Turn plain sugar into fancy sugar cubes for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, or any day you want to treat yourself to a proper afternoon tea. These are perfect for champagne cocktails, too!
I’ll show you how to make sugar cubes ~ so easy and fun!
My idea of heaven is sitting down to a proper afternoon tea, and I’m lucky enough to have experienced some of the world’s best, from Claridges in London to The Ritz Paris and The Plaza in New York City. When I lived in Los Angeles we’d hit up the Langham Hotel in Pasadena to get our high tea fix. But most of the time, let’s face it, when I get the urge for a late afternoon tea break I’m doing it myself. From homemade scones and clotted cream, to easy tea cakes and sandwiches I’ve always loved teatime recipes. Today I’ll show you one of my favorite finishing touches to the perfect tea: homemade sugar cubes!
This project is super-duper easy, even your toddler can help. You can use them to fancy-up your own cup of tea, or add them to a breakfast-in-bed tray. And sugar cubes are essential for a celebratory champagne cocktail.
what you’ll need to make homemade sugar cubes
They aren’t really cubes, I guess, they’re more like little sugar bon bons!
- granulated sugar
- plain table sugar is what I used. You can use regular white granulated sugar, or ‘superfine’ sugar, which as a smaller crystal and if often used in baking when you want the sugar to dissolve quickly.
- plastic candy mold
- flexible plastic or polycarbonate candy molds work perfectly. For these ‘cubes’ I used the same mold I used for my Meyer lemon chocolates. The exact mold I used is no longer available on Amazon, but there are many others that are similar. Any plastic mold with small openings will do. Look for them at large craft stores.
how to make sugar cube variations
Plain sugar makes adorable and versatile sugar cubes that will last indefinitely, and I’m guessing most of you will be happy with plain sugar. But if you’ve got the creative urge, you can definitely embellish…
- citrus zest
- I use my easy citrus sugar to create fragrant sugar cubes that burst with citrus flavor. You can use lemon or orange peel for this. Citrus flavored sugar cubes are perfect for iced teas.
- flavor extracts
- like vanilla and almond are lovely in coffees.
- dry spices
- think warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom.
- vanilla bean
- scrape out the seeds and add to your sugar for an ultra luxe vanilla sugar cube!
- powdered fruits
- you’ll have a blast using different fruit powders to flavor and color your homemade sugar cubes. I’ll show you how to make easy raspberry sugar, and you can use the method to make lots of other types of fruit sugar. Look for freeze dried fruits and fruit powders at Trader Joes, and you can always find them online. I think raspberry sugar cubes would be perfect for a raspberry champagne cocktail!
- fresh herbs
- try mint cubes in hot or iced tea.
- edible flowers and floral waters
- One of the interesting ‘flavors’ I made was jasmine. I made it the same way I made my lemon sugar, but instead of lemon rind I processed regular sugar with a handful of fresh jasmine blossoms. This would work with honeysuckle, lilac, rose, and lavender too. The possibilities are exciting, especially in spring!
- gel paste food coloring
- imagine the rainbow you can make!
how to make sugar cubes
Once you master this simple process you can move on to more elaborate recipes.
step 1. combine sugar and water
If you’re making plain sugar cubes you can do this in a bowl with a spoon, but be sure to get all the sugar evenly moistened. It should have the consistency of damp or wet sand. I actually use my trusty Cuisinart mini food processor to blend up the sugars because it does a quick, even job. You’ll definitely need the processor if you’re doing some flavored sugars, like lemon or mint.
step 2. pack damp sugar firmly into molds
Press down firmly so the sugar gets into all the parts of the mold, especially if you’re using a decorative mold like I did. Remove any excess sugar from the surface of the mold with a bench scraper.
step 3. flip your sugar cubes out!
Flip the mold over and voila! – you’ve got perfect little sugar bon bons. There is no trick to these at all, the sugar falls right out of the molds. The only thing you have to do is make sure to mold your sugar while it is still damp. If you mess up, just scoop up the sugar and remold it!
step 4. let the sugar cubes dry
The sugar cubes will be very delicate at first, and you need to leave them alone to let them dry. They dry firm in less than an hour, and then you can set them out on a tray or in a bowl. The plain ones will keep indefinitely, but the ‘flavored’ ones will not last as long because the scent and flavors will eventually fade.
what’s the history of sugar cubes?
The first sugar cubes were made in the early 19th century, invented by Jacob Rad, a German businessman who was looking for a way to make it easier to measure and transport sugar. Rad’s sugar cubes were made by mixing sugar with a small amount of water and then pressing the mixture into small cube-shaped molds. The cubes were then dried and packaged for sale. They were made with the exact same process we’ve used today.
The invention of the sugar cube was revolutionary for the time, as it allowed for more precise measurements of sugar in recipes and made it easier to transport and store sugar. Sugar cubes became popular in Europe in the mid-19th century and were first introduced to the United States in the 1870s.
In the early days, sugar cubes were considered a luxury item and were more expensive than loose sugar.
tips and tricks for making homemade sugar cubes
- For coarse sugars like raw sugar, process it briefly to refine the crystals so they will mold easily.
- For fresh brown sugar, both golden and dark, you can mold it without adding any extra moisture; there is enough moisture already present in brown sugars.
- If you’re outside the US, our ‘regular’ or ‘granulated’ sugar is known as caster sugar or fine sugar.
- For alternative sugars look for varieties that have the same consistency as white sugar.
- If you are having trouble with your cubes falling apart as you un-mold them, try adding a smidge more moisture, and be sure to pack them down well into the molds.
- Depending on the size of your mold, each sugar cube will be the equivalent of 2 teaspoons – 1 tablespoon of loose sugar.
These homemade sugar cubes are a really straightforward, simple project, it shouldn’t cause you any trouble at all. Whether you’re treating mom, or just kicking back with friends, the only thing you have to decide is…one lump, or two?
“Oh my goodness, these are adorable, Sue. My daughter and I were at a French patisserie the other day and she asked me how sugar cubes are made. I am pinning this and getting her to make them!” ~Julia
more teatime treats
- Raspberry Scones
- Classic Cream Scones Recipe
- How to Make Clotted Cream
- Classic Victoria Sponge Cake Recipe
- Authentic Irish Apple Cake
- Darina Allen’s Irish Soda Scones
- Mary Berry’s Lemon Drizzle Cake
- Sweet Moroccan Mint Tea (Hot or Iced)
How to Make Sugar Cubes
- plastic candy or bon bon mold See buying options here.
plain sugar cubes
- 1/2 cup plain granulated table sugar
- 1/2 tsp water
lemon sugar cubes
- 1/2 cup plain granulated table sugar
- rind from 1/2 lemon, I use a serrated vegetable peeler to thinly peel the rid off, just the yellow, not the bitter white part
rose sugar cubes
- 1/2 cup plain granulated table sugar
- 1/2 tsp rosewater
- touch of gel paste food coloring, optional
- For the plain sugar cubes, put the sugar into the bowl of a small food processor and add the water. Process until the sugar is uniformly moist, this will just take about 30 seconds.
- For the lemon sugar, put the sugar into your processor. Add the lemon rind and process until the rind is completely incorporated into the sugar and it is a pale yellow. I give the small machine a little shake now and then to redistribute everything. You don’t need the water for this one because the rind adds the moisture.
- For the rose sugar cubes, process the sugar with the rose water.
- Spoon the moist sugar into plastic molds and press in firmly. Use the pads of your fingers to really make sure you’ve packed it in. The processor will have ‘fluffed up’ the sugar which is why you need to pack it down.
- To invert the mold you can either do it directly onto a flat surface like your counter top, or you can place something firm and flat over the mold, and invert the mold and the surface together,
- Gently lift the mold so you don’t disturb the delicate impressions. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes, or up to an hour. They will be firm enough to handle and even stack, carefully!
- Plain sugar cubes will last indefinitely. Flavored sugar cubes should be used asap. Check the post for further details, photos, and tips.