As a food photographer, I find myself buying mint periodically, popping it into the occasional photograph for a bit of color. While I like to add a sprig to lemonade from time to time, mint rarely gets much use in my kitchen. The leaves are often left in the refrigerator until they are forgotten (a fate of which I am not proud). Though mint leaves are ubiquitous in Indian cuisine, my Midwestern roots have offered me fewer uses for them. I am pointed in the direction of mojitos and like minded drinks, but rarely elsewhere.
After filling my refrigerator with mint recently, I decided I wasn't going to allow this batch to go unused or uneaten.
After scouring the internet for dessert ideas, I came up empty handed. While peppermint complements sweets well, its minty cousin has a little less love on its side. Despite this, I challenged myself to find a way to use up the leaves. Crushing mint leaves allows the oils inside to release, creating an aromatic scent and a bright flavor. With this in mind, I grabbed a mortar and pestle, grinding the leaves together with a little granulated sugar.
Mint infused sugar seemed like a great place to begin.
Truthfully, after licking off the sugar that found its way onto the tips of my fingers, mint sugar was not only the beginning, but the end. I grabbed a few strawberries and blueberries from the kitchen, sprinkled the mint sugar on top, and called it a fruit salad. The mint sugar, while subtle, elevated the salad into something special. Later, I macerated strawberries in the sugar before spooning them over shortcakes.
The mint sugar has a range of uses, from sweetening fruits and salad dressings to adding a bright pop on the tops of sugar cookies, making it a versatile tool in the kitchen.
Mint Sugar is an infusion of mint into granulated sugar. The ratio of mint to sugar is 1:2, which means that the recipe can be made as large or as small as you choose. While the mint sugar will keep in the refrigerator for a day or two, it is best when it is freshly made. Whether you rim it around your next cocktails or sprinkle it onto your next fruit salad, mint sugar is a quick fix that can help your next dish sparkle.
1 tablespoon mint leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grind the mint and sugar together with a spice grinder or mortar and pestle until the mint infuses the sugar. If neither of these devices are available, you can crush the mint and sugar together between your fingers for 5 minutes until fragrant.