a la Minute blog





Sugar, the common name for sucrose plays a vital role in so many foods and beverages that are a part of our daily lives. Sugar can be produced from either beets or sugar cane plants grown on farms.

There are two different types of sugar: naturally occurring, and added sugars. Naturally occurring sugars are found in foods such as fruits and milk; while added sugars include any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods and beverages.

cotton candy


a.k.a. Sucrose

Granulated sugar is what we know as “regular” sugar. This is the table sugar that we all grew up with! Usually derived from sugarcane or beets, this sugar has undergone a refining process leaving us with white sugar crystals. Aside from providing sweetness, granulated sugar also helps keep items soft and moist when baking. It can also deepen the color and flavor when added to bread dough.


Take granulated sugar and mill it into a very fine powder, and the result is confectioners sugar. Powdered sugar can be found under different names like Icing Sugar or Fondant Sugar, but they are the same thing. This sugar will usually have a small amount of starch to prevent clumping making it ideal for sifting over cakes and other treats.

icing sugar

Icing Sugar – Extra fine powdered sugar – contains small percentage of starch for anti caking

Used in:

  • Frosting and Icing – Sugar dissolves quickly and produces a smooth consistency making it ideal for frostings and icings.
  • Baked Goods – Make cookies, meringues, fudge and other baked goods.
  • Decor – Dust powdered sugar on cookies, cupcakes, cakes, etc.
  • Sweetener/ Substitute – Use as a sweetener in coffee and tea, and can substitute for granulated sugar.
fondant sugar

Fondant Sugar – Dry fondant sugar used in pan-coated confections. Contains small amount of invert sugar to keep icings moist and provide longer shelf life with no grittiness.

powdered sugar and decor
frosting, icing, baked goods


a.k.a. Fructose

Fruit sugar is most commonly known as fructose. This is a natural simple sugar that is found in plants like fruits and vegetables such as apples, dates, artichokes and asparagus. Fructose can also be found in honey, sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.

When comparing the level of sweetness sucrose is at the base level of 100, anything higher is sweeter, anything lower is less sweet. Fructose is the sweetest of all naturally occurring sugars, the relative sweetness of fructose is 117 when measured to sucrose.

fructose sugar

Fructose Sugar – Constituent of many fruits, berries, vegetables, honey

fructose & fruit
soft drinks & honey


Despite the name, sugar alcohols are neither an alcohol or a sugar. It is a type of low calorie sweetener derived from sugar and typically found in “sugar free” items. Sugar alcohols can be found in some fruits and vegetables, but are most often created using chemical modification. They can be found in food items like candy, gum, frosting and low or reduced calorie treats. Other uses for sugar alcohol include being used as a stabilizer and inhibiting crystallization in confections.


Isomalt Granules – Derived from beet sugar, is an alternative to regular sugar for pulling, blowing, casting, etc. Isomalt is very resistant to humidity and won’t crystalize.


Xylitol – Sugar alcohol that has the same sweetness as sucrose, its metabolism does not require insulin and it does not promote tooth decay. It is extracted from birch tree pulp. Commonly used in candies, chewing gum and natural toothpastes.


Mannitol – Can be used as a sweetener. It does not cause an increase in blood sugar, and is great for diabetic recipes.


Sorbitol Powder & Liquid – Both a naturally occurring sugar like compound found in some fruits, and a compound that is produced for use as a sweetener in diabetic foods. Sorbitol is 50% as sweet as sugar, inhibits crystallization and stabilizes moisture.


Maltitol – A corn derived sugar alcohol that is 90% as sweet as sugar. Used in many sugar free, low calorie and diabetic products. Will not brown or caramelize like sucrose.

sugar creations
confections & candy


Chemically speaking, a simple sugar is a compound that has one or two sugar molecules or saccharides. Complex carbs have three or more. Simple sugar occurs naturally in foods like milk and fruit and are added to processed food to enhance the texture and shelf life.


Glucose Powder – Sugar derived from starch (corn, wheat, potato, tapioca, or rice) and sold in powder or syrup form. Used to increase sugar content, stabilize ice cream/sorbet, make syrup and jam, and increase shelf life of baked goods. Dextrose equivalent DE:42.

fructose sugar

Fructose Powder – Made up of many fruits, berries, vegetables and honey. The sweetest of all naturally occurring sugars. The relative sweetness of fructose is 117 when compared to sucrose at 100.


Dextrose Powder – Also known as grape sugar, a naturally occurring form of glucose. Dextrose inhibits crystallization in ice creams and sorbets. Also provides flexibility to rolled fondant. 70% as sweet as sugar and very hygroscopic.

invert sugar

Invert Sugar – Used to prevent sugar crystallization. Imparts a smooth texture in ganache and ice creams, as well as prolongs shelf life. Also known as Trimoline.

invertase maxinvert

Invertase Maxinvert – Invertase is an enzyme that is commonly used to make liquid centers and invert sugar in candy making. It is usually derived from yeast and is sold either as a clear liquid or as a powder that can be dissolved in water.

When added to sucrose (table sugar), invertase breaks down the sugar into a mixture of glucose and fructose, commonly called “invert sugar” or “inverted sugar syrup”. Invert sugar is frequently used in commercial baking and candy recipes because it keeps baked goods moist for longer periods of time.

When invertase is added to sugar candy recipes, like fondant candy fillings, it gradually liquefies the fondant. This is one way of producing the liquid center in candies like cherry cordials. The reaction takes a few days to occur, so you should plan on a waiting period when making liquid centers with invertase. The exact amount of invertase needed depends on many factors, including the strength and preparation of the invertase, the temperature of the environment, and the recipe itself. As a very general rule, you should add between 1/4 tsp – 1 tsp of invertase per pound of fondant.

ice cream & confections


Simply put, Pearl Sugar is compressed sugar crystals that form larger pieces. Pearl sugar will not dissolve into baked goods. It is commonly used in baking, sprinkled over sweet buns, danishes, waffles, etc. Adding these pearls on top of baked items gives a crunchy element to the final product.

pearl sugar

Pearl Sugar – Large, white crystals for baking and decorating. Certified Kosher and Pareve.

pearl sugar & baked goods
chouquette & belgian waffles


Crystal and Sanding Sugar are larger versions of regular sucrose. They are resistant to heat and can add extra texture and crunch to cookies and other baked goods. Sanding and Crystal Sugars are mainly used for decoration and adding a sweet finish to a treat or beverage.

sanding sugar

Sanding Sugar – A finer grain than crystal sugar used for decoration.

The main difference between the two is the grain size. Sanding Sugar will be finer than Crystal Sugar, however, both can be used for the same applications.

These sugars are available in plain crystal color, or in a variety of colors with added glimmer for a sparkling finish.

crystal sugar

Crystal Sugar – A course grain sugar used for decoration.

sanding & crystal sugar
sanding & crystal sugar