Festive Food: DIY Gold Spun Sugar

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Did you know you can spin sugar into gold? Golden cotton candy, that is. It's actually quite easy to make, and the finished candy is a beautiful amber color, making it an ideal treat for New Year's, Awards season, or any festive parties. Get ready to wow your guests with this unique treat!

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Things You'll Need

  • Wire whisk
  • Wire clippers
  • Parchment paper or newspaper 
  • Trivet
  • Electric hand mixer 
  • Paper straws
  • Small mason jars 
  • Medium saucepan
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Wooden spoon
(Image: Jessica Begum)

Prepare the Work Area

Step 1: Clip the Whisk

Use wire clippers to clip the top off of the wire whisk. Take extra care to make sure all the wires are clipped evenly. Then, fan the whisk out so each wire is evenly distributed.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Tip

  • Use an inexpensive wire whisk found at a dollar store or a thrift store. You can reuse it over and over for spinning sugar.

Step 2: Set Up the Work Surface

Spinning sugar is quite messy, so make sure to cover the entire work surface with parchment paper or newspaper. When you think you have covered enough, cover some more. Don't forget the floor! Place the hand mixer next to the trivet and keep the paper straws nearby.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 3: Insert Straw in Mixer

Insert the tip of a paper straw into one of the holes of the hand mixer. It should fit snugly. Depending on the brand of your mixer, you may need to pinch the tip of the straw to make it fit.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Cook the Ingredients

Step 1: Combine the Ingredients

Stir the sugar, corn syrup and water together in a small saucepan.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 2: Stir Until Sugar is Dissolved

Cook the sugar mixture over medium/low heat, stirring constantly until all of the sugar is dissolved. Don't let the mixture boil. If boiling occurs, remove the pan from the heat and continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved. This process should take a couple of minutes.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 3: Boil Mixture Gently

Once the sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat slightly to medium. Let the sugar mixture boil without stirring for about 6 to 8 minutes. Stirring at this stage causes crystals to form, so leave the boiling mixture undisturbed.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 4: Boil Until Golden

When the sugar mixture begins to turn a golden amber color, remove the pan from the heat and place it on the trivet in your work area. Be careful to not let the mixture brown too much on the heat. The mixture will continue to turn to a deep gold once you remove it from the stove. Allow it to cool for about 3 to 5 minutes.

(Image: Jessica Begum)
(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 5: Check for Sugar Strings

Once the mixture cools slightly, dip the tip of the trimmed whisk into the sugar and pull it out, checking for sugar strings. The sugar mixture should ball up at the bottom of the wires and leave long sugar strings like spider webs when they drip. Once this happens, the mixture is ready to spin. If the mixture quickly drips off of the whisk, it needs to cool a little more.

(Image: Jessica Begum)
(Image: Jessica Begum)

Spin the Sugar

Step 1: Fling the Whisk Above the Straw

Now for the fun part! Turn the electric mixer on low speed. Make sure the straw stays put, and adjust it if necessary. Hold the whisk 12 inches above the spinning straw and fling the sugar strings gently back and forth. Get ready for a sugary mess! You now know if you covered your work surface enough. The sugar strings will begin to spin around the straw and pile up. Re-dip the whisk in the hot sugar mixture and repeat until the sugar piles up about an inch on the straw.

(Image: Jessica Begum)
(Image: Jessica Begum)

Warning

  • Caution! The sugar mixture is extremely hot! This technique should be done by adults only. If children would like to watch, keep them well away from the flinging sugar.

Step 2: Remove and Form into Balls

Turn the mixer off and remove the straw. Gently ball the sugar around the top of the straw. Your first cotton candy treat is complete! Place another straw in the mixer and repeat the process.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 3: Return to Heat

If you work quickly, you should be able to get two or three candies from the hot sugar mixture before it cools too much. Once the strings of sugar begin to clump up on the straw, return the pan to the stove and heat on low for about 2 minutes; then continue spinning.

(Image: Jessica Begum)

Step 4: Serve Immediately

Prop the finished candy up in small mason jars and serve immediately. If the candy sits around too long, it will turn soggy. You can tent the finished candy under plastic wrap, and it should hold for about an hour.

(Image: Jessica Begum)
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