This is an easy centerpiece you can make with sugar. It is always best to have a bowl of cold water available in which you can immerse your hands should you get any sugar on you. This will stop the sugar from burning. As always, it is a good idea to take a class from a professional on working with sugar. This is a skill that professional pastry chefs develop after years of experience. Working with sugar will burn your fingers so know before you start that your fingers will develop burn blisters. For the cooked sugar: Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan over high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until the sugar reaches 320 degrees F. Use a clean pastry brush to keep the inside of the saucepan clean as the sugar cooks or the sugar may recrystallize. To do this, dip a clean brush in cold water and brush the inside of the pan clean.
Open the 5 pound bag of sugar and pour most of it into a deep flat casserole dish. Pour the cooked sugar onto the granulated sugar. Leave some gaps. Sprinkle more granulated sugar on top of the cooked sugar. Use a wooden skewer to mix in some color paste. Do not try to make the color uniform. The end result will be more interesting if the color is not uniform. Sprinkle more sugar on top. It is a good idea to wear gloves to protect your fingers from the heat of the cooked sugar. Use your fingers to move the granulated sugar around the cooked sugar. As it cools, the cooked sugar will harden. Keep an eye on it so it does not become too hard. You want to be able to mold it into the shape you want while it is still pliable. This takes some time. I made a free form shape that had a 90 degree angle.
For the sugar flowers: Place the sugar, corn syrup and water in a saucepan over high heat. Insert a candy thermometer and cook until the sugar reaches 320 degrees F. Use a pastry brush to keep the inside of the saucepan clean as the sugar cooks or the sugar may recrystallize. To do this, dip a clean brush in cold water and brush the inside of the pan clean.
Divide the cooked sugar between 2 heatproof large measuring cups. If you want to color the sugar with food colors, this is the time to do so. Add a few drops of red color to one container and green color to the other. Mix each with a wooden skewer.
Use an offset spatula dipped in the red sugar to spread some sugar onto a silpat baking mat. Make 3- inch long smudges that taper off at one end, these will be the petals. You will need 5 petals to make 1 flower, so if you want more than one flower you will need to make the appropriate number of petals. Repeat the process with the green sugar. This time, use the offset spatula to fan the edges of the petals to resemble the texture of leaves. Have a flexible silicone muffin mold (or a metal muffin tin lined with parchment paper) on the work surface. When the sugar petals have cooled but are still pliable, set the petals inside the cavity of the mold. Dip each petal end into a little of the cooked sugar so you can "glue" the petals together. The depth of the mold cavity will help give the flower a three-dimensional look. Repeat this process with other flower petals to make more flowers.
When you have the centerpiece base formed into the shape you would like, allow it to cool completely. Use more cooked sugar (which can be reheated in the microwave if necessary) to "glue" the sugar flowers onto the base. Add the leaves.
Recipe courtesy of Jacques Torres