The Sugar Pit, or, Cooking in the UK with US Recipes

15 Apr

Recently I got this desire to cook. But since I’m cheap and don’t want a bunch of half-used bags and bottles of ingredients lying around, I decided to make two types of candy that require little ingredients. Both recipes start with a healthy fruit or vegetable, to which you add a metric crapload of sugar until no traces of nutrients are left. Sounds like my kind of treat.

I learned an important lesson during these projects — not about cavities or healthy eating, but about the dangers of following US recipes while in the UK. I didn’t think it would be a big deal. I have all my US measuring cups and spoons with me. But it wasn’t that easy. My first recipe, candied citrus peels, required 4 cups of sugar. So I went to Sainsbury’s and bought their largest container of sugar, which looked to be about 4 cups. When I measured it out it was 3 1/2 cups. Bollocks. But I just reduced the amount of water I added to 3 1/2 cups and the peels turned out fine.

My second recipe was a little more vague. While surfing the Internet I found a simple recipe for potato candy. You mash up a potato, add some vanilla extract and icing sugar (powdered or confectioners’ sugar, to you Yanks), spread on peanut butter, roll it up like a jelly roll and slice it, and it’s supposed to be delicious (according to the people reviewing the recipe online). I’m not a huge fan of peanut butter and didn’t feel like buying it, so I planned to substitute blue frosting, because I’m a sucker for unnaturally colored foods.

I ran into trouble when it came to the sugar. The recipe called for “a box of powdered sugar.” No measurement in cups, just “a box.” It’s been awhile since I’ve bought powdered sugar in the states, so I have no idea how large a box is. So I went to Sainsbury’s and bought a box of icing sugar. I added it to my mushed potato and it was supposed to magically turn into dough that I could roll. It didn’t. It turned into soup that I could suck through a straw. Crap. Today was supposed to be my cook and don’t leave the flat day, but instead I was power-walking to Tesco Express to buy more icing sugar. I bought another box and added it slowly to my bowl. Surely it wouldn’t require two whole 500 g boxes. The mixture thickened slightly, but was still nowhere near dough consistency. I finally said “screw it” and dumped the whole box in. My arm hurt from stirring and I was getting hopeful I might have some candy soon. I dropped a dollop of the mixture on waxed paper and attempted to roll it. It was not happening. It was sticky and slippery and nowhere near rollable consistency. There was absolutely no liquid in the recipe besides a teaspoon of vanilla, why was it so runny?

When you throw money at an entity or venture to no avail, it’s a money pit. What I had was a sugar pit. Fed up, I covered the mixture and put it in the fridge.

Now I have a decision to make. Do I run to Tesco tomorrow and buy another box (or two?!) of sugar for my sugar pit? Or do I call it a loss and toss it? The whole reason I decided to make it was so I could bring this “delicious candy” to a friend’s get-together tomorrow night and have everyone say, “This is made out of potato? No way! It’s so delicious! And blue!” But instead, I’ve got sticky icing sugar potato soup. It basically tastes like powdered sugar because that’s almost all it is. I’m afraid if I add another box of sugar, everyone’s teeth will decay on contact when they take a bite of it. But I also never fully absorbed the concept of “sunk cost” in econ class, so I hate that I already spent time and money on making this stupid candy and want something to show for it.

This, friends, is why I don’t cook.

(Addendum: I just looked it up and a box of powdered sugar is 2 lb, which is equal to 907 g. I added two 500 g boxes. Why do I not have dough?!)

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2 Responses to “The Sugar Pit, or, Cooking in the UK with US Recipes”

  1. S November 16, 2012 at 10:19 pm #

    It takes 1 cup of mashed potatos and 2 lbs powder sugar. Then roll it out on powder sugar like you would flour. Spread peanut butter on top, then roll it into a log and slice.

  2. Tina Cox June 18, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    Mine is the same way . do I need to add more sugar. I made my with an family recipe. It called for 3 med potatoes n 2lb of sugar but I ran out of sugar should I just throw it away its like soup?

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