Cotton Candy for grownups!!!
So tomorrow is National Homebrewing Day, and at our large event I usually like to brew or do something that has a bit of a wow factor involving beer.
About a month ago I was craving good old fashioned cotton candy. Someone mentioned that machines could be had cheap at just about any store. Then someone else commented that knowing me, I'd try to make some out of beer.
An idea was born....
I remembered a few years back that some folks were making hop candys, and one of the people going into business sent me a case of them.
So I decided to follow their lead and make my own.
Before I start, a word about home cotton candy makers...
They are available nearly everywhere these days for about 40 bucks. In my research I found out there are 2 different styles on the market. 1) Uses ONLY sugar or hard candies that are ground down into sugar. 2) That can handle both sugar and hard candies as is. I opted for the one that could take both sugar and hard candies (since I'm addicted to cinnamon Jolly Ranchers.)
I chose the Bella Cotton Candy Machine from Target
because it seemed less gimmicky and more solidly made than some of the others.
Also you don't have to buy one, you can DIY a simple machine from the web like this instructable.
First I decided to make and IPA hard candy.
1 12 ounce IPA of your choice (I had originally wanted to use my favorite Two Hearted Ale, but the night I planned on doing this, 3 stores I go to were out.) so I settled on Hoptical Illusion by BluePoint Brewing company.
1 Cup of Sugar
1 Cup of Karo Syrup
5 Tablespoons (approx) of Cascade Hop Leaves.
Large pot to boil the candy in (I started too small and later had to dump the mess into a larger pot.)
French Press Coffee Maker (Or you can just steep and strain the hops out with some other means, but a french press is easier. This one was had for about 15 bucks from Meijer's. It Only holds a couple cups of liquid.)
A shallow baking pan to pour the hot candy onto. A Silpat silicone mat makes it so much easier to work with, AND clean up after.
(Not shown) A silicon spatula. It makes cleanup easier than using a wooden spoon or something else.
Safety Warning: You are heating sugar to a temp greater than 300 degrees, it is hot and sticky so proper care needs to be had throughout the entire process. Have heat resistant gloves, and don't be tempted to touch the cooling sugar until it is rock hard. It BURNS!
Put 5 tablespoons of hop leafs into the bottom of the French Press.
In a small saucepan heat the beer to 150 degrees F.
When beer is warmed, add it to the French press to steep hops in the beer.
Steep beer in hops for 10 minutes or more.
Measure out 1 cup of corn syrup, and 1 cup of table sugar into a large pan.
(I found one of these nifty Alton Brown inspired sliding measuring cups at Bed Bath and Beyond, they work great for gooey things like corn syrup or honey.)
Heat the sugar/corn syrup to 310 degrees F. Stirring gently with a silicone spatula.
NOTE THIS PAN IS TOO SMALL! I had to switch to a larger pan for this, so use the right one to begin with....saves you from a nasty cleanup and potential burns
When you reach 310 degrees, pour in the steeped beer.
It will be a hissing and violent reaction as the water in the beer is nearly flash boiled away. THIS is where I had to switch pans.
The temp will drop below 300 at this point.
Let the liquid boil away and the temp creep back up to 300 degrees. Stirring to mix everything.
When you reach 300 degrees again, turn off the heat and stir constantly for 1 minute.