Isomalt Is Not My Friend....

Sugar Work By Loucinda Updated 1 Oct 2009 , 6:59pm by TexasSugar

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 12:30pm
post #1 of 22

I have tried several times now to do some isomalt gems.....and it isn't working. They look beautiful and clear when I first make them, but then get sticky and cloudy the next day. Can anyone clue me in on what the deal is?? I have tried it from the crystals and from the already made isomalt - neither one works. Is it the humidity here that is my downfall?? Any tips would be greatly appreciated - thanks.

21 replies
all4cake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
all4cake Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 12:50pm
post #2 of 22

I hope someone answers. I've never worked with isomalt. When working with sugar though, the items would get sticky and cloudy when I used tartaric acid. I stopped using it. Just curious, does the recipe/formula using isomalt call for tartaric acid (or any other acid ) or is it an ingredient in the already made?

eatdessert1st Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
eatdessert1st Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 1:16pm
post #3 of 22

I read somewhere to use glucose w/ isomalt to prevent cloudiness:

"If you like, try this recipe (the glucose is added to prevent the poured isomalt from becoming hazy after absorbing moisture):

1kg isomalt
100g glucose
Water (enough to cover bottom of casserole with depth around 1/2 cm)

In a casserole with the water, pour 1/3 of the isomalt and cook till dissolved.
Add another 1/3 of the isomalt, cook till dissolved.
Add remaining 1/3, cook till 170C. (338F) Add glucose (brought to boil in microwave)
Cook to 170C again, pour as desired.
For a smoother appearance on the surface, hit the surface of the isomalt with a blowtorch immediately after pouring (it's really amazing how much more glasslike it is even if you don't see any bubbles)."

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 1:40pm
post #4 of 22

Thanks eatdessert - if using it this way, are you able to re-melt it again? I have glucose here, I just need to convert the measurements to US. I also have a torch, but I want them to have the "jeweled" finish on the top - so can I torch the back side of them and that still work?

eatdessert1st Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
eatdessert1st Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 3:04pm
post #5 of 22

I've read you can remelt and reuse melted isomalt. I don't know personally about the blowtorch, but it sounds like just a quick go-over w/ the flame wherever the bubbles are and it'll smooth them out. I'd suggest asking in the pulled sugar forum for more details. I love pulling sugar but haven't done it in a long while so am very rusty on details.

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 3:18pm
post #6 of 22

I didn't have any trouble with bubbles, it is perfectly clear - it is just cloudy after a day of setting......

I will try asking down in the candy section and see if anyone there has any ideas - thank you for trying to help me out!

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 18 Sep 2009 , 3:31pm
post #7 of 22

I know that my girlfriend ordered some already made sugar jewels from England and the boxes said something like, use them right away after you open the box. So she just wanted to check them out and poof use it or loose it.

It's not a super make ahead item for me--for Kincaellan maybe.

What are those keep fresh little packs they have in everything now--Silica gel or silicone or something? If you package your gems up very carefully, that might help.

Kincaellan is an expert and he comes on here and he's got a book too.

I have some indicating dessicant that I can use to protect my stuff--it's one color and when it absorbs moisture from the air it turns another color--then you can put the dessicant in the oven & dry it out back out to the first color again and re-use it. So it absorbs the moisture instead of your work absorbing the moisture.

But the blow torch is essential in doing sugar work--and I'm talking hardware store blowtorch. I got the one with the starter right on it so I invested a bit more for mine than is totally necessary--but even the one where you gotta light a match to get it going is super cheap and so so so worth it.

Because I have even gone back and torched them a day later and viola the sticky is gone without loosing form.

Also, venuance pearls are dry like fabric--they stayed dry like cra-zee for me for days and days. And then you could get the white ones and air brush spray them whatever color.

So sugar breaks down first, isomalt holds better, venuance pearls holds the best/longest. I mean just sitting on the pan in the air not packaged.

Sweet boiled thoughts for you.

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 5:46pm
post #8 of 22

Thanks K8 - I appreciate all of your help on this. I am not giving up - taking a class next week with Keith Ryder on this subject. icon_wink.gif I do have the real torch - a handy tool! Where do you get the venuance (spelled??) pearls? I really liked the look - I almost hit it, but those jewels clouded over and I just could not get them to stay clear.....maybe in the winter time they work better??

I like to try to learn to do things myself so I am not bound by having to purchase already made products for my designs......just having a hard time with this new (to me!) medium. icon_confused.gif

Thank you again ........

Rylan Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Rylan Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 7:40pm
post #9 of 22

Loucinda, at what temperature do you remove the isomalt water mixture off the stove?

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 21 Sep 2009 , 10:22pm
post #10 of 22

Albert Uster Imports

for Venuance pearls.

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 22 Sep 2009 , 2:54am
post #11 of 22

I took it off at 2 different temps (different batches) once at 320 and once at 340. Neither one worked - they both turned cloudy the next day. I also tried doing it in the microwave, still to no avail. icon_sad.gif I am hoping the hands on with Keith Ryder will improve my hot sugar/isomalt skills some.

Rylan Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Rylan Posted 22 Sep 2009 , 3:23am
post #12 of 22

I only melt the ready made ones in the microwave because it is easier but I've never tried it making it with a microwave. Did the candy thermometer touch the bottom of the pan? If it did, that can be one reason because it is hotter, therefore the temperature reading will be inaccurate. Am I making sense? The bottom of the pan may be 340 but the isomalt is actually cooler.

itsacake Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
itsacake Posted 22 Sep 2009 , 3:58am
post #13 of 22

I have done very little sugarwork, but the chef who is my mentor works with it a lot. He uses Isomalt 100% to water 30% (100 grams Isomalt and 30 grams water for example) and heated to 330 degrees F. I don't recall he ever used glucose, though in candymaking we used it to prevent crystallization by adding 10% by weight. The water is just to keep the Isomalt from burning at the beginning, The reason you take it to 330 degrees is to be sure you are getting the correct amount of moisture out.

Once you have done this once with the Isomalt, you can then gently remelt it as often as you want just to the temperature you like to work at. Pretty much the only thing I use it for these days is to secure my sugar bows and I just melt until it is sticky and fluid. When I'm done I let it harden on a piece of silicone and then next time just melt it til it is the consistency I like.

But what k8 said is the key. You need a desiccant like silica gel or limestone in with your completed gems. I keep some in with my once melted pieces too, just so keep stickiness at bay. Sugar and Isomalt are both hygroscopic which means they attract moisture from the air. This is what causes the stickiness and cloudiness, more than how you produced the piece, though cooking it to high temp does seem to help.

Since the desiccants are not food safe, I put the sugar or Isomalt piece in a ziplock bag and then put more ziplock bags of desiccant around that bag in an old fondant bucket or something else pretty airtight. This mostly does the trick for me.

So far I've been using silica gel from Michael's floral department, but Chef Rubber has a bunch of different ones:

I'd love to see notes from your Keith Ryder class on this. Please post.

Marci Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Marci Posted 23 Sep 2009 , 12:17am
post #14 of 22

Once you have completed your pieces and they are out of the mold, you should spray them with lacquer (there is edible lacquer and inedible lacquer). You can get the edible kind from Albert Uster or Swiss Chalet, the inedible from craft stores. It protects the isomalt from the moisture in the air (I haven't tried the glucose thing). Then you should pack them in some type of closed container. You will want to make the pieces with in 2-3 days of using. Unfortunately, sugar isn't a make ahead kind of material.

Hope this helps,

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 23 Sep 2009 , 12:16pm
post #15 of 22

Marci - I have the laquer here, I wish I would have known that! I will give that a try next time.

Rylan - the thermometer was not touching the bottom of the pan - I have a good one that has a clip on it - and I am schooled in how to use it, but I appreciate your helping me try to figure it out!

Sweet_Treats_1 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Sweet_Treats_1 Posted 27 Sep 2009 , 5:10am
post #16 of 22

What is Isomalt used for? and where do U purchase?

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 1:29pm
post #17 of 22

Isomalt is like sugar - most cake/sugar competitions use it in place of sugar when doing sugar work. You can get it several places online (GSA< Country kitchen Sweet art, etc.)

I found some answers to my isomalt jewel making this past weekend. I took a class with Keith Ryser (GREAT instrucotr!) He told me to take the isomalt up to 370 and it will hold longer - although still will get sticky in humid conditions.

Also - it BURNS. I had the cotton gloves w/ latex glvoes over top of them. The sugar felt hot, but not like it was burning my skin.....I took the gloves off to take a break and I had burnt both of my thumbs. My right one is pretty bad - raw meat (literally). If I had thought I was getting burnt, I would have stopped, but I really didn't feel like it was. I burned it so deeply, that it isn't even painful - so be VERY careful of this stuff!!

TexasSugar Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
TexasSugar Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 8:18pm
post #18 of 22

Loucinda, I haven't quite gotten brave enough to play with my isomalt yet. I still need to find some cotton gloves that fit me and to look into getting my brother to build me the hot box. I just keep coming back to the burning part and haven't dared to open up all the stuff I bought at the convention.

-K8memphis Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
-K8memphis Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 11:00pm
post #19 of 22

Texas, I used plexiglas I bought from the hardware store. And I did the whole drill the holes in there with the piano hinges thing but actually wound up just using wide packing tape--works like crazy--the tape is clear it looks fine too.

One issue might be how to attach the heat lamp light bulb--I just carved a hole in one piece of plexiglas. Viola. I used a dimmer switch on mine too.

The red bulbs are much easier on the eyes ~otherwise you can't see real good afterwards like you've been hit with 10,000 flashbulbs.

Dude, you can use any gloves you want! And put a pair of plastic gloves on top of them. Gardening gloves, those mini looking winter gloves that fit tight used to be 99 cents a pair--any gloves will do.

This doesn't have to be hard--Dude, I can do it--it ain't hard, hot yes, hard no.

Gotcher blow torch??? >bwooooghhhh<

Loucinda Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
Loucinda Posted 28 Sep 2009 , 11:20pm
post #20 of 22

Texas - I really think my fingers were just more sensitive to burning than most folks. IF I had thought I was burning myself, I would have stopped, but I really didn't think I was. I am the only one in the classes (15 in each class) that got blistered up. icon_redface.gif

I am sending you a pm!

I "ain't skeered" of blow torches either K8! icon_wink.gificon_biggrin.gif

cakequeen50 Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
cakequeen50 Posted 30 Sep 2009 , 6:18pm
post #21 of 22

I'm so glad I ran across this post! Last week I made some blown sugar bubbles for a dummy cake. I made them on saturday. On sunday morning in my shop, the cake looked great. We drove to a wedding show an hour a way and the bubbles didn't make it. Some broke but all of them looked frosted and textured. Was is humidity? I thought isomalt was sort of immune to humidity.
Will spraying them with the laquer, as mentioned, help?

I used isomalt and didn't check the temp, just melted it.
Are they able to transport for real cakes?
Can they touch buttercream or do I need to put a piece of fondant under them?
Any advice is more than welcome!

TexasSugar Cake Central Cake Decorator Profile
TexasSugar Posted 1 Oct 2009 , 6:59pm
post #22 of 22

My problem with gloves isn't finding cotton ones, it is more finding one that fit my small hands with out a bunch of extra hanging off my fingers. I figure that would probably get in the way when trying to work.

I do have a mini blow torch (for creme brulee's and I also have an alcohol lamp.

My brother is pretty crafty, so I've given him directions to make the box and will let him figure out the best way to do it. After the convention I had to build my cash supply back up since I did ALOT of shopping. I'm getting to a point where I feel okay making purchases that I don't have to have but want, with out having to worry about how much I am spending. I also need to set up an area in my cake room to work on this stuff, which means clean it out again. icon_smile.gif

Loucinda, I got your PM but misplaced your email address. I do have some directions I found online for building a box, just don't remember where I got them.

I know I'm just being chicken, and I'll give it a chance since I spent so much money on the stuff. I just haven't had a chance or made time to play with anything that I got at the convention, not just the Isomalt stuff. I went from teaching class two nights a week before the convention, to a full time job working 45-55 hours a week plus still teaching twice a week after the convention. It was a big change andh as been wearing me out. Any free time I have I haven't wanted to do anything with. I'm hoping to change that soon.

Thanks for the information. I'm definetly storing it for when I do pull out the Isomalt and stuff.

Quote by @%username% on %date%