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super thin sugar shell


KennethT
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hello sugar/pastry experts! I am looking to make a sugar (like a blond caramel color) shell that is super thin... I did some experimenting, but can't seem to get it as thin as I'd like - I tried pouring the liquid sugar onto a silpat and spreading it around, but it cooled before I could spread it thin enough...

Is there some trick I'm missing? Or some way to make the sugar less viscous before pouring?

Texturally, I'd like the final product to crack if smacked with the back of a knife or spoon - so I don't know if adding corn syrup would help becuase I don't know if it would make the final product too flexible...

I'd love to hear any thoughts.... Thanks!

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This seems obvious so I must be missing something. You don't mean like blowing some sugar with a pump.

I made a recipe yesterday in fact with corn syrup in it and it was so sticky I just wrestled and pulled and finally removed my hands from out of my latex gloves that were inextricably tangled inside the giant sticky mass of sweet lava with the spatula all glued to the fricken silpat.

So I ventured back before too long and managed to get a nice blob together and blew some cool orbs and a fish too and had a great time. But it was wrestling a 500 pound gorilla for a while.

I mean all you have to do is over cook it a little bitty bit land it's a beautiful caramel color. For my paraphenalia I have the hand pump dealie and the shaft from a bic pen (aka a thick straw) But key was the 250 watt warming bulb to keep things warm. I'm slowly adding to my arsenal of sugar tools, Just doing the best I can with what I have at present. I mean I'm just playing I'm not using this for any projects.

You don't mean that right? I missed something right?

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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Well you don't have to blow it either--you just need to work it and keep it warm --you could just pull it to get a real thin shell. (duh, Kate)

You need the 250 watt warming bulb--fifteen bucks at the hardware store for the ceramic outlet and $6-$7 for the bulb give or take a few.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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It kind of depends on what you want to do with the shell. Pulling is probably the easiest, you'll also get shinier, better looking sugar that way. The catch is, to keep the high gloss, it must cool fairly quickly, before the air bubbles get out. You can hand-form shapes, or push sheets of sugar into or on top of molds.

I took a class with Kanjiro Mochizuki at the World Pastry Forum in 2006, where he demonstrated some sweets he serves at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. One of those desserts was a sort of cookie that he finished by pushing through pulled sugar, like a nut spike (see my avatar pic) so that the cookie had a thin shell all around it. He pulled it to a high sheen, so the cookie looked like it was enrobed in gold.

You can do some interesting, though limited, things with net (sometimes called bubble) sugar which is baked. You can manipulate it while it's cooling.

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Thanks everyone for your great replies... I'm actually doing something non-pastry related... I was thinking of making a sugar shell flecked with cocoa nibs as a shell for a squab breast with foie gras in a chocolate sauce for V-Day... I figured I could make the sugar shell in advance and mold it onto an aluminum foil faux squab breast and then just place it onto the squab breast before service.

So far, I've done the first idea presented which was to take my original sugar shell (which was about double the thickness that I wanted) and broke it into pieces and then buzzed it in the spice grinder... then put the dust onto the silpat and into a 350 oven... worked pretty well, but then another shot worked well reheating with the propane torch... I used plain table sugar, not the fondant, etc. as recommended, and it worked pretty well...

The taste test confirmed... a good success! Rolling is another good idea, but I wanted the cocoa nibs (embedded in the sugar) to be larger than the thickness of the shell, so that might be problematic...

I love eGullet!!!

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How about using an Isomalt/fondant/glucose caramel? See here, for instance.

Variations on that idea are what I use most of the time. It's very controllable but it doesn't always look as nice as well done sugar (which is not one of my skills but I'm slowly working on improving that) so it kinda depends on the application (which wasn't mentioned in the original post).

Edit: Ok, the application showed up while I was typing. I'd definitely go the isomalt/fondant/glucose route. It's less sweet, easier to work with and more stable when exposed to humidity. Plus you can easily add flavor if you want. I once cooked a gastrique down to the consistency of glucose and subbed it in for the glucose. It worked great and resulted in a subtle but nice sweet and sour flavor in the final pieces.

Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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what would the proportions be for the Isomalt/fondant/glucose caramel, I'm not seeing it anywhere. Never mind, just found it

The recipe is 200g fondant, 200g glucose and 100g isomalt (adapted from Alex Stupak's recipe on starchefs.com) heated to hard crack stage, or 325 degrees F.  For more information on fondant, glucose, and isomalt, click here.
Edited by gfron1 (log)
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I just did this method this weekend and melted the sugar over sous vide pork belly. It was a huge hit. I made my fondant from scratch and really struggled with it, so i'll be looking to buy a tub in the future. The sugar was seasoned with smoked hot paprika ala Alinea's cookbook.

gallery_41282_4708_22955.jpg

Edited by gfron1 (log)
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Looks great Rob. Yeah, handmade fondant can be a workout if you did a large batch. You can speed it up next time by saving a bit of the batch you already made as a seed. Toss it on top of the hot syrup after you pour it and work it in when you start working the syrup. It'll cut the work time at least in half. Small batches can be done in a processor as long as you have a strong processor. I've done it in a basic Kitchenaid processor and the Kitchenaid wasn't very happy about it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Yeah - that looks great! My squab came out really good, thanks to all the suggestions... but unfortunately, I didn't have presence of mind to take any pictures... basically there was a squab breast cooked SV to 55C (I thought it was slightly too 'medium' to my taste and next time I'll try 53.3C), chilled, then reheated during a quick sear in a very hot pan... that, topped with a foie medallion cooked to 55C also (that came out really good - very little shrinkage - still a bit rare inside). The whole thing was covered in a sheath of thin caramelized sugar studded with cocoa nibs, star anise and coriander. This was served with a chocolate sauce which was basically veal stock enriched with squab bones, with bittersweet chocolate whisked in at the end...

All in all, I think it came out pretty well - even though the sugar shell was on the sweet side (I used sugar, not the fondant,isomalt combo) it was balanced with the cocoa nibs, squab/foie, and by the slightly bitter sauce.... if you had all elements at once, it was very well balanced - but the sugar shell on its own was a bit too sweet.

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