the appetizer:

Sugar Baby: Confections, Candies, Cakes & Other Delicious Recipes for Cooking with Sugar by Gesine Bullock-Prado, includes recipes like Rock Candy; Candy Corn; and The Sugar, Baby! (Caramel Lollipops).


Rock Candy

Makes 3 large rock candies or up to 30 miniature rock candies.

Sugar Baby


I love rock candy. It's pure sugar. That's it. It doesn't pretend it's anything more than an unadulterated cavity maker. Just look at it: Instead of itsy-bitsy granulated morsels that can easily hide, rock candy is a series of gigantic, in-your-face sugar crystals. It's the badass of candies, and yet it's beautiful, too. When I am reincarnated—and you know I'm coming back as something sweet—I want to come back as rock candy.

Approach making rock candy as a lab experiment; it's kind of like shoving toothpicks into an avocado seed, setting it in a jar of water on your windowsill, and waiting months for it to sprout. Rock candy doesn't take as long as the avocado but it is a week-long process—and well worth the time.

Sugar 4 cups 800 g
Water 2 cups 480 ml

1. Dissolve the sugar in the water by gently heating the two in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Once all the sugar has melted, take the syrup off the heat and allow to cool very slowly and completely. Alternatively, place the sugar and water in a microwave-safe container and stir, making sure to saturate the sugar with the water. Microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stir. Nuke for 3 more minutes and stir. The sugar has probably melted by now but make sure, and nuke for a few more minutes. Allow to cool completely. Run the solution through a fine sieve.

2. Divide the cooled syrup into two tall glasses. Cut two lengths of cotton or wool cooking string that are just a wee bit shorter than the height of the glasses and dip one into the mixture in each glass. Make sure the strings are saturated. Remove the strings, roll them in extra granulated sugar, and let them dry completely on a piece of wax or parchment paper, at least overnight and for up to 2 days, depending on the humidity. Alternatively, pour the entire batch of syrup in a large, shallow casserole dish and, depending on the size of the vessel, dip as many toothpicks as you can reasonably expect to fit into that surface, allowing for a 2-inch perimeter for each toothpick when it's suspended in the drink. Remove the toothpicks and let them dry completely, as above, at least overnight and for up to 2 days.

A Note from the Sugar Baby: This is my first warning about sugar and moisture but certainly not my last. Moisture is the bane of sugar work—perfectly executed brittle on a rainy day can turn into a sticky, malleable mess in under an hour. The whole point of heating sugar is to evaporate the moisture hidden within the granules; the hotter the sugar gets, the more moisture is sloughed off. In the case of rock candy, we're only heating the sugar to melt in water. Plenty of moisture there, right? So what's the big deal about drying the sugar-saturated string before dipping it back into the drink? Well, it's a big deal because no sugar granule wants to stick to a soggy string. And you'll find it virtually impossible to dry your string on a humid day. But unlike brittle or caramel, you can do something to save the day when that sticky little string refuses to dry. Place your sugar-saturated string(s) on a parchment-lined sheet pan and let them dry out in a very low-heat oven, about 200 degrees F (90 degrees C) to 220 degrees F (105 degrees C), for about 20 minutes. Pinch the string with dry hands to make sure it's no longer tacky to the touch before dipping it back into the sugar mixture. For more rock candy troubleshooting tips, go to

3. Resubmerge the now dry strings into the sugar water, weighing each end down with a non-lead fishing weight, a washer, or something equally heavy to keep the string straight. Tie the top end of each string to a pencil placed across the lip of the glass so that the string suspends gently in the liquid. If you've chosen the shallow-dish method, secure a piece of parchment or plastic wrap tautly across the top of the dish with a rubber band and poke the toothpicks through so they are suspended in the liquid and held tightly in place by the parchment or plastic.

4. No matter your method, let your experiment sit for at least 7 days. I usually keep my experiment going for a few weeks for maximum rockcandy goodness, and I've found the process is much speedier in the cool, dry winter months. It's worth gently wiggling your strings or sticks every few days to keep the ends from adhering to the bottom of the glass or dish.

5. Remove the strings or sticks when you're satisfied with the amount of crystal growth. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.



If you're feeling particularly fancy, replace the 2 cups (480 ml) water with 2 cups (480 ml) coffee to produce java-infused bonbons.


GF: In the food world, it doesn't stand for "girlfriend." It means "gluten free," girlfriend. And you'll find that most of the recipes in this book are just that (gluten free, that is, not girlfriends—but if you're in the market for a girlfriend, making something from this book for a nice lady person might get you closer).

Gluten allergies have become rampant.

Allergies in general, for that matter. I can't remember anyone in elementary school having any food ailment—or if they did, they suffered their gastrointestinal discomforts in silence. But once I started to bake professionally, the litany of allergies for young ones and older folks alike made for a long list of allergen-free treats I had to have on deck. Thankfully, I've always had a healthy arsenal of gluten-free desserts on call, not for any particular reason other than I liked them. So whether you've got a slight wheat aversion or full-blown celiac disease, know that this book is going to be a very handy guide to allergen-free treats.


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This page created September 2011