I have made sugar bells many times in the past and this time they are crumbling everytime I go to pick them up and hollow them out. Not breaking, just the sugar falling away. I have always put them in the oven to harden quickly and then have been able to easily scrape out the middle to hollow. I need these for tomorrow morning and am perplexed!!!! Any thoughts on why or how to get them re-done very quickly??????
Is the sugar packed tightly. Do you have enough water mixed in? Wow I haven't made these in forever!
I bet it's how you've got it packed in--needs to be well packed. I think sugar bells are the prettiest things, old fashioned but beautiful nonetheless.
That will happen if the sugar is not wet enough. To test it, pick up a small handful and cursh it together in your palm. Now open you hand and bounce the sugar blob around, If it stays together it is o.k. If it falls apart - even a bit it's not wet enough. if much of the sugar sticks to your hand it is too wet.
You might want to consider mixing a raw egg white in the sugar instead of water. The biggest problem w/that is the bells (or whatever you are making) will turn yellow if you store them for very long.
I used to make sugar peep eggs. That's how I learned. After a yr or two, I went to using only water.
We have a family Christmas tradition of making sugar bells every year. The entire family gathers around to help mold the bells and hollow them out. After they've dried overnight, we fill them with traditional christmas candies adding a large gumdrop for the 'dinger, and wrap each one in red, green or white tulle netting, and tie them closed with a satin ribbon'. My grandmother used to put a silver dollar in each of the bells, for each of the grandchildren. Since the filled bells are too heavy to hang on the branches of the tree, tie them around the center or trunk of the tree. (silver tipped pines are best because you can see the trunk all the way to the top of the tree, and ornaments can easily hang from the branches).
The reason most of you are having trouble with your bells breaking is because you're only using sugar and water! Here's Grandmother Langford's recipe - This recipe can be doubled or tripled or...whatever.
4 cups white granulated sugar
food coloring if desired
molds of various shapes
1) Mix together very well
2) Pack sugar into molds and level the top by scraping the sugar off the top with the flat side of a knife.
3) Turn the sugar bell out of the mold onto wax paper
4) Mold bells until sugar mixture is gone.
5) Wash the molds & let the sugar bells harden for 30 minutes
6) with a small spoon, scoop the centers of the sugar mixture out of the bell leaving an outer shell that is about 3/8" thick.
7) Mold more bells from the sugar you scooped out of the previous bells, and repeat the process until all of the sugar has been used.
8) Let the molded bells (shells) dry out and harden overnight.
9) Fill them with traditional christmas candy and a surprise hidden in the top of the bell. My grandmother hid silver dollars in ours.
10) The bells can be wrapped in cellophane, sheer fabrics or netting. We use Tulle Netting, and tie the bells with a satin ribbon.
11) You can display them by tying them around the center trunk of a Christmas tree. Begin at the top, and work your way down. Hopefully you picked a tree that is bare so the bells can be seen. A silver tip fir (red pine) tree is best! Bushy trees don't work. If you have a bushy tree, you can put your bells in a basket by the front door and give them to neighbors or carolers who drop by!
Note: this sugar recipe can be packed into a mold, turned out and left to dry SOLID, if you don't want to hollow it out. For obvious reasons that might take a few days depending on the size of the molded item.
This recipe can be used to mold other shapes. If you're extra creative, try making easter egg diorama's decorated with Royal icing.