Add some crunchy texture and some wow factor to your next dessert with these easy and highly versatile sugar decorations. This recipe is not suitable for children due to high temperatures of the sugar syrup – but they will love eating it when it’s ready.
Approx 1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon glucose syrup (or corn syrup)
1/4 cup water
optional – nuts, herbs, fruit or other ingredients depending on what you want to use it for – see below.
Bring the ingredients to the boil in a saucepan. Wash down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water until there are no splashes of sugar on the sides.
Boil without stirring until you see a golden tinge in the syrup (if you are using a gas stovetop this is likely to be somewhere around the edge, if electric it will be in the middle). Remove from the heat immediately and stir.
To use your sugar syrup as a decoration for dessert choose one of the following methods:
1. Using a fork or spoon drizzle the HOT sugar syrup onto baking paper or you can use the back of a lightly oiled ladle to make domes. Be very careful not to get any on you.
2. Allow it to cool slightly and using two forks pull sugar into strands – see video for example of how to do this.
3. For pulling lots of fine strands around a croquembouche or making ‘sugar fabric’ there is a tool you can use – I don’t have one so I made my own using a piece of wood and some nails (put it through the dishwasher to make sure its really clean). Place a sheet of baking paper over a large plastic container. Pour the hot sugar syrup onto a silpat on one side, then using your home-made tool pull the sugar into fine strands by dipping the nails into the syrup and quickly moving it across the container and back again, dip into the syrup and repeat. Use scissors to cut your ‘sugar fabric’ into pieces and roll into balls.
4. Pour it all onto a sheet of baking paper, quickly spread it out and sprinkle with roasted nuts or seeds. Once completely cold snap into pieces the desired size and use on top of cupcakes or desserts.
5. Quickly mix in other ingredients like chopped chocolate, coffee, mint or grated orange rind… use your imagination. Sugar syrup is extremely hot so anything with water content will steam and spit so stand back. Pour onto a baking sheet and wait until it is completely cold. Grate to a fine powder then use the powder to make tuiles (instructions here).
Note these decorations are hygroscopic (they absorb moisture from the air) so will not last in humid conditions. The finer the strands the less time it will last. You can store them in an airtight container until needed.