When you go to a carnival or state fair, it can seem impressive watching cotton candy be spun with a large machine and then served on a stick or paper cone. The only thing better? Taking a piece off and savoring the sweet taste and airy texture right on your tongue.
While you associate cotton candy with these specific occasions, you don’t have to wait for the fair to come to town to enjoy this treat. Instead, when you have a pan, heatproof bowl, thermometer and traditional baking ingredients, you can concoct this carnival favorite right at home.
Cotton candy was invented all the way back in 1897. It was offered at the World’s Fair in 1904 as a novelty item and quickly caught on at similar events.
Initially, cotton candy was a challenge to make, but the availability of machines to quickly spin the treat and the affordability of sugar allowed it to be produced on a larger scale.
Despite these improvements, you can still create the treat the old-fashioned way right from your kitchen. To get started, you’ll need:
4 to 5 cups of granulated sugar
1 to 1½ cups of corn syrup
A flavoring of your choosing — raspberry is traditional, but any flavor oil from the grocery aisle can be blended in. Use no more than a tablespoon of the flavor extract you select.
1 cup of water
Pinch of salt
Two drops of pink or blue food coloring
Lollipop sticks or paper cones for serving
1 . Mix all of your baking ingredients, except for the flavoring and food coloring, inside of the saucepan at medium-high heat.
2 . Stir all of the ingredients together, until you can see the granulated sugar starting to melt.
3 . As you stir, be sure to scrape the sides of the pan, so that the solution doesn’t solidify. You want to keep everything close to a liquid consistency as possible.
4 . After all ingredients have combined, take the thermometer and place it in the mixture. You want to see a temperature of 320°F. Keep stirring and testing until you hit this mark — be careful not to exceed this temperature.
5 . Once the mixture is 320°F, pour it into the heatproof bowl. At this stage, add your flavoring and food coloring.
6 . With the liquid in the bowl, stir with a whisk at a fast pace until it starts to take on that familiar puffy, cloud-like appearance.
7 . As the clouds or “nests” of strands start to form, place them onto a plate or non-stick baking sheet until you have fully spun the liquid mixture.
8 . Serve with the lollipop sticks or paper cones for a carnival-style treat.
If you decide to save any of your cotton candy for later, understand that the fluffy consistency will gradually harden. For a lighter texture, simply microwave a piece of the cotton candy for a couple of seconds before you enjoy its familiar taste and airiness.
If you’re thinking about planning a carnival on a larger scale, turn to American Carnival Mart. We bring the fun through games, decorations and more, including the supplies for making cotton candy. We then combine this variety with wholesale pricing, and guide your experience with personalized, one-on-one customer service.