Whether you’re looking for a fun treat for your children (or yourself!) or a wow-worthy garnish for a plated dessert when guests come over, spun sugar fits the bill — but most spun sugar recipes make the process seem overwhelming. Shauna Sever, author of Real Sweet: More than 80 Crave-Worthy Treats Made with Natural Sugars shares her recipe for a maple-flavored version that is all-natural, super delicious, and totally do-able.
One of the most important things about working with cooked sugar is accuracy in time and temperature. That means you need to have everything ready to go before you start cooking. Clear a large work surface and use a heavy object to weigh down a few long wooden skewers (that have been coated with non-stick cooking spray) so that they hang over the side of the counter (and over the floor). Cover the area on the floor below them with newspaper. Put a large bowl of ice water near your work surface and have 2 clean forks ready to use.
Cook the Sugar
Working with hot sugar can be dangerous, so be sure that you follow the instructions exactly and use extreme caution when handling your cooked sugar. To make the maple sugar syrup, put 1 ¼ cup each of turbinado sugar and maple sugar into a cooking pot. Add ½ cup of maple syrup, ½ cup of water, and 1/8 of a teaspoon of fine sea salt. Cook the syrup over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When the mixture starts to boil, stop stirring, clip a candy thermometer to the pot, and cook the syrup to 310 degrees F. Then, remove the pot from the heat and stir in ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Spin the Sugar
When the sugar has cooled to a honey-like consistency, dip the forks in and then swing them back and forth (carefully!) over the wooden dowels. After doing this a few times you’ll start to accumulate threads of sugar, much like cotton candy.
Shape the Sugar
Dust your hands with cornstarch and then gently roll the threads of warm sugar around a stick to form a cotton-candy-like cluster. Serve the spun sugar soon after it’s made.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.