Cotton Candy is SO Cool (and Sticky….and Messy)

When Grace decides to make cotton candy without a machine on Christmas morning to give her family a sweet surprise, things get a bit messy.

A Super Sticky Adventure

Who doesn’t like soft, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth cotton candy? The nostalgic melty deliciousness always sends me right back to my childhood visits to carnivals and amusement parks. After all the darkness and creepiness of Halloween and the dullness of fall, I thought it’s about time we bring some color into the house. And what’s better than all the colors of the rainbow!? I decided it would be an awesome treat to surprise Lori with big fluffy balls of cotton candy in as many colors and flavors as possible on Christmas morning

Ghost Breath

Did you know that cotton candy has other names around the world? The British and most other Europeans call it candyfloss. Except for France where it’s called barbe à papa which means ‘father’s beard’ and Greece where it’s called something impossible to pronounce, or spell, but can be translated to ‘grandmother’s hair.’ Ew. Down under in Australia, they call it fairy floss. Even China has their own version called dragon’s beard. This version is also made by hand but is a bit different than the fluffy stuff we’re used to.

One of the most interesting names for cotton candy around the world is the Afrikaans South African name, spookasem, which means “ghost breath.” I dread to think what it’s called there in all the other official languages the country has. Did you know there are 11 official languages in South Africa? Well, whatever it’s called, I’m sure it’s decadently delicious all over the world and I was on a mission to make some.

On The Hunt For a Cotton Candy Machine

I checked out Yelp for ads to rent cotton candy machines. I found so many options! There’s even a company called Cotton Candy Clowns where you can rent clowns to make the cotton candy, do balloon animals, and even paint faces. Clowns? I don’t think so. Talk about creepy (and NOT in a good way!) All I could imagine was Pennywise and his fangs. Horror is one thing, Pennywise is next level. And even if it wasn’t just plain weird, it was super expensive. Even just renting a cotton candy machine turned out to be way too much for my Christmas budget, which was as blown as a million balloons.

I also found Fluff and Fluff, an organic, artisanal cotton candy company. Again, crazy expensive and I heard somewhere that it’s possible to make it without a machine so I decided I’d rather attempt to do it myself. After all, Betty and I are planning to open a shop inspired by sweetness one day, maybe we’ll stock our own version of cotton candy as well as baked goodies, who knows? We could do cotton candy with sparkles, sprinkles, chocolate vermicelli (for Betty of course) and maybe even one with sour worms. The options are truly limitless. Feeling inspired and entrepreneurial, I decided to find a recipe and try it out myself.

Ever Had Sugar in Your Eyeballs?

The plan was to make yellow, pink, purple, green, and blue cotton candy. But after the first attempt, I decided that I’d have to simplify or go stark raving mad. By that, I mean ONE color and ONE flavor. I followed the recipe to the letter and, surprisingly, it wasn’t that challenging, but there are a few things that should have been mentioned:

  • It’s physical. Waving the modified whisk around like a magic wand is quite tiring. For the first time in my life, I was actually glad I’m not a witch.
  • It’s nothing like machine-made cotton candy. Although the taste is pretty much the same and it takes on flavoring really well, the texture is not like the machine version at all. It’s not cottony and it’s got a crunch to it.
  • Vanilla, rose water, and almond essence combined is a bad idea. I wanted to make the cotton candy in a range of colors and flavors but ended up combining all the flavors after the first batch turned out to be harder work than I expected. Yuck.
  • It’s MESSY. Every homemade cotton candy recipe should start like this: Cover the kitchen floor and all surfaces with plastic sheeting or be prepared for hours of cleaning sticky colorful gunk from every nook and cranny. Oh, and if you’re as clumsy as what I am, wear protective eyewear. My eyelashes are still clumping together.

Mess aside, the final product turned out kind of like millions of spider webs, but not creepy at all. So let’s just say it’s like a fluffy unicorn’s tail, even though it’s crunchy. Yes, I know that sounds weird. Lori said, ‘Wow! It’s like the purple wizard’s eyebrows!’ Purple wizard? Okay then.

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