Ann Reardon

How to Make Sugar Decorations for Desserts – Spun Sugar Recipe

 

spun sugar close up

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 the high temperatures of the sugar syrup – but they will love eating it when it’s ready.

Ingredients:
Approx 1 cup or 213g (7.51 ounces) sugar
1 tablespoon glucose syrup (or corn syrup)
1/4 cup or 63 millilitres (2.13 fluid ounces) water

optional – nuts, herbs, fruit or other ingredients depending on what you want to use it for – see below.

Directions:

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.

reardon how to cook that sugar

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.

dome spun sugar decoration recipe

OR

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.

spun sugar threads dessert decoration

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.

sugar pistachio decoration

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 hydroscopic (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.

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT

I have been busy over the last year planning, writing and overseeing the photography and layout for my first ever cookbook! There are heaps of my favourite dessert recipes in there with a chapter on pastries, ice-cream, yummy cakes, artistic desserts and of course chocolate desserts. Each chapter has its own intro explaining the food science that you'll need to know for success every time. Booksellers where you can purchase your very own copy: http://bit.ly/ARcookbook


All recipe quantities in the book are in grams, ounces and cups.

38 Comments View Comments

  1. Thank you so much for the time u put into your instructions and illustrations. This is exactly what I was looking 4. I watched a few other videos on YouTube but found your information to b far more superior. I am BBQing a dinner for 30 seniors and doing the sugar designs on the dessert will be quick and easy. I’ll be able to concentrate my time the BBQ and have sugar designs ready to put on when dessert is served. Thank you once again

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      That is great Michael.

  2. How long do I have to mold the sugar/isomalt before it hardens?

  3. Is Karo syrup the same as glucose syrup?

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi Karen, I believe Karo isa brand name and if you look at the label it should say Karo Corn Syrup. Corn syrup is interchangeable for glucose syrup.

      • Thanks

    • Almost. It will work.

  4. I’m loving the look of ‘white’ or clear toffee…saw it recently as a garnish…is there a trick to getting it to set at a lower temperature so it doesn’t go to the gold color?

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi Lisa, toffee won’t be completely clear. What you would have seen is an isomalt decoration. Here is a link to some of Ann’s recipes that use isomalt: https://www.howtocookthat.net/public_html/?s=isomalt . Sometimes she has used it clear and other times coloured it.

  5. hai May i know if i were to decorate it on my dessert and put it in a cold showcase, will it last?or it will just melt of? TQ 😀

  6. Hi, may I ask, would the spun sugar still turn out without the corn/glucose syrup? If not, what would be a good substitute for the corn/glucose syrup?

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi Anh, You can try without it but it crystallises much more readily and this means you may struggle to achieve a consistent spun sugar decoration. There is really no alternative.

    • Hi. In Hungary we use “inverted sugar”(you won’t find it on youtube this way) – if you look after it on youtube (substitute for corn syrup with cream of tartar or citric acid or etc) there are some recipes how to make it. It is substitute for those syrups.

  7. Hi, was wondering if it is possible to add food coloring to the mixture. If so, at what point?

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi CC, you can add colouring once the mixture is hot and just before you take it off the heat, before it starts to cool.

  8. Hi
    I want to ask one thing. If we use them on cakes, then how can wee keep them in refrigerator. I want to know as I want to use them as decorations on cake

  9. Hello, i am from germany, i love that how you bake and cook. I try to do the frozen barbiecake in blue but i have a very big problem, i can not cook the suger for the cape its alwas runny. Have you got the recipe for me. Thank you very much i love your page and you too.

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi Gulcan, If your sugar is staying runny, it is likely that you haven’t cooked it for long enough. Let us know how it goes next time.

  10. my sugar keeps coming out cloudy instead of clear- what could i be doing wrong?

    • Admin HowToCookThat

      Hi Angela, If it is coming out cloudy it is likely that the sugar is recrystallizing. To help prevent this you could try the following:
      Make sure you are washing down the sides of the pan with a little water and a brush as per the video.
      Try adding a little more water at the beginning.
      If you are still having problems try adding a teaspoon of glucose syrup to the sugar and water before heating.

  11. hi ..just wanna ask if how long can i store homemade sugar toppers?

  12. Hi Ann,
    Long time viewer and subscriber, first time writer. My friends party is coming upnand she asked for chocolate chip muffins and cookiesbbut I am hoples so I was wondering could you please do a video or put up a video? It would be much appreciated!!!
    Thanks!!!

  13. Hi I want to make a large dome shape to be inverted onto a cake to make a snow globe (& there’ll be Christmas themed decorations under the dome) so what’s the best way to achieve this? Spoons aren’t big enough & I had thought of using a glass bowl or would I be better off using a (silicone) hemisphere cake tin? Thanks

  14. Hi Ann,.

    I saw ur pages and they really facinate me,. This Spun Sugar recipe is awesome,. i’m surely gonna try them and those chocolate cups too,. 🙂

    Can you suggest me a page where i can get stensils for decorating my cakes!!,.

    Thankyu.. 🙂

  15. Hi, I tried to make this using the fourth method of pouring it onto a sheet and breaking into pieces, but it kept ending up really gooey and sticky instead of hardening up so that one could break it. What am I doing wrong?

    • Ann

      hi brandon, couple of options 1. it may not have been heated to a high enough temp 2. is it really humid and did you leave it out – it absorbs moisture from the air so needs to be stored in an airtight container.

  16. Hello!

    I saw this recipe and decided that I wanted to go a little bit deeper and more detailed. I really want to recreate the Crystal Gem Apple from Adventure Time for a costume for a comic convention and I would like to make it out of sugar.

    Would you by any chance know how to shape sugar to make it look angular and geometric?

    Thank you!

    • Ann

      Hi stephanie, the easiet way would be with a silicone mold. Depending on the size you need it there are gem molds that you can buy for sugar work.

  17. Hi Ann,

    Love the website and the detailed instructions

    I had a question, once we make these, do we need to refrigerate or is it fine if we keep it at room temperature.

    Thanks,
    Elsom

    • Ann

      Hi Elson, room temp in an airtight container. THey absorb moisture from the air so the fridge is more humid and they wont last as long, put them on the dessert just before serving.

      • If you do put them in the fridge they’ll eventually melt. I was playing with sugar at work the other day and a coworker wanted to try his hand at it. Said sure no problem have fun, but when you’re done leave it on the counter. He didn’t listen and at the end of the night got to clean out the fridge. And everything that got dripped on.

        • Ann

          Hi Ian,
          I don’t envy him cleaning out the sticky sugar from the fridge, poor guy

  18. I can’t find the template available on the above site for the dump truck.

  19. hi,may I ask, does the temperature of the surrounding affects the sugar threads? like for example when the surrounding is warm and humid, would the sugar melt or would not form the desired shape?

    • ann

      Hi mio, if it is humid the decorations will absorb more moisture from the air, store in a airtight container until just before serving.

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