When I recently walked through one of the usual junk stores, I suddenly saw the package. It was placed at the top of the shelf and cost only EUR 20: a cotton candy machine. Actually, I only went into the shop to quickly buy a light tube as party decoration. As it often is: I didn’t get what I was looking for, but everything else.

Cotton candy – you joy and reward of my childhood! Why waiting for the next fun fair! I want you anytime, anywhere, no matter of the weather! There are even people who only go to the fair for a photo with colorful cotton candy. So true. The small (pink) clouds of sugar are really something that has been around for a few centuries.

Who Invented Cotton Candy? The production of “spun sugar” is so old that the exact time of the invention is not exactly known. However, recipes can already be found in cookbooks from the 16th and 17th centuries. The first candy floss maker was invented by William J. Morrison and John C. Wharton in Nashville in 1897 and a patent was applied for. Since then, the little machine has delighted visitors on many fun fairs and is a highlight on children’s birthdays. I’m currently planning it as a surprise for an adult party, according to the motto: we all still love to be kids sometimes, aren’t we? 

How can you make cotton candy yourself? There are two options: by hand with a whisk or with a cotton candy machine. The hand-drawn variant is a little more exhausting and the threads are a little thicker, which does not harm the taste.

Instructions for making cotton candy WITHOUT a machine:

Ingredients: 400 g sugar, 20 ml corn syrup, 20 ml water, pinch of salt

Tools: pot, sugar thermometer, baking paper, whisk, wooden sticks

Preparation:  Mix all the ingredients in a large pan and heat it slowly over medium heat while stirring. If water collects on the edge of the pot, dab it carefully with the kitchen towel.

As soon as it becomes a sticky mass, the sugar thermometer can be attached to the edge of the pot and the temperature increased. When the mass has reached 160 degrees, you can start.

Now dip the whisk into the mass and move it back and forth in the air over the baking paper. Swinging, spinning, rotating, wobbling … until small thin threads of sugar form a net (caution: you can get burned quickly with the hot sugar!) – Finally the net should then quickly wound up with a wooden stick. Finished!

You can easily get the pot and whisk clean by leaving them in the water until the sugar is dissolved.

How does a cotton candy machine work? In any case, you save yourself stirring and wiggling, because the sugar is simply heated and liquefied on the heating coil in the middle to 150 degrees. Then it is thrown to the edge with the help of the centrifugal force and thus results in fine spun. The threads become soft like cotton wool.

Can you build a “cotton candy machine” yourself?  Yes, there may be people who are willing and able to do so. Supposedly you only need a few household items, namely:

Screw cap, nail (as thin as possible), sandpaper, hammer, drill, box, angle grinder or cordless screwdriver, PET bottle or cling film

Here are some instructions for which – due to lack of personal experience – I cannot give any guarantee:

  • Use a nail and hammer to punch many small holes in the narrow edge of the lid. The smaller the holes, the finer the cotton candy.
  • To avoid the risk of injury, smooth the outer edges of the can end with sandpaper if necessary.
  • Then drill a hole in the center of the screw cap so large that the rod of the device fits through. Place the cover on the device tip and fasten it so that the inside of the cover is facing up.
  • As a result, glue/ fix the switch so firmly that the device is always on and pull the plug (you might not be able to get to the button later).
  • Cut a hole in your box, put the prepared device in and pull the cable out through the hole.
  • Cover the lower part of the device. Either with a cut-open PET bottle or foil so that it doesn’t stick to the sugar.
  • Now switch on the device and pour the liquid sugar slowly and carefully onto the lid center, cotton candy threads are now thrown onto the edge of the jar as in a conventional cotton candy machine.

Which sugar is suitable for cotton candy? You can use simple table sugar, but also isomalt or maple/ corn syrup.

How does cotton candy get taste and color? If you prefer a more intense caramel taste, just heat the sugar a little longer before pulling the strings.

Add aroma, extract or syrup for every taste. The neccessary ingredients you get in each supermarket. Since these flavors are mostly offered in liquid form, only a few drops should be mixed with the sugar. With too much moisture the sugar mass does not become as firm and the whole „thing“ becomes more sticky than cottony. If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to use ready-flavored types of sugar.

Gel-like food coloring is best suited for the coloring process, because as little liquid as possible should be added. If you use liquid paint, just leave out the same amount of water in the recipe. You can also use (vegan) ice powder.  Both, color and aroma, can be mixed directly into the dry sugar before heating.

Finally, of course, any kind of decoration, e.g. with chocolate flakes, love pearls, dried edible flowers etc. Brave consumers combine it with ice cream and serve it  – instead on chopsticks – in an ice cream cone … and, and … ..

By the way – cotton candy SHOULD be stored dry and airtight, regardless of whether you bought it or made it yourself. It is best to make them in a warm, dry room and then immediately seal them in airtight bags or food storage containers. Because the sugar loves to combine itself with any moisture (that’s why it melts so nicely in the mouth) and of course humidity is also in the air. Therefore only decorate the sugar candy when it is immediately consumed. Otherwise it gets dark spots where it got wet. However, this does not change the durability. Since it consists almost entirely of sugar, it lasts for several months.

Here is the recipe for pink/ light green cotton candy from the cotton candy machine:

Ingredients for one person: 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 drops of food coloring in pink / green, 2 drops of raspberry aroma or woodruff.

  • Switch on the cotton candy machine and let it heat up; in the meantime mix the ingredients in a bowl.
  • When the machine is ready (150 degree C), the sugar can be added. When doing this, better measure the amount of filling mass with the enclosed measuring spoon (just in case the machine is a bit smaller than usual). Depending on the model, the device must be briefly switched off or at least stopped before the sugar is poured in and then switched on again.
  • Then wait a while. As soon as the first threads come out of the heating element, they can be caught with the stick. To make it nice and oval: it is best to run the chopstick around the heating coil and catch the first threads. Then hold it horizontally over the spool and turn the cotton candy on/ around the stick.

The result: delicious (pink) clouds that remind me of natural cotton balls.

Soon there will be carnival again. Cotton candy should be a perfect match and a „surprise guest“ on each party. I wish all „sweeties“ delicious moments … extra calories or not.

Petra
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