I see a lot of cakes on the Food Network Channel that have accent cake toppers. I think they boil sugar till it gets so hot and then lay it out on wax paper in some random design. Then after it hardens they place it on the top of the cake. Does anyone know what this technique is called and how I would do it??????
Is it just a toffee sort of thing?
(except they use isomalt -- much(!) more stable than table sugar esp. in humidity.
in theater it's called candy glass (search results: http://www.google.com/search?q=candy+glass+recipe&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-USfficial&client=firefox-a ) -- how they used to make breakaway bottles and windows before modern plastics.
still used when budget is super tight and you need a breakaway glass or bottle
here on cc there is a big thread on making sugar bottles for use on cakes that look like a cooler full of beer.
very simple process -- sugar + water + heat <-- but that makes it very dangerous if you don't handle the heated sugar properly!
bring to right temp (this varies according to desired result)
in this case going for "hard crack" stage if you want a free standing self supporting piece - the hottest temp - which is deadly if it gets spilled on you -- talking at least 2nd degree and very possibly 3rd degree burns!!!!!!!!
once at temp -- gets poured out in sheets or into molds and allowed to cool.
however -- as I'm sure you've seen -- FRAGILE!
your pic looks like regular sugar taken too hard crack and then allowed to caramelize - i.e. turn brown. -- must watch carefully at this point as can go black (throw it out) stage easily.
in this case they just "free formed" it -- swoosh, swish, squiggle, cutesy ootsey.
using silicone mats (silpat or similar) makes it easier to peel the sugar off in one piece.
can also use a tool that give SPUN sugar -- looks like:
(and can be made at home from a board, nails and a handle)
dipped into the pot of sugar (still clear or caramelized) and then "spun" -- really a rotation of the hand at the end of the wrist to fling the threads of sugar out.
if done over an upside down bowl that has been lightly greased get a sugar dome to cover desserts with.
if done into an upright bowl then can make a sugar nest to put stuff into.
or can just make a "cloud" of it put on top as decoration
(i avoid doing this as it usually ends up most every where I don't want it to be! -- just a little too much spin in the wrist!)
Is it sorta like rock candy??
rock candy is made by first making a super saturated solution of sugar and water...
Then simplest method is to put string that has some crystals of sugar rubbed into it into the solution.
that cause the sugar in solution to crystallize.
rock candy is just giant size sugar crystals.
this happens at room temp, chiefly as the water evaporates out of the solution
(tho', if highly saturated enough can actually get on massive crystal to form almost instantly when just one little crystal is introduced.
---- you've seen this in action if you've ever had chocolate seize on you)
this technique is BOILED liquid sugar that hardens when cooled
Jolly Ranchers and any lollipop is made this way.
Can you make spun sugar have a flavor?
Can you make spun sugar have a flavor?
if you did clear -- you could add flavoring at the very beginning before you started heating it.
not sure I'd want flavored caramelized sugar -- there it's the caramel taste you're after.
Wow, great info. Doug, thanks. Saving this thread.
Ha! Well caramel was what flavor I was going for!! I am making a Butterscotch Mascarpone Cream Layer Cake and wanted some decorative piece to use as a topper. Thanks for all your help Doug!!!
i need to do this technique for lava jets on a cake next week. i have never worked with melted sugar before. if i don't have a silpat, would pouring onto parchment paper work? what would be the next best alternative (if there is one)?
unfortunately, i will be using real sugar not isomalt (not enough notice to special order it in) but i will dyeing it dark red. should i use candy color to dye or just regular americolor gel.
thanks doug for sharing! you are a wonderful source of information!
parchment would stick too much...
used lightly grease cookie sheet (unless you have a piece of marble laying around -- the old fashioned surface used for doing poured sugar hard candy stuff)
i'd use candy color if you have it -- any liquid color should work if added at the start before you heat it -- the key is adding before heating or just as after the sugar dissolves and before you start boiling it.
part of the process you are boiling off the water -- dehydrating it - so it will set hard, so additional liquids such as dye should be factored in at the start
haven't tried gel color yet -- maybe someone else can weigh in on that.
thank you doug!
i am very grateful!