Guinness cotton candy
How do you flavor cotton candy naturally? This was a difficult question to answer, because usually, flavor particles burn when they come out of the cotton candy machine. Sugar will melt and turn into the flossy sugar consistency associated with cotton candy, but if you mix it with any solid flavor particles, they will burn and you will have a mess on your hands. It is easy enough to make cotton candy out of different types of sugars. Maple sugar cotton candy being a very good example (it needs to be combined with an equal amount of regular granulated sugar for best results). So the answer is to infuse the sugar with something that is volatile and could evaporate easily, leaving the flavor particles behind.
For the Guinness cotton candy, I filled a hotel pan with sugar and saturated it with Guinness (about 4 bottles for 6 lbs of sugar). Then I placed it in the dehydrator, expecting it to be completely dry the next day.
It was still very wet the next day.
I kept it in the dehydrator over the week-end, and it was still wet on Monday! I gave up on it for the most part and left the pan covered with cheese cloth on top of our hearth oven and tried to forget about it. Long story short, it took over two weeks for the sugar to dry completely. After the first week, it looked dry, but it wasn’t. I was able to robot-coupe it to break it up into smaller pieces, thinking that smaller pieces would dehydrate faster than one large piece of sugar. I suppose it did dry faster. I think if I had not ground the semi-wet sugar, it might have taken even longer than two weeks to dry. I am not really sure why it took so long to dry. My theory is that there is a degree of acidity in the beer that breaks the sugar down, and that makes it take so long to go back to its crystalline form. But I am not really sure about that, unfortunately. Once the sugar was 100% dry, we ground it to a powder and then processed it in our cotton candy machine with very good results.
Since then we have made elderflower liquor cotton candy (excellent, and this one only took 48 hours to dry), balsamic vinegar cotton candy (also took an eternity to dry; very acidic, obviously, so this confirms that an acidic ingredient breaks the sugar crystals down, but I am not sure if Guinness is acidic enough or acidic at all; simple to check with a pH meter, which I do have but needs a battery…), port cotton candy and muscat cotton candy and jalapeno cotton candy: for this one, we had to cry-o-vac the sugar with chopped fresh jalapenos and let the sugar absorb the moisture/flavor from the peppers for two days. The flavor of the jalapeno was mild, so we improved it by dehydrating jalapenos and then sprinkling them on top of the cotton candy. I think it could be improved by adding more jalapenos to the same amount of sugar.