A last-minute 2-ingredient DIY host gift (or party trick for your own New Year's celebration) -- either way, you'll start 2015 making an impression. You can use any sugar -- this recipe calls for superfine, which you can make yourself by blasting it for few pulses in your food processor. But you can also use fancier sugars if that's more your style. Later in the year, you can pull the same trick out again and again. Make honey sugar cubes to set out at a fancy tea, or grind lavender (or chamomile or orange peel) with sugar, then add water. Mix in cinnamon or maple or bourbon for a brunch with big pots of coffee. Make vanilla or almond cubes with the kids for hot cocoas. Cut them in triangles or diamonds or Xs or Ys to reveal that the baby is a boy or girl, or buy elaborate candy molds to make them shaped like flowers or hearts or dinosaurs. Pack them in a mason jar or mug or pour-over situation for more cohesive gifting. Adapted from Reclaiming Provincial and Wikihow —Genius Recipes
about a pint jar's worth of sugar cubes for many champagne cocktails
superfine sugar (see note above)
(1/2 fluid ounce) Angostura bitters
Champagne or sparkling wine for serving
Lemon twists for serving (optional)
In This Recipe
Combine sugar and bitters in a bowl and stir until liquid is evenly distributed. Use your fingers to pinch the mixture if needed, to make the mixture uniformly pink.
If using molds, press the mixture into molds, packing it down as much as possible. Microwave at 50% power for 20 to 30 seconds. Alternatively, you can let the molds sit out overnight to dry and harden. Once set, pop the cubes out of the mold.
If not using molds, heat the oven to 250° F and line an oven-safe baking pan with parchment paper. (The cubes pictured were made in a standard 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.)
Pour the sugar onto the parchment paper. Pack the sugar into the base of the pan very tightly with a spatula, meat pounder, or another tool that is stiff and flat. The height should be similar to a commercial sugar cube, around 1.27cm/1/2 inch.
Using a thin knife, score the sugar into a grid of cubes of the size you want, slicing all the way through the layer of sugar. Put the pan in the oven to dry for 1 hour.
Remove the pan of sugar from the oven and let the sugar cubes cool for at least 10 minutes.
Break up the cubes. Pull the sugar cubes out of the pan and break them apart with your hands or something smooth and sturdy like a table knife or bench scraper. If cut properly, they will break fairly easy.
Store the sugar cubes in an airtight container. To serve, put a sugar cube in a coupe glass or Champagne flute and pour Champagne or sparkling wine over. Garnish with a lemon twist if you like.
Genius recipes surprise us and make us rethink cooking tropes. They're handed down by luminaries of the food world and become their legacy. They get us talking and change the way we cook. And, once we've folded them into our repertoires, they make us feel pretty genius too. Watch for new Genius Recipes every Wednesday morning on our blog, dug up by Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore.