Cotton Candy (Credit: Wikipedia)
I love cotton candy with a passion. It’s delicious (what else would you expect from sugar?), it has a fabulous texture which makes eating it tons of fun, and it’s hard enough to find that it never gets old. The one downside is that those fluffy fibers are kinda sharp – eat enough and you’ll start cutting up your mouth (not that I’d know or anything). Whenever I go to an amusement park or carnival, I scout out the cotton candy stands so I can score some on the way out. What I’m saying is that cotton candy makes me excited -like, jumping up and down excited.
So imagine how excited I was that we had a cotton candy machine for Halloween.
My faux-family (also known as my best friend’s family) had a cotton candy machine last Halloween, but unfortunately I missed out on the spun-sugar goodness. This year though, I got to immerse myself in the experience; making hundreds of gossamer cones, and eating tendrils of fluff for hours (the trick-or-treaters had fun too).
It wasn’t all great. Apparently the cotton-candy machine my faux-mom rented this year was sub-par, sometimes it produced mountains of fluff, sometimes it produced measly gobs of hard sugar- it was hard to get it right. The line of trick-or-treaters was unending, so the machine was running for almost three hours solid. And the sugar got EVERYWHERE: all over our shirts and hands, as well as in our hair. The next morning, I found a bit of sugar in my ear!
Here’s what you need to know about having a cotton candy machine for Halloween:
- Have enough cones: trying to make cones while there is a long line is no fun, and they don’t work as well (this is a lesson from last year).
- Watch the temperature: If it’s too hot, the candy will be globby, if it’s too cold the candy will be very slow in forming (and a bit globby).
- You need three people: Two to deal with the machine and twirl the candy, and one to hand it out. A spare person to fetch things occasionally is also good.
- Pour the sugar slowly: Depending on the machine, you may be instructed to pour new sugar in while it’s running. If you pour too fast, the sugar can become a tiny projectile (sugar in the eye = no fun).
- Have a rack to place completed cones on: We used a milk crate – the main holes were too big but the tiny holes around the side worked. A sturdy box with holes cut in it would work as well.
- Have a barrier to keep the kids back: We got this idea part-way through the night, before that kids were swarming the table.
- Have a trashcan: This will reduce the number of paper cones littering the street.
- Don’t fret about sugar: You actually don’t need to use the cotton candy sugar – granulated sugar works fine, see below.
- Have fun!
Making the Cotton Candy (Credit: Laura L. Thornton)
We discovered granulated sugar worked last year. I had committed to volunteer at a museum event, and so missed the candy making. When I got home there was no cotton candy, and no sugar left to make more. I was very dejected. We had some vanilla sugar lying around though, and my faux-mom suggested giving that a whirl. It worked! Soon I had an enormous billowy bag (It lasted a couple of days). This year we decided to supplement the flavored cotton candy sugar with granulated sugar we flavored ourselves. In the end both worked equally well, the main difference is that our sugar was nearly colorless. So give cotton candy a try, it’s fun all around, and it will make your Halloween (or birthday, or family reunion) unforgettable.
Cotton Candy Sugar
1 5 lb bag of Granulated Sugar (not Superfine)
1-2 packets Kool-Aid
Mix together (placing it into a sealed container and shaking it is effective) and use like you would standard cotton candy sugar.
This amount of Kool-Aid results in delicately flavored cotton candy, with little to no color, and a lovely aroma. For me, cotton candy is much more about the texture than the flavor, so this was perfect. If you want more flavor just up the Kool-Aid. The Waring ProTM Professional Cotton Candy Machine guide recommends using 1 scoop Kool-Aid to 5 scoops sugar. This seems like an insane amount of flavoring to me, but demonstrates that the amount of Kool-Aid used is really up to your judgement.