Sugar has been getting a bad rap lately for not doing a body good, but I’ve found an unexpected way to enjoy it: sugar centerpieces. Off all the mediums I’ve worked with this semester in my Chocolate and Showpieces class, sugar is by far the coolest. Remember the chocolate heron amenity (it alternately cracked and melted)? Remember the dead dough Happy Owl Baking centerpiece (too many things went wrong with that to bother mentioning)? Well, I can Dear John both of those mediums now because I found Sugar.
Sure, sugar is dangerous (boil to 340 degrees), fickle (you don’t even have to be touching it and it could decide to shatter), and it’s a little clingy (it’s sticky and can pull a stray shard or sugar crumb to it from across the room), but it’s also mysterious (what color will it be? I have no idea, just pour in a little dye and see), versatile, and very beautiful.
Sugar is a fascinating mix of fragility and strength. It could crack on you if you look at it wrong, but the sugar bond itself is also so strong that you can solder seemingly incompatible pieces together into acrobatic positions you can’t believe would hold, but they do. That, coupled with sugar’s ability to take almost any color from clear to brilliant jewel tones, gives it a design versatility that is, so far, unparalleled.
If you want to see tension, watch a sugar showpiece competition and know that the sugar artist is probably holding his or her breath since all the careful planning, design, execution, skill, and focus still can’t overcome the element of chance present in sugar. The assembly could go like clockwork, or the breeze could blow, or someone could slam a door, or — well, you get the idea; it’s a gamble. You just take a deep breath and go for it.
So, if you can stand the heat, sugar might be your jam.
Click for sugar slideshow.