Spun Sugar and Toffee Shard Decorations

Giving your desserts and cakes that wow factor can sometimes be as simple as a little bit of decoration. I quite often use spun sugar or toffee shards to dress up a simple rustic cake or dessert. Humidity is the enemy of these decadent sugar decorations and they won’t last long  so it’s best to decorate just before serving. At the hotel we kept the toffee shards stored in an airtight container between sheets of baking paper in a cool dry room.

Spun Sugar


  • 1 Cup Sugar.


Before starting arrange an area to spin the sugar. I use two wooden spoons, I put something heavy on the spoons and have the two handles spaced about 30cm apart sticking out from the bench.
Lay newspaper on the floor underneath where you will be spinning the sugar otherwise you will be picking hard caramel off the floor for days. Make sure that you have a bowl of ice water nearby in case of burns. Also have another heat proof bowl of water ready for later in the process.

I prefer to use the dry method to make spun sugar, this simply means that you are not adding any liquid (water) to the sugar.

Put sugar in a saucepan over a low – med flame. Wait until the edges of the sugar start to melt, once it does start mixing the solid sugar into the melted sugar in small amounts. The first part is quite slow so be patient.

Once sugar has melted and has turned a light amber colour take off stove and put pot into a heatproof metal bowl of water to stop cooking process then remove from the water.

Now you have to wait until caramel starts to firm enough to spin, you can do this by using a wooden spoon. Put the wooden spoon in the sugar and lift out slightly, shake the spoon from side to side and see if caramel starts to form strands when it falls back into the pot. If it doesn’t form strands then wait a bit longer and test again.

Once caramel is ready, use a slotted spoon to dip in caramel. Let the bulk of the caramel drip back into pot. Hold spoon high above the two wooden spoons and move spoon briskly from side to side above spoons. You will see the sugar form fine threads over the spoons. Take spun sugar off the spoons and form into a ball. Be careful of any large spots of caramel that may stick to the threads of sugar – these will be hot and can burn.

You do need to work quickly as the caramel in the pot will harden quite quickly and you will need to reheat to bring back to spinning consistency.

Toffee Shards:


  • 1/2 cup sugar.


Melt the sugar in the same manner as the spun sugar. Once the sugar is melted and a light golden amber colour, pour straight onto a piece of baking paper. Allow to cool and harden completely then cut into big pieces with a knife.
















Twisted Toffee Shards


  • 1/2 cup sugar.


Melt the sugar in the same manner as the spun sugar. Once the sugar is melted and a light golden amber colour, pour separate amounts onto a piece of baking paper. Allow to cool slightly. When the toffee pieces are still warm and pliable, but not hot, pick up the end of a piece and start stretching the toffee. Break or cut the piece when you have desired length. Twist piece to achieve desired shape. Allow pieces to cool and harden before use.





6 thoughts on “Spun Sugar and Toffee Shard Decorations

  1. TheKitchenLioness

    Karen, this is a much needed tutorial for me – I have been eyeing spun sugar decorations for the longest time – I will try this recipe to add a nice touch to my mini versions of Angel Food Cake. I got a pan the other day for six small ones and now that I saw this, I cannot wait to try the pan and add an elegant touch of spun sugar decorations!
    Thank you very much for this very helpful post,

  2. David

    I have been wanting a good tutorial on spun sugar – this is perfect, although I have to say I love the shards, too – especially the twisty ones! Beautiful job explaining these, Karen!

  3. polianthus

    very nice indeed – I am sure if you posted the cake with the shards stuck in the top as the main image more people would click but maybe not, I have bookmarked it too, I wish I had the patience though! happy weekend Poli


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