- 1 cup granulated sugar
- Well-oiled round knife sharpener or well-oiled wooden spoon handle
1. Sprinkle ½ cup of the sugar in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring occasionally, until it is completely liquid and a nice golden brown color.
2. Sprinkle the remaining ½ cup of sugar over the melted sugar in the saucepan, and slowly stir it in. At first the sugar will be thick, but as the second batch of sugar melts, it will thin out and become very fluid. Cook it until it is a dark brown color--it might begin to smell caramelized at this point. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
3. Now comes the most important part: allowing the sugar to cool. Most frustration with sugarwork comes from having the sugar at the wrong temperature to produce the desired results. Depending on the temperature of the room, it may need to cool for 5-10 minutes. You want the sugar to be very thick. When you lift a spoonful of it, it should be somewhat hard to remove, and should pull like taffy from the pan. It should not be so set that it’s brittle or breaking, but it should definitely have substance and body. If you wanted to, you should be able to touch it and mold it with your hands.
4. Once your sugar is at the proper workable temperature, hold your oiled round knife sharpener or wooden spoon handle in your non-dominant hand, and the spoon in your dominant hand. Lift a spoonful from the pan and allow the first big glob to drop back into the pan. Once you have a nice, taffy-like trail dropping from the spoon, begin to wind it around the sharpener, beginning at the end closest to the hand that is holding it. As you pull it around, the sugar should stretch like taffy in a thin rope from the end of the spoon. If it droops or falls from the bottom of the sharpener, it is still too hot and needs to cool a bit more so it can hold its shape. If it starts to crack or resists curving around, it should be briefly returned to the stovetop and heated, stirring frequently, until it is warm enough to be malleable.
5. Once you have wound the sugar to the end of the sharpener, break the “tail” and allow it to set on the sharpener for just a few seconds, then slide it off and place it on a waxed paper-covered baking sheet. Repeat until you have as many corkscrews as desired, reheating the sugar as necessary to maintain a workable temperature.
6. Like all sugar decorations, these corkscrews are very delicate and very sensitive to humidity. They should be used the same day they are made, as they do not store well. If you do try to store them, I recommend keeping them in an airtight container at room temperature with a desiccant. Do not refrigerate them, as they will melt, and avoid putting them on desserts, especially wet desserts, until the last possible moment.