4 way to soften brown sugar
Nothing can wipe the fun out of a day of baking faster than finding fossilized brown sugar in your kitchen cabinet when you're ready to whip of a big batch of chocolate chip cookies. It's a culinary marvel that tiny little crystals can even get that hard! Short of getting a hammer and hacking away at your brown sugar brick, there are a few ways you can soften your sugar — and help it stay that way.
An air-tight container with a tight-fitting lid can keep brown sugar from losing the moisture that ultimately turns it into a rock. You want to limit the amount of air exposure, so pack the sugar into the smallest container it will fit into — not allowing much room at all between the sugar and the lid.
Terra Cotta Disks
These tiny terra cotta disks are called sugar savers, and they're designed to help keep moisture present in your brown sugar container. They are small, round disks made of clay and relatively inexpensive (about $3). Soak your sugar saver in water for 15 minutes then dry it off. Store it in the bag with your brown sugar. Ideally, you'll combine this method with the air-tight storage container. If you add a sugar saver to sugar that's already hard, it could take up to 8 hours to soften.
Marshmallows, apples, or bread
If you don't have a terra cotta sugar saver on hand, you can through in a few marshmallows and see if it helps soften your brown sugar. This works fairly similarly to the more commonly know way of storing brown sugar with a few apples slices or piece of bread. The idea is that all three have moisture that the sugar can draw out. Add your ingredient of choice at let sit overnight.
But I need it right now!
Of course, none of these methods will get you back to baking if you need your brown sugar now. The fastest way to revive rock hard brown sugar is to put a moist paper towel in the plastic bag along with your sugar and microwave for 20 seconds. If microwaving plastic worries you, put the brown sugar in a glass bowl with a moist paper towel and cover with a lid or plate. You may need to break up big chunks and repeat, microwaving in 20 second bursts until your sugar is pliable. You'll be back to whipping up those chocolate chip cookies in no time.