You can buy Christmas sugar cubes decorated with tiny candy canes, gingerbread men, reindeer and snowmen.
Or, you can serve something more subtle in appearance and sophisticated in flavor: a bowl of spiced vanilla sugar. You can make it or buy it.
To buy it, head over to Silk Road Spices, where handmade vanilla sugar* is blended with allspice, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mace and nutmeg.
In addition to sweetening drinks, you can sprinkle it on cereal, plain yogurt or toast. Try it in whipped cream, too.
For $7.99, give jars as stocking stuffers.
To make your own, try the recipe below. It takes only five minutes to blend the ingredients, but you’ll need to wait 48 hours for drying.
The sugar will keep for several weeks in an airtight container. Since the recipe makes four cups, you can share it with friends.
Spice up your sugar for the holidays. Photo courtesy Silk Road Spices.
RECIPE: SPICED VANILLA SUGAR
Ingredients For 4 Cups
1 teaspoon allspice
20 whole cardamom pod
1/2 teaspoon mace
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon whole cloves
2 whole cinnamon sticks
4 cups fine granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. COMBINE all of the spices in a cast iron pan. Turn the heat to medium and stir until the aroma fills the air. Remove spices from pan just as they start to crackle. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind the spices roughly.
2. PLACE the sugar in a large bowl and sprinkle the vanilla over it. Stir thoroughly; the sugar will turn a light brown color.
3. MIX the spices with the vanilla sugar. Leave the bowl uncovered overnight to dry. The next day, break it up until it returns to granulated form (you can pulse it in a food processor or spice grinder).
4. COVER the sugar bowl and let it rest overnight. The following day, sieve through a mesh strainer. Store in an airtight container.
*You can make regular vanilla sugar by placing a vanilla bean in an airtight container of sugar. Try a turbinado sugar like Sugar In The Raw for a more aesthetic effect. Or, purchase it from premium sugar companies like Nielsen-Massey.