Paul's Travel Pictures

Melting Sugar Food Art Experiment
How can I melt sugar and create an edible masterpiece? We attempt to discover the secret to this culinary art form.

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Plain White Sugar In Pot

 
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Adding Blue Food Coloring

 
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Lemon Juice Prevents Crystals

 

We've all seen those competitions on the Food Network where culinary artists from across the United States compete for a cash prize by creating extravagant edible food sculptures.

Well, we just happened to see a contest that focused on "Sugar Art" which involves melting sugar, adding food coloring, and assembling intricate three dimensional, brightly colored sugar structures.

I was inspired. "Let's melt some sugar and create art!" My girlfriend enthusiastically agreed to be my accomplice.

After quickly skimming over a few instructional web pages on the Food Network site, I gathered the necessary ingredients and utensils.

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Lemon Juice & Strainer
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For this experiment we'll need plain white granulated sugar, an assorted pack of food coloring, lemon juice, a heavy duty cooking pot (preferably with a copper bottom), a wooden spoon, a measuring cup, and wax or parchment paper. The lemon juice is used to prevent the melting sugar from forming crystals or "crystallizing".

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First Melted Sugar Sample
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Blue Sugar Gel Boiling

I set the electric oven range on "Medium" heat, dropped in a few big spoonfuls of sugar, some blue food coloring, juice from 1/4 of a lemon, and a tiny splash of water.

At first things were going well with our sugar melting experiment. I had envisioned pouring the hot melted sugar solution into a measuring cup and then dripping it onto the wax paper in long thin strips. Then I thought I would let the sugar cool slightly, pull it off the wax paper, bend it into interesting shapes, and construct a towering replica of some world landmark.

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Here's where our experiment went awry. I remembered reading that a bowl of ice water would be needed to cool down the super heated melted sugar before pouring it onto the wax paper. Then somehow we thought that pouring the pot of melted sugar over a mound of ice cubes would be a good idea. The theory was that once the ice cubes melted away it would leave behind a complex and multi-faceted piece of sugar art.
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Once we poured two batches of hot melted sugar over the large measuring cup filled with ice cubes, I flipped it upside down on a thin aluminum baking tray that had been punched with a few holes to allow the water to drain.
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"Snow" (Confectioner's Sugar
)
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After a few hours on the baking tray, all the ice cubes had melted and left many voids and cavities in our piece of sugar art. It actually looked a lot more interesting in person than it does in these pictures. We used some confectioner's sugar to create a "snow" topped peak, but once the powdery sugar stopped falling from above it just looked like mold as it melded with the greenish sugar.
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Art or Abomination???
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There will definitely be a "next time" for this culinary experiment but I'd rather attempt the more traditional method of pouring thin bendable strips of melted sugar on wax paper. Another technique we can try is to melt the dry sugar without water or lemon juice to create a brown caramelized moldable candy.  ( Kids - Don't try this at home without your parent's permission and supervision.)

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