While your grocery store’s baking aisle may offer a wide variety of flavoring extracts that allow you to add a few drops and bring flavor to your cupcakes, they are not your only option. With just a few extra minutes while you're baking or a little planning, you can infuse a variety of flavors into your cupcakes that may not come in those easy-to-use extracts. A little infusion can turn those basic cupcakes into a flavorful masterpiece in no time.
Measure out the liquid -- typically milk, cream or water -- your cupcake calls for and place it into a saucepan. Add an addition 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid to allow for evaporation.
Add your flavoring ingredient to the liquid in the saucepan. This can be cinnamon sticks, coffee beans, tea leaves, lemon or orange zest or any other flavoring you choose. Turn the stove on and bring the liquid to a simmer. Once tiny bubbles begin to form, turn off the heat and allow the liquid to cool to room temperature.
Strain out any solids from the flavoring by pouring your liquid through a strainer into a bowl. Measure out the amount of liquid in your recipe and add as instructed.
Fill a glass jar with an airtight lid with a small amount of sugar.
Add your desired flavoring agent on top of the sugar. For infused sugar, things like mint leaves, lemon or orange zest, lavender buds or vanilla beans work well. Cover the flavoring agent with more sugar, place the lid on the jar and shake to mix. For items like mint leaves, you may choose to place some leaves and sugar into a food processor and blend before adding to the rest of the sugar. This helps intensify the flavor.
Store the sugar in the airtight container for at least 24 hours before using for the flavors to infuse the sugar. When baking your cupcakes, pour the sugar through a strainer to remove any of the large, solid pieces of flavor agents. Measure the amount of sugar your recipe calls for and add to your recipe as directed.
- Experiment with flavor infusion to determine just how much flavoring agent you need to reach the desired flavor intensity. Subtle flavoring requires only a small amount, while bolder flavoring may benefit from both flavor infused sugar and liquid.
- Try adding infused sugars or liquids to things such as coffee, tea and hot cocoa as well as other baked goods, such as cookies. Lemon or orange zest sugar adds a flavor change to your basic sugar cookie recipe.
- When making infused sugar jars, label the jars with the type of sugar and the date you prepared it.
- When making sugar with dry ingredients, such as coffee beans, lavender or vanilla beans, the shelf life is a few months. With mint and zest sugars, in which moisture enters from the flavoring agent, the shelf life is just one to two weeks. For this type of infused sugar, do not make more than you intend to use in that time.
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