Tag Archives: Sugar

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.





Coconut Ice

Coconut Ice

Ok it’s time: yes, Christmas time! As some of you will know I love Christmas time, but I really believe it shouldn’t start until December and today (as I write this) is December the 1st. That means that for the next 25 days my house will be full of cheesy Christmas carols and lots of Christmas baking and candy making. Hopefully this will lead to quite a few Christmas blogs.

My first Christmas blog this year is for an old childhood favourite: coconut ice. Now I’m not sure if this is popular elsewhere, but in New Zealand and Australia it has always been a firm favourite.

Sometimes the simple classics from our childhood are worth revisiting and coconut ice is an oldie but a goody.  I do have to insert a super sweet warning here: moderation is definitely the key for consumption of this lolly.



Makes approx. sixty 2cm x 3cm pieces.

  • 600g icing sugar
  • 240g desiccated coconut
  • 70g raspberries (thaw if using frozen raspberries)
  • 230g condensed milk
  • red food colouring (a few drops as required)
  • 1/4 TSP vanilla extract.


Prepare a 20cm x 20cm x 3.5cm baking tin by greasing it and lining it with non-stick baking paper.

Put half of the sugar, half of the desiccated coconut, all of the vanilla extract and 190g of the condensed milk into a bowl. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined.

Place the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth. Put the mixture into the baking tin and press down until it is flat.

Put the remaining sugar and desiccated coconut into a bowl and add the raspberries, a few drops of food colouring and the remaining condensed milk. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are well combined; you can use your fingers if you want.

Place the mixture onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it is smooth. Put the mixture into the baking tin on top of the vanilla layer and press down until it is flat. Try and make both layers about the same depth.

Place the baking tray into the fridge until set; about 2-3 hours.

When set, cut the mixture into 2cm x 3cm pieces.


Coconut Ice

Salted Pistachio Caramels

I have put away my oven gloves this week and handed the kitchen over to Mr LG. As can be expected the end result involves a lot of sugary goodness in the form of salted pistachios combined with a chewy caramel….. Karen

Whenever I am asked to write a blog for my lazy (oops I meant lovely) wife I always think of doing some form of confectionery as I simply can’t compete with her baking. So confectionery it is. Looking through a range of Karen’s cook books and foodie magazines I kept being drawn towards the pictures of rich looking caramels.

After much umming and ahing I decided to adapt a Donna Hay recipe for ‘Chewy Caramels with Salted Peanuts’. I was intending to take the caramels to work so I had to substitute the peanuts with pistachios as one of my work colleagues is allergic to peanuts (always good to know if you like your work colleagues, mind you it also good to know if you don’t like them …. if you catch my drift :)).

Now I have never made caramels before and according to Karen you must follow the temperature guidelines to the degree! In general, when working with sugar, the higher you take the temperature the harder the end product will be (i.e. soft, chewy or hard). For these caramels the recipe recommended a top temperature of 122°C (251°F) although other books suggest a range of 118-121°C (244-250°F) for chewy caramel. I did as this recipe suggested and the texture of the caramels was satisfyingly chewy.

One thing I learnt making these caramels is that if you ask your partner to add ingredients to the weekly shopping list you better be very clear. I asked for salted pistachios and I got salted pistachios. However, I should have asked for ‘hulled’ salted pistachios as this would have saved me quite some time hulling every single nut! Oh well, we live and learn.

If I make more confectionery I will definitely invest in a large quality thermometer as the one we have is quite small and it was hard to record the temperature without burning fingers.

I cut the caramels into 8cm (3″) lengths, but some people felt they were too big so I would recommend half this size.

Note: Be very careful working with sugar as you can burn very easily. Use a long metal spoon and a large pot as the mixture may rise quickly.


Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine Issue 72.


Makes approx. 25 caramels (8cm/3″ lengths).


  • 210gm salted pistachio nuts
  • 550g white sugar
  • 600ml pouring cream
  • 175g golden syrup
  • 50g unsalted butter, chopped.

Grease an 8″square baking tin (20cm x 20cm ) and line with non-stick baking paper.

Place half your pistachio nuts into the baking tin.

Put the cream, golden syrup, sugar and butter into a large pot and turn the heat to high. Stir continuously with a long metal spoon until the sugar and butter have melted.

Reduce the heat to medium and stir continuously for approx. 25 minutes. Using a thermometer check the temperature regularly and once it reaches 122°C (251°F) remove the pot from the stove.

Pour the caramel into your baking tin and then cover with the remaining pistachio nuts.

Cool your caramel at room temperature for 3-4 hours or until it is cool.

Place the caramel into the fridge for approx. 30 minutes until it is firm.

Once the caramel is firm, cut it into the required sizes.