If you’re a regular at Heartwood Provisions, you might remember smoked sugar from our s’mores back in the day. There, Chef Varin Keokitvon used smoked sugar in the near taffy-like marshmallow puff. Today, Chef Varin is more likely to use his homemade smoked sugar for baking or for pastry presentations.
DIY: How to Smoke Sugar
To make smoked sugar, simply take any type of sugar, spread a layer on a sheet pan, and put the sheet pan into the smoker. Any sort of smoker will do: an electric smoker, a propane-fueled smoker or, for the adventurous, even a cardboard box. Let the sugar hang out for at least 30 minutes or as long as an hour to build consistent, smoky flavor.
How to Build a Smoker out of a Cardboard Box
With the holidays around the corner, what better use for all those leftover boxes than a homemade smoker?
Once you’ve rescued that holiday shipping box from recycling, burn a pan of wood chips and let them smolder. Once the fire is out and the chips are down to a smolder, place the pan on something fireproof—think an old sheet pan, for example. Then, put the sugar lined sheet pan on top of, or alongside, the pan of chips and invert the cardboard box over both items. Leave the sugar and smoldering chips inside the cardboard box for at least 30 minutes, as long as one hour, or whatever it takes to give your sugar just the perfect smoky character.
How to Use Smoked Sugar
Chef Varin says smoked sugar can replace sugar in any dish—to rim a cocktail glass, for a riff on the traditional sugar cookie, or perhaps even in a meringue. The only place he wouldn’t use sugar? For caramel, and not only because Chef Varin already has a primer on smoking caramel. He also argues that using smoked sugar in caramel—especially a hard caramel—could get a bit funky.