What Is Cotton Candy Ice Cream?

B. Chisholm

Cotton candy ice cream is ice cream flavored to taste like cotton candy. There are a number of commercial cotton candy ice cream brands, or it can be made at home using cotton candy-flavored syrup mixed in with plain vanilla ice cream. It may be pink or blue or a mixture of the two swirled together. Many of the commercial ice cream brands have additional components, such as chocolate pieces or marshmallow swirls.

Plain vanilla ice cream can be used to make cotton candy ice cream.
Plain vanilla ice cream can be used to make cotton candy ice cream.

Traditionally a treat found at fairs, cotton candy is made by spinning sugar at high speed. It is known by different names in different parts of the world. In the UK it is referred to as candy floss, in Australia it is called fairy floss and the Italians call it zucchero filato. It is made in machines specially designed to make cotton candy which consist of a central cylinder in which the sugar is melted. This is then spun at high speed and the sugar is flung out of tiny holes and cools, making fluffy, cotton-wool-like sugar.

Chocolate pieces may be added to commercial cotton candy ice cream.
Chocolate pieces may be added to commercial cotton candy ice cream.

The result is a sweet treat that melts in the mouth. Food coloring can be added to the sugar, allowing cotton candy to be made in a rainbow of shades. This applies to cotton candy ice cream as well, although most commercial varieties come in blue or pink, or a combination of the two.

Making cotton candy ice cream at home is a fairly simple process if using pre-made vanilla ice cream. Of course, the ice cream, too, can be made from scratch either by hand or using an ice cream maker. Once the plain vanilla ice cream is almost set, cotton candy syrup, which is commercially available in various colors, is mixed in well until an even color is obtained.

If two-toned cotton candy ice cream is desired, separate the almost-set vanilla ice cream into two bowls before mixing in the separate colors. Ensuring that the ice cream is fairly stiff already, the two colors can then be mixed in whichever way is desired. It can be half-and-half, swirled or blue on the outside and pink in the middle.

If commercial cotton candy syrup is not available, it can be made using a combination of corn syrup, sugar and water. If using this homemade syrup, food coloring will need to be added to the ice cream.

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Discussion Comments


I love ice cream, and I'm OK with small quantities of cotton candy, but the idea of the two together just makes me a little sickish. Cotton candy really doesn't have much of a specific flavor. Mostly, the food coloring is just for color and doesn't add much in the way of taste. It's mostly just sweet.

Adding a sweet syrup to sweet ice cream isn't doing much for the ice cream, in my opinion. I know kids love this stuff, but I'm not a fan. Besides, I'm a little leery of anything purporting to be edible that is that color of blue.

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