How to make pulled sugar decorations

Written by barbara gulin
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How to make pulled sugar decorations
Pulled sugar can be moulded into a variety of different shapes. (John A. Rizzo/Valueline/Getty Images)

Pulled sugar is an advanced technique used by pastry chefs to create artistic decorations out of sugar. The finished product is beautiful when the technique is executed properly, but perfecting the process may take several attempts. Working with hot sugar is best done without small children around and with the proper utensils and safety equipment. Once the pulled sugar is at the correct temperature and consistency, you must work quickly to manipulate the sugar into the desired shape.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pulled sugar recipe
  • Cane sugar
  • Water
  • Light corn syrup
  • Cream of tartar
  • Liquid food colouring
  • Professional candy thermometer
  • Copper or stainless steel pot
  • Water bath larger than the copper pot
  • Metal scraper
  • Sieve
  • Metal baking tray
  • Silicone mat or parchment paper
  • Measuring cup
  • Rubber gloves
  • Ice water bath
  • Lemon juice
  • Kitchen scissors
  • Heat lamp
  • Drying agent (silica blue gel or quicklime)
  • Reclosable plastic bags

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  1. 1

    Combine ingredients for the pulled sugar in the stainless steel or copper pan. Bring ingredients to a boil without stirring to avoid crystallisation of the sugar. Cook without stirring the sugar mixture to the specified temperature.

  2. 2

    Pour out the sugar mixture onto a metal baking tray lined with a silicone mat or parchment paper. You can also use a greased marble slab to cool the mixture slightly until it can be handled.

  3. 3

    Pull the sugar with gloved hands until the sugar develops a glossy sheen. Liquid food colouring should be added in the first stages of the pulling process to distribute the colour evenly. Work quickly and consistently to minimise the risk of recrystallization of the sugar.

  4. 4

    Place the pulled sugar under a heat lamp to keep it soft, using kitchen scissors to cut off a piece to shape. Mold the sugar into the desired shape, using the heat lamp to keep the pulled sugar warm enough to be pliable. It's important to keep the pulled sugar soft until you are finished working with it; allowing it to cool too much can result in a dulled finish when you reheat it to work with it.

  5. 5

    Store completed sugar decorations in a sealed plastic bag with a drying agent included to protect the decorations from moisture and humidity.

Tips and warnings

  • Complete the pulled sugar decorations as close to serving time as possible.
  • Plan to practice the techniques associated with pulled sugar several times before creating the finished product.
  • Consider finding a pulled sugar class to learn the proper technique.
  • Wear gloves at all times to protect your hands.
  • Pulled sugar is cooked to a very high temperature and is sticky. Avoid working with pulled sugar around small children.
  • In the event of an accidental burn, submerge the burnt area under cold water for thirty minutes to minimise area and severity of the burn.
  • Pulled sugar is very sensitive to moisture and humidity. The moisture from your hands and atmosphere can dull the sheen. If the pulled sugar is exposed to too much moisture, it can become sticky and you can leave fingerprints on the pieces.

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