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June 8, 2011

Oh My Stars

I have just returned from my six-week post-nuptial checkup, where the good doc gave me the green light to start posting incessantly about the wedding again. Aren't you just so excited? I never got around to showing you The Other Dress, for one, and I also want to make sure I properly thank all the individuals and businesses who helped us pull off the party, and let me tell you, thanking them online is no small move considering we still haven't even ordered thank you cards. *hangs head in shame*

But for now: No shame! Wedding posts! Lots of them! I'll be gentle, but be ye warned: these next few entries are leading up to something bigger, so stay tuned and hold onto your hats/outrageous fascinators.

For starters, below is a cheap and easy crafty/cooky DIY project you can adapt to almost any occasion, and over here on my review blog is a non-rhyming, non-metered photographic love poem to Monogamy wines, which are obviously the best thing to have at your wedding because, hello, if you don't have Monogamy on your wedding day, you have nothing. Click over and see how Simon served one to a guest.

Okay, now here's the project:

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Sugar stars! They're stars made out of sugar! How'd she do it? Easy.

A few months ago, while drafting posts for Nice Things Now, I went searching for some hang-on-the-lip-of-a-mug sugar cubes, which were formerly available at Sur La Table but now are nowhere to be found. What I did find, however, were a whole bunch of other cute sugar cubes, as well as a tutorial for making your own--a tutorial that has apparently joined the Sur La Table notched sugar cubes in the far-off Land of 404. (This is a close enough version if you don't trust my instructions.) But fear not! Luckily for everyone, I took a million photos documenting the process, so now you can make some too. Here's how:

Materials

--superfine sugar (aka finer than granulated sugar but coarser than powdered/confectioner's sugar, aka "casting," "caster," or "castor" sugar abroad)
--water
--waxed paper or parchment paper
--small cookie cutter or bento shape
--toothpick
--food coloring (optional)

Measure 1/4 c. superfine sugar into a bowl. Add single tablespoons of water to the sugar and stir with a spoon between each addition until the texture of the mixture resembles damp sand. Increase the water or sugar proportions until you get it right. When you've reached the correct consistency, pressing the sand with the back of the spoon will form a flat surface with no cracks.

(If you want to add food coloring, now's the time.)

Scoop about a half or a third of the mixture onto the waxed paper or parchment and then press it out in a single, solid layer about 1/4 inch thick. (Thinner than that and the shapes will fall apart. Thicker than that and they'll look like sloppy blobs. Do some experimenting, though, and figure out what works best for your mixture and your sugar shape. They don't have to be uniformly perfect; that's the beauty of handmade!)

In a bowl of water, wet your cookie cutter or bento shape (star, heart, flower, whatever) and then press it into the layer of sugar. It should cut away cleanly. You'll only have to wet the cutter after every two or three cuts; the water just keeps the sugar from sticking.

Use a toothpick to gently push the sugar shape out of the cutter and onto a second sheet of parchment for drying. Keep stamping out shapes and setting them out to dry, all the while maintaining your cool even though a lot of what you make will look terrible. Sometimes you'll have too much water on your cutter and the shape will melt away. Sometimes the layer of sugar will be too dry and your shapes will crack. Sometimes the shape will break apart while you're coaxing it out with the toothpick. Don't freak out. You can make more. It's not too hard and actually kind of fun, right?

When you've punched out as many shapes as you can from one layer of sugar (or if it's already dry and cracking), bring together the opposite sides of the parchment and then slide the sugar mixture back into the bowl, funnel-style. Stir the mixture around and adjust the sugar/water ratio as necessary to get back to the right consistency. Start over with a new layer of sugar and make some more stars/hearts/flowers/whatevers!

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Although the finished sugar cubes-that-aren't-actually-cubes dry up pretty quickly, I let my stars sit overnight just to be safe. (Instead of parchment, I left them on a dinner plate, which meant when it came time to pick them up, I had to chip some of them off with a spatula, breaking a bunch in the process. Be smart: make extras.)

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And there you have it! Cute little custom sugar shapes for...whatever. We used them for the wedding (part two of that project coming tomorrow), but it was fun to stash the leftovers in the sugar bowl at home too. Give them as gifts, save them for guests, or use them every day. Just enjoy!

3 Comments

So stinking cute!

I wanna make fun sugar cubes right now! Those are fantastic!

Hey Jennifer, Kevin here again. Yep, I ordered the products, and you were right. I'm
losing weight! Finally! My wife is going to try them too!

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