Also known as icing sugar or confectioner's sugar, powdered sugar is superfine sugar, that has been ground really fine, for baking and dessert purposes. Its delicate, soft, supple texture enables it to mix well into a delicious, smooth frosting. Powdered sugar is generally derived from granulated sugar, made from sugar beets or sugar cane. Granulated sugar is ground and crushed into a fine powder, and to keep it from clumping, an additional ingredient, cornstarch is added to it. This superfine sugar dissolves instantly and is perfect for making glazes, frostings and even for dusting over desserts and fruit bowls. It doesn't give the grainy texture that regular powdered sugar gives.
For industrial food production, powdered sugar is used where a quick dissolving sugar is required and for domestic purposes, it is used to prepare icing or frosting and other cake decorations. It is often dusted over baked goods, to add light sweetness and elusive decoration. This sugar is usually available in different degrees of fineness, XXX, XXXX, and 10X being the most common; more the Xs, finer the grains. Since powdered sugar dissolves instantly, it is commonly used in recipes that don't require much of cooking such as icings, sauces, and candies. Let us have a look at some substitutes that can be used in place of powdered sugar.
Powdered Sugar or Confectioner's Sugar Substitutes
You may be looking out for powdered sugar substitute for the following reasons:
- You are out of powdered sugar, and don't know what to do for your recipe!
- You are avoiding powdered sugar, due to health reasons!
Before you get your hopes high, let me tell you, home-ground confectioner's sugar can never be as fine as store-bought sugar. This is because the blender will never grind powdered sugar as fine as commercially available confectioner's sugar. Nevertheless, if you really need a substitute, let's have a look at how to make powdered sugar from granulated sugar.
In a coffee grinder or blender, add one cup granulated sugar and one tsp. cornstarch, and grind at high speed. Stop after a few seconds, and using a spatula or spoon, keep stirring the powdered sugar, so that grinding takes place uniformly. Never grind granulated sugar in a food processor, because it won't grind the sugar fine enough. Cornstarch used while powdering granulated sugar, is only added to prevent clumping. If you are using the powdered sugar immediately, you can skip the cornstarch and simply grind granulated sugar to a fine powder.
This sugar substitute is great for making frosting and sweetening desserts. Since it does not get degraded by heat, it can be easily used for cooking and baking. It even measures like powdered sugar, so you don't have to worry about the calculations. 1 cup of powdered sugar is equal to one cup of Swerve sweetener. It's natural, with no artificial ingredients or preservatives. Moreover, since it does not raise the blood glycemic index and has zero calories, but tastes like sugar, it's a great powdered sugar substitute for diabetics. It even has the ability to caramelize!
Another confectioner's sugar substitute is Splenda, which can also be used to prepare desserts, that call for powdered sugar. Put one cup of granular Splenda in a blender, along with 2 cups of dry milk powder and 2 cups of cornstarch. Blend till a fine powder is obtained. One cup of this powdered mixture can be used to replace one cup of confectioner's sugar in a recipe.
The dry milk powder and cornstarch are added to give bulk, however, they increase the overall sugar content entering the body. So if you want a sugar-free substitute in the true sense, try grinding granular splenda with some cornstarch, however, don't forget to use lesser than what the recipe calls for, because Splenda is sweeter.
You can also powder Sucanat or Rapadura, and use it as a powdered sugar substitute, however, the powder won't be white in color, and the brown color will affect the color of your icing, etc. So depending on your priorities, choose your substitute!