It’s the sort of thing that has happened to all of us. In this particular case, Danielle and I were hosting a dinner party for about 16 people. I cooked the main meal and a good friend of ours was kind enough to bring some of her delicious desserts; real banana pudding and chocolate pie, in this case. All she asked of me, since she was going to be late in arriving to the party, was that I make some whipped cream for the chocolate pie. “No trouble,” I thought, “my stand mixer will make short work of that.” And with that, the whipped cream became an afterthought.
Dinner went well and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. It then occurred to me that the next phase of the evening required the whipped cream that I had promised. So, I retreated to the kitchen and began assembling ingredients: heavy cream, vanilla extract, and confectioners’ sugar… confectioner’s sugar! “Where is the confectioner’s sugar,” I thought as I frantically rummaged through the pantry shelves. Then I remembered, when I used it last, I had finished it. We officially had no confectioners’ sugar. What was I to do?
Regular granulated sugar was far too granular and would never dissolve in the cream. If only I had a way to mill it. Then I had a crazy thought as I turned to set my eyes on one of my favorite kitchen tools: the VitaMix.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the VitaMix is a blender on steroids. It has a 2.2 horsepower motor (yes, you read that right) and can turn peanuts into peanut butter, grains into flour, or frozen fruit into sorbet (not to mention innumerable other blending tasks – remember Dan Akroyd’s Bass-O-Matic skit from SNL?). I’m sure, in a pinch, it could function as an outboard motor for your small boat. It is not a kitchen essential, but it is rightfully lust-worthy.
What did I have to lose? If it didn’t work I would still be in the same position in which I had started, but I was starting to be fairly confident that it would. So, feeling crazy-like-a-fox, I dumped a cup or so of granulated sugar into my VitaMix and turned it on. I turned it most of the way up and watched as, through the white-out conditions, I could begin to see the texture of the sugar changing. It was working! Sure enough, when I turned it off and stuck a spoon in to test it, it had achieved a texture that was a dead-ringer for confectioner’s sugar. The party, or at least the whipped cream, was saved!
Now, for those of you who are very familiar with confectioner’s sugar, you may already realize the potential drawbacks of DIY confectioner’s sugar. It doesn’t have a terribly long shelf life, not because it goes bad, but because the commercial version contains anti-caking agents (often corn starch) to keep it from becoming a brick in storage (particularly in humid climates like here in Georgia). For this reason, I wouldn’t recommend making this in bulk and attempting to store it for very long, especially in the summer. However, because of its lack of an anti-caking agent, this version of powdered sugar can be used to sweeten beverages and other cold liquids.
Spending hundreds of dollars on a high end blender is not necessary to create your own powdered sugar. I feel confident that a conventional blender or even a blade-style coffee grinder could give you sufficiently powdery results. Give it a try and let us know how it goes. I don’t know about you, but I will never be buying confectioner’s sugar again!
Let’s get started:
Start with any store bought granulated sugar and end up with your own, home-milled confectioner’s sugar!
Add sugar to blender and secure the lid.
Blend until the desire texture is reached. DO NOT open the lid when the blender is on or you could create quite the white mess for yourself. If your blender does not readily create a vortex (spiral mixing action), use the pulse function to achieve an even blending.
Remove the lid and let the sugar dust settle.
Take a peek and test the texture. Blend more if necessary.
Give the sided of the container a few smacks to un-cake the sugar from the sides.
Before and after.
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Add sugar to high-powered blender and blend to desired texture.
- * If your blender does not readily create a vortex (spiral mixing action), use the pulse function to achieve an even blending.
Don’t you just love when you try something it actually works! Winner! Do you have a VitaMix? Have you had an cool light bulb moments that make you glad you purchased it?