Hand-Pulled Cotton Candy: How to Make a Global Sweet

By Dave Arnold
Chocolate_Candy_silho_post.jpg

Hand-pulled cotton candy, a.k.a. dragon's beard.


Welcome to my first video post, in which I'll show you how to make hand-pulled cotton candy (hereafter denoted as HPCC). HPCC is made by stretching and folding cooked sugar while continuously dusting with powder to keep the strands from sticking together. Each time you fold the candy you double the number of strands. 14 turns, which results in 16,384 strands, is not uncommon. The most well known HPCC is dragon's beard candy from China, which you can find in New York's Chinatown if you look hard.

For years I thought dragon's beard was specifically Chinese. Recently, however, Behroush Sharifi, the Saffron King, gave us a sample of pashmak, Iranian HPCC flavored with sesame flour. Our Turkish intern, Naz, saw the pashmak and told me about a Turkish version called pishmaniye, flavored with buttered flour. Turns out HPCC is a worldwide phenomenon. Using chef Peter Pang's instructions for dragon's beard as a foundation, I developed the Cooking Issues recipe. Here it is ( N.B.: I'm not that good at it yet):



I tried to make the video comprehensive, so you might find that it runs a little long. If you're in a hurry, the recipe is at 30 seconds, the pulling starts at 4:45, and the fast-motion pulling starts at 6:46.

For the recipe and technique, watch the video; some teaser pictures below:

Staring_through_candy-500x442.jpg

Staring through 16,384 strands of candy (2 to the 14th turns).



Nick_Wong_Dragons_Beard-500x490.jpg

FCI alumnus Nick Wong angling for dragon's moustache as the new HPCC term.



Vingear_Candy-500x459.jpg

HPCC flavored with malt vinegar powder, mustard powder, smoke powder, and cornstarch sprinkled with citric acid and salt and wrapped around chopped peanuts. Not savory and not a gimmick—straight-up truly delicious. Eat-all-day delicious.



Mid-Pull-500x489.jpg

HPCC mid-pull. Here we are using 75 percent cornstarch and 25 percent Valrhona cocoa powder. For a darker, richer flavor we use 50/50.




This post also appears on CookingIssues.com. All photos courtesy of Cooking Issues.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2010/11/hand-pulled-cotton-candy-how-to-make-a-global-sweet/67180/