cutting roomboterbabbelaars

Tips and Tricks for Making Pulled Candy (+Roomboterbabbelaars Recipe)

You might have seen it on YouTube, or live, in a candy shop: candy makers pulling on candy. Over and over they pull the candy apart, fold it back together, and so forth, until it’s reached the consistency they’re looking for.

But why pull candy? By pulling, you’re changing the texture of the candy. Creating a candy that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to make! What’s more, it changes the color. And all of that is due to the addition of just a little bit of air!

Pulling candy introduces air

When you pull candy, you’re continuously stretching and folding a warm mass of candy. In doing so, you’re incorporating lots of tiny air bubbles. These tiny air bubbles serve several purposes:

  1. Pulled candy changes color: it will be lighter. That’s because light gets reflected in all directions by those air bubbles. It’s a great way to make perfectly white candy (as long as you’re starting ingredients didn’t contain any color).
  2. It changes texture: even though this candy will still be quite hard, the tiny air bubbles make it easier to dissolve in your mouth.

How to pull candy

Traditionally, candy was pulled by hand, stretching, and folding it. This can be made a little easier by using a hook to throw the candy on and pull from there. Also, plenty of machines have been developed to pull candy, both in a horizontal and vertical manner.

However, the trickiest part of pulling candy is not the pulling itself. It’s making sure that the candy has the right consistency to be pulled! First of, the candy mass should be viscous enough to hold onto itself. It shouldn’t flow into a puddle, or else you can’t even pick it up. Secondly, it needs to be able to form long strands of candy.

Cook to a soft crack (>135°C / 275°F)

Most candies, including candies that are pulled, start out as a solution of sugar in water. Sugar dissolves in water quite well. You then boil that solution to a specific temperature or consistency. During this process, water evaporates and the concentration of sugar increases. This again increases the thickness (viscosity) of the candy mass. Since the temperature is a measure for the concentration of sugar, the higher the temperature of the boiling sugar solution the higher the concentration.

In candy making terms, a sugar solution cooked to over 135°C (275°F) is also referred to as being in the soft crack stage. To make pulled candy, you generally need at least this temperature. It depends on the exact recipe though and some can easily go up to 155°C (310°F). To ensure you’ve reached the right consistency, a candy thermometer is your best friend.

Limit sugar crystallization

Sugar loves to crystallize. However, that’s not something you want to happen when pulling candy. When sugar crystallizes, it forms tiny crystals. These crystals are not great at forming a smooth long texture. Instead, they make a ‘short’ texture. That is, it easily breaks apart. When you’re making fudge or fondant, this is what you’re looking for. But not when you’re pulling candy. It will be impossible to pull.

crystallized sugar mass for pulled candy roomboterbabbelaar
A candy mass that crystallized before it could be pulled. There’s no way you can still pull this. All the sugars will need to be redissolved to give it another try.
Add a crystallization inhibitor

Many candy recipes that need to be pulled will contain an ingredient that helps prevent the preliminary crystallization of sugar. A range of options exists:

  • Corn syrup: corn syrup contains a lot of larger carbohydrates which surround sugar molecules, making it harder for them to find each other and form sugar crystals.
  • Invert sugar: invert sugar is regular sugar (sucrose) that has broken down into glucose and fructose. Again, it can interfer with the crystallization process.
  • An acid (e.g. vinegar): when you cook sugar with an acid, some of that sugar will break down and form invert sugar. It is important that the sugar is cooked for long enough, to ensure enough of it breaks down. It’s why recipes using this method often call for cooking the sugar on a low to medium heat.

You’ll only need a little bit of these ingredients to prevent crystallization from happening. How much will depend on the composition of the rest of the recipe and the temperature to which you decide to cook your sugar solution.

Cool it down reasonably fast & keep it moving

Once you’ve cooked your sugar mass, it needs to cool down before you can pull it. A hot sugar solution is very thin and liquid, only when it starts to cool down does it become viscous enough. To help cool it down, you can use a cold surface, such as a cold marble slab. Marble has the advantage that it stays cool for some time and can get rid of a lot of heat.

While you’re cooling the mass down to make it firm enough to pull, it’s important to keep it all moving. The sides will cool down quicker than the middle of the mass, and so will that part that touches a cool surface. By moving it around, you ensure that the temperature throughout is approximately the same.

cutting roomboterbabbelaars

Cut into pieces when it’s hardening

As long as a mass of candy is flexible enough to pull and fold, it’s probably too sticky to cut into pieces. Only when the mass has truly hardened enough will you be able to cut it into pieces. But, don’t be too late either. These candies will turn very hard, and can be impossible to make into pieces once that’s happened.

Tweaking pulled candy recipes

There are countless variations on pulled candy recipes. Some, like the recipe we added below contain fat such as butter, oil or cream which makes a creamy candy. If you’re adding a fat, it can generally be cooked along with the sugars.

Other pulled candies may contain a bright color or punchy flavor. If that’s the case, it’s best to add these after cooking the sugar mass. Most colors and flavors don’t like excessive heat. So add them after the initial cooling phase and right before you start to actually pull the candy.


Pulled Candy - Roomboterbabbelaar

Yield: approx. 40 pieces
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This recipe makes a snack that originates from the south of the Netherlands, the province of Zeeland. The key to this recipe is that you take your time boiling the sugar. If you use an induction stovetop you have to be especially careful that you don't go too fast. The acid needs time to break down some of the sugars. If not, the candy will crystallize before you even get a chance to pull it!

You can easily double or triple this recipe. As an added benefit, it doesn't cook as quickly, making it easier to ensure enough sugars break down. So feel free to increase the heat a little for bigger batches!



  • 150 ml water
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 100g brown sugar
  • 50g butter
  • pinch of salt
  • 20g vinegar

For dusting

  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp icing sugar


  1. Add all the candy ingredients to a pot and place it on a stovetop. ingredients for roomboterbabbelaars
  2. Bring the mix to a boil. Stir a few times to ensure all the sugar has dissolved, then leave it alone.
  3. Continue cooking on a medium heat while measuring the temperature.
  4. Note: You want to give the mix some time to cook, ideally at least 15-20 minutes. During this time, the acid will break down some of the sugars into invert sugar. This helps to prevent crystallization of the candy while you're pulling it.
  5. Once the temperature has reached 139°C (292°F), take the pot from the stove and cool it down slightly by placing it in some cool water. No need to use an ice bath, room temperature water will cool it down enough to stop continued cooking.
  6. Leave to sit in the pan a little while it cools down. You will notice it starts to thicken slightly.
  7. Pour the sugar syrup onto a silicone mat or heat-resistant smooth surface. Take care, it's still pretty hot!
  8. Now start moving around the sugar mass. It will start to cool down on the bottom and sides and harden there. Continuously move and fold mass to ensure it cools down evenly. Do NOT use your hands just yet, it will be hot! You can use a metal cutter or metal spatula for this. It will stick somewhat in the beginning, spray with a little bit of fat to help prevent that from happening.
  9. Once it's cooled down enough for you to touch, bring it all together and hold it in both your hands. Start pulling the candy apart, fold it together, and pull apart again. Continue doing so for several minutes. The candy should become lighter in color, thanks to the air bubbles. It will become harder to pull as you go since it will turn more viscous.
  10. Start rolling it into a strand when you start to notice it hardening, but when it's still soft enough to shape. Once it's in a strand, hardening will happen more quickly.
  11. Mix your corn starch and icing sugar and lightly dust the table.
  12. Using scissors, cut the strand into little pieces and cover those with a thin layer of the dusting powder. This is will ensure they don't stick together.
  13. Leave to cool down completely.
  14. Store in an air-tight container. They're sensitive to moisture in the air, an will turn softer if stored out in the open.


Hartel, R., von Elbe, J.H., Hofberger, R., Confectionery Science & Technology, Springer, 2018, p. 229-231

Ullmann’s Food and Feed, 3 Volume Set, Volume 1, Wiley VHC, p. 626, link

Jim McGovern, Hard Candy Aeration, The Manufacturing Confectioner, 2006, link

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