It’s 10PM, and I want to make cookies or something else divine. I was smart enough to take the butter out earlier, so it’s room temperature. I start gathering of the ingredients ("mise en place") on the counter and realize that I can’t find the brown sugar. I have a small pantry, so there aren’t many places it can be, but I do know that I have it; just need to locate it on the baking shelf.
My hand reaches into a crevice and I grab something that is hard as a rock. What could this be, on the baking shelf? It’s not can shaped. Oh no! Could this be my brown sugar? Please no, please no, please no!
Yes. It’s my brown sugar. I usually place the brown sugar package into a Ziploc bag before storing, but somehow I didn’t do this the last time I bought brown sugar. I set the sugar aside and am about to go Google "how to soften sugar in 5 seconds or less when I’m craving baked chocolate goodies" when I decide to sneak a gander at the bag. I mean, if I were designing the bag for Whole Foods and thought there was even the possibility that it wouldn’t seal properly, I’d make sure to have the antidote on the bag itself. (I love how I need an antidote, like it’s snake venom!)
On the back of the bag, under ingredients and Whole Foods Headquarters contact information is a little blurb that says "To soften brown sugar that has hardened, place in a bowl with a wet dishcloth covering it. Leave overnight."
I was so happy that this was on the bag that I almost didn’t care that I was going to have to wait a whole twelve hours in order to get my baked goods craving quenched. I dump the sugar into a small bowl, soak a kitchen cloth with cold water, wring it out, and place it atop the bowl. And stare at it. Is it soft yet? What about now? Now?
I came back an hour later. it was measurably softer. About 90 minutes after that it was perfect for baking. I was so excited. Of course, I decided to try a new recipe. Didn’t love it. But that’s okay, because for me, it’s mostly the process of baking/cooking that I enjoy. That always seems to be better than the eating part.
Here’s to forward-thinking food packaging designers. I will raise a cookie to you the next time I follow my gut instinct and make my no-fail peanut-butter chocolate chip cookie recipe.
p.s. I remember hearing that you could put a slice of apple, or a slice of white bread, into a bag with the hardened brown sugar to soften it; I had neither.