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Powdered Sugar, also called confectioners’ sugar, 10X sugar or icing sugar, is a finely ground sugar produced by milling granulated sugar into a powdered state. It usually contains between 2% and 5% of an anti-caking agent – such as corn starch, potato starch or tricalcium phosphate to absorb moisture, prevent clumping, and improve flow. Although most often produced in a factory, a proxy for powdered sugar can be made by processing ordinary granulated sugar in a coffee grinder, or by crushing it by hand in a mortar and pestle.
Powdered sugar is used in industrial food production when a quick-dissolving sugar is required. Home cooks use it principally to make icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often dusted onto baked goods to add a subtle sweetness and delicate decoration.
Powdered sugar is available in varying degrees of fineness, most commonly XXX, XXXX, and 10X: the greater the number of Xs, the finer the particles. Finer particles absorb more moisture, which results in caking. Because of anticaking agents, it cannot always be used as a substitute for granulated sugar. Canadian regulations limit powdered sugar to 5% starch or an anticaking agent.
Confectioners’ Sugar vs. Baker’s Sugar:
Confectioners’ sugar is not the same as baker’s sugar, which is also called superfine sugar or caster sugar. Both are ground versions of granulated sugar (either cane or beet sugar). While finer than granulated sugar, baker’s sugar is not powdery like confectioners’ sugar.
What Does It Taste Like?
Confectioners’ sugar tastes just as sweet as granulated sugar. Its fine texture gives it a smoother mouthfeel that’s like eating a powder.
Moisture will cause any sugar to harden and confectioners’ sugar is no exception, though it generally gets lumpy due to the cornstarch. Store it in an airtight container. Either place the open package in a plastic zipper bag or transfer the sugar to a canister or container with a really good seal. Keep the container in a cool, dry location, such as a cupboard away from heat or in the pantry. Unopened packages of powdered sugar can be stored indefinitely, but it is best to use it (opened or not) within two years.
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