I stumbled on a photograph of pişhmaniye on the Honest Fare blog this week and had to make it. My niece Elisabeth was coming to spend the morning with me yesterday, so we added it to the list of projects for the day. She liked making smoothies, chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons, waffle fries, and Reubens, but she flipped for this. Cotton candy in the United States, this gossamer candy is called papa’s beard in France, dragons’ beard in China, pashmak in Iran, pişhmaniye in Turkey, fairy floss in Australia, and candy floss in Britain, Ireland, South Africa, and Canada. Whatever you happen to call it, it’s delicious, and it’s easier to make than you might imagine. You have to watch temperatures as it heats and cools, but the pulling process is simple and fun. And the finished candy is almost too pretty to eat.
As promised, Miss Elisabeth, here are the step-by-step photos for your birthday party tonight. I hope you have a ball! xo
You begin with the boiling sugar syrup. Watch the temperature closely as it approaches 269 degrees. Remove it from the heat when it is about one degree away.
With your thumbs and forefingers, burrow a little hole into the center of the candy. If your sugar syrup cooked improperly and your disc of candy is hard in the center, microwave it for a few seconds at a time until you can make an indentation in the center of it.
Now the real pulling begins. Hold the candy in both fists. The front hand remains stationery. The back hand ever so gently pulls on the candy.
Hand-pulled Cotton Candy Tips
You are bringing the candy up to 269 degrees, and you want it to take between 20 and 25 minutes. If you have a powerful gas burner (22,000 BTUs), medium heat is perfect. If you have a conventional gas or electric burner, try medium high or high heat. Watch the temperature closely. If it is rising too slowly or too quickly, adjust the heat accordingly.
If you have sugar crystals on the side of your pan, wash them down with a wet brush.
One-quart plastic containers are perfect for this recipe. You could divide the candy into other containers, but be sure they are made of flexible material so that you can pop out the discs of candy when they are solidified.
You need a fine powder to keep the candy from sticking together as you pull it into strands. Cornstarch works well and is neutral in flavor. Cocoa powder mixed with cornstarch also works well. You may mix any ratio you like.
If your candy is too hard to work, microwave it for a few seconds at a time until it is pliable in the center.
As you work the candy, keep it moving through the cornstarch so that its strands remain separate.
Cutting the candy with a scissors will glue the strands together. Pull it until it tears if you wish to separate portions.
Hand-pulled Cotton Candy
Converted for American kitchens from the French Culinary Institute’s Tech’N Stuff blog, Cooking Issues
Yield: four generous bundles of about 16,000 strands each
4 1/3 c. sugar
2 c. water
1 t. vinegar
scant ½ c. corn syrup
1 drop food coloring (optional)
cornstarch for working the candy
- Place all of the ingredients in a medium saucepan and stir them together extremely gently, so as to not get any sugar crystals on the side of the pan.
- Bring the mixture to a boil.
- Insert a candy thermometer and watch it closely. When it reaches 268 degrees, remove it from the heat.
- Allow the candy to cool to 212 degrees in the pan.
- Then divide it evenly into four one-quart plastic containers.
- When the candy reaches room temperature, remove it from the container by squeezing gently as you turn the container.
- Place a generous sprinkling of cornstarch onto a baking sheet with sides.
- Roll the candy in the cornstarch and rub off the excess.
- Now with your thumbs and forefingers, burrow a hole into the center of the candy.
- Using gentle pressure, enlarge the circle. Keep the candy a uniform thickness around the rope.
- When the rope becomes long, twist it into a figure eight and bring the two halves together.
- Now you begin pulling the candy in earnest. Hold the candy in both fists. Your front hand remains stationery while your back hand gently pulls. Rotate your hand positions and the candy and continue pulling until the strands are long.
- Make a figure eight, bring the two halves together and continue pulling.
- Pull the candy for ten to fourteen turns.
- Refer to the step-by-step photographs above and to this excellent video from the French Culinary Institute’s Tech’N Stuff blog.