Pearl Sugar

Nib sugar (also pearl sugar and hail sugar) is a product of refined white sugar. The sugar is very coarse, hard, opaque white, and does not melt at temperatures typically used for baking. The product usually is made by crushing blocks of white sugar, then sifting to obtain fragments of a given diameter. The sugar may also be made in an extrusion process.

Pearl Sugar

Pearl Sugar

  • It is known as pärlsocker (pearl sugar) in Sweden, and as perlesukker in other Scandinavian countries. In Finland it is called raesokeri (“hailstone sugar”) or rarely helmisokeri (also pearl sugar).
  • In Scandinavia, pärlsocker is used extensively to decorate various pastries and confections, cookies, especially on top of plain Swedish bulle or Finnish pulla cakes, muffins and buns, such as kanelbullar (cinnamon buns) and chokladbollar.
  • In Germany it is known as Hagelzucker and traditionally used on Christmas cookies and cinnamon buns.
  • In Belgium, it is used in Liège waffles, while in Friesland it is used in sûkerbôle (sugar bread).
  • In France, it is mainly used on chouquettes.

For authentic tasting Liege waffles and European-style baked goods, there simply is no substitute for pearl sugar. Claims suggesting crushed sugar cubes or granulated sugar heated into clumps are interchangeable with pearl sugar are deceptive. These substitutes may look similar as they are folded into Liege waffle dough but the taste and texture of the final baked product will not resemble what a recipe promises and what pearl sugar delivers.

Belgian pearl sugar’s tempered sweetness comes from beets. The do-it-yourself variety of pearl sugar is much sweeter as it is derived from cane sugar. Cane sugar’s elevated sweetness will throw off the flavour balance of recipes that call for pearl sugar.

The proprietary method in which Belgian pearl sugar is made also gives it the pebble-y look and dense texture to withstand high cooking temperatures. Crispy caramelisation will not occur with granulated cane sugar or crush cubes, no matter how large the pieces. Without true Belgian pearl sugar, the signature pockets of crispiness in Liege waffle will be absent. True pearl sugar gives waffles, breads, and muffins a fuller body and volume and most importantly, crunch!

Not all sugars are the same. Every sugar has its purpose and use. For authentic European style baked goods, use authentic pearl sugar in your recipes to achieve the perfect taste, texture and look.

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