Unearthing Fossilized Candies (including Candy Canes) and a Sugar (Holiday) Shack
Updated: Jan 18, 2020
Perhaps the best thing to come out of this art cooking project is not what I expected, but it is super cool! The picture to the right is what looks like fossilized candy canes! If you want to give fossilized candy canes to your favorite archaeologist or scientist (haha :) ), you will know how after you read this post.
This is just an example of how experimenting in the kitchen can lead to cool unexpected findings.
This serendipitous unearthing of a new technique has inspired me to think about making other fossilized candies. For example, I could put a cookie shaped like a fossil or bones and then repeat this. That would be super cool. Perhaps chocolate would work, but it may melt. There are numerous archaeological or dinosaur or science-themed opportunities here! :)
How did I come up with it?
I have been experimenting with making hard candy with varying levels of success from trying to make a Galaxy Lollipop (still working on that!)
I've seen a lot of gingerbread houses in different YouTube videos and on the Food Network and so putting this all together, I thought "Oh, it would be cool if I try to make a "gingerbread" house completely out of hard candy like candy glass." I had never seen one of those.
I knew it was going to be hard and pretty much impossible for me. Haha. :)
Silicone molds work really well for hard candy, but the ones I have wouldn't help me build a house. I decided I needed to make 6 rectangular panels out of foil to form the house (4 pieces) and the roof (2 pieces).
I just folded the edges of the foil in an accordion manner on 4 sides to form a border for the squares/rectangles.
-- For the house, the front & back panels were smaller and almost square vs. the side of the house panels, which were rectangles.
-- The 2 roof panels were slightly bigger than the side of the house panels. I sprayed them all with cooking spray.
Here are all 6 molds.
To differentiate the roof from the rest of the house, I decided to put crushed candy canes in it -- sort of like shingles.
I didn't think that the candy canes would melt because the hard candy liquid mixture cools down and hardens quickly once it gets to room temp.
According to the clear hard candy recipe, I boiled 1 cup of corn syrup, 1 cup of sugar and 1/3 cup of water. You are supposed to let it go until 300 degrees Fahrenheit before you pour it. For some reason, for me, some where around 280 degrees, it becomes golden. I think this is because the mixture is actually hotter than the thermometer in places because the large pot I used has a bigger surface area. I'm still working on figuring this out. Sugar work is fickle, but it's fun. A lot of science and art.
So it is supposed to be clear hard candy, but it became sort of golden in color and that's why it looks like a fossil. :)
I poured the liquid hard candy mixture into the foil molds w/ cooking spray. I wasn't sure if it was going to work or if they were going to get stuck on the foil. I just left them there and went to sleep...
...Yay! They popped out of the foil molds really easily and I got all 6 panels. I really like the wrinkled texture the foil caused; I think that's super cool. They were slightly irregularly shaped and not perfect as I expected.
Constructing the Sugar (Holiday) Shack
I did some research on Google and I've seen on different competition shows on the Food Network that people use royal icing or chocolate when constructing gingerbread houses because they can dry hard and support it.
These hard candy panels were pretty heavy, so I didn't think that royal icing or chocolate would be strong enough to provide enough structural support.
The only thing I thought that would be strong enough to glue the panels together and build the house -- would more hard candy.
I made another batch of hard candy mixture, but as I was putting the panels together, I burnt it even more than the first batch. So it was brown -- not golden or clear, haha. :)
But I was able to build the house! It stood up and was structurally sounds with a crushed candy-cane shingle roof!
It is a little wonky looking. Sometimes there is something nice about some imperfections. As I mentioned, I really like the wrinkled texture the foil caused; I think that's super cool. There are a few more pictures below.
Like I said above, it's all super fun even if it doesn't turn out you like expect. And the unearthing of how to make fossilized candies is super cool and something I will do again.
Give it a try! We are good at this? Yeah! We are good at this! :)