Saturday, February 8, 2014

Spun Sugar - a halo for decorations

This spun sugar decoration has an other-wordly feel to it. Once mastered it can be a quick yet effective way to add that wow factor to your desserts. Reprinted with permission from our friends at Chelsea. Why not surprise your Valentine next week by placing a spun halo on their dessert.
250g Chelsea white sugar
225g water


2 x wooden spoons

2 forks or a large whisk with the ends snipped off to create tines

Preparation: Before you start suspend 2 wooden spoons from your workbench by weighing down at one end. We used sugar bags. Make sure you have plenty of paper laid down on the floor to catch toffee drips.

Making toffee: Bring the sugar and water to a simmer in a copper or heavy based saucepan. You can add food colouring to the syrup before cooking for a vibrant and kitsch finish. 

Use a pure bristle pastry brush dipped in cold water to brush the inner sides of the pan to prevent sugar crystals forming while simmering. Do not stir the sugar as this will cause the syrup to crystallise and become hard. 

It will take longer to get to temperature than if you just melt the sugar without water as you must evaporate off the water. Using a sugar/candy thermometer, cook the syrup until it reaches 155°C (this is known as the hard crack stage). Immediately remove from the heat and plunge the pan into cold water to halt the cooking. 

To spin the sugar take a whisk with the bottom snipped off with pliers, so that you have a whisk that is simply a handle with spikes. Alternatively you can take two forks placed back to back and hold tightly. Dip the whisk into the syrup and flick the whisk back and forth over a broom handle or rolling pin to create long hair like strands. 

Next gather up the strands of spun sugar and create your shape by simply moulding the strands in your hands. Be careful though as if you overwork it will just become a ball of toffee! Note: toffee loves to absorb humidity and will start to bead with moisture relatively quickly. It is best to use the spun sugar on the same day it is made.

Don’t despair if your toffee misbehaves! It is a bit more complicated than it seems. If it burns just scrape out the mixture quickly and fill the pan with boiling water to dissolve the hard toffee.

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