Oh Sugar, Sugar

March 11, 2017

This Friday we had Chef Jared Danks, the Program Director of Culinard at The Culinary Institute of Virginia College and a phenomenal sugar artist!


Class is scheduled to begin at 9:00,however,  we were emailed and told to get to class early, 8:00 o’clock, so that we could get all the ingredients weighted out and ready to go. Chef Jared was scheduled to arrive at 8:30.

Chef Mary Helen told us that to pair up, so Allie and I paired up. We are The Baking Babes after all. I gathered and weighted out all the ingredients; while, Allie grabbed side towels and aprons.

Here is the recipe he proved & we used!

Basic Pulled and Blown  Sugar:


Tartaric acid solution

  • 1 oz Cream of tartar
  • 1 oz Hot water

Sugar mass

  • 2 lb 2 oz Granulated sugar
  • 14 oz Water
  • 7 oz Glucose or Corn syrup
  • Food coloring, optional


  1. Combine cream of tartar and hot water, stir to dissolve an set aside to cool.
  2. Bring sugar and water to a boil for two minutes then add glucose or corn syrup.
  3. Add food coloring at 230 degrees F (if using). May also use paste at the end of cooking.
  4. At 285 F, add  12 drops of acid solution.
  5. Remove the mixture when it reaches 305 – 310 F and immediately plug the bottom of the pan in old water to stop the cooking (wipe the bottom).
  6. Pour onto a silicone mat and start lifting the edges and folding over to cool evenly.
  7. When the spreading of the sugar mass slows down, start pulling air into the mass. Be careful not to over pull.
  8. Pull flat and cut into pieces to use or save for later to be reheated.

Chef Jared demoed the sugar recipe up until step 3, while waiting for his sugar to reach 285 F, we started on ours. Chef Jared said that the amount of tartaric acid solution he made was enough for the whole class, so we started with step 2. So our first step was to pour our 14 oz of water in a pan.

We then added in our granulated sugar, careful not too spill any on the sides, and waited for it to come to a boil.


Then, we added in the corn syrup. We didn’t have glucose.


While we waited on our sugar mixtures to reach 285 F, Chef Jared finish up his pulled sugar recipe. He showed us how to scoop off the impurities with a ladle and a paint brush with water to brush to edges of the pan to prevent the sugar from recrystallizing. He added in his tartaric acid solution, and then allowed the mixture to reach 305 F. Once it came up to temperature he then plunged it into a bowl of cold water to cool it down! Next he wiped off the bottom of the pan to prevent the water from the bottom and sides from getting into the sugar mixture.

*Side note: Chef Jared had this great digital thermometer that has an alarm on it that can be set for a certain temperatures. My uncle had one at Thanksgiving that he used for the turkey. I really need to invest in one (See isomalt later).

Allie and I went back to check and see if our sugar mixture had come up to temperature yet, but it still had a ways to go. It was only at about 200 F.


Chef Jared then showed us how to pour our done sugar mixture onto a slipat, and how to add color to different sections.


He also showed us how to add color to the pot if we want it all one color, and to cast it in molds to form and base or a free form base.

Our sugar mixture finally came up to temp. We then added the tartaric acid solution. Then we waited for it to come up to 305 F. While we waited Chef Jared demonstrated how to mix in the color, pull air into it, and stretch it out, cut into pieces and lay it flat to cool.

We returned to our sugar mixture and it had finally reached temperature! I plunged the pot in a water bath to cool it, then wiped the bottom, and divided it out over two silpats for Allie and I.


We then added our colors and started to pull in the cooled edges of the sugar to mix in. I made four sections. One blue, one red, one yellow, and one clear (no color), all the primary colors so that if I wanted to make others I could mix them.


Once they were fully mixed, I incorporated air, stretched them thin, and cut them into smaller pieces. We them placed them under the warmer.

My colored sugar pieces on the left and Allies colored sugar pieces on the right! 

Next, Chef Jared demonstrated how to make isomalt bubble sugar. He placed a silpat in a baking sheet and added a thin layer of isomalt on top. He also added some red powder color, (it doesn’t look like it, but its there) then placed another silpat on top. We put this in a 35o F for about 10 – 15 minutes.

Once it came out of the oven, it had created large holes and turned a vibrant red.

After this, Allie and I wanted to try some isomalt, so we put some isomalt in a pan and covered it with water until it looked like wet sand.(Per Chef Jared instructions) We put this on the stove top to allow it to reach 305 degrees F. We were attempting to create something perfectly clear. I was hoping to cast some diamonds in a mold that Chef Mary Helen had got for me to use on my three tier wedding cake. Chef Jared had used the mold to cast some green sugar earlier.


Remember when I mentioned Chef Jared thermometric that had an alarm before, yeah that would have come in handy…. Because we were watching Chef Jared demo blown sugar and then we smelled something burning. Yep. I burned the isomalt.

Photo credit: @thekitchenzest

So, we started over with a new batch and used Chef Jared thermometer. While that was heating up, he continued to demo.

Blown sugar

Then a swan


He showed us how to pull the sugar into ribbons alternating the colors, and what to do with it when all the colors mesh together, and also showed us how to make flowers! So that what I tried.


I sculpted my stamen in yellow and pulled my petals in red, which turned out to be a pretty light pink. I then used his burner to melt the ends and put the flower together.


We poured the isomalt, that I did not burn this time, in the jewel molds to harden. By this time it was time to go. So, we left the isomalt to harden over night, and over spring break for that matter. When we get back I will pop them out and see how they turned out. Chef Jared, showed me on the green ones how to get of the bubbles that form on the outside. Solution: blow torch!


So when we get back from spring break we will see how they turned out!! Stay tuned!

~Holly O



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