Soften a rock-hard box of brown sugar quickly by just putting it in the microwave for 15 second or so, then check it. If it isn't soft enough, increase by 10 second intervals. Don't overdo it or you will have syrup!
You could also use a piece of apple if you do not need it that second
Using the micro or apple are both good ideas, but what I do is put my brown sugar in a ziplock plastic bag and store in my refrigerator. It last for months and has never hardened on me, and it's nice not to have to stop and soften it before using it in a recipe.
I use the lovely air-tight "cut-glass" jar that nuts came in as a gift one holiday. It's never hard. I use it down to the last granule. So there, brown-sugar fairy!
These jars, if they are from the same place, all have matching patterns. I collected a whole set. I use them for my kitchen jars. They are lovely.
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