In the Middle East, sugar cubes are commonly served with hot tea or Chai. Assyrians call these sugar cubes "Shachar D'Shlama." When translated, this means "sugar of peace." To me, the name refers to gathering with family and friends, enjoying a cup of tea in good health and peace.
Assyrian families are commonly known for their hospitality. Drop by unannounced and you will most likely find a tea simmering on top of a tea kettle in the kitchen.
Guests are always welcomed with a "steechan it chai" or a "cup of tea" and a slice or orange cake. Mom's house was no exception. As far back as I remember, mom made her own "Assyrian sugar cubes" that we call "Shachar D'Shlama."
When guests arrived, it was just expected that they would have one or more cups of tea. The tea was served with these cubes, along with plain sugar, and evaporated milk.
When having a larger gathering, you can bet the samovar would make an appearance! Mom and her friends would plop a cube in their mouth, as they sipped their tea, and enjoyed their visit.
A typical gathering at our house in Chicago, with Aunt Alice, sitting, and mom standing behind her. My sisters, niece, and cousins are also present. Notice the sugar, along with the Assyrian sugar cubes (covered container) on the table.
🧐Why This Recipe Works
This Assyrian sugar cubes recipe is pretty straightforward. You really don't need any obscure ingredients or tools. However, a candy thermometer, a pie tin, and some sugar nippers are a great start!
The first two items can be purchased anywhere, but where do you find sugar nippers? Well, if you rummage through any Assyrian Grandmother's kitchen, you're sure to find a pair in one of her kitchen drawers.
The one that I have belonged to my mother, and it most likely belonged to her mother before her. However, if you don't have an Assyrian Grandma, no problem. You can easily break the sugar with your bare hands.
While doing some research, I was able to find sugar nippers identical to the one I have on Etsy. They were described as "1930s Soviet Era Sugar Nippers."
My Maternal Grandmother was from Russia, so perhaps she brought the one that I have with her from Russia?
🔖Recipe Ingredients & Substitutions
- Sugar: Granulated sugar
- Water: Tap water
- Optional: Vanilla extract & food coloring
🫖How to Make Sugar Cubes
Step 1: Stir sugar, water, vanilla, and food coloring, if using, in a small pot. Bring to a boil, over low to medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer inside of the pot.
Step 2: Continue to boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches "hard-crack" stage (305 F/ 155 C). This should take approximately 10 minutes, depending on your flame or temperature setting.
Step 3: Pour in a pie tin and cool completely. Upon hardening, the sugar mold will easily snap out of the pan. Use sugar nippers to cut into cubes, or break off chunks by hand.
Step 4: Serve with tea and allow them to melt in your mouth as you sip your tea.
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Assyrian Sugar Cubes (Shachar D'Shlama)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
- 2 drops vanilla
- 2 drops food coloring (optional)
- Stir sugar, water, vanilla, and food coloring, if using, in a small pot. Bring to a boil, over low to medium heat. Attach a candy thermometer inside of the pot.
- Continue to boil, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches "hard-crack" stage (305 F/ 155 C). This should take approximately 10 minutes, depending on your flame or temperature setting.
- Pour in a pie tin and cool completely. Upon hardening, the sugar mold will easily snap out of the pan. Use sugar nippers to cut into cubes, or break off chunks by hand.
- Serve with tea and allow them to melt in your mouth as you sip your tea.
- If you like your sugar cubes thicker, just double the recipe!
- The vanilla and food coloring are totally optional.