Sugarwork is a fantastic technique to learn. This is by no means ‘professional’ sugarwork, but still takes a little bit of practise. However, it’s a great way to elevate the simplest of home bakes. Watch the below video for how to do two of my favourite techniques!
PART 1: Caramel nuts (easy/medium!)
- Blanched hazelnuts
- Half a mug of sugar
- Cocktail sticks
Make the caramel:
- Place half a mug of sugar into a saucepan, and heat on high
- Wait for the sugar to melt (3-5 minutes)
- As it starts to melt, gently move the un-melted sugar into the melted sugar using a wooden spoon
- Continue heating on medium heat until a dark caramel colour (watch out, it turns quickly!)
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 3-5 minutes, until a thick and slow-moving consistency
While the caramel is cooling, gently spike the hazelnuts with a cocktail stick and prepare a vertical area above which you can secure the cocktail sticks to allow the caramel to drip from the hazelnut and dry. Perhaps a heavy chopping board placed above the edge of a shelf, or a corkboard (see video above or picture below for how I did it!)
Dip and dry the hazelnuts
- Once the caramel is ready (thick consistency), hold the cocktail stick and dip a hazelnut fully into the caramel
- Draw up the hazelnut and place above the pre-prepared vertical area (see above), to cool
PART 2: Caramel spirals (hard!)
For this, you’ll need to make the same caramel as above, with a similar consistency to the above. But this time the caramel needs to be even cooler, even thicker, to allow you to gently wrap a sting of caramel around a wooden spoon (see video above for how-to)
- Caramel as above, cooled until a thick consistency
It pays to keep the saucepan close to the heat, as you make need to every now and then place the caramel back on the heat, to maintain the right consistency.
Make the spiral:
- Take a fork, and fully immerse it into the saucepan of gloopy caramel – if the caramel doesn’t resist your fork entering at the surface, then your caramel is much too hot
- Take a wooden spoon in the other hand, holding it at the spoon-end and extending the handle-end (i.e. holding it backwards)
- Draw up the fork to head height (preferably in your dominant hand) and let it continuously drip until it gets slower, thicker and potentially like string
This bit takes some practising, so experiment with the temperature of the sugar here. Too fast and the sugar won’t defy gravity to wrap around the spoon – it will just flow either side. Too slow and you won’t get a long enough string to make into a spiral – you’ll be trying to wrap a lump of sugar which is never a good idea!
- Now, put the fork about 2 inches above the wooden spoon handle and once ready, touch the string of moving sugar to the wooden spoon and (immediately and very quickly) start wrapping the sugar string around the handle in spiral form, right until the end if you can
There should be a bit of resistance as you pull the sugar in a spiral around the spoon handle – i.e. the sugar should tug back very slightly. This is when you know the spiral will work, and is the perfect consistency!
The great thing about this recipe is…apart from being frustrating at times…it is really easy to practise over and over again. Keep reheating the sugar, pulling up, cleaning the fork and start again. Until you reach the perfect sugar spiral – once you have it you can make millions. Good luck!