Making desserts and sweet recipes require the use of ingredients that blend well while bringing out a great amount of sweetness at the same time. This is where confectioners sugar comes into play. Its fine texture allows it to incorporate into mixes and recipes while offering great taste as well. But what happens when you’re all out? Well, you can find good substitutes for it either in your kitchen or at any grocery or baking supply store around you.
What Is Confectioners Sugar?
Confectioners sugar, also known as powdered sugar or icing sugar, is simply white granulated sugar grounded to a fine powder and mixed with a small amount of cornstarch. The fine texture of the sugar means it easily mixes and melts in recipes when used, especially if you’re adding it to dough or batter. The cornstarch acts as an anti-caking agent and ensures the sugar doesn’t clump, which is why you can store confectioners sugar for long periods.
Confectioners Sugar Nutrition Facts
Using Confectioners Sugar in Recipes
Confectioners sugar is widely used in different sweet recipes. In baked goods, it produces sweetness and makes the dough highly delicious. It’s also added to frostings, and the fine crystals produce an alluringly smooth texture and appearance in buttercream and icings. Confectioners sugar is also added to baked goods after preparation, like donuts, candies, and cupcakes. Here, the sugar is sieved and dusted over the baked goods to give it a snowy effect.
Confectioners sugar is also used in hot drinks like tea or coffee. Since it dissolves easily due to its powdery texture, it makes a good option for such recipes in place of regular sugar. This is also especially useful when making a sugar recipe. They tend to come out better when the sugar added can easily mix and blend without leaving any obvious textures. And its superfine texture is highly sought-after in decorative toppings as well.
In general, confectioners sugar is a common inclusion in popular dishes like;
- Whipped cream
- Sticky buns
- Ice cream
- Cookies and conchas
- Donuts, donettes, and donut holes
- Wheat bread
- Sugar glazes
- Coffee and tea
Confectioners Sugar Substitutes
Running out of confectioners sugar doesn’t mean you have to quit making that sweet recipe. You can still make things work with any of the substitutes listed below. Since the basic function of confectioners sugar is to sweeten a recipe, each of these alternatives can still offer you that effect. And if you aim to enhance the appearance of your recipe with its powdered texture, you can still find good substitutes for that as well.
Blended Granulated Sugar
Since confectioners sugar is finely grounded granulated sugar, you can quickly make a batch for yourself by blending granulated sugar in a blender or coffee grinder. Both types contain the same type of sugar, and the same concentration of sweetness, with the singular distinction of texture. To achieve the same powdered form, sieve the blended sugar and repeatedly grind to get a texture close to that of confectioners sugar. However, note that you have to use this immediately, as storing this would cause it to clump due to the absence of an anti-caking agent. But if you wish to store it, simply add a teaspoon of cornstarch or potato starch for every cup of blended granulated sugar.
6X and 4X Powdered Sugar
If sweetness is your primary aim, the larger grinds of powdered sugar will make great substitutes for confectioners sugar. By measuring texture, confectioners sugar is denoted as 10X, which is considered the finest grind of sugar. Of the other grinds, the 6X and 4X are the closest options to use as substitutes. Though they have larger crystals than the typical 10X confectioners sugar, they still make great alternatives as dusting for donuts. They’re also great for toppings and icings if you don’t want the sugar to melt faster.
Sucralose and Cornstarch
Another reason for considering a substitute for confectioners sugar may be the need to avoid sugar altogether. In this situation, your best bet would be sucralose. This is a compound commonly used to make sugarless sweeteners renowned for their high-temperature resistance and low calorific value. You may begin to worry about seeking the compound around, but the chances are that you already have them in your kitchen. Products like Splendia, a popular sugarless sweetener, are made primarily with sucralose. Blend one cup of sucralose with one tablespoon of cornstarch in a grinder, then sieve to get a good substitute for confectioners sugar in almost every recipe, especially for hot drinks. However, you can’t use this option in yeast bread.
Dextrose (full name dextrose monohydrate) comprises finely textured crystals, making it an ideal substitute for confectioners sugar. To make it easier, you’ve probably heard of it by its common name, glucose. It mixes and blends just as well in most desserts and recipes, so you can use it as a substitute for confectioners sugar. But dextrose absorbs more liquid, so you’ll need to add more of that to make up for the loss. It’s also not as sweet as confectioners sugar, so add extra to the original recipe. Also, note that you need to reduce the quantity of the dry ingredients in the recipe when using dextrose.
Hot Cocoa Mix
For recipes that don’t bank on the whiteness of confectioners sugar, a hot cocoa mix can come to the rescue. It’s just as sweet, and if you’re making a chocolate-based recipe, this is a plus. Hot cocoa mix is also easy to get, and you may be lucky enough to already have a jar of it in your kitchen. To use as a substitute for confectioners, sugar put the amount you need in a blender or grinder, and blend till a smooth powdery texture is attained.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)s
Can I use brown sugar instead of powdered sugar?
No, you can’t. Brown sugar is made by mixing regular white sugar with molasses. While the color difference may not be a problem in some recipes, brown sugar tends to be sticky and won’t work well as an ideal substitute.
How do you make confectioners sugar without cornstarch?
If you are making confectioners sugar without cornstarch, you’ll need to use it immediately, else it’ll clump. But if you wish to store it but don’t want to use cornstarch as your anti-caking agent, replace it with an equal amount of tapioca, arrowroot, or potato starch.
How can I thicken icing without sugar?
You can add any flavor-appropriate thickening agent to your icing if you wish to avoid using more sugar. These include cold heavy cream, gelatin, cream cheese, and cocoa powder. You can also use cornstarch, tapioca starch, butter, and arrowroot starch.
Whether you run out or simply wish to omit the sugar or cornstarch content, you’ll find that these substitutes make great alternatives for confectioners sugar. With them, you can achieve great flexibility in recipes and find more fun ways to enhance your dishes every time.