Candy Crush: Shweta Shivakumar casting spells with sugar and water

Put down the wand, pack the potions. Sugar and water are all it takes to create some magic.

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That, and the chef’s undivided attention. People call baking an exact science, but working with sugar requires a lot of precision. The good news is that, unlike the unpredictable mixture of milk, flour and eggs, pure white sugar can always tell what it does.

Calculate the percentage of water to sugar correctly, and you can tell from the exact temperature reading where the batch of boiling syrup is. Plain water boils at 100°C. Adding pure white sugar (which is 99.9% sucrose) raises that boiling point. At 113 degrees Celsius, the boiling liquid is 85% sugar. At 149°C, almost all the water is gone, and the concentrate is close to 100% sugar.

In another matter, this is also why it is necessary to be extremely careful to work with sugar solution; It can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with the skin.

Now here’s a bit of that magic: As the temperature rises, the syrup becomes syrupy. As it cools, it forms crystals. At this point, depending on how much the chef stirs or pulls, they can control the shape of the crystals to create treats ranging from cloud-like cotton candy to chewy, stringy treats. soan papdior to completely prevent the formation of crystals to form sugar glass.

Sugar glass, also known as edible glass, is what you see on screen when a window breaks or one person punches another through a door.

This syrup is made by cooling the syrup so quickly that the sugar does not crystallize at all. Instead, it sets in place as an amorphous structure like real glass. Because this type of edible treatment is extra-brittle, and completely transparent, it’s a great alternative to the real thing because it poses far less risk to actors and stuntmen.

The only problem with sugar glass is that it becomes sticky and brittle at high humidity levels, so film makers have replaced it with a synthetic thermoplastic resin called “breakaway glass” in recent decades.

To make a sugar glaze—and you can certainly try it at home—take sugar, water, an acidic ingredient, and a liquid sweetener. Sugar, leaving itself, forms crystals. Crystallization is best when similar molecules can be close together with nothing in between. When making a glass of sugar, adding an acid (as lemon juice, vinegar, etc.) helps break down the disaccharide sugar into its components: the unknown molecules of glucose and fructose. This cleaving weakens crystallization, the first step in helping the sugar become an edible glass.

A liquid sweetener (usually corn syrup) is then added to flood the solution with more unknown molecules. For example, corn syrup contains glucose, maltose, and some long-chain oligosaccharides; Crystals are more difficult to form in such a diverse mixture. The result is crystal clear.

Where crystals are needed in candy, there should also be a lot of control. It is important to get the desired shape and type.

Take cotton candy. Until an American dentist named William Morrison invented the cotton-candy machine in 1897, spinning these tiny fibers was nearly impossible. But with a machine, even a child can. The device first melts the sugar, then forces the hot, molten sugar through tiny holes to spin its airy clouds. When the sugar solidifies, due to centrifugal force, its crystals form a thin thread that can be wound around a stick.

Taffy and soan papdi, the sugar solution is cooked to the soft crack stage (where it looks like lava). At these temperatures, there is some crystal formation. But before the crystals grow large and hard, the gooey, lava-like mixture is pulled and pulled together like a rope, becoming airy and adding new molecules from that air, reducing the size of the crystal. The result, when it cools and sets, is an airy, chewy sweet.

Although this is all fun, it is of course equally harmful to our health. The human body does not need white sugar. For the chef, the allure of the ingredient holds up as a canvas of endless artistic possibility. If only there was a way to enjoy art without swallowing it whole.

(To reach Shweta Shivakumar with questions or feedback, email

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