The eternal quandary: Eat it or frame it?
March 3, 2012 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Caramel Dragon Lollipop: a street vendor shows off his incredible skill with a ladle by creating an edible work of art.
posted by quin (36 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
That was pretty rad. Is the marble cooled from below? Is that why it hardens like that, or am I missing something?
posted by hamandcheese at 11:48 AM on March 3, 2012

That was pretty amazing. I'm proud of myself when I manage not to burn my hand while making dinner - not anymore. Wow.
posted by doyouknowwhoIam? at 12:04 PM on March 3, 2012

Is it marble? I assumed it was dry ice. The caramel seems to set and harden almost instantly.

Too nice to eat!
posted by ShutterBun at 12:05 PM on March 3, 2012

Also, I'm thinking it's maybe not "caramel" in the usual sense, but rather more of a melted hard candy substance, which would presumably have a higher freezing temperature.
posted by ShutterBun at 12:20 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is awesome, but I can't help but wonder how in the world that kid is supposed to eat the thing without immediately shattering it into a million pieces that fall on the ground.
posted by Sys Rq at 12:21 PM on March 3, 2012

posted by LMGM at 12:22 PM on March 3, 2012 [7 favorites]

Man, competition for your candy dollar is fierce.
posted by sourwookie at 12:29 PM on March 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

Sugar cools and hardens very quickly on its own. It's fun to play with, but can be frustrating for this reason. Marble is cool, and speeds up hardening process even more. No trickery needed. It just works that way.
posted by heyho at 12:34 PM on March 3, 2012

This must be Taiwan. It's so... Taiwanese
posted by danny the boy at 12:38 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think that's some sort of molten rock sugar. I've never seen liquid caramel solidify that fast.

Reminds me of the takoyaki cooks. Simple principle, takes only a few minutes and so much about technique.
posted by tksh at 12:40 PM on March 3, 2012

This is also why the bread that some people keep in the fridge goes "stale" so quickly... the sugar recrystallizes in cooler temperatures, and it makes the bread hard. (Old bakers' trick: take the stale 2-day-old baguette, run it under a little water real quicklike, then rebake it; it comes out like new.)
posted by heyho at 12:40 PM on March 3, 2012 [10 favorites]

I feel so gyped. I had starburst as a kid.
posted by roboton666 at 1:04 PM on March 3, 2012

This is why I love the Internet, and human beings so much. The world is full of wonder, isn't it?
THANKS, great post!
posted by Ron Thanagar at 1:21 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

were those chicken wings in the pan ?. Caramelized chicken wings hmmmm
posted by duffers5000 at 1:23 PM on March 3, 2012

Ah. So, it's not a wingaling dragon, then? Um, okay.

But, wait, no big beefy arm coming out of his back?

Where are the consummate V's? I said, CONSUMMATE!!!

(Just kidding, this is really neat!)
posted by BrashTech at 1:52 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

ARFGH!! one comment sooner and I would have bet you to it! I said consummate V's!
posted by Xoebe at 1:59 PM on March 3, 2012

I think I'm more impressed with his skill with the spatula than his skill with the ladle. It's one thing to make that dragon. It's another thing to pry it off that surface in one piece.
posted by entropone at 2:11 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would never be able to enjoy eating that. I'd just feel way too guilty about destroying something so cool.
posted by BucketOBees at 2:28 PM on March 3, 2012

I've sen cooler things, but not that many.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:50 PM on March 3, 2012

This might be barley sugar, rather than caramel.
posted by caphector at 2:57 PM on March 3, 2012

And I can't even get a decent sashimi around here (cabbage as garnish...? Cabbage?!). Jävla skit också.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 3:07 PM on March 3, 2012

That kid is NOT WORTHY! Seriously, he's just going to chomp that sucker back willy-nilly.

Highly impressive. Makes my decorative cake-icing efforts seem rather primitive.
posted by Go Banana at 3:33 PM on March 3, 2012

"Caramel" is the proper term for sugar that's been brought to 170 degrees F. The sugar browns. That's what you'll find on creme brulees, the cracking coating on a croquembouche, or spun into a little nest of angel hair.

What people usually think of as "caramel" is milk caramel, with milk, cream, or butter added.

This looks like caramel to me. This guy's skill is amazing -- I'm so grateful that the whole world can see it!
posted by fiercecupcake at 4:51 PM on March 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

(Well, on a creme brulee, you're making the caramel in place. But I digress.)
posted by fiercecupcake at 4:52 PM on March 3, 2012

I like the roulette wheel of designs. And because it's candy, you always win!
posted by peagood at 4:57 PM on March 3, 2012

Where is this? If it's in Bangkok, I want to know! I can't figure it out based on the YouTube page.
posted by amtho at 5:24 PM on March 3, 2012

A) This is awesome.

B) I think it's just regular sugar, y'all. Have you not seen Jacques Torres or somebody make a spun sugar cage out of it? Here's a slighly goofy youtube of the process. Pure caramel like that can easily stay warm and liquid en masse and still be cool enough to solidify immediately when it's being dripped from a spoon.
posted by Diablevert at 5:56 PM on March 3, 2012

Was his "wheel" a Chinese zodiac type wheel? Maybe he was doing birth year animals for kids?

And nthing that proper caramel (just sugar) sets just like that. I've made straight lines out of it to pile on a cake as decoration and they set instantly. From my perspective it's almost more impressive that he was able to get the whole dragon done before it set in the pan or on his ladle!
posted by lollusc at 6:40 PM on March 3, 2012

I feel so gyped. I had starburst as a kid.

I hate to distract from the sugar coated goodness of this but just for the record "gyped" is rather offensive to a lot of Eastern Europeans. It is akin to using "jewed" in the same context for many people. I am sure you meant no offense. It took a Roma to kind of break it down for me in an embarrassing moment for me in a Hungarian restaurant.

And to be relevant, I also assume it is barley sugar as well. Brewing beer can get you some similar extract from the base and it is almost all sugar and hardens incredibly quickly. Next IPA might get some experimental rock candy fun out of it.
posted by Johnny Hazard at 7:07 PM on March 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

These set of Chinese web pages teaches you how to cook the sugar to prepare for 'sugar painting'. It just says to use regular granular sugar.
posted by of strange foe at 7:28 PM on March 3, 2012

Marble absorbs heat exceptionally well, and is generally non-reactive. The cold stone in Coldstone ice-cream is marble, for instance, albeit chilled.

And barley-candy is far more fragile and clear. Which reminds me to buy a Makerbot and some food-grade silicone so I can design clear candy toys and print them, then make casts of them, and fill the casts with barely-sugar candy. I'll just jot it onto the "to-do" list...
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:03 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looks like toffee to this Australian eye. Which is essentially melted sugar. We used to buy them in patty cake papers at fetes when we kids.
posted by taff at 8:45 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

There was a sour-faced guy outside my apartment in Beijing who would make scallion pancakes every morning between 7 and 8:30 AM on his little grill. They weren't much to look at -- greasy and quickly wrapped in cheap foil, to be scarfed down in the three-block walk to the subway.

But good god they were fucking sublime. Just the right combination of crispy and chewy and oily, with a bit of sweetness in the pungent flavor. He was single-handedly responsible for ensuring that I got to work on time every morning, because if I dawdled there would be a huge crowd and I'd never get my pancake.

And the best part was that HE KNEW IT. You could see in the way he wielded his ladle and spatula -- a bit of flash in the way he'd tip the batter onto the griddle, a flourish as he deftly flipped the pancake into a waiting foil wrapper. His face never changed, but his hands laughed while he worked.

The heavy regulation of food service in US cities means that we have fewer poisonings and fewer epidemics. However, it's worth it once in a while to watch a video like this and reflect on all of the amazing street food that we've given up.
posted by xthlc at 9:12 PM on March 3, 2012 [6 favorites]

I just want to apologize for the "gyped" comment. Didn't realize it was so offensive!!!
posted by roboton666 at 9:51 PM on March 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

Nope, just marble; no extra heat-sink needed (like a water bath). The hard-ball stage sugar will cool halfway to solid in the air dropping; the mass of the marble can conduct a shit-ton of heat away, and these lollipops aren't very massive. High temperature, but not much heat energy, IOW.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:08 PM on March 3, 2012

I can't even butter toast successfully, so this is both impressive and disheartening. Still, great find!
posted by mkhall at 6:47 AM on March 4, 2012 [1 favorite]

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