These edible sugar seashells are a perfect summertime dessert topper that looks as realistic as they are beautiful as a cake or cupcake topper. They will hold their shape in the heat and can stay at room temperature and are perfect as a make-ahead decoration. The addition of cookie crumbles sand tops off the look.
To make these shells you will need a few things, some may be hard to find so I provided links.
The most important item you will have to have are a medium saucepan, candy thermometer, silicone molds that are heat resistant and can handle boiling temperatures, and a silicone measuring cup to pour the hot sugar into the molds with. I have seen heat protectant gloves but haven’t ever tried them. If you have please leave a comment and give feedback.
Other items that will come in handy are a heat-resistant scraping spatula to help get all the sugar out of the measuring cup and into the molds. Parchment paper can be used to line the area you are working on but a reusable silicone baking mat is perfect. You will also want a pastry brush to brush the cooled cooked sugar shells with confectioners’ sugar. This coating helps prevent sticking.
For the sand, you can use a ziplock and a rolling pin like I did to crush the cookies. You can also simply use a food processor to make it easy. Either way will work to crush the cookies into crumbs. I also added sanding sugar and a pinch of black pepper to resemble real sand.
Once the sugar seashells have been coated with confectioners sugar you can dust them with edible shimmer dust. This comes in a few colors and will help give the shells a realistic appearance.
Preparing this properly with some useful tips will help make this recipe a piece of cake 😉
Steps to making cooked sugar seashells.
Step 1. Prepare all of your ingredients, and supplies and have everything set out in the order you will be using them.
Have all molds cleaned, dried, and ready. I lined a large baking sheet with parchment paper and placed all molds on top of the lined baking sheet before starting. Also, spraying a measuring cup and spatula with cooking spray before pouring corn syrup helps prevent sticking.
Add the sugar, corn syrup, and water to the saucepan and give it a stir to incorporate the ingredients. Add the candy thermometer to the side of the pan so that the tip of the thermometer is in the sugar mixture but not touching the bottom of the pan.
Step 2. Place the saucepan on a burner and turn the heat to medium/low. This will be a slow process of cooking the sugar on low until it reaches 300 degrees F. The total cook time of the sugar will be about 18-20 minutes depending on the oven burner.
Step 3. Have the silicone measuring cup clean and ready, white food coloring, and a metal spoon to stir the food coloring into the hot sugar. I used a metal chopstick. BE CAREFUL this will be very hot and the steam can burn. when stirring in the food coloring, you may want to wear heat-proof gloves or an oven mitt.
Once sugar is cooked to 300 degrees remove from heat and add food coloring. 300 degrees is the hard crack stage. You need to let the temperature reach 300 degrees or the finished candy may be too sticky and stick to your teeth.
Step 4. Once the sugar reaches 300 degrees F, immediately turn off the heat and remove the pan from the burner and stir in the food coloring. Quickly stir until combined well, if a few swirls remain it looks kind of neat for a seashell. Then quickly pour into the silicone measuring cup and immediately fill the molds with the hot sugar.
Once poured, I immediately place the molds on a plate and place them in the freezer to set. At this point, they may be messy.
After about 10-15 minutes check the molds, they should be solid and not move if you tap them. Remove from the freezer when done and gently remove it from the mold. They will come out easily. Place on a clean sheet of parchment paper and brush with confectioners sugar with a pastry brush. Brush sugar on and cover completely and brush excess off. This will prevent them from being sticky.
Once you have them coated with confectioners sugar you can snap off or take a knife and carefully trim the excess edges of sugar off to perfect the seashells.
Step 5. How to make the sand. Using a freezer bag place equal amounts of graham crackers, vanilla cookies, animal crackers, and gingersnap cookies. Using a rolling pin or heavy bottle, roll over the cookies to crush them into the sand.
OR, you can place the cookies in a food processor and blend until the cookies are sandlike. Adding sanding sugar and a pinch of black pepper to the crushed cookies will help the sand appear real.
Step 6. Brush the seashells with edible luster dust or glitter dust.
You can apply the edible dust wet or dry, and follow the instructions on the label.
Can you make edible sugar seashells ahead of time?
Yes, these edible sugar shells will keep in an airtight container for a week or two. Making them ahead of time is always better since this recipe is time-consuming. I like to make a few days ahead of time to ensure that I have enough seashells that came out well.
How do you store edible sugar seashells?
Store the finished seashells that have been coated with confectioners sugar in an airtight container with additional confectioners sugar. Sprinkle a little confectioner sugar in the container and add the seashells, and then sprinkle more confectioner sugar in between any touching seashells. This will prevent them from sticking to each other or the container.
When you take them out of the container to use, simply brush with the pastry brush to remove excess confectioners sugar. You can re-brush with pearl or luster dust.