How to Make Spun Sugar

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  • 01 of 06

    Prepare Your Workstation

    spun sugar
    (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    If you would like easily printable instructions, go to the Spun Sugar recipe.

    Spinning sugar is messy, so the first thing to do is to cover your kitchen counter and floor with newspaper, to catch sugar spills. Take 3 or 4 saucepans, and arrange them close together on the paper-covered counter, handles facing outward and extending over the edge of the counter. Spray the handles with nonstick cooking spray. Make sure you are wearing an apron, or clothing that can be easily cleaned, since it is likely that you will get sugar strands on yourself. Finally, fill a large bowl with ice and water, and set it aside to be used later.

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  • 02 of 06

    Boil the Sugar Syrup

    boiling sugar
    (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    Combine 2 cups granulated sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 1/2 cup corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Cover the saucepan with a lid and boil for 2-3 minutes, then remove the lid and continue to boil the sugar syrup, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 310 degrees. The sugar will cook very quickly towards the end, so watch closely to ensure it doesn’t burn. You can use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature.

    As soon as the sugar reaches the proper temperature, remove the saucepan from the heat and dunk the bottom in the prepared ice water to stop the sugar from cooking further. Allow the mixture to stand for a minute or two, to thicken slightly.

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  • 03 of 06

    Begin to Create Sugar Strands

    spun sugar
    (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    Hold the pan in one hand and a fork in the other. Dip the fork in the sugar syrup and stir. Remove the fork from the heat and hold it 5-6 inches above the prepared saucepan handles. Rapidly flick the fork back and forth over the handles. The sugar syrup should create very fine strands of sugar that drape over the handles. If the syrup doesn’t create any strands, or the strands have a lot of “beads,” allow the syrup to cool for another minute. If the strands are very lumpy and difficult to form, re-heat the syrup very briefly.

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  • 04 of 06

    Finish Making Sugar Strands

    spun sugar
    (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    Continue to dip and quickly flick the fork over the handles, creating many fine strands of spun sugar. At any point, you can remove the sugar that has accumulated and shape it into balls, nests, or thin tubes as desired. Continue to create spun sugar until your syrup is gone, or until you have enough spun sugar for your needs.

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  • 05 of 06

    Shape the Spun Sugar

    spun sugar
    Spun Sugar Nest. (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    Spun sugar is often formed into balls or nests to decorate the tops of cakes, tarts, or mousses. You can separate the strands into smaller clumps to make individual spun sugar "halos," or create one large decoration. Spun sugar is fairly easy to manipulate, so don't be afraid to experiment and see what you like!

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  • 06 of 06

    Finish Your Dessert or Store Your Spun Sugar

    (c) 2007 Elizabeth LaBau, licensed to, Inc.

    Spun sugar is best used immediately after it is made, as the sugar starts to liquefy if it comes into contact with anything moist or humid. If you are using it on top of a dessert, wait to position it until the last possible moment. This croquembouche has been decorated with a spun sugar halo and ribbon, but the moisture in the cream puffs dictates that it should be served almost immediately before the sugar starts to turn into caramel!

    If you want to attempt to store it, place it in a dry, airtight Tupperware container, preferably with several packages of desiccants, like those found in vitamin bottles.