Spun sugar is traditionally used to decorate ice cream desserts, but it can be used to dress up many others as well. It looks very showy but is actually easy to make. The mass of thin, hairlike sugar threads is also used to decorate pièces montées, such as Croquembouche. Gâteau Saint-Honoré is also decorated with spun sugar on some occasions.
Unless the weather is dry, it is best to make spun sugar immediately before serving. Moisture is gradually absorbed by the thin threads, which become sticky and eventually dissolve. When spun sugar is used as part of a plate presentation, it should not come in contact with a sauce or it will melt.
As with any sugar work, you should prepare everything you will need before you begin to boil the sugar. Cover two wooden dowels or yardsticks with plastic wrap. Place them, parallel, about 18 inches (45 cm) apart and extending over the edge of the table. Set a heavy cutting board on top at the back to hold them in place. Place a couple of sheet pans on the floor beneath the dowels to catch any drips. You will need a metal balloon whisk with the end cut off and the wires slightly spead apart (Figure 13-37, see Chef’s Tip). Have an airtight container handy in which to put the sugar as it is ready. If you are adding color, keep in mind that the color will appear much lighter after the sugar is spun into thin threads, so a darker shade than is normally used is called for here.
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