift the petals out of the sugar or leave them in.

Lavender Sugar

2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups fresh lavender flowers or 2 Tbsp. dried lavendar buds

Orange or Lemon Sugar

Peel from one orange or lemon, sliced into strips
2 cups sugar

Adapted from an Anna Olsen recipe

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